PM employs Scott Cam to create blue-collar jobs, but Morrison keeps defunding TAFE

PM employs Scott Cam to create blue-collar jobs, but Morrison keeps defunding TAFE

Scott Morrison employing a television tradie is already crazy, but if you consider the repeated cuts to the TAFE system, it’s borderline insane.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure, Australia is in the business of giving celebrities governmental positions. In a move that’s dangerously close to satire/utter numbness, Scott Morrison has employed television tradie Scott Cam of The Block fame.

“I want to see more Australians become plumbers, electricians and bakers than lawyers and consultants. I would like to see more of them going on to become their own boss,” Morrison said on Thursday.

“Scott Cam is proof that undertaking a trade can be a very valuable, rewarding and successful career choice, and there are plenty more who can tell a similar story to Scott…by learning a trade you’ll earn more, your skills will be in demand and you’ll help build our country and keep our economy strong,” he continued.

Per The New Daily, “Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash said vocational education and training was key to building Australia’s future workforce. She said Mr Cam would help Australians at ‘all ages and stages’ to make informed decisions about learning, training and work. ‘Working with the National Careers Institute, Scott will make sure individuals and businesses can take advantage of the pathways on offer,’ she said.”

There’s just a rather large elephant in the room. If Morrison wants to steer the nation away from university types (which is another discussion) and into blue-collar work, he should focus on the tried-and-tested TAFE route, right?

No. You see, his party (particularly his predecessor) has cannibalised the system, introducing $1.9 billion in cuts.

According to the Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward in 2018, the entire system is at risk.

“Government funding cuts have left the TAFE sector perilously close to collapse,” Ms Forward said.

“Under the Turnbull government, funding has been slashed and support for the system has collapsed.”

“The TAFE and vocational education system remains the worst-funded education sector in the country, with funding having been cut by more than 15% between 2007 and 2016,” Ms Forward said.

“The damage inflicted on the sector, particularly as a result of underfunding and attempts to privatise, has eroded the viability of colleges and undermined confidence in the system,” Ms Forward said.

“More people have been through TAFE and vocational training than have attended university in Australia,” Ms Forward said.

“The TAFE sector is responsible for providing vocational education to some of the most important professions in the country, including nurses, child-care workers, hairdressers, aged care and disability workers and electricians.”

“Unless governments address the crisis in the TAFE and vocational education sector as a matter of urgency, the consequences for society and the economy – and for the next generation of young people – will be dire,” Ms Forward said.

In the recent budget, no new funding for TAFE was announced by the Morrison government, with Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe noting that “…there is no additional specified funding for TAFE in the budget. What we have is a sleight of hand by the Morrison government with the majority of the $525 million actually being repurposed money.”

“This is a budget which fails to give a fair go to TAFE. It will deny many thousands of Australians the opportunity to build the skills they need for the careers they want…this funding is essentially a repackaging of the Skilling Australians Fund. In reality, there is just $55 million of new money for vocational education over five years,” she said.

If the Michaelia Cash and Scott Morrison believe that the future of our workforce is vocational training, then why are the cutting off the only meaningful supplier of it?


Free TAFE short course for late stage apprentices

FREE COURSE: TAFE is offering late stage apprentices and early trades people the chance to upskill for free from now until December.
FREE COURSE: TAFE is offering late stage apprentices and early trades people the chance to upskill for free from now until December. HVIA

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) is one of four peak automotive industry bodies that have partnered to offer the Automotive Industry Ambassador Program for late stage apprentices and early trades people.

The free short course will provide leadership and communication skills to attendees.

The five-part workshop will commence on Wednesday, October 9 and will continue every second Wednesday until December.

The program will be delivered by TAFE Queensland SkillsTech to late stage apprentices and early trades people employed by member companies of the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association, The Construction & Mining Equipment Industry Group, MTA Queensland and the Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers.

Seats are limited to a maximum of two late stage apprentices/early tradespeople per member company.

Nominations must be received by TAFE Queensland SkillsTech by Friday, October 4. You can download the nomination form here.

The five-day program promises to provide apprentices with the skills to:

  • Communicate effectively with clients and colleagues
  • Manage small teams
  • Negotiate effectively

Implement more efficient and effective workplace processes

The units of competency are:

  • BSBLDR403 – Lead team effectiveness
  • BSBLDR402 – Lead effective workplace relationships
  • BSBSMGT402 – Implement operational plan
  • BSBLDR401 – Communicate effectively as a workplace leader


‘Perverse’ loan incentive funneling students into uni rather than TAFE

The NSW Skills Minister has called on the federal government to extend the HECS tertiary loan system to TAFE, arguing there is currently a “perverse incentive” for students to choose university over a trade because there is no up-front cost.

