Morrison Government’s ‘anti-worker agenda’ ignores unions in VET program

Senator Michaelia Cash announces new Industry VET Stakeholder Committee, which does not include workers or unions (Screenshot via YouTube)

‘One has to wonder if the money funding the VET reform program is actually being applied to real reform of the program itself.’

Craig Robertson, CEO TAFE Directors Australia 

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash outlined reform plans within the VET program in a $525 million Morrison Government project, while announcing the formation of the Industry VET Stakeholder Committee on September 26.

While the Morrison Government seeks to reform the Vocational Education and Training sector (VET) – a key component of the TAFE education program – the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) contends those actions are being performed with a bias heavily slanted towards big business and employer groups.

The ACTU points out that among groups represented on the VET committee, the voices of those who ultimately benefit in the way of training and jobs are not being consulted: workers’ groups and union members themselves.

So this is where we are now.
Michaelia Cash dismissing the value of university education & denigrating VET teaching in another stupid slogan👇🏼

As if you don’t learn in VET, and as if you don’t earn from a university degree.

View image on Twitter

And to officials in the organisation overseeing the union movement in Australia, it’s not just that they feel ignored in the consultation process within the committee and the decision-making process, but that it may have been purposely done as a typical Liberal Party pro-business, anti-worker agenda.

The committee – which will convene once a month effective immediately until mid-2023 – contains officials from organisations among its 19 members such as accountancy firms Price Waterhouse Coopers and KPMG to business lobby bodies Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, and the Business Council of Australia.

And eight of the 19 officials represented are CEO’s of various pro-business organisations, and almost all of the officials on the committee are leaders of their respective organisations.

The ACTU said in a statement:

‘This panel looks to be more of the same from a Government that will do anything to accommodate its big business donors.’

The ACTU and its affiliated union groups also cite the budget cuts and privatisation moves by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government since 2013 – actions seen as not just debilitating to the TAFE system, but ultimately anti-worker tactics in general – as precursors to the Coalition’s current VET reform agenda.

Exclusive: ACTU secretary Sally McManus wrote to Scott Morrison calling for him to overturn unions being sidelined from the VET industry panel. https://thewest.com.au/politics/unions-fuming-over-training-panel-snub-ng-s-1971353  @AAPNewswire

Unions fuming over training panel snub

ACTU president Sally McManus has written to Scott Morrison criticising the decision to leave unions out of a panel to guide training reform.

“Excluding working people from a discussion about skills training is disappointing but not surprising from a Government that caters exclusively to the interests of big business,” said Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s assistant secretary.

The ACTU and its affiliated groups also possess the view that the Coalition’s moves on the TAFE system since 2013 have resulted in shortages of skilled workers across a variety of industries.

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek agrees with that view and backed it up with statistical evidence in August:

We see about 150,000 fewer apprentices today than when the Liberals first came to government. We’ve seen billions cut from TAFE and training and apprenticeships.  Employers are saying it’s hard to find skilled staff, at the same time as we have unemployment, underemployment and high rates of temporary migration.

The lack of focus on the human element of consultation also appears to exist as just one apparent shortcoming of the planned reforms of the VET program at present.

We’ve got skills shortages right across Australia because of the Liberals’ failure to invest in TAFE and training. This is a brake on our economy. Because when you lock someone out of education, you’re locking them out of a job.

Embedded video

Of the $525 million committed to raising apprenticeship numbers within the VET program, as announced in last April’s Federal Budget, TAFE Directors Australia – incidentally, one of those groups on the VET Stakeholders committee – said that $70 million of that funding is new and the remainder has been taken from unused funds that were previously earmarked for Victoria and Queensland, in previous budgets for similar programs.

And just by paying attention to the sage words of TAFE Directors Australia’s own CEO, Craig Robertson, one has to wonder if the money funding the VET reform program is actually being applied to real reform of the program itself.

“Only $200 million will be incentives to employers to take on new apprentices. It is good to introduce incentives, but its a sad state we’re in when we are relying on incentives to get employers to take on apprentices,” said Robertson.

Moreover, the VET reform package of proposals has allowed for a five-year plan to raise the numbers of apprenticeships by 80,000 places in occupations facing shortages including bakers, carpenters, bricklayers and plumbers.

