To kick off our succinct Budget recap, the government has committed $50 million over three years to create and invest in iconic tourist attractions. The government hopes the National Tourism Icons Program will drive tourism growth, create jobs and diversify local economies.

The government is also maintaining funding for Tourism Australia to continue to promote Australia overseas, which it is also banking on to drive tourism growth, particularly in regional areas.

Government funding for Tourism Australia in 2019-20 includes appropriations of $135.6 million, $14.0 million for the Asian Marketing Fund, and $2.5 million for the Working Holiday Makers visa program (which has been extended by one more year).

Furthermore, Tourism Australia’s involvement in Implementing Sport 2030 program (support for the International Cricket Council T20 World Cup) is a new two-year commitment with $2.0 million in 2019-20 and $3.0 million in 2020-21.

As widely expected, the government has also committed $100 million to upgrade regional airports.

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said the Regional Airports Program will ensure airport facilities meet the needs of communities and local industry now and into the future.

“These airports are vital for our regions, ensuring access to emergency services and providing a link to domestic and international markets and employment opportunities,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NSW accommodation sector received welcome news last night of a financial injection for a skills package in the Budget.

Federal government support for the skills package will include a $525.3 million contribution to improve the quality of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system nationwide.

Of that, $200.2 million will go to a new apprenticeship incentive aimed at creating 80,000 additional apprentices nationally over five years in priority skills shortage areas.

The incentive will double existing payments to employers to $8,000 per apprentice placement. New apprentices will also receive a $2,000 incentive payment.

Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW acting chief executive Dr Adele Lausberg said the association had been running its own industry programs to address the sector’s labour challenges, but federal government support was needed.

“We currently have an investment pipeline of approximately 3000 rooms in NSW over the next three years, which obviously creates an ongoing need for skilled and managerial staff, so we can’t afford to have a failing labour force,” she said.

“We welcome new training measures along with programs to develop better pathways to long-term careers and we look forward to working with the government to ensure the accommodation sector in NSW is able to benefit from this investment.

“This Budget starts to address the importance of developing a strong and connected workforce that can help deliver better outcomes for tourism, and particularly the hospitality sector, in NSW.”


The 2019 budget has promised new training hubs for areas in need

Hamish Chamley was one of 16 national WorldSkills competition medallists from throughout Australia selected to take part in the BBM Youth Support Skilled Futures Awards scholarship. Picture: Brodie Weeding.

 Hamish Chamley was one of 16 national WorldSkills competition medallists from throughout Australia selected to take part in the BBM Youth Support Skilled Futures Awards scholarship. Picture: Brodie Weeding.

Skills and vocational education minister Michaelia Cash said the government would create training hubs for regional areas.

“The delivering skills for today and tomorrow package will provide greater job opportunities for young people in regions with high youth unemployment through ten training hubs that create better linkages between schools and local industry ($50.6 million),” Ms Cash said.

Demographer at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for the Study of Social Change Lisa Denny said she was concerned the hubs could be duplicating services that already exist like TAFE and the University of Tasmania.

“We have had trade centres that haven’t worked in the past, I don’t know how are these any different,” Ms Denny said.

She said more should be done to look into why people were not completing courses and fix that problem rather than spending more money.

“The reasons why we have had employment decline has been a direct result of globalisation and the manufacturing industry decline on the Coast. Youth unemployment has be the result of a loss of jobs in the region.”

She said the program would need to be focused on where the demand was.

Liberal senator Richard Colbeck said locations for the training hubs would be determined in the coming weeks.

He said his strong belief was that North and North-West Tasmania would benefit from a training hub, particularly due to demand for skills generated by a growing economy.

“Our increased investment in training and skills is a good problem to have and is caused by strong economic management, we will need to support even more people to take advantage of these new job opportunities and reduced unemployment,” senator Colbeck said.

He said he expected small business investment would create greater demand for skilled labour.

“As part of delivering our strong economy the Liberal National government will be supporting training for 80,000 new apprentices, including in North-West Tasmania.

“The Liberal National government’s surplus Budget is an outstanding one for Tasmania and Australia and will help secure the future of our strong economy.”​

Labor Braddon member Justine Keay said federal Labor had a better plan for Braddon.

“The budget fails to reverse cuts to TAFE and apprenticeships, in the past six years the Liberals have cut $3 billion from TAFE and skills and in Braddon we have lost almost 700 apprentices,” Ms Keay said.


