Census figures paint bleak picture for Illawarra TAFE campuses

Going by the numbers, the future looks bleak for the TAFE system in the Illawarra.

But Federal Cunningham MP Sharon Bird believes the ‘’alarming’’ 2016 Census figures only strengthens the call to reinvest more money into the TAFE sector.    

Ms Bird was ‘’sadly not surprised’’ the most recent Census figures showed a ‘’dramatic decline’’ in the number of TAFE and other vocational education students in the electorates of Cunningham, Gilmore and Whitlam.

In the three electorates combined there were 1800 fewer vocational education students in 2016 compared to what was recorded in the previous Census in 2011.

Gilmore was the hardest hit during this period, with only 2438 students receiving vocational training in 2016, 696 less than was the case in 2011.

We’ve lost a whole campus at Dapto which has been replaced by a shopfront at best.

Cunningham MP Sharon Bird

Labor Candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips said the 22 per cent decline was over double the national decline of 10 per cent.

Ms Bird added there were a combination of factors hitting the TAFE sector at the moment which was contributing to a ‘’lack of confidence’’ in public and private providers.

‘’One is State government decisions. We’ve lost a whole campus at Dapto which has been replaced by a shopfront at best,’’ she said.

‘’Courses have been cut across the board as well so less courses are being offered.

In the Cunningham and Whitlam electorates there were 535 and 572 fewer people respectively enrolled in a vocational training course in 2016 as opposed to in 2011.

‘’At a Federal level, the National Partnership Funding we [Labor] put in place has not been replaced in the most recent budget. I think unsurprisingly this is impacting on the number of people who are going to TAFE, which is crazy because it is actually a really important pathway to employment.

‘’I think you can also see in these sort of figures that the scandals that have rocked the vocational education sector are making a real impact.

‘’I think seeing big private providers come and go in recent years has shaken people’s confidence in the sector also and that flows on unfairly and impacts on the public providers as well.’’

In the Cunningham and Whitlam electorates there were 535 and 572 fewer people respectively enrolled in a vocational training course in 2016 as opposed to in 2011.

‘’Labor knows that TAFE is the backbone of vocational training and that’s why we’ve got commitments around apprenticeships and $2 out of every $3 of federal money will go to the public TAFE sector,’’ Ms Bird said.