But even if those plans are successful, that still fails to accommodate for projected apprenticeships and potential jobs that have been lost since 2013.

Yet Cash has defended the reforms defining the program. “Our vision to create a strong VET sector is critical to our economy and to helping prepare Australians for the workforce of today and the future,” said Cash.

Moreover, for a Government which uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics employment definition of anyone who works as little as an hour per week as being “employed” to inflate its claims of employment growth being greater than what it actually is, it is also counting on other programs to fill the gaps on long-term employment.

‘The Morrison Government is committed to creating more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and I’m confident that more and more of the people filling these positions will be coming to employers through the VET system,’ said Cash.

‘We are acutely aware of the workforce requirements in the Australian economy. Our reform agenda will deliver better outcomes for Australians who make the choice to pursue a VET pathway,’ she added.

And yet, Cash has talked around the assertion about workers’ groups, from unions and otherwise, taking part in the reform consultation process:

“Together we will improve the VET system through collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry and training providers, and shift community perceptions around industry-focused training.” 

And Connolly remains defiant to Cash’s plans on the reform program, insisting that workers’ groups need to be a part of that process:

We need skills training which puts the needs of working people first and fills genuine skills shortages, not a system that pours money into the pockets of for-profit training providers…

…To fix the big problems in VET, the Morrison Government needs to listen to all stakeholders and act on their concerns. We call on the Morrison Government to include working people in this process.

If that fails to occur, then the benefits to TAFE students and those who enrol in the VET program will be negligible, if not debatable altogether.

More Liberal lies. @ScottMorrisonMP says They will skill up Australia with its apprentice program. They have cut $3b from vocational education presided over 150,000 less apprentices and ignored investment in TAFE. I call on Michaelia Cash to debate me on our respective policies.

William Olson was a freelance journalist from 1990-2004 and hospitality professional since late 2004. You can follow William on Twitter @DeadSexyWaiter.

Morrison government encourages Australians to ditch university plans and take up a trade

The Morrison government says it wants to end “job snobbery” by encouraging thousands of young Australians to ditch plans for university and take up a trade instead.

The change in message comes as the government confronts big shortages in some vital blue collar jobs.

Watch the video above

In 2008, more than a quarter of a million Australians began their apprenticeship but by last year, the number of new apprentices had all but halved.

A government list of the fifty highest earning jobs, shows thirty one are the product of vocational training, not a degree.

More on 7NEWS.com.au:

The government’s top example: construction managers earn almost $3,500 a week.

The major parties blame one another for Australia’s skills shortage.

SOURCEAAP:https://7news.com.au/business/morrison-government-encourages-australians-to-ditch-university-plans-and-take-up-a-trade-c-478753

Cash forgets workers involved in VET

Disgraced former Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash today announced a panel to oversee reform in the vocational training sector.

The panel, ironically titled the “Industry VET Stakeholder Committee”, will have no representation for the people participating in the VET system.

It includes the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, major accounting firms KPMG and PwC as well as the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, but no representatives of working people.

Budget cuts to TAFE, privatisation and a refusal by Liberal governments to listen to the needs of working people in the sector has created a serious skills shortage while leaving thousands of young people unemployed.

At the same time huge amounts of public money has been wasted on providers who rip off students and do not deliver the skills training we need.

This panel looks to be more of the same from a Government that will do anything to accommodate its big business donors.

As noted by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“Excluding working people from a discussion about skills training is disappointing but not surprising from a government that caters exclusively to the interests of big business.

“The Morrison Government is pursing a policy agenda designed to keep wages low, attack the rights of working people and give even more power to big business.

“We need skills training which puts the needs of working people first and fills genuine skills shortages, not a system that pours money into the pockets of for-profit training providers.

“To fix the big problems in VET the Morrison government needs to listen to all stakeholders and act on their concerns. We call on the Morrison Government to include working people in this process.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

Getting down to business – strengthening Australia’s vocational education and training sector

The Morrison Government has established its Vocational Education and Training (VET) Stakeholder committee to help drive its significant agenda of reform.

The highly experienced committee was handpicked, to ensure we have the talent and knowledge informing the Government’s skills sector initiatives.