Labor, Coalition outline plans to lift regions

Labor’s spokesman for regional services and communications Stephen Jones. Picture: Justin Brierty
Labor’s spokesman for regional services and communications Stephen Jones. Picture: Justin Brierty

Labor has foreshadowed a suite of policies to correct a decline in educational opportunities for young people in regional Australia by providing a “pipeline” to skills, higher education and jobs.

The opposition spokesman for regional services and communications, Stephen Jones, told The Australian announcements would be made to “open up education and skills development pathways”.

Mr Jones said TAFE closures and capping of university funding had “kneecapped” such institutions, but Labor would announce a series of measures during the election campaign to rebuild regional education.

Mr Jones spoke to The Australian this morning after addressing the “Regions Rising 2019” conference held by independent think tank the Regional Australia Institute in Canberra.

The conference on future employment opportunities in regional and rural Australia discussed a report released today by RAI entitled “The Future of Regional Jobs”, the product of an extensive study funded by the state and federal governments.

The report found young adults in regional Australia are twice as likely to be early school leavers, with 28 per cent dropping out overall, compared with 14 per cent in metropolitan areas.

In some rural areas the early dropout rate rises to 36 per cent, while barely half completed high school compared to 80 per cent among young people in metropolitan areas.

Nearly 20 per cent of 20 to 24 year olds in metropolitan areas have a university degree, compared to 9 per cent in regional areas.

The report also found a chronic and widespread shortage of skilled labour in the regions.

In his address to the conference, Mr Jones said “part of the answer to that is immigration”.

But he said “if that is all we do we have sold the current generation of kids short”.

“The biggest deficit we have is a deficit of hope,” Mr Jones said.

It was important for young people to know that “if they work hard at school there is something there in that town for them”.

“We have got to invest in human capital,” Mr Jones said.

“We need a pipeline of investment — great teachers in great schools.

“We need to be investing in vocational education and training.”

Mr Jones said if Labor wins the May election, it would implement policies but also develop a “narrative” to bring the voters with it over time.

“You need governments that can win an election, win the narrative, and then win the next election,” he said.

“It requires the roots of reform to go deep so they are not blown over by the next political storm.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Gary Ramage
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Gary Ramage

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also addressed the conference, saying the government’s $520 million skills package would go a good way towards dealing with the problems of skill shortages and opportunity in the regions.

“The budget has done some wonderful things for regional Australia,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack also pointed to big infrastructure programs in the regions, both new ones announced in the budget and those underway including the inland rail project.

He said the inland rail program would not just create jobs during the construction phase, but beyond, including in “intermodal hubs.”

The NSW central west town of Parkes would be one key beneficiary of ongoing economic activity, Mr McCormack said, because it was at the juncture of east-west and north-south transportation lines.

“It will become a boom town, the opportunities there are quite incredible.”

Mr McCormack told the audience he had not had time to read the 45-page “The Future of Regional Jobs” report by RAI which his government had helped fund and he helped launch today, but said he had flicked through it, found it to be excellent and would read it tonight.

Mr Jones said he had not read it either, but said his staff had briefed him on its essential components.


Former child sexual abuse royal commission CEO to become new USI registrar

In this edition

  • Something bigger than Delivering skills for today and tomorrow – comment by CEO Craig Robertson
  • Funding switch raises questions over budget skills package
  • Officials acknowledge new budget skills spending just $54 million
  • Former child sexual abuse royal commission CEO to become new USI registrar
  • Hairdressers, plumbers, mechanics and bricklayers all in short supply, new report finds
  • ‘Economic refugee’ Senator Doug Cameron delivers his farewell to parliament
  • TAFE and skills to shift in NSW departmental changes
  • What does the term ‘VET’ actually mean?
  • Diary

Something bigger than Delivering skills for today and tomorrow – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

You may be expecting this week views on the Joyce Review. His insights and recommendations deserve longer reflection than the five days since its release have allowed.

I have, though, commented on the Delivering skills for today and tomorrow package announced in last week’s Budget – a package designed to start the set-up of the architecture Joyce recommended. Getting a head start is a good thing, but the parts that are missing is more the concern.

Aside from a report card on economic conditions and forecasts of revenue, Budgets ultimately reflect the philosophy of the Government for growing the economy and building opportunity for Australians.

Budgets are also underpinned by income and revenue distribution policies and these seem to be framing the election narrative. The Coalition – tax cuts as a quasi-wage rise to stimulate consumption and growth; Labor – supporting education, particularly TAFEs, to complement its wider range of tax cuts.

This budget context is important in assessing Delivering skills for today and tomorrow.

