Education union calls for more TAFE funds

·2-min read

TAFE should be key to Australia's economic recovery from coronavirus and should receive more funding, the nation's education union says.

The Australian Education Union on Wednesday launched its campaign at Parliament House in Canberra with the support of Labor and the Greens.

AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe says that while skills and training is one of the Morrison government's focus areas, it's not paired with adequate funding.

TAFE has instead faced cuts, campus closures and the loss of teachers.

"The campaign is reminding governments that if we want to rebuild the economy, if we want to rebuild the skills of Australians, that we should do that by rebuilding with TAFE," Ms Haythorpe told AAP.

"TAFE is the trusted public provider and we believe it's very important that public education is available for all."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has backed the campaign, saying TAFE should be the centre of Australia's training system, particularly in the post-pandemic recovery.

"There's two million Australians who are either unemployed or underemployed, want more hours, want more jobs," he told reporters.

"As we recover, training and skills has to be at the centre of how we grow back our economy, how we plan for the jobs of the future, and make sure that Australians can fill them."

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O'Neil said TAFE had had $3 billion cut from it by the Liberal government, with 140,000 fewer apprentices than before.

"We need money that goes into rebuilding TAFE and making sure we reverse some of the worst cases of privatisation," she told reporters in Canberra.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said TAFE campuses were often central to regional communities, and helped people from all backgrounds to study.

"Everyone has a right to educate themselves, no matter what they want to study or no matter what stage of life they're in," she said.

"And that's why public education has to be one which is freely available for everyone and of the highest quality."

The federal government last year announced the $1 billion JobTrainer fund, which supports up to 340,700 free or low-fee training places.

But Ms Haythorpe said the money could go to private providers.

The union is calling for 70 per cent of all government funding for vocational education to go to TAFE.