The VET Stakeholder committee has hit the ground running and hosted their inaugural meeting in Canberra last week.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Committee will ensure that stakeholder views are understood, considered and included during the implementation of the $525 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

“Our vision to create a strong VET sector is critical to our economy and to helping prepare Australians for the workforce of today and the future,” Minister Cash said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to creating more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and I’m confident that more and more of the people filling these positions will be coming to employers through the VET system.

“We are acutely aware of the workforce requirements in the Australian economy. Our reform agenda will deliver better outcomes for Australians who make the choice to pursue a VET pathway.”

The Committee brings together representatives of business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and non-for-profit providers.

“Together we will improve the VET system through collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry and training providers, and shift community perceptions around industry focused training,” Minister Cash said.

“A strong VET sector will support millions of Australians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in the modern economy.”

VET Stakeholder Committee membership

Members will meet monthly through to June 2023.

Organisation Representative Position
Adult Learning Australia Ms Jenny Macaffer CEO
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ms Jenny Lambert Director, Employment Education and Training
Australian Industry Group Ms Megan Lilly Head, Workforce Development
Business Council of Australia Ms Megan Kirchner Head, Tertiary Education
Career Development Association of Australia Ms Wanda Hayes National President
Career Industry Council of Australia Mr David Carney Executive Director
Community Colleges Australia Mr Don Perlgut CEO
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia Mr Peter Strong CEO
Enterprise Registered Training Organisation Association Mr Chris Butler Assistant Director
Family Business Australia Ms Anne-Marie McNally National Product Manager
Foundation for Young Australians Mr Alex Snow Head of Research
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia Mr Troy Williams CEO
Jobs Australia Ms Debra Cerasa CEO
KPMG Ms Sue Bussell Partner, Workplace Relations Advisory
National Apprentice Employment Network Ms Dianne Dayhew National Executive Director
National Australian Apprenticeships Association Mr Ben Bardon CEO
National Employment Services Association Ms Sally Sinclair CEO
PwC Ms Sarah Caplan Partner, National Skills Lead
TAFE Directors Australia Mr Craig Robertson CEO
/Public Release. View in full here.

Employer Partner Program attracts high flyers

The Morrison Government today launched its Employer Partner Program at the QantasLink hangar in Perth as part of National Skills Week.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, the Hon Steve Irons MP, said the program brings together Government and industry to raise the profile of vocational education and training (VET).

“I’m delighted to announce that we’ve had Qantas, PwC Australia, Hays Recruitment, Lendlease, the BBC, Aspen Medical and CSIRO Data61 sign up to the Employer Partner Program,” Minister Irons said.

“Together we want to reach students who are about to embark on their first career and those looking to upskill or step into a new career, to let them know the kinds of opportunities that VET can help them realise.

“By joining the Employer Partner Program, these businesses are letting job seekers know their doors are open to VET graduates.

“With the employment landscape changing, what industry requires from graduates and the workforce is versatility, education and hands-on experience.”

The Employer Partner Program is part of the Australian Government’s VET Information Strategy-an initiative in the $525 million skills package announced in April this year-which will ensure Australia’s VET sector delivers the skills critical to the economy, both now and into the future.

“For those thinking about future study, there is funding available from the Australian Government to help students start a VET course today.

“There are courses in a huge range of areas – from aerospace to building and construction, to business, finance, health, science and engineering, hospitality and information technology, and so much more.

“We are working together to ensure that Australian businesses are able to find the skilled employees they need to thrive.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

Drop in public VET student numbers makes a mockery of National Skills Week

The plummeting numbers of students enrolled with nationally-recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers is yet another pointer to the funding crisis facing Australia’s TAFE network.

According to an NCVER report released today:

  • students enrolled in nationally-recognised programs decreased by 5.9% to two million people in 2018, compared with 2017, and decreased by 16.2% between 2015 to 2018
  • students enrolled in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally-recognised program increased by 4.9% to 2.5 million people in 2018, compared with 2017
  • overall student numbers decreased by 1.5% to 4.1 million people in 2018, compared with 2017

Australian Education Union acting Federal President Meredith Peace said that the drop in the number of government-funded VET students was a direct consequence of the Morrison Government’s campaign to undermine TAFE.

“The Morrison Government should be ashamed by what it has done to TAFE,” Ms Peace said. “That a drop in the number of VET students should be announced during National Skills Week, of all weeks, is scandalous.”

