TAFE Queensland struggles with declining enrolments

AFE Queensland’s financial performance is at risk because of declining student numbers, the state’s auditor-general has warned.

According to a Queensland Audit Office report, TAFE Queensland is struggling due to decreasing student numbers and revenue, without an equivalent reduction in expenses.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Acacia Ridge's TAFE Skill Centre during the 2017 election campaign.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Acacia Ridge’s TAFE Skill Centre during the 2017 election campaign.CREDIT:TRACEY NEARMY/AAP

“There are risks to its sustainability,” Auditor-General Brendan Worrall’s report reads.

“TAFE Queensland requires ongoing support from the Queensland government to remain financially sustainable.”

TAFE Queensland’s attempts to reduce expenses were unsuccessful, largely due to employee costs and system implementation issues, the report said.

TAFE was expected to make an $11 million loss in the 2019 financial year, while its operating surplus plunged from $19.96 million in 2017 to $1.42 million in 2018.

The competitive market also heaped pressure on TAFE, with 69 per cent of students enrolled in courses in Queensland being delivered by private providers.

TAFE Queensland delivered training to more than 120,000 students in 2017-18 across 530 programs.

The Queensland government provided grants and subsidies of $762.1 million to public and private providers last year, of which $336.7 million was given to TAFE Queensland.

Training Minister Shannon Fentiman accused the federal Coalition government of cutting funding but said no other provider could match TAFE Queensland for scale and location options.

“TAFE Queensland ensures high-quality outcomes for students and employers – more than 85 per cent of students are employed or in further study after completing their course,” she said.

In a letter to the auditor-general, TAFE Queensland chief executive Mary Campbell said the body serviced rural and remote areas of the state and supported students affected by the closure of private providers.

“This responsiveness and high quality of TAFE Queensland’s education and training provisions is fundamental to the successful operation of (the) vocational education and training sector in Queensland, however it must be acknowledged that this comes at a cost,” she said.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington accused the state government of not having a plan to manage the body.

“Under (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk and her TAFE system, we’ve had senior execs being wined and dined and flown around the world at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer of Queensland,” she said.

Last year’s estimates hearings revealed TAFE’s hospitality expenses doubled in three years and $687,525 was spent on international travel.



Group training head takes on international role at TAFE NSW – TDA Newsletter

In this edition

  • Let’s look at the building blocks of VET – comment by CEO Craig Robertson
  • Skills training vital as jobs threatened by automation, OECD warns
  • PM promises to expand apprentice wage subsidy scheme if re-elected
  • First aid training under review after death of footballer from heat stress
  • An update from TDA 2019 Corporate Affiliate TechnologyOne
  • Anzac service marks 10-year partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology
  • Group training head takes on international role at TAFE NSW
  • Diary

Let’s look at the building blocks of VET – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

I still remember the look of surprise in response to my show of disdain.

Last year at the Congress of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics in Melbourne several colleagues from community colleges and polytechnics in the US and Canada announced with great anticipation the arrival of competency-based education to their college and university scene. They said competency-based education (CBE) would be a game changer.

Competency-based training (CBT), our very own version of CBE, carries many meanings and histories and it may have been my history of CBT that gave rise to my response.

CBT has been the building-block of vocational education and training since its creation by the National Training Board toward the end of the 1980s. It was hailed as the game-changer – the means by which the needs of industry and employers could be reflected within VET delivery. Under the Australian National Training Authority the competency approach was enshrined in national industry endorsed training packages from the mid-1990s.

Educationalists warned at the time that the approach risked a reductionist approach to training, a sort of atomising of the education and training experience into small decontextualized parts. Time has shown that these parts have been mixed and matched in innumerable ways as the sector more and more has sought to meet the disparate needs of employers.

We’ve been arguing the toss ever since. In my time in the sector, there’s been the high-level review of training packages conducted in the mid-2000s, VET products for the 21st century released in 2004 and the present review of training products underway by the COAG skills ministerial council, although it seems stalled at present.

