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State Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr has met with local TAFE students to celebrate National TAFE Day and hear directly about the impacts of the Liberal/National Government’s cuts to TAFE.

The State Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion out of the education system, whilst sacking TAFE teachers and increasing course fees by as much as $1,500.00.  National TAFE Day is Wednesday June 18.  It celebrates the successes of people who have come through the TAFE system, and calls on the current State Government to reverse their savage cuts.  Mr Barr says that is an important cause.

“TAFE is worth celebrating and fighting for.  There are hundreds and hundreds of stories of people whose careers have started with a technical education, and hundreds more people who wanted a career-change later in life and used TAFE to do it,” Mr Barr said.

“National TAFE Day is supposed to be the day where we shout these things from the rooftops, but this year it feels more like commiserations are in order, because the executioner of the Victorian TAFE system has been brought in to advise the New South Wales Government and has NSW TAFEs squarely under the guillotine.  Fees have gone through the roof while contact hours have gone down.  To put it simply, people are now paying more for less,” he said.

Mr Barr said that TAFE cuts were particularly damaging to Electorates in the Hunter, where a higher proportion of workers have trade qualifications.

“Everyone probably knows the statistics by now – the Cessnock Electorate has the highest percentage of people with a trade qualification in the State, and the lowest percentage of people with a university qualification.  It is TAFE, not university that is most important to our young people’s ability to find work.  Unfortunately the Premier only comes up here when he’s selling another of our assets, so he wouldn’t know that,” Mr Barr said.

“The Federal Liberals and Nationals want to punish people who can’t find work, but then their State colleagues want to make it harder to get the qualifications needed to find a job.  What sort of economic strategy is that?  It has also been pointed out in the media that you’ll need to be a welfare recipient to get a TAFE concession, but you need to be enrolled in study to receive welfare.  This lot claim to know more about economics and employment than the rest of us, and yet their policies are pulling in completely different directions and setting up a bizarre Catch-22 for people who simply want to get an education.” he said.