“The reduction in publicly-funded VET student numbers is no surprise given that Liberal/National governments are slashing and burning TAFE funding across the country. Fewer public VET students being enrolled is a direct result of the $3 billion that the Federal Coalition has pulled out of TAFE.”

“Our TAFE system has been systematically undermined by profit-driven private providers advocating for a system that provides no clear qualifications, no national consistency and no guarantee of quality or qualified teachers,” Ms Peace said.

“Since coming to power in 2013 the Federal Coalition has failed to invest in high-quality public vocational education to provide Australians with a pathway to real skills and long term careers.”

“These figures highlight the need for nationally-recognised qualifications to ensure that VET course quality is maintained.”

Ms Peace said that the private-provider VET model being touted by groups such as ITECA would see public VET student numbers slashed even further.

Ms Peace said that TAFE must remain a strong public provider of vocational education in Australia. She called upon the Morrison Government to:

  • Guarantee a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system. In addition, no public funding should go to private for-profit providers, consistent with other education sectors.
  • Restore funding and rebuild the TAFE system, to insure continuing confidence in the quality of the courses and qualifications and the institution.
  • Abandon the failed student loans experiment, and cancel the debts of all students caught up in private for-profit provider scams.
  • Re-invest in the TAFE teaching workforce and develop a future-focused TAFE workforce development strategy in collaboration with the profession and unions.
  • Develop a capital investment strategy in consultation with state governments, to address the deplorable state of TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Support a comprehensive independent inquiry into vocational education VETincluding TAFE.

“Any proposal which undermines the importance of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments working together to build a strong, vibrant, fully funded public TAFE will be fiercely opposed by the AEU,” Ms Peace said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Expert panel to advise on future of Vocational Education and Training

As part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to revitalise vocational education and training (VET), an independent expert advisory panel has been established.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Expert Panel will provide independent strategic advice to the Government on key reforms flowing from the Joyce Review ‘Expert Review of Australia’s VET System’, released in April 2019.

“The Morrison Government is acting on the Joyce Review, committing more than $525 million to the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package, to support more Australians to gain the skills employers are looking for,” Minister Cash said.

“It will ensure our workforce has the right skills to help businesses grow and contribute to the economy, both now and into the future.

“I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Steven Joyce will chair the Expert Panel, and he is well placed to help us implement our reform agenda.”

He will be joined by Peter Noonan, Professor of Tertiary Education Policy at Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, and Dr Vanessa Guthrie, who will bring a crucial industry perspective, with her senior leadership and executive experience.

Together, the three Panel members bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the task of advising the Government on the implementation of the skills package, and on our future reform trajectory.

“The Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package will help provide businesses with a pipeline of qualified workers they need to grow and prosper.” The Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, The Hon Steve Irons MP, said through these reforms we will deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of Australia’s modern economy.

“We need a modern and flexible VET sector, one that places industry at the centre and raises the profile of VET as a career pathway of choice.”

“We are committed to a VET system that delivers positive opportunities and outcomes for all Australians, regardless of geographic, social or personal circumstances,” Assistant Minister Irons said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

PM pushing TAFE students into jaws of a profit-driven feeding frenzy

The Morrison Government’s push to put the private sector at the forefront of Australia’s VET sector will only create a profit-driven feeding frenzy that hurts the career prospects of thousands of Australians who need access to high quality vocational education.

Since being in government the Federal Coalition has already overseen $3 billion cut from vocational education and training (VET) and 140,000 fewer apprentices now than when it was elected.

Australian Education Union President Correna Haythorpe said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plans to privatise VET would leave hundreds of thousands of trainees and apprentices across Australia at the mercy of profit-seeking private training providers.

“Putting profit-seeking private training providers in charge of vocational education is all about helping big business line its pockets at the expense of ordinary Australians,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Prime Minister is on record as saying he thinks TAFE is as good as university. Yet if this is the case, why has he stripped $3 billion in funding from TAFE, our world-class public vocational education provider?”

“If Mr Morrison supports TAFE so strongly, why didn’t it get a single mention in the Federal Budget? Why do we have 140,000 fewer apprentices learning their trade today than back in 2013?” Ms Haythorpe said.