We’ve had recommendations on approaches to assessment, calls from the regulator for volume of learning to guard against short courses and new training and assessment requirements placed on trainers, all in the vain hope of assuring upfront the integrity of delivery, given ASQA audits can only ever be retrospective.

If our current armoury amounts to no more than the closing of the gate after the horse has bolted, then current plans by ASQA of testing the educational bone fides of RTO applicants seems a good idea. The question is though, how is this tested? We have a situation where regulation at best is compliance against the minutiae of training packages. Where in the sector is the narrative about adult education theory and practice, let alone any serious attempts at descriptions, attributes and measures? ASQA has nothing to go on. Nor does the sector have a basis for assessing what ASQA does in this regard.

From where did my disdain arise? TDA, TAFEs and other good providers have spent the last two years cleaning up the mess of the VET FEE-HELP scheme. Many have pointed to poor program administration as the cause. I think we need to look deeper – at CBT, seriously!

It was no surprise that the bulk of the courses delivered by the now closed providers were in business, leadership and community services. The units of competency can easily be mixed and matched by providers, to minimise their effort and maximise the loan from students, it seemed. The regulator was hamstrung on checking the educational integrity as training was online and as I said before, is after the event. And students had no power to realise anything was wrong as they had nothing to judge whether courses were over-priced or super short – as there is little regularised delivery in VET. (I’ve often said that this sort of scam would have less chance of success in higher education as the community understands that a graduate degree is three or four years in the making.) Why is it then that in the face of such egregious examples of poor and fraudulent behaviour of providers built off CBT that we have not looked at the building blocks of VET to prevent this from happening again?

It’s time we had a serious look. The behavioural theories of human development upon which CBT appears to have been based have long been surpassed. Pavlov’s salivating dogs have long been put to rest. So too should our simple input-output, stimulus-response building blocks of VET.

Over the next few weeks I’ll look deeper into these issues. We can do better!

Skills training vital as jobs threatened by automation, OECD warns

Around a third of Australian jobs could be at risk of automation, and policies will need to focus on ensuring adults are trained with new skills, according to the OECD Employment Outlook 2019.

The report says that 36 per cent of Australian jobs face significant or high risk of automation, which is below the OECD average of 46 per cent.

It warns that despite growing anxiety about potential job destruction from technological change globally, “a sharp decline in overall employment seems unlikely”.

There are, however, increasing concerns about the quality of some new jobs.

“This may increase disparities among workers if large segments of the workforce are unable to benefit from the good opportunities the economy generates.”

The OECD calls for a comprehensive adult learning strategy to tackle the changing world of work and to ensure that all workers, particularly the most vulnerable, have adequate opportunities for retraining throughout their careers.

PM promises to expand apprentice wage subsidy scheme if re-elected

The Morrison government has promised that, if re-elected, it will extend the current apprentice wage subsidy trial to cover a total of approximately 3200 apprenticeships.

Prime Minister Scott Morison and the Minister for Skills and Vocational Education Senator Michaelia Cash announced that the government would double the size of the existing program, adding another $60m in funding which will support an extra 1600 apprentices.

The program commenced in January and provided incentives in the form of a wage subsidy to regional employers who take on apprentices in skill shortage areas, and who had not previously employed apprentices.

The wage subsidies are provided at 75% of the apprentice’s award wage in the first year, 50% in the second year and 25% in the third.

The government said that under the opening round, the 1600 available places were exhausted “within weeks”.

The Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships Senator Doug Cameron said the program encourages businesses to view young workers as a source of cheap labour by paying large incentives to rural employers with no history of training.

“This means regional businesses which pay minimum wages, many having never invested in apprentices, will receive the unsustainable government largesse,” he said.

First aid training under review after death of footballer from heat stress

Registered training organisations (RTOs) delivering first aid training have been urged by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to review their practices following a West Australian coroner’s decision on the death of a young footballer.

The coroner found  that the 15-year old died after being overcome with heat stroke while engaged in a rugby league training session. He was given first aid and taken by ambulance to hospital where he died from multi-organ failure.

