Carpentry, plumbing and painting teachers at NSW TAFE are being made redundant at one of the state’s largest institutes despite a nationwide shortage of apprentices, documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal.
The move comes as the state government’s vocational education restructure pushes the training of apprentices on site while core trades move towards the scandalplagued private sector.
According to the ‘‘change management’’ documents drafted in April, five carpentry teachers will lose their role at the South Western Sydney Institute. They will follow three glaziers, four painters and six plumbers, who were notified of their redundancies last year. ‘‘There is a need to operate in a business model where there is a focus on generating revenue through commercial opportunities, using resources efficiently, identifying innovative responses to customers and reducing reliability on government funding,’’ the documents state.
The changes come as the NSW government spruiks a ‘‘building boom’’ in housing, infrastructure and transport in southwestern Sydney as part of its South West Growth Centre initiative. Last year, the Baird government announced that 30,000 homes would be built in Leppington alone, while more than 300,000 residents are expected to move into the region.
NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro directed questions to TAFE NSW.
A TAFE spokesman said the education provider would continue to meet the current and future industry training requirements in building and construction trades.
The NSW opposition’s skills spokeswoman, Prue Car, described the redundancies as ‘‘sheer madness’’. ‘‘I thinks it’s sheer madness that the government would be cutting teachers that are teaching core trades in the middle of a skills shortage in areas where they are actually needed,’’ she said.
The redundancies come as federal Labor leader Bill Shorten pushes vocational education as an election issue. On Tuesday he pledged to fund 2600 new apprenticeship places on federally funded projects.
More than 2000 students that Unique International College recruited to its campus in Granville, while the college accrued more than $57 million in taxpayer funding.
On Wednesday, the college and its owner, Amarjit Singh, faced the Federal Court on a charge of unconscionable conduct in the first of a series of trials as the government attempts to reclaim more than $420 million in taxpayer funding from the vocational education sector
Originally published in the SMH 9 June 2016