“History has already shown us, via the VET FEE-HELP scandal, that private training providers will go into a feeding frenzy in their drive to extract profits from VET students.”

“People need to remember that Australia will always need TAFE as a strong public provider at the heart of VET to provide affordable and high quality vocational education,” Ms Haythorpe said.

The latest available data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on government funding[1] shows that:

  • since 2013, the year the Federal Coalition was elected, the number of students in government-funded vocational education has fallen by 25%, from 1.48 million to 1.1 million. In addition, the number of hours of vocational education delivered has fallen by 28% between 2013 and 2018.
  • in 2017, following the VET FEE-HELP scandal, nearly $1.2 billion of public money flowed directly to private providers.
  • despite the fallout from the VET FEE-HELP scandal, in 2017 more than a third of the hours of training delivered by private providers were funded from public sources (34.5%) and more than a third of all state and commonwealth publicly funded hours (34.3%) were also handed to private providers.

“Despite the clear and undisputed benefits that a fully funded high quality public TAFE sector provides our economy and our society, there has been a concerted and continual drive from successive Coalition governments to marginalise vocational education and deprioritise TAFE,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Morrison Government just isn’t concerned enough about the 25% fall in TAFE enrolments on its watch to even acknowledge the existence of TAFE anywhere in the budget, let alone to do anything about this crisis.”

“Instead of reigning in private providers and rectifying the incalculable damage they have inflicted on the sector in recent years, Mr Morrison plans on handing them the keys to the piggy bank,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that TAFE must remain a strong public provider of vocational education in Australia. She called upon the Morrison Government to:

  • Guarantee a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system. In addition, no public funding should go to private for-profit providers, consistent with other education sectors.
  • Restore funding and rebuild the TAFE system, to restore confidence in the quality of the courses and qualifications and the institution.
  • Abandon the failed student loans experiment, and cancel the debts of all students caught up in private for-profit provider scams.
  • Re-invest in the TAFE teaching workforce and develop a future-focused TAFE workforce development strategy in collaboration with the profession and unions.
  • Develop a capital investment strategy in consultation with state governments, to address the deplorable state of TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Support a comprehensive independent inquiry into TAFE.

“Any proposal which undermines the importance of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments working together to build a strong, vibrant, fully funded public TAFE will be fiercely opposed by the AEU,” Ms Haythorpe said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

More TAFE funding answer to reversing VET decline

The best way to reverse the fall in enrolments at government-funded vocational education providers is to restore funding to TAFE and return it to being the primary provider of vocational education in Australia.

According to a new report by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), student numbers, subject enrolments and training hours at public vocational training providers all fell in 2018.

AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Maxine Sharkey said that the Morrison Government’s obsession with private vocational education providers at the expense of TAFE was already hurting the career prospects of thousands of Australians who need access to affordable and high quality vocation education.

“TAFE is one of the crown jewels of the Australian education system. However, it’s clear that years of funding cuts and official disinterest by successive Federal Coalition governments have left TAFE, our world-class publicly-owned vocational education provider, in a weakened state,” Ms Sharkey said.

“This has resulted in falling student numbers and TAFE campus closures. The solution is quite simple. We need a strong public TAFE sector that is fully funded.”

According to the NCVER figures, in 2018, compared with 2017:

  • estimated student numbers decreased by 1.9%
  • subject enrolments decreased by 5.7%
  • hours and full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) decreased by 6.4%

The figures also reveal that since 2013, the year the Federal Coalition was elected, the number of students in government-funded vocational education has fallen by 25%, from 1.48 million to 1.1 million. In addition, the number of hours of vocational education delivered has fallen by 28% between 2013 and 2018.

“The introduction of private-for profit education providers has been a disaster for Australia’s vocational education system,” Ms Sharkey said.

“History has shown that private providers aren’t interested in quality education – they are interested in profits.”

“The private sector’s idea of VET-sector competition is to drive down costs and standards and drive the ‘competition’ (read TAFE) out of business. Then it can jack up its prices and force students to pay through the nose,” Ms Sharkey said.

“The Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Government’s own regulator, said parts of the Australian training market are already in a race to the bottom. The Productivity Commission has described the Australian VET system as a mess.”