The coroner found that if the first aid responders had been trained to deal with heat stroke in line with recent developments, the boy may have survived. He also recommended that agencies who train first aiders in heat-related illness consider changing the content of the training.

ASQA says RTOs should immediately review new advice on heat stroke for sports trainers and coaches and ensure that training is consistent with that advice.

ASQA has also issued a reminder about the need for first aid trainers to ensure that those learning CPR must demonstrate on an adult resuscitation manikin placed on the floor, and not on a table.

See the ASQA advice.

An update from TDA 2019 Corporate Affiliate TechnologyOne

TechnologyOne is Australia’s largest enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) company and one of Australia’s top 200 ASX-listed companies (ASX:TNE). Join us at Showcase 2019 for a one-day event, to hear inspiring business leaders at the forefront of their own industry digital transformation.  Uncover what industry leaders in the education sector are doing to connect with their students to provide a superior experience and to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Explore how innovation in enterprise SaaS is empowering industry transformation and what this evolution in technology means for your industry, your company and your people.

Agenda highlights:

Connecting with your customers: What does a superior student experience mean? 
Professor Peter Nikoletatos, Adjunct Professor, Latrobe University & Industry Director – Education, TechnologyOne

Join Professor Peter Nikoletatos as he leads a panel discussion into the findings of a recent survey of Australian university students’ expectations of the student experience and what these findings mean for the Australian tertiary education sector.

The state of enterprise software in 2019
Dr. Joseph Sweeney, Research Analyst, IBRS

Join lead researcher, Dr. Joseph Sweeney, as he deep dives into the key findings of the recent State of Enterprise Software Report – what this means for the tertiary education sector and the attitudes and industry trends around enterprise software adoption.

Disrupt or be disrupted 
Mitch Lowe, Netflix co-founding executive & CEO of MoviePass

Hear how Netflix disrupted the movie industry and how others are embracing new models of service delivery to transform.

Register now at technologyonecorp.com/showcase

Anzac service marks 10-year partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology

One of the standout features of Anzac and Remembrance Day services at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is the floral arrangements, prepared by students from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

This year’s service marked ten years of CIT floristry students volunteering their time to prepare button holes and floral arrangements for the event.

Fifteen students at CIT Bruce prepared around 500 button holes with red Flanders poppy and fresh rosemary for veterans and VIPs who attended the Anzac Day services.

CIT CEO Leanne Cover said CIT has many connections across Canberra, and the Australian War Memorial was just one of the many valued relationships CIT has in the community.

“Our students appreciate the significance and sacrifice that was made by our Anzacs and are always happy to give their time and skill for this event during their mid-term break,” Ms Cover said.

Photo: Kerry Alchin.

Group training head takes on international role at TAFE NSW

The former chair of the National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN), John Liddicoat (pictured), has started in a new position as Head of International Business at TAFE NSW.

Mr Liddicoat stood down last month as general manager of group training organisation, Novaskill, and also from his positions as chair of both NAEN and the Apprentice Employment Network (NSW & ACT).

TDA congratulates John on his appointment, and also extends its appreciation for the contributions that Liz Wells made whilst acting in the role.


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

TechnologyOne Showcase
Empowering industry transformation
Brisbane: 29 May 2019
Sydney: 4 June 2019
Melbourne: 6 June 2019
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

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

Community Colleges Australia 2019 Annual Conference
18-20 November 2019
The Stamford Plaza Hotel, Brisbane
More Information

Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
More information


Vocational reform threatens Māori education taonga

Vocational reform threatens Māori education taonga: Treaty of Waitangi claim

A contemporary Treaty of Waitangi claim filed on Thursday is further evidence of growing opposition to the government’s proposed Reform of Vocational Education, according to Skills Active Board member Des Ratima, who lodged the claim at the Waitangi Tribunal in Wellington.

