The Victorian Government has delivered sweeping changes to public funding of Vocational Education and Training (VET).
In its annual budget for 2012–2013, handed down by Treasurer Kim Wells on Monday, over $1 billion of further investment was pledged for the skills sector.
Victorian TAFEs will be hard hit, however, after the government cut public funding to 80 per cent of courses as part of a $100 million cut to this area.
These cuts will lead to higher fees for students, and are also expected to force TAFEs across the state to slash courses and staff.
In an interview with The Age, Executive Director of the Victorian TAFE Association David Williams criticised Premier Ted Baillieu for having “broken his promise, as frontline TAFE staff will inevitably need to be retrenched in significant numbers to meet lowered funding”.
The Government cut this subsidy on the back of rising demand for courses, which led to the annual cost to the taxpayer ballooning from an expected $900 million to $1.3 billion.
While the funding for most courses was cut, some areas saw rises in subsidies. These included bricklaying, plumbing, aged care, and disability services.
The cuts to TAFE funding came as part of an overall $2.9 billion spending cut this financial year.
In a statement on the budget website, Treasurer Kim Wells said the cuts were necessary to avoid a “$4 billion deficit in 2012-13”. He claimed that otherwise “net debt would have risen to completely unsustainable levels”.
Whatever the reason, this latest move is likely to have harsh effects on young Victorians across the state.