Fears more jobs may go at Bendigo TAFE

BENDIGO TAFE’s chief executive officer Maria Simpson has rebuffed reports by the Australian Education Union that more jobs will be lost at the TAFE in March.

AEU TAFE sector Victorian vice-president Greg Barclay said a drop in student numbers caused by fee increases could mean more teachers would lose their jobs, on top of the 71 people made redundant last year.

Mr Barclay described the mood at a meeting with teachers of the TAFE’s two campuses yesterday as “depressing”.

“People are very depressed,” Mr Barclay said.

“They are all concerned about their employee prospects.

“In March we expect more jobs to be lost across the system and we don’t think Bendigo will be any different.” But Ms Simpson said it was “business as usual” at the TAFE and any job cuts would be subject to fluctuations of student numbers in individual courses.

“We offer a range of courses and if people enrol in them then we run them,” she said. 

“If there are insufficient numbers then we don’t, (so) any job movements would be part of our normal yearly job evaluation process.”

Ms Simpson said staff morale was slowly improving but she could understand why some staff were still fearful of losing their job.

“I think last year was a really difficult year for them (the staff),” she said. 

“There was unprecedented change for them and 71 colleagues were made redundant, which was very unsettling for people. 

“There are adjustments in time fractions for some people in those areas where the students numbers weren’t high, (but we) also had to put on more staff in other areas.”

Ms Simpson said student numbers were slightly down on this time last year, but an official figure would not be known until March. A government spokesmann said the Baillieu government had invested half a billion dollars into the state’s vocational education system. 

The spokesman said that had been the biggest investment in vocational training in comparison to any previous Labor government.

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