THE Victorian Government is hitting out against claims TAFE reforms are limiting study opportunities of women and regional students.
Higher education minister Peter Hall today issued a statement saying in the past year alone 21 per cent more women were enrolled in government-funded vocational training.
"Last year, 251,900 women accessed government-subsidised vocational training, compared with 139,800 in 2008 – an 80 per cent increase," he said.
"In 2012, 133,200 regional students received government-subsidised training, compared with 94,800 in 2008. That’s an increase of more than 40 per cent."
Youth Affairs Council of Victoria chief executive Kate Colvin said increased fees, fewer courses, and inadequate support for barriers like homelessness, mental health issues, and difficulties with literacy and numeracy would deter many disadvantaged young people from gaining new skills.
"We understand that budgets are tight and the Government wants to shift spending towards courses it considers more valuable. Our concern is that many young people may now opt out of undertaking any vocational training at all.''
A spokesman for Mr Hall said more money than ever before is being committed for training through the Victorian Training Guarantee, which maintains an entitlement to all young Victorians under the age of 20 regardless of their previous qualifications.
"The report significantly understates what we now know about the full impact of the training entitlement,'' the spokesman said.