Report outlines importance of TAFE in our social fabric

REGIONAL towns will be hit hardest if the TAFE campuses don't survive the NSW Government's education cuts according to a damning policy paper revealed at parliament house on Wednesday.

Penned by Centre for Policy Development Research Director Christopher Stone, the union-funded report outlines the importance of the TAFE system to Australia's social fabric and calls on the State Government to immediately review planned education reforms.

Speaking at the launch of the paper, Mr Stone said TAFE provided a "disproportionate" share of benefits to the community compared to other registered training organisations.

He said regional towns where there were few other education opportunities and higher percentages of the population signed up for courses, would be hit with "critical unemployment" the NSW Government headed down the same path as Victoria.

The key recommendation of the report is for decision makers to introduce reforms which are based on evidence, not budget savings.

"Recent and likely reforms of the (TAFE) sector have the potential to enhance or damage a sector that delivers significant benefits to Australia," Mr Stone said

"It is simple common sense that reforms must be backed by whatever evidence is available and should be the subject of a rigorous debate on what actions will serve the nation best."

Coffs Harbour hospitality trainer Brook Down told the Sydney crowd he had seen first hand the difference TAFE campuses make to a regional area.

His decision to take on a TAFE course in 2000 led to him winning a job at the Coffs campus.

He has since watched hundreds of local hospitality students go on to work in the Navy and some of the biggest resorts in the country.

He said major companies sourced employees from TAFE because of its reputation for providing the right skill set and feared potential cuts could strip young people in particular of their chance to prosper in an area where unemployment was already high.

"When you live in an area like Coffs Harbour, you don't get a lot of opportunities to further your education and get out of the unemployment rut," Mr Down said

"Drastic changes will only hurt the people that need to be helped most."

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