The Budget predicts strong wages growth with increases above expected inflation, although accompanied with soft employment. Commentators say this assumption is heroic and cite adjustments to GST revenue to the states as evidence. Remember, GST is a consumption tax so is a pretty good lead indicator of declining disposable household income. GST is set to decline by about $10 billion over the budget period!

The RBA remains concerned about wage stagnation, which it puts down to growth in capital as a share of the economy at the expense of labour, aided and abetted by technology driven productivity. It’s this productivity that is compromising wage increases. Our wage setting is based on increases from improved labour productivity, but that’s being washed out by technology. RBA analysis also postulates that the technology-driven dividend is not reaching small and medium enterprises.

It’s this backdrop that makes it difficult to understand the logic of Delivering skills for today and tomorrow. States and territories are the delivery powerhouse of VET, yet fiscal transfer through the SAF (see below) is being cut at the same time as their GST revenue is decreasing. At the very time we need to prepare for the automation revolution and the adjustment that will follow, funding is taken from delivery to set-up new structures and committees.

How do we solve the wages dilemma? When Treasurer Paul Keating introduced compulsory superannuation, Bill Kelty on behalf of workers paused wage claims to avoid a double hit on employers. Employees benefitted without a significant hit on employers. Maybe we need something similar, but in reverse.

In return for a commitment to wage growth, why not pursue a genuine reskilling strategy designed to develop a new wave of modern workers equipped to help employers reap the technology dividend?

Then how do TAFEs and wage growth come together? TAFEs are the best avenue. Nine million of the 14.5 million jobs in Australia rely on vocational education and training for preparation and support and 55 per cent of the jobs to grow in the next five years rely on vocational preparation. TAFEs are the natural allies of the workers in the economy deserving wage growth. And within our education system TAFEs are the stand-out workforce training partners for business and can be the agent to bring new technology and techniques to them.

We need a broad range of knowledge and skills in our TAFE graduates to meet the diverse needs these enterprises face in the rapid rate of technology change. Training that develops broader capabilities in workers to use and deploy automation and digitisation, change management and in-firm innovation, plus training for more specialist roles that will emerge from economy-wide technology change. Provided the central control of qualifications is loosened so TAFEs can meet those needs, a wage return is then justified.

The Budget assumes wages growth but Delivering skills for today and tomorrow doesn’t help. Greater coherence in the revenue distribution strategies of the federal Government, including for skilling, is needed for the Budget’s lofty objectives to be met. Improved collaboration between levels of government, between governments with industry and TAFEs, where TAFEs are empowered to deliver productivity enhancing skills, is the starting point for returning wages growth to hard working Australians.

Those reading last week’s newsletter may have thought I was deranged more than ever. Please note it was the first of April. I promise I have returned to rationality, for the moment at least.

Funding switch raises questions over budget skills package

TDA has criticised last week’s $525 million federal Budget skills package, saying that a redirection of funds away from training has undermined its credibility and jeopardised hopes of progressing the Joyce review of VET.

CEO Craig Robertson said the credibility of the VET package has been impacted by that fact that over $400 million of budget funding had been redirected from the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF).

“The now ill-fated Skilling Australians Fund was announced in 2017 as a $1.5 billion commitment to the states and territories, with matched funding, to grow apprenticeships and traineeships,” he said.

“Since announcing the SAF, Treasurers Morrison, and now Frydenberg have reduced the money available to states and territories by around $890 million.

Based on figures provided by departmental officials to Senate Estimates that the Commonwealth contribution per apprentice under SAF is $9,800 means the number of apprentices to be supported under the new funding is 58,000 before matching from the states and territories. The fund when announced anticipated 300,000 new apprentices and trainees assuming matching from states and territories.

Craig Robertson added, “It beggars belief that the Commonwealth could expect state and territories to sign up to the Joyce vision for a new national skills framework after having pulled the rug from what was promised and funded under the SAF.”

See TDA’s media release.

See Apprentice plan is ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ in the Financial Review.

See Shorten commits $440m to Tafe and vocational education in Labor budget reply in The Guardian.

Officials acknowledge new budget skills spending just $54 million

Federal departmental officials have confirmed that just 10 per cent of last week’s $525m Budget skills package entails new spending.

Appearing at a Senate Estimates committee on Friday, officials from the Department of Education and Training said that new money in the skills package amounts to $54.5 million.

The bulk of the skills package funding, which is aimed at creating 80,000 apprenticeships over five years, comes from a $463 million redirection from the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF). There was also $7.8 million from unused Commonwealth scholarships for South Australia, in addition to the $54.5 million in new spending.

