Kevin Bates
QTU President

6 November, 2012,

President’s comment 

TAFE report raises questions

The Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce’s final report into TAFE and VET was made public today, but leaves much of the uncertainty in these sectors generated by the interim report released in September.

The proposed “rationalised structure of TAFE institutes”, commonly reported as cuts to TAFE campuses, is accompanied by little meaningful detail as to whether campuses would close, or amalgamate, or what criteria would be used to make these decisions. The QTU will urge the Government, in considering this final report, to remember that it is not just industry with which it should be consulting – education workers and the communities they serve must also be closely consulted before any decisions are made. Those decisions need to take into account future needs as well as current circumstances, if the Taskforce’s aim of reinvigorating TAFE is to be realised.

Detail is also missing around the Taskforce’s recommendation to use VET revenue general (VRG) funds only for the “employment” category of VET in schools, and potentially leaves a gaping hole in the Queensland education budget. The Taskforce recommends these funds are no longer used for the “exploration” stream, where school students gain a taste of industries and careers before having to commit to them, nor for the “education” stream which provides training to build workplace readiness. Both functions are of enormous value, particularly in keeping students engaged in learning in the later years of school, but no alternative source of funding is proposed.

An emphasis on training that leads directly to employment is to be expected, given the Queensland Government’s consistent focus on its “four-pillar” economic strategy. While the final report makes some acknowledgement of the role of VET in providing “life opportunities for individuals”, it offers little support for that role in its recommendations.

Every TAFE worker understands the critical value to society and its people of providing second-chance education for all. Not everyone comes from a level education playing field when it comes to meaningful employment, and people will always have a need to acquire new skills whether by choice to give them new opportunities, or by circumstance – they could, for example, have been made redundant from the Queensland public service…

Kevin Bates