The claim alleges that the rushed and inadequate consultation process for vocational reform has breached the Treaty, and was filed on behalf of Ratima himself and Skills Active’s 50% Māori shareholding. The claim also asserts that the inadequate consultation period and lack of engagement with the claimants has undermined the exercise of their mana and Tino Rangatiratanga over vocational education.

“Our claim asserts that the government has failed to recognise and provide for Māori taonga, namely vocational education; and failed to honour the principle of partnership under the Treaty,” says Mr Ratima, who last year was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to Māori over many decades.

“Each year, 22,500 Māori take part in industry training and reap the benefits of the ITO system,” Mr Ratima says.

“As kaumatua, we have a responsibility and a mandate to protect the interests of our rangatahi,” he adds.

Mr Ratima notes that Skills Active has achieved parity between Māori and non-Māori completions, something no other university or polytech has achieved.

“Māori will be disproportionately affected by Minister Hipkin’s proposed reforms – radical reforms that will completely overhaul vocational training in Aotearoa. So where is the evidence for dismantling the ITO system when it’s not broken, and it’s working for Māori?

“We are seeking a reasonable consultation period extended at least until the end of June, commensurate with the scope of this reform. And we wish to have some scrutiny of the government’s engagement with its Treaty partners in this reform.”

Mr Ratima says Education Minister Chris Hipkins has said recently in an answer to a Parliamentary Question that he has not received any negative feedback from Māori about the proposed vocational education reform – despite the many representations that have been made to him in person and in writing by individuals and representatives of hui.

“The Minister should be in no doubt that we believe these reforms will negatively affect Māorilearners. Government needs to embrace the concept of co-design from the outset, and by collaboration, produce mutually beneficial outcomes.” Mr Ratima said.

“Māori tenaciously hold to the ‘three Ps’ of the Māori-Crown relationship: Participation, Partnership and Protection. This reform offends all three.”


Paying back your HELP or HECS student debt, explained

An illustration shows a ball with "student debt" written on it chained to a person's leg to depict paying back HECS debt.

IMAGEWhile it might feel like a burden, taking on debt to study often pays off in the long run. But it’s important to understand the nature of the debt.(ABC Life: Luke Tribe)

So, buckle up: we’re going to go deep into world of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), which some of you might know by its former name, HECS. We’ll cover vocational education and training (VET) student loans too, which are part of the HELP program.

If you’ve been putting this off for a while, here’s your opportunity to tick off some life admin.

How student debt works in Australia

If you’re an eligible student in an eligible university course or vocational training program, you can access the Higher Education Loan Program (if you’re at university) or the VET student loan program (if you’re at TAFE or another vocational training provider).

When it comes to eligibility, there are a number of rules, but generally speaking you need to be an Australian citizen, hold a New Zealand special category visa or hold a permanent humanitarian visa. The StudyAssist website has a handy tool if you’re not sure whether you qualify.

HELP works like this:

  • Your tuition fees will be charged to your student debt immediately after the census date: a point in the study term when enrolments are finalised. (For university courses, it’s usually a few weeks into the semester.) If you’re enrolled in subject or course after the census date, you’ll rack up a debt for it — even if you don’t finish it (say you withdraw) or get your qualification.
  • You’re required to start paying back your debt once you earn above a certain amount. (For this year, it’s $51,957 before tax.) The more you earn, the more you’re required to pay back. You can also make voluntary repayments at any time. We’ll expand on this in detail soon.
  • When you earn enough to make repayments, they’ll be made through the tax system. If you’re an employee, some of your pay will be withheld by your employer to cover your repayments. (You don’t actually pay anything off until you file your tax return.) If you’re self-employed, you pay once you’ve filed your tax return.

Wondering how much debt you have? You can find out online (using the ATO service on MyGov) or by ringing the tax office on 13 28 61.

The difference between interest and indexation

While no-one likes debt, studying is usually a great investment because it can help you earn more income. University graduates, for instance, can earn more than $800,000 more than school leavers over a lifetime.

On top of that, there are two factors that make HELP debt more attractive than other loans. The first is that, unlike a loan for a car or a house, HELP debt doesn’t attract interest.

