As the JobKeeper end date of 28 March approaches, members employed in the ELICOS sector are facing further devastation as private English language colleges across Australia close their doors.
IEU-QNT Growth Organiser Aaron Watson said our union has been made aware of an increasing number of members losing their jobs in recent weeks as ELICOS colleges face financial ruin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the end of the JobKeeper subsidy program approaching, major ELICOS colleges are shutting down and many of our members have lost their jobs,” Aaron said.
“The ELICOS sector has been decimated by the pandemic, with border closures preventing international students from coming to Australia to undertake ELICOS programs.”
Colleges closing down
The severe decline in student commencements due to COVID-19 means 43.3% fewer students began learning English in Australia in 2020 than 2019.
ELICOS is a vital component of Australia’s $40 billion international student industry, allowing international students to improve their English skills so they can commence university and secure casual work.
“ELICOS is the engine room of our economy and the flow on effect we anticipate from the JobKeeper ending is that ELICOS colleges will close and teachers losing their jobs,” Aaron said.
“We desperately need financial support for members in this sector, which has been ruined by COVID-19.
Shafston International College, which opened in 1997 and has educated over 120,000 students from more than 100 countries is among the list of colleges who have closed.
They recently announced the closure of their Brisbane campus and sold the multi-million dollar riverfront property, while their Gold Coast campus remains in hibernation.
Extend JobKeeper now
With no indication as to when Australia’s international borders will reopen, new enrolments are expected to decline even further.
“The federal government must extend JobKeeper, as it is an essential lifeline which the industry needs to survive,” Aaron said.
“Additional support has been given to the tourism and aviation industries, but ELICOS is being neglected by the federal government.
“The ELICOS sector, which has been a major investor in the local economy, needs far-reaching government investment at both a federal and state level to create a path out of recession and to create the jobs we will need to rebuild the economy.
“If ELICOS collapses completely, the flow-on effect to our economy will be disastrous.
IEU is here for you
“Our members are vulnerable to conditions beyond their control and beyond our nation’s borders, but we are always here to support them,” Aaron said.
Members are encouraged to join the VET/ELICOS Working Group to connect with their colleagues across the sector and to provide feedback on what is happening in their workplaces.
Support your ELICOS sector colleagues by signing the Australian Unions petition calling on the government to extend JobKeeper and lift the rate of JobSeeker.
Contact our union for assistance if you have any queries or concerns related to either JobSeeker or JobKeeper.