The ALP has vowed to rescue Queensland’s TAFE system, committing $34 million over three years to restore TAFE’s status as Queensland’s premier provider of vocational education and training.
CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Nick Behrens said that CCIQ welcomed investment in TAFE Queensland, however the ALP needed to demonstrate to Queensland’s business community that a boost to funding would deliver improved outcomes for employers.
Positives to come from the ALP’s policy announcement included investment in training for emerging innovative industries, and the expansion and improvement of regional support programs. CCIQ also supported subsidies for foundation skills courses for disadvantaged learners.
Unfortunately, primary to the ALP’s policy on TAFE is the reversal of the LNP’s decision to make public training funding 100 per cent contestable.
“In the past, the VET sector has not been geared to deliver outcomes for its key end-users – employers,” Mr Behrens said.
“Rather, it has been harnessed as a tool for meeting the state’s social obligations, fostering a system in which public providers, including TAFE, have been allowed to become unresponsive and lack relevance.”
“CCIQ strongly advocated for the shift to a contestable model for VET delivery, which is key to giving employers choice about where their employees (or future employees) undertake their training.”
“Reversal of the LNP’s decision to make public training funds 100 per cent contestable would be retro-grade for the sector.”
“CCIQ supports a model where State government funding is allocated in a demand- driven manner to reflect the eagerness of employers for greater choice in training options.”
“The needs of different businesses vary, and often different organisations (whether private or public) are better able to provide the training and education that are required.”
Mr Behrens said that strong training policy was critical in promoting investment in apprentices and trainees, with the view to building a foundation for future economic growth in Queensland.
“Employer-focussed policies are key to ensuring young Queenslanders have sustainable pathways to enter the workforce with the skills and qualifications they need,” he said.
“Ultimately, a contestable model of delivery of education and training services benefits industry and youth as improved outcomes are guaranteed through greater competition and efficiency.”
Mr Behrens disagreed that an independent Training Ombudsman was necessary for the sector, noting that a federal inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training providers in Australia was already underway to address any issues arising in this space.
Another key pillar of the ALP’s policy is the pledge to repeal the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority (QTAMA) legislation.
“Repealing QTAMA would also be contrary to the sectors positive shift to a contestable model for VET delivery”, Mr Behrens said.
“QTAMA is a responsible vehicle established by the current Government for the transfer of the State’s TAFE assets that are underutilised and would be more efficiently managed by the private sector.”
“Ideally the business community wants to see a balanced and reasoned approach to TAFE policy, and unfortunately the ALP is reverting back to its ideological tendencies to trust in state-run initiatives.”
A consistent, flexible and responsive training system can be achieved through contestable training funding, which will encourage employers to train and hire Queenslanders.