Cooma TAFE teachers and staff are meeting today (Tuesday) to discuss their concerns in the wake of recent announcements by the state government of massive job and funding cuts across the education sector.
At a time when Australia is facing a serious skills shortage, the government has announced 1800 education employees will be sacked and $1.7 billion will be slashed from educational funding.
Cooma TAFE Teachers Association president and representative of the Australian Education Union, Rita Brademann said the funding and job cuts were creating enormous uncertainty at the Cooma TAFE.
"Some 18 months after the election TAFE NSW faces a loss of 800 jobs, cuts to TAFE courses and a fee hike of 9.5 per cent for TAFE students," Ms Brademann said.
"These attacks on TAFE will be felt doubly hard in a rural community such as ours, where TAFE is the only major education and training provider.
"Young people, job seekers, families and employers all depend on our local TAFE for career opportunities, a skilled work force and a thriving economy.
"Staff TAFE job losses and funding cuts will impact on the variety of courses and the quality of educational delivery.
"Higher course feels will leave rural families out of pocket, already struggling with ever increasing electricity, petrol and grocery prices."
Ms Brademann said Cooma TAFE Teachers Association branch would hold Monaro MP John Barilaro and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli accountable for their broken election promise.
"Both signed publicly a pledge to invest in TAFE for a better state at Cooma Campus in March 2011," Ms Brademann said.
"They assured the TAFE community that the new state government would guarantee TAFE funding, invest in permanent TAFE teaching positions and ensure affordable access to TAFE courses for all.
"We will vote on a resolution to condemn the latest attack on TAFE, and to invite John Barilaro and Adrian Piccoli to a 'please explain' meeting with the TAFE community in the same Snowy Restaurant where they signed their pledge in support for TAFE before the last elections."
Ms Brademann said there had already been drastic cuts to support staff hours at Cooma TAFE, creating higher workloads for teachers, in the hospitality, automotive and carpentary areas.