Concerns over the decline in vocational education and a funding disparity with the higher education sector was raised by state ministers during the Skills COAG held in Melbourne on Friday.

NSW Skills Minister Geoff Lee believes HECS should be afforded to TAFE students.
NSW Skills Minister Geoff Lee believes HECS should be afforded to TAFE students.Credit:Adam McLean

NSW Skills Minister Geoff Lee believes the up-front cost of many TAFE and vocational education courses was pushing potential students towards university, where their fees were covered by the Commonwealth HECS loan scheme.

“There is a perverse incentive for people to actually go to uni and do degrees that are irrelevant to what they want to do in life because there are no upfront fees,” Mr Lee told the Sun Herald.

“So if you’re from a low socio-economic background or some disadvantage, it’s pushing people into the higher-ed sector where they’re probably better off to do jobs and get good jobs and get good careers in the skills and training area.”

While the issue of funding inequity was on the table at COAG, Mr Lee went a step further after the meeting, suggesting the best solution would be for the federal government to allow TAFE students to access HECS loans, which are repaid incrementally once someone begins earning more than $51,000.

The Member for Parramatta, Geoff Lee, takes a selfie with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The Member for Parramatta, Geoff Lee, takes a selfie with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.Credit:Cole Bennetts

“It should be the one program in my opinion…HECS actually works very well,” Mr Lee said.

“We’d like to see that rolled out…there should just be one system that actually allows people in the VET system or TAFE to take advantage of those very low fee services, you know low interest rates so they can enroll in the course of their choosing.”

While certain commonwealth loans are offered to vocational education students studying a diploma or higher courses, a spokeswoman for Mr Lee said there were caps on those loans and they weren’t given to people undertaking certificate level studies.

Mr Lee said the federal government “recognise the disincentives” students faced when considering undertaking vocational training.

Mr Lee, who was promoted to cabinet following the Coalition’s March state election win, said it was currently taking too long for TAFE to recognise where skill shortages were, consult with the industry and develop a course.

The member for Parramatta said it took up to six years for TAFE to develop courses, which could be redundant by the time they were offered to students. He wants courses developed in six months.

“Every time I met with industry leaders, they all say a shortage of critical skills will negatively impact productivity and we need to act now,” he said.

NSW opposition spokesman for skills Jihad Dib said he would welcome further commonwealth funding for vocational education.

“Anything that is going that is going to improve enrolment into TAFE is something that we would be supportive of, but I’m not going to let the government get away with not acknowledging that they’ve made a massive mistake over a long period of time where they’ve run TAFE into the ground,” he said.

“We had teachers that were losing their jobs, courses that were being cut and accessibility really limited….the policies of the last eight years is what has led us to this.”

Federal Skills and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who met with state ministers at COAG on Friday, did not respond to requests for comment.


Victorian TAFEs fail Process Review

Friday, September 13, 2019 – 12:23

An Audit Victoria review of Enrolment Processes at Technical and Further Education Institutes has highlighted limited uptake of document automation with duplicative information collection, and manual processing still common.

The audit was undertaken to examine the efficiency of enrolment processes for government-subsidised training at four Technical and Further Education Institutes (TAFEs) and one dual sector university: Box Hill Institute; Melbourne Polytechnic; Sunraysia Institute of TAFE; William Angliss Institute of TAFE; and Swinburne University of Technology. 

This audit used process mining software to examine prospective students’ pathways through the enrolment process at four of the five audited TAFEs.

It found that three institutions, Melbourne Polytechnic, SuniTAFE and William Angliss, still rely on manual processes to enrol students, which are inefficient and costly. In some cases, these TAFEs require prospective students to visit campus on one or more occasions to finalise their enrolment, which can be inconvenient for students and burdensome for staff.

Melbourne Polytechnic, SuniTAFE and William Angliss mostly use paper‑based and some electronic forms to capture critical enrolment-related information. In contrast with Swinburne and Box Hill, these electronic forms do not automatically feed into the TAFEs’ information management systems.

Admissions staff must manually copy the information into the relevant SMS field. This double handling often occurs after the individual has finalised their enrolment, which may delay TAFEs’ access to consolidated data.

