TAFE Queensland enterprise bargaining looming
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 7, 5 October 2018, page no. 25
As of 1 April 2019, negotations will have to commence on a replacement TAFE Queensland Educator Certified Agreement, with the current agreement due to expire on 30 June 2019.
In preparation for the negotiations, the QTU will be seeking member input into the log of claims, which will outline those matters that the Union chooses to further through the bargaining process. In the forthcoming consultation with members, several key priorities and other issues will be identified for consideration at future workplace meetings. The consultation process will consist of surveys of members across TAFE workplaces to identify the core matters requiring attention in 2019. The QTU aims to strengthen current conditions and looks to identify and bargain for additional conditions to protect TAFE educators professionally.
To achieve the best possible outcomes, increasing the density of the Union in the workplace is essential. Strong Union membership means a strong and powerful voice. Union Reps and members are encouraged to reach out and speak with new teachers and non-members and encourage them to join the QTU.
If non-members join online, their dues until 31 March 2019 will be calculated automatically.
Central Queensland University VET educator members will not be included in this process at this time as their agreement will not expire until 30 June 2021.
A South Australian perspective on the problems of national VET
A new report into TAFE South Australia has just been released. Commissioned by the previous Labor SA state government, the TAFE SA Strategic Capability Review 2018 while primarily discussing that state’s public provider, takes a serious look at the national system and finds it wanting. Indeed it is not too strong to say it delivers a scathing indictment of the national system, at the same time as critiquing the failings of that state’s VET policy.
A number of steps are recommended to improve the state system, including the return of regulatory powers to the state and the creation of a TAFE academic board to allow for self-regulation.
TAFE SA is identified as currently operating without an educational focus. The review has found that a centralisation of authority and resources accompanied by fragmentation of business decision-making has resulted in a diminution of “the connection between educational delivery, customer engagement and business development”.
Key recommendations include:
- quickly increasing executive level educational expertise
- devolving authority and responsibility to educational delivery units
- improving the capability of education delivery units to work with industry and communities.
It is worth noting the reviewers’ concerns regarding the training package system. The report suggests that training packages are “costly, out of date, far too complex, and do not match the skills needed in modern workplaces” and notes the weight of regulation and the burden on training providers of maintaining the system. The report suggests that there should be a national reform debate on training packages and the regulatory system.
The review clearly identifies that fragmentation and devaluing of the national vocational education system has been exacerbated by the lack of effective governance over Australia’s skills training system. The report identifies that since 2013, seven different Commonwealth Ministers have had some responsibility for the area, with differing levels of engagement.
The lack of a national strategy is clearly drawn out in regard to the “chaotic” funding and reporting arrangements, including:
- the lack of a national funding agreement
- federal funding predicated on a levy system “taxing” some employers
- the lack of a national investment strategy maximising public and private skills development investment
- no annual national report since 2012, in the interests of “cutting red tape”.
The report is a warts-and-all examination of a proud institution which has been under constant attack for two decades or more. Clearly the bulk of the report deals with TAFE SA and the South Australian context. However, at the core of the report are observations of a national system in crisis, and even a cursory examination reveals parallels that are relevant across state boundaries. There are clearly lessons to be learned from the South Australian experience that can and do apply to Queensland.