In other words, you don’t pay the government for the privilege of borrowing — which is a very good thing, says chartered accountant and independent financial adviser Stephanie O’Connor.

HELP debt is, however, “indexed to inflation”. Confused? It simply means that the debt is raised each year in line with the cost of living. Last year, the indexation rate was 1.9 per cent.

The second reason HELP debt is better than regular debt is that there’s no deadline to repay it. While you can’t avoid paying it once you earn enough money, you’re not forced to pay off the balance in a rush.

“If you owe the tax office money, you certainly don’t get those terms. The tax office will charge you interest, and they’ll want to collect the debt very quickly.”

How much will you repay?

The amount you have to repay is calculated as a portion of your income before tax. Here’s the repayment rates for the year to June 30, 2019.


Independent Tertiary Education System’s Election Message – Focus on outcomes

As the nation heads towards a federal election on 18 May 2019, one that will have a strong focus on education and skills, candidates across the political spectrum are being asked to endorse the work of independent providers in the tertiary education system. That’s the message from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational education and training sectors.

“The independent tertiary education and training system plays a significant role in providing students and their employers with the outcomes needed to support a growing economy. It has a track record of offering higher completion rates and higher post-study employment rates. Importantly, it achieves these outcomes at a lower cost than its public sector counterpart,” said Troy Williams, ACPET Chief Executive.

The 2018 VET Student Outcomes Survey published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows that the proportion of graduates who were not employed before training and then employed after training was greater at independent providers than it was at universities and public TAFE colleges.

“In this election it’s clear, if there is to be a genuine commitment by the next government to provide entrants to the workforce with the skills they need to gain employment, policy settings should clearly support independent providers as it’s this sector that provides the best outcomes,” Mr Williams said.

The NCVER study also showed that subject completers at independent providers were more satisfied with their overall quality of training compared to students at universities and public TAFE colleges.

“As we debate the nation’s investment in education and skills during the election we need to do this in the context of outcomes and student satisfaction. It’s the independent sector that kicks goals and this should be reflected in the funding commitments made during the campaign,” Mr Williams said.

The ACPET membership spans the entire tertiary education system encompassing higher education, vocational education and training.

“Over the course of the federal election campaign, ACPET will showcase the outcomes delivered by the independent tertiary education system so as to position it at the forefront of the debate on the future direction of the nation’s education and training system,” Mr Williams said.

/Public Release.

Dual-sector VCs call for more connection between two systems

Students on campus

Australia’s dual-sector institutions have developed a report to contribute to discussion about the future of Australian post-secondary education.

Australia’s fragmented higher education and vocational training systems could each be strengthened with a common policy framework and a suite of major reforms, indicates a new report, Reforming Post-Secondary Education in Australia, published by the Vice-Chancellors of Australia’s six dual-sector universities, including Swinburne.

The report calls for:

  • reforms to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), particularly to support learner centred pathways across the continuum of AQF qualifications
  • modernisation of VET qualifications so competencies focus on broad and future skills requirements
  • a coherent funding framework for higher education and VET, spanning the roles of the Commonwealth and states and territories
  • extension of work-based learning including apprenticeships, into new industries and occupations in both VET and higher education through partnerships with firms, industries and the labour movement.

The report indicates a common policy framework would better meet the needs and opportunities of Australia’s learners and workers in future, and replace sectors and institutions that have been historically separated by policy, jurisdiction and tradition.

“Australia’s dual-sector institutions are uniquely positioned to contribute constructively to the next stages of this shared agenda,” the report says.

More than 10 years after the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education proposed a more coherent tertiary education system, the report says connections between the vocational and higher education sectors have in fact weakened due to increasingly entrenched differences between systems of governance, funding and regulation.

Using the unique experiences of dual sector universities to understand Australia’s tertiary system, the report features a range of case studies from each university demonstrating collaboration in qualifications design, delivery and assessment requirements, accreditation standards, system regulators approaches, public funding, income-contingent loans, and government accountability.