SuniTAFE and Melbourne Polytechnic use additional staff resources to manage the manual activity in their processes. SuniTAFE has previously hired a temporary admissions officer to scan enrolment-related documents for storage, while Melbourne Polytechnic contracts a third-party records management company for the same purpose. These resources put a financial burden on SuniTAFE and Melbourne Polytechnic, which may divert funds from other initiatives.

In contrast, Box Hill and Swinburne have an online enrolment process, while providing on-campus help to those who need it.

All TAFEs use a combination of third-party software programs to capture information about prospective students. TAFEs use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to communicate with individuals when they enquire about training, and a student management system (SMS) to collect and administer information about key enrolment steps. Some TAFEs also employ a separate finance system to process tuition fees. Most TAFEs use different versions of the same CRM and SMS products, which they configure differently.

The report concludes that All TAFEs face similar challenges to integrate their information management systems and move more enrolment steps online.

“Rather than working in isolation to address the same issues, there could be significant sector‑wide efficiency gains if the department and TAFEs work together on system development.”

The Full Report is available HERE.


Australia lands 8th in the WorldSkills competition

Australia’s trainees and apprentices took their skills to the world’s best this August at the WorldSkills Competition.

Placing eighth overall, the team of 15 made up one of 66 national teams that competed in the Russian city of Kazan.

The competition, which showcases the benefits of skilled trade professionals and vocational institutions, ranked contestants with a bronze, silver, or gold medal.

Clinton Larkings came away with a silver medal in the Industrial Mechanics (Millwright) category, which tested the TAFE NSW Orange student’s ability to install, maintain, repair, and remove machinery and equipment.

Anthony Ters, of TAFE NSW Mount Druitt, received the Medallion of Excellence in Automobile technology.

Bronze medals were also worn by Patrick Brennan, for refrigeration & air-conditioning, and Patrick Keating for plumbing and heating.

The team as a whole is known as the Skillaroos and hopes to improve their performance at the 46thWorldSkills International Competition in Shanghai in two years’ time.

“We are all very impressed with the performance of the team, they showcased the power of excellence and demonstrated the strength of vocational education and training in Australia,” said Brigitte Collins, WorldSkills Australia general manager.

Overall, China came out on top of the medal tally, with a total of 35 medals, 16 gold. Host nation Russia followed, with 22 total medals, 14 gold.


Victoria’s TAFE course completion rate the worst in Australia

At least two out of three people who enrolled in a government-funded TAFE course in Victoria between 2015 and 2017 quit before gaining a qualification.

The dismal completion rate has come to light in new figures produced by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, which demonstrate that Victoria had the lowest course completion rate for government-funded vocational education in the country in 2017, with just 29.6 per cent of students gaining a qualification.

Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney with Premier Daniel Andrews at Holmesglen TAFE in 2018.
Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney with Premier Daniel Andrews at Holmesglen TAFE in 2018. CREDIT:JOE ARMAO

When government-funded and fee-paying courses were combined, only 31.5 per cent of Victorian TAFE students finished their courses.

The worst completion rates were in foundation skills courses – such as literacy or social skills. Only 12 per cent of those enrolled completed what are known as “mixed field studies”.

Other fields of education with poor completion rates include information technology, architecture and building, which saw three quarters of students drop out, while closer to two thirds of students dropped out of engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, food and hospitality.

Science and education courses had comparatively healthier completion rates of more than 60 per cent.

Continue reading “Victoria’s TAFE course completion rate the worst in Australia”

Victoria’s TAFE dropout epidemic: Two-in-three quit before getting a qualification

Two out of three people who enrolled in a government-funded TAFE course in Victoria between 2015 and 2017 quit before completing a course.

Victorian vocational education drop out rates are the highest in the country.

In 2017, fewer than eight per cent of TAFE students studying certificate I qualifications completed their course.

Bruce Mackenzie, vocational education expert and founder of the Mackenzie Research Centre at Holmesglen TAFE, said drop a lack of foundation skills is to blame.

“Often the students are dropping out because they just don’t have the literacy and numeracy skills to complete a tertiary qualification, and that’s a problem,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“In vocational education and training we have more disadvantaged students than in the university sector, but in the university sector the similar students who are disadvantaged will also probably drop out of university.”

The worst TAFE completion rates are for foundation skills courses, such a literacy and social skills.

Science and education courses have the highest completion rates.