Ms Sharkey said that TAFE must remain a strong public provider of vocational education in Australia. She called upon the Morrison Government to:

  • Guarantee a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system. In addition, no public funding should go to private for-profit providers, consistent with other education sectors.
  • Restore funding and rebuild the TAFE system, to restore confidence in the quality of the courses and qualifications and the institution.
  • Abandon the failed student loans experiment, and cancel the debts of all students caught up in private for-profit provider scams.
  • Re-invest in the TAFE teaching workforce and develop a future-focused TAFE workforce development strategy in collaboration with the profession and unions.
  • Develop a capital investment strategy in consultation with state governments, to address the deplorable state of TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Support a comprehensive independent inquiry into TAFE.

“Any proposal which undermines the importance of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments working together to build a strong, vibrant, fully funded public TAFE will be fiercely opposed by the AEU,” Ms Sharkey said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Marshall Govt’s VET plan will privatise TAFE by stealth

The Marshall Government’s new VET plan shows it is determined to sell South Australia’s TAFE system to the highest bidder and allow private training providers to line their own pockets at the expense of TAFE students.

The plan will give profit-seeking private training providers access to TAFE SA sites at the same time that TAFE budgets in South Australia are being slashed.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe warned other states and territories not to follow suit, saying it would severely impact the ability of Australians to access affordable, high-quality vocational education. She said it would leave hundreds of thousands of trainees and apprentices across Australia at the mercy of profit-seeking private training providers.

“The Marshall Government’s agenda on vocational education is clear. It plans to wash its hands of responsibility for VET by privatising TAFE SA and allowing private training providers to line their pockets at the expense of students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It’s clear that big business is aligning with Liberal governments at both a state and federal level in a push to squeeze TAFE out completely and hand responsibility for vocational education to private providers.”

“The private sector’s idea of VET-sector competition is to drive down costs and standards and drive the ‘competition’-that means TAFE-out of business. Then it can jack up prices and force students to pay through the nose,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“TAFE is one of the crown jewels of the Australian education system. It has proudly provided vocational education for generations of Australians in everything from plumbing to nursing, childcare and IT.”

“The Marshall Government’s plan is a poorly-disguised bid by private training providers to line their own pockets at the expense of TAFE by hiding behind words like ‘choice’ and competition’,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that the Marshall Government’s new plan was the culmination of a years-long campaign to slash budgets and government support for TAFE SA:

  • SA government-funded VET student numbers have reduced from 150,000 in 2013 to just 63,000 in 2017
  • The SA Government’s total recurrent VET funding contribution has been cut by 40% since 2013, with recurrent VET expenditure per person now the second lowest in the country (after NSW)
  • Thirteen TAFE SA campuses have closed and more than 700 jobs have been lost, while moreTAFE campuses were earmarked for closure in the 2018 state budget

Ms Haythorpe said the moves by the Marshall Government to marginalise TAFE SA and favour private training providers were reflected nationally.

“Despite the clear and undisputed benefits that a robustly funded and administered public TAFE and vocational education sector provides our economy and our society, there has been a concerted and continual drive from successive Coalition governments to marginalise vocational education and deprioritise TAFE,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This anti-TAFE push is gathering speed. In its first Federal Budget the Morrison Government included no additional specified funding for TAFE-amazingly, it failed to mention TAFE at all.”

“History has shown that private providers aren’t interested in quality education. ITECA represents profit-seeking private education providers and is focused on taking government TAFE funding and giving it to private providers,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that TAFE must remain a strong public provider of vocational education in Australia. She called upon the Morrison Government to:

  • Guarantee a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system. In addition, no public funding should go to private for-profit providers, consistent with other education sectors.
  • Restore funding and rebuild the TAFE system, to restore confidence in the quality of the courses and qualifications and the institution.
  • Abandon the failed student loans experiment, and cancel the debts of all students caught up in private for-profit provider scams.
  • Re-invest in the TAFE teaching workforce and develop a future-focused TAFE workforce development strategy in collaboration with the profession and unions.
  • Develop a capital investment strategy in consultation with state governments, to address the deplorable state of TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Support a comprehensive independent inquiry into TAFE.

“Any proposal which undermines the importance of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments working together to build a strong, vibrant, fully funded public TAFE will be fiercely opposed by the AEU,” Ms Haythorpe said.

/Public Release. View in full here.