TAFE job cuts just beginning: Greens

Almost 400 jobs have been shed from TAFE NSW in the past year but the Greens claim there is worse to come.

Data released by the minor party on Sunday, after a question on notice to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, shows 395 full-time positions have been lost since January last year.

About 260 jobs went from three TAFE institutes in Sydney and 40 from the Hunter and Illawarra.

Greens MP John Kaye said the O'Farrell government was telling TAFE institutes to prepare for next year's start to the competitive market for students and funding.

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Under the Smart and Skilled government plan, TAFE institutes will have to compete with private colleges for students because government funding will go to the colleges where students enrol.

The 2015 reforms will allow students to choose a subsidised place in a course at TAFE identified on a skills list, or with a private college.

Dr Kaye claimed managers were shedding staff and courses to bring down costs so they could fend off low-cost, low-quality private providers.

"The cuts so far have devastated TAFE colleges, students and teachers across NSW but there is far worse to come," he said.

"The front-line impacts are already being felt by students with special needs, the unemployed and second chance learners.

"Next year it will reach into the core of TAFE with unacceptable long-term consequences for the future of skills in NSW."

The reduction of full-time roles at TAFE NSW includes nine head teacher positions in the Hunter and 21 head teacher jobs in Northern Sydney.

Northern Sydney has seen 102 job cuts in the past year, the data tabled in Parliament this week shows.

The government says of the 394 positions culled, 45 were vacant.

A spokeswoman from the NSW education department said changes to staff levels were in response to changing demand. AAP