“The fragmentation, complexity and sluggishness of the wider systems of accreditation, funding and regulation currently stand in the way of developing and growing more innovative, relevant and cost-effective tertiary education activities,” the report says.

Australia has more than 4000 Registered Training Organisations that delivered VET training to more than 4 million people in 2017, while its 39 public universities (and about 100 non-university higher education providers) delivered courses to 1.5 million domestic and international students.

The report was developed to contribute to discussion about the future of Australian post-secondary education.

The report was signed by Australia’s six dual-sector Vice-Chancellors:

  • Professor Simon Maddocks – Charles Darwin University
  • Professor Nick Klomp – CQ University
  • Professor Helen Bartlett – Federation University
  • Mr Martin Bean – RMIT University
  • Professor Linda Kristjanson – Swinburne University of Technology
  • Professor Peter Dawkins – Victoria University

Download the report.


Tasmanian vocational education providers welcome Australian Government investment

Picture: Shutterstock

 Picture: Shutterstock

The Coalition will spend $523.3 million over five years from this year to provide a suite of funding initiatives, aimed at addressing the skills shortage experienced across the country.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled the package as part of the hand down of the budget in Canberra last week.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a plan to make VET courses fee-free as he spruiked funding for Tasmania’s flagship Battery of the nation project.

Mr Frydenberg said the funding package was aimed at addressing the skills shortage, to try and get more people into vocational careers and also to support employers when they take on apprentices.

Key points to the investment in vocational education are:

  • $67.5 million over five years to establish 10 industry training hubs to support school-based VET
  • $44 million over four years for a streamlined incentives program for employers
  • $156.3 million over three years for skills shortage payments for employers and apprentices in the top 10 occupations experiencing skill shortages, to support 80,000 new commencements.
  • $48.3 million over four years to establish a National Skills Commission that will develop efficient pricing for training, informed by the work of the Productivity Commission
  • $15.8 million over four years to extend the Unique Student Identifier service, currently only available to VET students, to all higher education students
  • $2.2 million in 2019-20 to develop the first stage of a tertiary learning repository in 2020 to record an individual’s higher education and training records.

Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff welcomed the news of the VET funding package.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.

 Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.

“We particularly welcome the additional incentives for employers to help encourage them to take on apprentices,” he said.

The Tasmanian Government already offers incentives for employers through its payroll tax scheme and small business grants, to encourage businesses to take on apprentices.

“It is also good to see a focus on improved careers advice and a continued raising of the profile and value of vocational education and training,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Importantly for Tasmania the $62.4m investment on foundation skills will help us support individuals to gain skills needed to move into further education or employment.”

Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showing there were 8330 apprentices in Tasmania in 2018.

However, commencements for trade training in Tasmania has steadily declined since 2014, with 4850 in 2018, which is a slight increase on the year before.

TasTAFE's Alanvale campus.

 TasTAFE’s Alanvale campus.

The Examiner highlighted this issue in 2017 as part of its Pick up the Tools campaign, which aimed to shine a light on the skills shortage and how investment in TasTAFE would help address it in the state.

As part of the series, a new national partnership agreement was signed between the federal government and Tasmania, to assist the state in funding TasTAFE and other vocational education providers.

That national partnership agreement, the Skilling Australians Fund, will be boosted by $34.2 million to be divested between the six state signatories of the agreement under the new budget funding package.

TasTAFE chief executive Jenny Dodd also welcomed the “strong focus” on vocational education.

“It’s great to see a budget which has a much greater focus on supporting vocational education and training than we have seen in the past,” she said.

“As the state’s major trainer of apprentices, this is great news for TasTAFE. We train apprentices once they are employed, so work in partnership with employers to meet training needs and encourage more people to take up apprenticeships.”

Ms Dodd said TasTAFE worked closely with the state government, Skills Tasmania and industry to address training demand and skills shortages now and in the future.

The federal budget was handed down in Canberra on April 2. A federal election is also impending, to be held in May. A date for the election has not yet been set by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Have you had your say in The Examiner‘s election survey?