The Minister for Skills and Vocational Education Senator Michaelia Cash said the redirection of funds from the SAF was caused by the failure of Victoria and Queensland to sign on to the scheme, and she rejected ALP accusations that it was money “stolen”.

“It wasn’t stolen, it was actually rejected by the Labor states,” Senator Cash told the committee.

Originally announced as a $1.5 billion fund over four years, the SAF was also reduced by $200 million as a result of lower revenue from the skills migration levy which was meant to fund it.

Department of Education and Training General Manager Bryan Palmer said it was always understood by the states and territories that funding for the SAF was based on hypothecated revenue as set out in a national partnership agreement with the Commonwealth.

“There’s actually been no cuts to the SAF. What’s happened is that there’s been an expenditure variation because revenue from the SAF levy has been lower than expected,” he said.

Former child sexual abuse royal commission CEO to become new USI registrar

The former chief executive of the royal commission into child sexual abuse, Janette Dines, (pictured) has been appointed as the new registrar of the Unique Student Identifier (USI).

Ms Dines headed the royal commission from 2012 to 2014. The royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan described Ms Dines as the driving force behind the establishment of the office of the royal commission.

Prior to that, she was Director-General of Emergency Management Australia, responsible for coordinating Australia’s response to natural disasters and national security incidents.

The appointment follows last week’s Budget announcement that the USI will be expanded from vocational education and training to higher education, replacing the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number.

Also, the USI head office will move from Canberra to Adelaide as part of the government’s decentralisation agenda.

Ms Dines will commence her three-year appointment next Monday.

Picture: courtesy Sydney Morning Herald.

Hairdressers, plumbers, mechanics and bricklayers all in short supply, new report finds

The latest analysis of skilled occupations by the Department of Jobs and Small Business shows that hairdressers are among the occupations experiencing the greatest skills shortage .

The Ratings Summary – Labour Market Analysis of Skilled Occupations shows hairdressers in short supply across every state and territory except Queensland. Other occupations in short supply include cabinetmakers, plumbers, motor mechanics, panel beaters and bricklayers.

Also, the department’s Labour Market for Apprentices report shows that the apprentice shortage is severe, with abundant applications but insufficient suitable candidates.

“While almost half the surveyed employers received more than 20 applications, most candidates were regarded as unsuitable,” the report said.

Eighty-seven per cent of employers said it was “difficult” or “very difficult” to recruit apprentice hairdressers, compared to 86% for automotive, 75% for construction, 63% for engineering and 48% for electro-tech.

Last week’s federal Budget included new employer and apprentice incentive payments in skills shortage areas, a promise that was matched in the federal opposition’s budget reply.

‘Economic refugee’ Senator Doug Cameron delivers his farewell to parliament

The federal opposition Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships Senator Doug Cameron has delivered his valedictory speech to the parliament, in a rousing celebration of his journey from a working class town near Glasgow to the Australian Senate.

Declaring himself a “proud socialist,” he described leaving school at 15 to become an apprentice fitter, before migrating to Australia in 1973, aged 22, with his wife, Elaine, and 14-month-old daughter, Lynn.

“I was, in reality, an economic refugee – the sort loathed by some of the crossbenchers,” he said.

He worked as a fitter at General Motors Holden’s Pagewood plant in Sydney at the same time as Elaine – one of the first women on the production line – was a spot welder.

He later moved to the Liddell Power Station near Muswellbrook (“It was a heap of rubbish then; I don’t know what it’s like now.”)

He was made National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers and vice-president of the ACTU before being elected to the Senate in 2008.

“Over the past six years I’ve been honoured to serve in Bill Shorten’s shadow ministry as Labor’s spokesman on, firstly, human services, housing and homelessness, as well as skills, TAFE and apprenticeships,” he said.

Senator Cameron’s Senate term expires on July 1 and he will remain as shadow minister throughout the election campaign.

TAFE and skills to shift in NSW departmental changes

There are significant changes in the NSW public service in the wake of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s election win, which will include responsibility for TAFE and skills.

The changes extend across larges sections of the bureaucracy and see the Department of Industry abolished and replaced by the Department of Industry and Planning under Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

The TAFE and skills responsibility will fall under the new Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee as part of the Department of Education.

See the NSW administrative arrangements.

See The new-look NSW public service at The Mandarin.

What does the term ‘VET’ actually mean?

It’s often assumed that ‘VET’ stands for ‘vocational education and training’, but not to everyone, and certainly not to all those who made submissions to the Joyce review of VET.

