TAFE denies $2m ‘fat cat’ executives hired to slash budget

TAFE NSW has slammed "false" reports of eight new executives being appointed on $250,000 salaries to privatise the institution.

Shadow skills minister David Harris claimed about $2 million had been set aside for "fat cat" bureaucrats to push through the NSW Government's Smart and Skilled reforms that will allow private training providers to compete with TAFE for funding.

"Paying a bunch of fat cats top-dollar salaries at a time when the Baird Government has cut 2500 TAFE teaching and support staff and enrolments are down 43,000 makes absolutely no sense at all," Mr Harris said.

Skills Minister John Barilaro's office, the Department of Industry and TAFE NSW have all discredited the claims.

Only three of the positions are new and none will be employed by TAFE or paid from its budget, a spokesman for Mr Barilaro said.

The Department of Industry is also readvertising the existing five jobs following the separation of the Skills portfolio from the Department of Education, he added.

"These positions are not positions employed by TAFE NSW," a TAFE spokesman said.

"There is no connection between funding for these positions and the TAFE budget or TAFE funding."

The Department of Industry said the executive posts were necessary to ensure it had the "very best people with the right skill sets to drive reform in this critical area".

"Every other NSW Government agency has also gone through the process of complying with these reforms," a spokesman said.

"As in any restructure, some positions have changed and only a small number of additional executive positions have been created and these are in recognition of the need to drive new reform agendas."

TAFE NSW rejected media claims its budget was being "slashed in half", saying its budget for 2015-16 was almost $2 billion - up $122 million on the previous year.

"TAFE has secured 85% of the NSW VET budget for 2015-16, which actually represents an increase from the previous year," it said.

However, the institution admitted it had its fair share of problems after the NSW Auditor-General found the Smart and Skilled reforms had worsened its existing "serious system limitations".

"TAFE NSW, IT providers and other government agencies are working to resolve system issues," the spokesman said.

"Every effort will be made to support students and staff during peak enrolment periods."

The Opposition has its doubts.

"We don't need to hire more analysts and PR people to sell a bad policy," Mr Harris said.

"We just need to ensure TAFE is properly funded and shonky private providers are shut down." -APN NEWSDESK



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