NSW Labor’s plan to protect TAFE should be followed by other States

22 November 2014

The announcement by NSW Labor that they would protect TAFE’s future by putting a cap on contestable funding if elected should be emulated by political parties and State Governments across Australia, the Australian Education Union said today.

AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward said the policy recognised the huge damage being done by the privatisation of vocational education in other States.

“NSW Labor will ensure that TAFE retains 70 per cent of government-funded vocational training, restricting private operators to 30 per cent of the market. This will give TAFE certainty of funding and allow it to continue its role in providing quality vocational education, especially in rural and regional NSW,” Ms Forward said.

“This policy recognises that the rapid and unrestrained privatisation of vocational training in other States has led to a drop in quality and the decimation of TAFEs.

“In Victoria TAFE’s share of funding has fallen to 27 per cent of the market, and could fall further. This has led to the decimation of TAFEs, the loss of irreplaceable capacity to deliver quality training, and the growth of for-profit companies milking government subsidies and delivering sub-standard courses to students.

“Vocation, one of the largest of the for-profit training providers, has seen its share price plummet after being forced to pay back almost $20 million in funding to the Victorian Government for providing sub-standard training.

“Other states have followed the Victorian lead with little regard for the long-term consequences of losing TAFEs.

“TAFE is a world-class vocational training system, which has benefited millions of Australians. It is particularly vital in rural and regional areas.

“Private operators are not competing with TAFEs on quality, they are cutting costs and marketing themselves aggressively to potential students.

“The Australian Skills Quality Authority’s 2013/14 annual report found that 75 per cent of private Registered Training Organisations initially failed to meet minimum standards relating to training and assessment. This is an indictment on the system and raises huge questions about the quality of training being provided.

“As well as moving to protect TAFEs, we need tighter regulation to lift the standards of private providers.

“Regulations need to be changed so that only organisations whose primary purpose is to provide vocational education are eligible for funding subsidies, otherwise the integrity of the VET system will be further undermined by providers whose main purpose is making profits.

“The Federal Government must also clean up loopholes in the system which allow RTOs to subcontract delivery of training to secondary providers, many of whom are not even registered with the appropriate bodies.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291