TasTafe’s future integrity critical: Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff

After a tumultuous year for vocational training provider TasTAFE, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has acknowledged the challenges faced during the year and the need for the organisation to improve.

Earlier this year the Integrity Commission investigated allegations of misconduct against then-chief executive Stephen Conway, who later resigned with a controversial $188,000 payout, along with senior TasTAFE executive Lori Hocking.

TasTAFE chair Nick Burrows also resigned in September.

“While there’s been the challenges which has received some adverse publicity – which has not been the fault of 99 per cent of the staff, and certainly not the students – TasTAFE is doing some very good things,” Mr Rockliff said.

“I’m looking forward to the new CEO starting early next year, Jenny Dodd, we’ve got the former Auditor-General Mike Blake as our chair, we’ve got a very new Board – a fresh Board.

“I’m excited about TAFE’s future … we need it, we need a strong, robust, public training provider.”

The appointment of new chief executive Jenny Dodd, and former Auditor-General Mike Blake to the role of chair, form part of the state government’s efforts to restore confidence in the training provider’s reputation.

UTAS Principal of University College Janelle Allison also joined the board this year, along with former TAFE Queensland general manager Aaron Devine.

An independent audit of TasTAFE’s recruitment processes sparked further debate in Parliament this year with Mr Rockliff insisting information would be released when appropriate.

A quarterly audit update from Wise Lord and Ferguson was last released in September with 25 recommendations being implemented.

Opposition skills and training spokesman Josh Willie said Labor was committed to restoring confidence in the vocational education sector, and wanted to see employers, TasTAFE staff and students more involved.

Mr Willie has been highly critical of the TasTAFE fall-out, but reiterated his stance on the importance of meeting Tasmania’s training needs through industry councils and apprenticeship bonuses.

TasTAFE’s annual report for 2016-2017, released in November, showed 26,333 students studied at the organisation in 2016-2017, with 1500 more qualifications completed compared to the year previous.

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