So why is TAFE so stressful for trainers?
July 20, 2015 12 Comments
So I have read a couple of articles recently about how being a teacher at TAFE is so stressful, particularly at the moment and over the weekend I was having a discussion with a friend of mine (who doesn’t work in the sector) who only half-joking suggested that VET people had the life because they got all this extra time off that people in other job didn’t on top of their actual working hours being really flexible and things like that. I corrected him and said that conditions like that really only existed in the public system and that most people working in VET in the non-public arena didn’t have those kinds of arrangements and really just worked the same kind of hours and had the same conditions as pretty much everyone else. I found his response to this quite interesting he said,
Why? It’s no wonder that TAFE is stuffed then.
It actually got me thinking a little bit about this whole situation and in particular the rhetoric from the education unions about how working conditions for TAFE people have been so badly eroded, are under attack and how TAFE teachers are so stressed because of it. Now this is not a swipe at TAFE teachers in general as I know that the vast majority of people who work in the TAFE system, like those in the non-public system are hard-working, committed people, who just want to achieve the best outcomes they can for their students. However I am legitimately wondering what is so stressful;
- Being asked to be at work every day of the working week?
- Not getting 10 weeks leave a year?
- The possibility that you might be made redundant?
- Having to teach more than 3 days a week?
- Being asked to do some more work?
Outside of the TAFE system this is simply called having a job. Now I know that I am being a little naughty here and little tongue in cheek, but I really do want to know what is so stressful.
One of the other stressors that has been raised is the concept of increased casualisation of the TAFE workforce. Sensible business practice suggests that you only employ enough staff permanent staff to cover the standard ongoing workloads, if there is more work, or specific skills or knowledge that is required that is not currently in the organisations, you hire it in, usually on casual, or contract basis, this is what happens everywhere. It is a waste of organisational resources to have people sitting around with nothing to do, while you are still paying them, just on the off-chance that you might need them 3 months down the track. As a lot of you know I ave been around the L&D, VET and organisation learning scene for quite a while now in a variety of roles and often these roles were contract roles (3-24 months) to do specific jobs, using my specific skill set. This is also the case for a substantial amount of the people I know who work in the sector, with the exception of a few who have had long-term enterprise level positions, I think for most of us our careers have been a mix of permanent, part-time, casual and contract work, it is the way the industry works except it seems in the TAFE sector. It seems to me that the only part of the VET sector where there appears to be this concept that a role would be a job for life, is the TAFE sector.
So here is my question;
Why are TAFE teachers so stressed?
Is it just that they are used to a certain level of conditions and expectations, or is it that really they aren’t and it is just a beat up by the unions or are there some actual stressors outside what would be expected if you worked outside the TAFE system? I don’t know, but I would love to know what everyone else thinks.
Anyway that’s just my opinion