The report says that the term is confusing, with several submissions addressing issues related to veterinary science and defence veterans.

“On the other hand, some people only relate VET to public TAFEs or what is generally considered a traditional trade apprenticeship,” the report said.

“Others refer to TAFEs in a generic way, interchangeable with the term vocational education as in, ‘are you going to a private TAFE or a public one?’”

It’s for that reason, the review recommends applying a new overall brand and language around VET.

It says terms like ‘Professional Education’, ‘Technical Education’, ‘Technology Education’, and ‘Industry Education’ are all possibilities, but comes down in favour of ‘Skills Education’ which can be abbreviated to ‘Skills Ed’, but says this should be market-tested along with other alternatives before any change is made.

Diary Dates

VDC 2019 Teaching & Learning Conference
16 & 17 May 2019
RACV Torquay Resort, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
More information

2019 VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
17 May 2019
Doltone House – Sydney
More Information

2019 EduTech
6-7 June 2019
International Convention Centre, Sydney
More information

Skills Conference 2019
Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
13 June 2019
Dockside Darling Harbour
More information

22nd Annual Conference of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
No future for old VET’: Researching for the training system/s of tomorrow
17-18 June 2019
Western Sydney University and University College, Parramatta, Sydney
More information

No Frills
28th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference
10-12 July 2019
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
2019 National Conference
31 July – 2 August 2019
Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast
More information coming soon

QLD School VET Conference
Velg Training
9 August 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
More Information

VTA 2019 State Conference 
15 – 16 August 2019
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Save the date

National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
More information

National Skills Week
26 August – 1 September 2019
Locations around Australia
More information

TAFE Directors Australia 2019 Convention
4 – 6 September 2019
More information coming soon

2019 National VET Conference
Velg Training
12 &13 September 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
More Information

Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
More information


Bypass degrees and tick-and-flick providers: new review takes them on

Companies and training organisations are creating their own skills accreditations and bypassing the normal process for registering qualifications because the regulator is too slow to respond to changing technology, according to Steven Joyce, whose review of vocational education has just been released by the government.

Bypass qualifications have become part of the skills sector and involve  micro-credentials that businesses and students are opting for because it gives them quick access to training and jobs.

The review was commissioned by the Morrison government in the wake of falling enrolments and spending on skills training. Supplied

In an exclusive interview with The Australian Financial Review, Mr Joyce said the process of creating and updating skills qualifications was slow, did not inspire confidence and resulted in qualifications that were out of date.

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) is meant to take advice from industry and produce updated qualifications that are signed off by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

“The problem is it takes a very long time to update a qualification. You have a very narrow funnel through which everything must go. Sectors queue up to get qualifications updated.”

“The problem is it takes a very long time to update a qualification.

— Steven Joyce chair of the training review

“The department of education says the process is down to a year long. But most people in industry say it takes years.”

As a result, when the minerals industry in Western Australia needed its own autonomous vehicle qualification Rio Tinto worked with the South Metropolitan TAFE in Perth and WA government to develop the qualification.

Box Hill Institute in Victoria had partnered with industry in 2017 to accredit a national cyber security qualification in a similar way.

“Effectively industry sets up an accredited course and over time seeks to have it turned into a national qualification.

“When a system is under stress people tend not to use it. That means we need to change the system.”

‘The level of variation is difficult to fathom’

Mr Joyce said the qualifications the process be decentralised and industry and government should take responsibility for their own qualifications and take control of their own training packages.

Mr Joyce’s Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System was commissioned by the Morrison government late last year in the wake of data showing declining enrolments and lower spending on skills and training. Findings of the Joyce review were published on Budget night.

One of the recommendations, a National Skills Commission, was announced on Budget night in a package of reforms for the training sector.

Mr Joyce said he hoped the commission would eliminate another of his concerns: “Tick-and-flick” providers.

The Australian training system was based on recognising people’s competency, not just the number of hours or years they had studied for.

But this meant students could be assessed as competent when they had barely done any work. In some instances what should be years of study were knocked over in a handful of weekend classes.

“Some providers take shortcuts and assess a person as skilled when all the person has done is read the work book and tick some boxes.

“Some providers assess a person as skilled when all the person has done is read the work book and tick some boxes.”

— Steven Joyce, chair of the skills review

“There needs to be a benchmark number of hours to provide a qualification. Someone has to establish the average time it takes to learn a particular skill.”

Mr Joyce recommended benchmark hours be set by ASQA, initially just for “high-risk” qualifications but eventually for all courses.

