OUR PLAN FOR TAFE
We are committed to ensuring TAFE is restored to its central place in the VET system. We will:
1. Abandon the failed market contestability model by reversing the trend of public funds flowing away from TAFE to private for-profit providers and reinstate core public funding to TAFE as the primary provider of VET in Victoria including ongoing funding for capital works, facilities, equipment and funding for community service obligations;
2. Enforce minimum teaching qualification requirements for all VET providers and minimum supervised hours of delivery and appropriate practical components for all courses that receive government subsidies; and
3. Establish a panel of eminent persons to assess the impacts of the contestable VET funding model and funding cuts over the last five years on the viability of TAFE; the quality, accessibility and affordability of vocational education and training; and to propose a sustainable model that maximises the public benefit.
OUR RECORD ON TAFE
We have been strong advocates for TAFE and public education. We will continue to fight for a strong and affordable public TAFE system regardless of who is in government. At a federal level, we initiated a Senate inquiry into TAFE, that clearly exposed the impacts that market contestability and funding cuts are having on TAFE institutes across the country with major losses of staff, resources and infrastructure.
TAFE IS AT RISK IN VICTORIA
In 2008, TAFE was funded to provide around 70 percent of VET training in Victoria. This has fallen to less than 40 percent now. The Victorian Auditor General this year reported a significant decline in the financial sustainability of the TAFE sector, due to insufficient revenue to offset cuts in government funding. Five of the 14 TAFE institutes in Victoria are regarded as at high risk of financial sustainability.
This is a disaster for vocational education and training in Victoria and both the old parties share the blame. We cannot rely on a predominantly private VET sector to provide the broad, affordable and accessible education and training needs of the future, so where will that leave students, businesses and the community?
If the policies of the major parties are continued, we may witness the destruction of the public TAFE system within the next five years.
WHY TAFE IS IN TROUBLE
In 2008, the former Labor government introduced market contestability into the VET system – forcing public TAFEs to compete with private training organisations for government vocational education and training subsidies. This led to a blow out in VET costs with a huge shift in government funding going from the public TAFEs to for-profit providers.
Subsidies to private providers grew by 300 percent in the year following the introduction of contestability, compared to a 4 percent increase to TAFE. Instead of reining in the blow out in funding to private providers, the Liberal / National government savagely cut funding to TAFE. The 2012 budget slashed an estimated $300 million a year from the TAFE system. This has resulted in TAFE campus closures and mergers, hundreds of courses cut, a range of cuts to student services and an estimated 3,000 TAFE teachers have lost their jobs.
Course fee increases have increased pressure on students who are doing it tough as they struggle with the everyday cost of basics such as food and transport and are concerned about accumulating more and more debt. The policies of the old parties are putting VET qualifications out of reach for many students, especially women and those that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
At the same time, government subsidies to the private providers continued to grow – from around $130 million in 2008 to more than $800 million in 2012. Not all of that is spent on training – some of it turns into the profits of the private training organisations.
It appeared that people just set up training businesses, were registered with little or no quality control and could then receive training subsidies. There were widespread reports of rorting and ‘tick and flick’ training and, while some of the worst offenders may have been weeded out, such reports continue to this day, including incentives to enrol and courses delivered in less than the usual time.
In 2011, the Greens moved for a parliamentary Inquiry into the reports of misappropriation of taxpayer training subsidies and ‘sub-standard’ training practices, but the government voted it down.
The Liberal / National government has slashed TAFE funding over the last four years and is committed to continuing the market contestabilty model that is undermining TAFE across Australia. Labor's commitment to restoring funding is unclear. Without revisiting its policy of market contestability, Labor’s commitment to TAFE is shaky.
GET INVOLVED AND HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN
If TAFE is important to you, now is the perfect time to get involved. There is a state election a few weeks away and you can help us gain the balance of power in the state government, just by giving a small amount of your time.