Press PLAY below for more.


NSW holds its own in NCVER report

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said today’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) report on ‘Total VET students and courses 2018’ showed NSW was holding its own against declining national trends when it comes to skills and training.

“NSW Government-funded enrolments increased from 399,900 in 2017 to 407,600 in 2018, and NSW has seen a sharp increase in government-funded Certificate IV enrolments,” Mr Lee said.

“NSW also saw increased enrolments in apprenticeships and traineeships and Indigenous student enrolments.

“NSW is training 30% of the nation’s apprentices and trainees.

“While some states saw their apprentice and trainee numbers decline by the thousands, I’m proud NSW had the biggest increase in the country.”

This year’s NCVER report used a different methodology to previous years, counting only nationally recognised training, meaning non-accredited training such as HSC courses and Statements of Attainment in Skills for Business were excluded in the figures. As a result, the 2018 report cannot be compared with reports from previous years.

The NSW Government is leading the way on providing better access to skills and training. It has committed more than $350 million to deliver 100,000 fee free apprenticeships along with 100,000 free TAFE NSW and VET courses over four years.


Hundreds of TAFE teachers to strike over pay deal

Hundreds of TAFE teachers and tutors will walk off the job for 24 hours following an ongoing dispute over a new pay deal with the Queensland government.

About 800 TAFE Queensland union members from the Queensland Teachers’ Union and Together union will strike on Wednesday, with classes expected to be cancelled across the state.

Hundreds of TAFE Queensland teachers and tutors will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday.
Hundreds of TAFE Queensland teachers and tutors will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday.

It comes after TAFE teachers and tutors held a two-hour stop-work meeting on July 30.

The current enterprise agreement expired on June 30.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in March.

QTU president Kevin Bates said progress had been made on claims from the two unions, which share coverage of education staff at TAFE Queensland.

However, “two key issues” remained unresolved, he said.

These were ensuring Queensland salaries were comparable with teachers and tutors interstate and measures to address gender employment inequity.

The Queensland government’s wages policy restricts pay rises in the public sector to 2.5 per cent a year, however, the QTU has previously sought an increase of 4.5 per cent.

Mr Bates said the salary of TAFE tutors in Queensland was among the lowest in the country.

He said: “2.5 per cent does not deliver a change in our relative position with the other states and territories – it means it needs to be more than that.”

Salaries for Queensland tutors ranged from $52,000 to $60,000, while pay packets in most other states started at $61,000 and went as high as $76,000, Mr Bates said.

“TAFE teacher salaries in Queensland remain under $100,000 while interstate colleagues extend up to a maximum of $145,000 in Tasmania, $120,000 in New South Wales and $113,000 in Victoria,” he said.

Mr Bates said women were also over-represented in “precarious” and part-time employment, which had a career-long impact on their earnings and retirement savings.

Almost 71 per cent of casual TAFE Queensland educators were women, while 56.4 per cent were temporary employees.

More than half of permanent TAFE Queensland educators were men.

The QTU is asking for annual progression through the salary scale regardless of hours worked and shared access by both parents to parental leave entitlements.

A spokeswoman for Training Minister Shannon Fentiman declined to comment as negotiations were ongoing.


‘Skills crisis’: VET and TAFE undone by rampant neoliberalism

Ian Learmonth, Ai Group boss Innes Willox and Luke Menzel. Willox is calling for an improvement to our skills systems (image via Twitter).

Late last week Innes Willox – head of Australian Industry Group – sent a letter to Scott Morrison, alerting him to the dire skills crisis in Australia.

Our Vocational Education and Training (VET) system was a complete “debacle” he remarked: ’75 per cent of employers experiencing difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people into vacancies’.

But Willox stopped short of citing the real cause of our broken national training system: namely the ideology of extreme neoliberalism ⁠— the unwavering belief that unregulated markets will produce superior results even when the evidence suggests otherwise.

It all started back in the early 1990s, when Australian politicians and policymakers became infatuated with Thatcherism. From their perspective, TAFEs were an affront to the credo of free market capitalism. Too unresponsive to industry. A drain of public resources. Yet another case of “big government” getting in the way market forces. Welfare by stealth.