He agreed the Australian training system was characterised by flexibility, which was generally a good thing. But this meant it was hard to be sure providers were doing their jobs properly and students were genuinely qualified.

Another shortcoming was inconsistency of funding and pricing.

Not only did the states, territories and Commonwealth have different rates for courses and subsidies, but there were also variations right down to individual TAFEs and private providers.

It was difficult to justify any of this to students.  It stopped smaller would-be trainers entering the market and it discouraged the sector from adopting a national approach.

Steven Joyce says reform of relations within the skills sector are clearly needed. Eamon Gallagher

“If I’m a provider in Victoria and I’m being asked to offer a course in New South Wales the costs should be the same. But they’re not. The level of variation is difficult to fathom.”

A diploma of nursing in Western Australia attracted a subsidy of $19,963 but only $8218 in Queensland.

When the complicated fee-help system was added to this there was no surprise intending students were discouraged from going into training. Especially when it was relatively easy to go to university and there was more money on offer to study there.

Mr Joyce said it wasn’t his role to argue how the Federation should work but he recommended the Commonwealth set subsidy rates for all courses leaving the states and territories to allocate the money to training organisations on a competitive basis.

Work with stakeholders

He said it would be up to the proposed National Skills Commission to assess demand and set rates for which it would need to develop a reputation for trust and authority “similar to that of the Australian Bureau of Statistics”.

A new National Skills Commission would recommend subsidies and state and private providers would offer courses according to demand. Jonathan Carroll

“Right now in the skill sector everything is either national or state or regional. The National Skills Commission has to work with all the stakeholders. There is nothing like this apparent at the moment. There is nothing which is integrated.”

The states and the Commonwealth would sign up to a new national agreement with the NSC at its centre and this would replace existing training agreements with the states including the Skilling Australians Fund, which is meant to be the cornerstone of the Coalition’s training policy.

Mr Joyce told the Financial Review he didn’t think the National Skills Commission was the only solution to the problems of the training sector. That would come from improving  qualification development, benchmarking hours, simplifying funding and matching it better to skills..

He said schools needed to do more to offer students different pathways instead of always steering them to university. More data would be helpful. Students would make better choices if someone actually showed them how much they would earn in certain jobs, how long it would take to skill-up and how much it would cost to get the qualification.

“You have to give young people unimpeachable data on what they’ll earn once they qualify. Young people are thinking about three or four career options when they are at school. You have to give them clearer and simpler information about the choices.”

He acknowledged his report landed right before an election and there was the possibility of a change of government.

“This is not a political report. This is a report on how you get a sector to work. That is something for everyone to like. There is an opportunity in the skills sector regardless of the political cycle. There is an opportunity to do something significant.”


My $110,000 degree was a waste of time and money

Young Aussies face a life burdened by cost-of-living pressures and housing unaffordability, so is university worth adding to it?

Judy Sahay says her $110,000 HECS debt was a waste of money and time.Source:Supplied

Young Australians are tying themselves to significant student loans for degrees nearly half believe are a waste of money, a new study says.

Judy Sahay’s education and professional life follows any typical modern Australian; she launched into a university degree out of school, followed her passions, and a decade later she found herself in a professional career unrelated to her initial path.

And, painfully, an enormous HECS debt of $110,000 she now believes was a waste of money.

Ms Sahay’s regret is shared by many, with nearly half of Australians saying they didn’t believe their degree was worth the money it cost, according to research commissioned by online study assistance provider Studiosity.

Of the study, 55 per cent said their degree was a waste because the student loan would take too long to pay off, 19 per cent thought they weren’t adequately prepared for their professional job once they completed their studies, 16 per cent said they would have learned more in the workplace and 10 per cent thought the education standard wasn’t good enough.

Uni life might be fun, but is it worth the huge cost?

Uni life might be fun, but is it worth the huge cost?Source:Supplied

Ms Sahay puts the escalated cost of her higher education down to “naivety at the start”.

As a self-confessed maths and science nerd, she completed a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering as well as a Bachelor of Science focusing on chemistry at the end of 2008 at Melbourne’s Monash University.

She then went into the workforce but found the role of a chemical engineer too lonesome and lacking creativity.

This led to her first career pivot when she was hired by consultancy firm Grant Thornton, but it also required further time with the books, so she completed postgraduate studies in accounting.

Ms Sahay then abandoned the accounting game to start her own digital media agency and has served as the managing director of Crowd Media for five years.

