FUNDING cuts to TAFE could spell the death of thriving regional towns like Ballarat, an education researcher has said.
University of Ballarat, School of Education and Arts, Associate Dean Professor Barry Golding said he was concerned about the “many negative and likely long term consequences” of the Baillieu government’s recently announced cuts to TAFE.
Professor Golding, who researches equity and access in vocational and adult education internationally, said the culling would have an impact on the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
“These cuts could see the decline of thriving regional areas like Ballarat,” Professor Golding said.
“Regional TAFE are the lifeblood of regional communities including Ballarat.”
The removal, he said, of up to 60 courses from the Ballarat TAFE could see people moving away to gain an education.
“What it means is that people don’t have the opportunity locally to study a diversity of courses,” Professor Golding said.
“You are increasing the likelihood that people will leave the region and go elsewhere.”
TAFE, he said, was accessed by students for different reasons and not just to get a job.
“One is for young people to enter their first job and the other is to support workers while they are employed or to improve skills,” Professor Golding said.
“(The third group) is people who are not currently in the work force (wanting) to improve their employability and skills to manage their lives.
“These could be people who are retired, don’t have basic literacy to enable them to access education, including people with disability.”
The cuts to TAFE , he said, would affect these people’s ability to better acquire learning and increase their opportunities.
“Around half the adult population are not at work, that includes people who are retired, unemployed or mothers,” Professor Golding said.
“They have no where to go except the TAFE.”
Successive Victorian governments, he said, were increasingly favouring private TAFE providers over public.
“The expertise involved in teaching the (long term) unemployed, migrants, or people with disability is very specialised and people in TAFE have huge knowledge and experience,” Professor Golding said.
“My view is that giving education and training over to a commercial factory whose prime motive is profit is not a good idea.”