Is there something wrong with how TAFE Institutes are being managed?

Last week I wrote a piece asking why TAFE is so stressful for Trainers which generated a huge amount of discussion.  One of the single biggest things that was raised by people was  the issue of management and the skills and attitudes of those in management roles at TAFE institutes and the effect that this had on the morale and stress levels of teachers.  Now as I said in the last post, I am not attempting here to cast this as a them and us discussion or to in some way discount or belittle the work that TAFE does, or suggest that some of the changes that have taken place in the VET landscape over the last few years haven’t had an effect on TAFEs, however as some once said, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck you can be pretty sure its a duck.  So when a lot of people who are either currently working or have worked in TAFEs talk about the fact that what is causing them stress is how the institute is being managed and the attitudes of managers.

Now to be completely fair I do know a number of people in senior people in leadership positions in TAFE QLD, and have always found them to be incredibly competent and committed to the sector.  I don’t however know very many institute people or people from TAFE in other states, so much of what I am going to say next comes from things that other people, (who work or have worked in TAFE) are saying.  Now please don’t get me wrong here either managers at all levels of TAFE are between a rock and hard place, they are expected to manage their little part of the world, but by the same token constrained massively by things like outdated awards, pressure from both internal and external stakeholders, increasing competition and very little control over their budgets and staff in a lot of cases.

That being said, given the responses of people currently inside of TAFE there does seem to something wrong with the way at least some TAFE institutes are being managed.  There seems to be feelings from staff that their managers are disconnected from the issues they are facing on the ground, more concerned with their own positions and the prestige and perks that comes with it, particularly the higher up the ranks the manager is or just simply not good managers who are at least perceived to have got the position they have simply because they had been there forever.

So given that there is a perception (both internally and externally) that there is something wrong with the way a least a number of TAFE institutes are being managed, what is the problem, why does it exist and what can be done about it?

Anyway that’s just my opinion.

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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