Although her career took a turn she couldn’t have predicted, and she appreciates the education has allowed her to progress to where she is today, Ms Sahay told news.com.au she “didn’t have to pay $110,000 to learn those skills”.

“I don’t think universities are a waste, I think my choice in choosing those units was a waste of money and time because had I known what I wanted to do, I would not have done them,” she said.

“It’s one of those things where at 18 you’ve got no idea what you’re doing really, you just pick something and go, yep, I want to do engineering, that sounds cool.”

Studiosity chief academic officer Professor Judyth Sachs says the research shows Australians are divided over the value of a university education.

“However, the data interestingly revealed that a significant number of students are not only attending university simply to receive their qualification but to develop and improve their life and soft skills related to teamwork and organisation,” she said.

Studiosity says a recurring theme from the research is students’ resentment towards the rising costs of a degree as well as the inadequate availability of study support and feedback.

The company’s chief executive, Michael Larsen, said institutions were committing investment to improve this sentiment of poor student satisfaction.

“When universities respond to this feedback and implement appropriate initiatives, the levels of student experience will increase, which is impressive considering the data also stated that 77 per cent of students said university was what they expected or even better than expected,” he said.

Ms Sahay implores young Aussies to have a strong understanding of where they want their professional life to go before signing up for a life of debt.

“I really believe that a university degree does provide a good quality education in Australia, however I think you need to be really clear with where you want to head in say 10 to 20 years time,” she said.

“You’ve got to look at the big picture and work out what you have to study now to get me in that path.”


Finishing ‘half-right’ education job paramount for Labor

RESTORING TAFE SYSTEM: Federal Labor plan to improve TAFE system and campuses such as the Wollongong campus pictured above. Picture: Adam McLean

 RESTORING TAFE SYSTEM: Federal Labor plan to improve TAFE system and campuses such as the Wollongong campus pictured above. Picture: Adam McLean

AEU president Correna Haythorpe said Labor’s commitments to invest in preschools, public schools and TAFE would give more Australians access to the world’s best public education systems.

In his Budget reply speech on Thursday night, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also recommitted a future Labor government to restoring uncapped university student places – unlocking educational opportunity for thousands more Australians.

This pleased Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson.

In 2017, funding for student places was frozen, cutting funding by $2.1 billion and effectively capping the number of Australians who could attend university.

“If we know one thing about our rapidly changing world, it is that we need more university graduates, not fewer,” Ms Jackson said.

“The ALP commitment is important for our future workforce and re-opens the doors of educational opportunity for all Australians.”

Universities also welcomed Labor’s commitment to rebuilding the vocational education sector following successive funding cuts and policy changes.

“We need both vocational education and universities to be strong to ensure our economy has a smart and skilled workforce into the future,” she said.

This view was shared by Whitlam MP Stephen Jones, who said caps to the university system was crippling regional universities.

“There is as much as a 15 per cent gap between participation in tertiary education when you compare regional Australia to the capital cities,” he said.

The Shadow Minister for Regional Services added unlike the Liberal Government, Labor looked at a person through every stage of the education cycle.

“We are looking at somebody from the age of three until at least higher education,” Mr Jones said.

“Unless you get that whole pipeline right you are not going to be able to deal with the needs of the individual and the workforce.”

He said Labor would restore the $13 billion to public schools, which was cut by the federal government.

The Whitlam MP added it was right of the government to restore money cut from catholic and independent schools.

“To cut it was wrong. To restore it was right but then they only half did the job and they didn’t restore all of the money that they took out of the state school system.

“That’s what we are going to do. We are going to finish the job.”

This involved also fixing a TAFE system which has “just about been decimated by state and federal governments”.

“We need to ensure that we are building TAFE physically, the campuses but also winding back the no-fee, no-start system for apprentices, particularly for those in-demand skilled shortage areas.

“This includes your traditional trades and all of those caring trades necessary to implement our aged care system and the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” Mr Jones said.


Labor’s commitment to VET funding should be focused on outcomes

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) welcomes Labor’s commitment to invest in

providing Australians with the skills to support a growing economy.

Providing the existing workforce and those entering the workforce with the skills that allow Australians to be meaningfully employed in the jobs of the future is a noble objective.

“If Labor is elected, ACPET looks forward to supporting them to create a tertiary education sector that delivers the outcomes that students and employers are looking for. It is the independent tertiary education sector that will help a Labor Government achieve this at a lower cost than the public TAFE colleges” said Troy Williams.

“The data here is clear, it is independent providers and not the public sector that have a track record of achieving higher completion rates, higher starting salaries and higher post-training employment rates” Mr Williams said.