🌱💧Helen McAfee – Save the Darling!
Restore TAFE to full glory Neoliberal wreckers! …

Adam Curlis
Really!! A $5,000 shopping spree on top of an expensive marketting campaign? Can we just have our TAFE back, please? …

5:46 AM – Sep 10, 2016
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A new system was introduced that allowed private providers – Registered Training Organizations (or RTOs) – to compete for government funding. By 2015, 42 per cent of government spending on vocational training was awarded to non-TAFE providers, today numbering in their thousands as TAFEs wither on the vine.

The content of training changed too. Rather than building a standardised skillset that individuals might use in a variety of jobs, targeted “training packages” were proposed by employers instead, keying them in specific work settings.

This revamped approach to VET was no government handout either. Following the holy commandments of Thatcherism, students would require a loan to pay for the training via the FEE-HELP system. Skills were recast as a strictly private good, not a public one.

This setup follows a familiar neoliberal formula. Employers loved it because they didn’t have to invest in training. The government would do so for them, using private businesses and with the final bill shoulder by individual trainees in the form of personal debt.

AEU Victoria
The #MelbourneStorm ⚡️⛈ stopped us travelling to Parliament to see Daniel Andrews, so we brought the Premier to us.

The rain will stop, but the TAFE community will keep fighting until we get a fair deal! ✊ #TAFE4ALL

View image on Twitter
12:59 PM – Dec 1, 2017
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Loans that many would never repay.

Direct government funding – especially to TAFEs – was then cut because it was assumed that a flexible and competitive marketplace would generate efficiency gains and push down overall costs.

So, did we see a tremendous increase in skilled tradies, sparkies and engineering designers as a result?

No, the opposite.

Shady RTOs learned how to rort the system early on. They were less hindered by national regulations and gleefully soaked up the flood of government cash. Unfortunately, their mind was on the money rather than skills, hell-bent on signing up as many students to useless programs as possible. Between 2011-2016, RTO compliance to national standards stood at a dismal 22 per cent.

RTOs have little pressure to invest in buildings and capital, or even hire properly trained teachers. Low entry and exit barriers diminish commitment to industry best-practice. And given the lack of government oversight, investigators discovered that corruption is a major problem in the private training market, as RTOs find ever more creative ways to make money.

Robert Reich

It is a travesty that the most profitable corporations avoid millions of dollars in taxes while ordinary Americans pay their fair share. We must stop this corporate welfare.

12:57 AM – May 27, 2019
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Neoliberal economists expected RTOs to compete with each other, allowing newly “empowered” trainees to choose providers with the best quality and reputation. In reality, most students – especially those from lower-economic groups – simply opted for the cheapest package. As a result, the training they received was inferior.

Sadly, this part of the industry has rapidly grown. As researcher Phillip Toner found, there has been a veritable boom in low-quality training, controlled by businesses that ultimately seek to maximise profits rather than enrich the national skills pool.

In the meantime, apprenticeships have fallen from 446,000 in 2012 to 259,000 today.

It is testimony to the power of ideology – in this case, extreme neoliberalism – that despite the patent failure of the private training market, successive governments and industry leaders have continued to prop it up for decades. Billions of dollars have disappeared down a black hole in the hope that the “god” of market forces might save the day.

Adam Curlis
No TAFE is costing Aust public dearly. Pity we can’t say the same of the privates RTOs who have rorted VET FEE HELP! …

Replying to @TAFEeducation
If we had TAFE would we still have so many unemployed unskilled workers.No TAFE is costing Aust public dearly. Do the numbers

8:28 PM – Jun 21, 2016
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No wonder global private equity firms are now circling Australian RTOs. This is too-easy cash and lots of it. And it’s us – the taxpayer – who is helping to pay for it

Clearly, Australia needs to follow the example of countries that actually do have a vibrant vocational training system, renationalise it and start again. That would allow its funding structure (as a semi-public good) and overarching purpose be thought afresh.

Most importantly, an end has to be put to the rampant “corporate welfare” that has blighted the system for years at the expense of our national skills base.

The trickle-down ravages of neoliberalism ~ Dr Evan Jones,12218#.XBncq6HgZXM.facebook …

The trickle-down ravages of neoliberalism
Dr Evan Jones examines the deep-rooted and devastating effects of neoliberal economic policies.
1:53 PM – Dec 19, 2018
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Peter Fleming is a Professor at the University of Technology Sydney.

The vision and legacy of Australian tertiary education,11857#.W49RS8pgP7I.twitter … @IndependentAus

The vision and legacy of Australian tertiary education
Dr Michael~John Shea examines how the Whitlam Government gave rise to the tertiary education system we have today