Independent providers play the most significant role in the delivery of VET in Australia, with some 4.2 million students choosing to study with an independent VET provider, representing 60 per cent of all Vocational Education and Training (VET) students nationally, whereas TAFEs deliver to 16 per cent of all VET students.

In 2017, just 27.7 per cent of the $2.1 billion of government funding invested into VET was awarded to non- TAFEs. In a training system where 60 per cent of students choose to study with an independent provider, there is clearly a mismatch in funding support to students.

“It is important that student choice be preserved. The priority for the next Australian Government should be on allowing students to access public funds with high quality providers, by harnessing market forces to achieve the best possible outcomes in the most effective and efficient way,” Mr Williams said.

ACPET represents the nation’s independent tertiary education system that encompasses higher education, vocational education and training sectors.

/Public Release.

2019 budget reply: Education, TAFE and early childhood

Supplied video obtained Tuesday, April 4, 2019 of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivering his budget reply at Canberra’s Parliament House. Mr Shorten pledges to uncap university places and spend $200 million renovating TAFE campuses. Mr Shorten says Labor will pay the up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students “to get more Australians training in high priority courses”. Mr Shorten says Labor will guarantee universal access to preschool or kindergarten for every three-year-old and every four-year-old in Australia in line with global best practice. (AAP Video/Supplied/ParlView) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY.


Labor announces $1bn investment in TAFE sector

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten. Picture: AAPLeader of the Opposition Bill Shorten. Picture: AAP

Federal Labor has announced a $1 billion investment into reviving the ailing TAFE sector and encouraging uptake of apprenticeships in areas of significant skills shortages in a bid to “supercharge” the economy.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has used his budget reply to highlight the chasm between the two major parties on the issue of skills and apprenticeships, unveiling a detailed package of measures designed to reverse the decline in the TAFE sector.

They include $334 million to incentivise an additional 150,000 apprentices, $200m to rebuild and upgrade TAFE campuses across the country, and a waiver of upfront TAFE fees for up to 100,000 people.

“A Shorten Labor Government will supercharge the skills economy by reversing the decline in apprentices and restoring TAFE as the centrepiece of Australian vocational education,” Mr Shorten said.

“Under the Liberals, more than $3bn has been cut from TAFE, skills and apprentices, and Australia now has 150,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than when Labor left government in 2013.”

Mr Shorten, who has previously promised to call a national inquiry into Australia’s post-secondary education system within the first 100 days in the event he is elected in May, also hit out at Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s claim on Tuesday that he was increasing vocational education funding as “nothing more than a cynical and desperate exercise to cover their cuts”.

The budget featured a $525m skills package that promised to create an additional 80,000 apprenticeships in industries with skills shortages by doubling incentive payments to employers and providing a $2000 payment to apprentices.

However, Treasury department officials confirmed that just $55m of that was new funding, the rest was rebadged funding that had previously been promised to Victoria and Queensland.

Mr Shorten said the 80,000 additional apprentices represented a downwards revision of the 300,000 places projected by the government two years ago.

“The reality is the government has done absolutely nothing to address the decline in apprenticeships or the 24.5 per cent drop in TAFE enrolments on their watch,” he said.

As part of Labor’s skills plan, support will be provided for 10,000 young people to do a pre-apprentice program, as well as support for 20,000 older workers to retrain through an advanced adult apprenticeship. Eligible workers will be given credit for their existing skills and training will be catered to filling gaps in their skill sets.

Labor will also guarantee that at least two-out-of-three dollars of public funding goes to public TAFE and will require at least 10 per cent of jobs on all major infrastructure and defence projects be filled by an apprentice.

The offer of free TAFE courses resembles a similar initiative in Victoria announced in last year’s state budget.

From January 1 2019, eligible students are no longer required to pay tuition fees for more than 30 TAFE courses in in-demand areas such as aged care, disability and trades, including concreting, plumbing, building and construction.

A range of pre-apprenticeship courses also offer free tuition, including furniture making, glazing, automotive body repair technology and signage and graphics.

A national inquiry into the post-secondary education system will consider ways to encourage students to consider TAFE in the same attractive light as university.

A new Building TAFE for the Future Fund will seek to re-establish facilities in regional communities that have lost campuses and develop new ones in regions and suburbs where the population is growing and industry is changing or expanding.

Mr Shorten said Labor would fund its promises by “making multinationals pay their fair shares and closing tax loopholes sued by the top end of town”.

Source AAP:www.theaustralian.com.au