TAFE Issues Information sheet for QTU school members

TAFE in Queensland has a proud 130 year history. Despite this, the LNP government is undertaking a series of changes to the public provider of vocational education and training which will make it unrecognisable.

The QTU maintains that the government, with minimal public consultation and unseemly haste, is implementing changes that will jeopardise the ability of TAFE to serve the Queensland public and maintain its current high standard of educational outcomes.

The state government is using the TAFE Queensland Act 2013, the current enterprise agreement negotiations, and the redesign of the funding model to allow full contestability and limited entitlements, to force TAFE into a private registered training organisation model, rather than maintaining it as a benchmark of excellence and a centre for education.

This document outlines the radical changes sweeping the public provider of vocational education and training in Queensland.

TAFE Queensland Act 2013

  • The Act establishes TAFE Queensland as a legal entity separate to the department.
  • The new entity to be run by a board of seven – nine, answerable to the Minister of Education, Training and Employment.
  • The new entity will have a CEO appointed by the board.
  • The entity is commercial but non-profit.
  • TAFE Qld can and will employ its own staff.
  • Staff will be employed under the TAFE Qld Act 2013, NOT the Public Service Act. Staff will therefore not be public servants.
  • The Minister has broad and wide ranging powers which manifest in the writing of transfer regulations.
  • Transfer regulations can override Industrial Relations Act and any other act that has to be overridden.
  • Transfer regulations can be used to override certain employee conditions.
  • The act indicates that the state government plans to apply to the federal government for leave to retain TAFE Qld as a non-national system employer, which will therefore remain in the QIRC jurisdiction. This means that instead of transferring to Fair Work, the state government are seeking to have TAFE remain in the Queensland system.
  • The act does protect the use of the TAFE brand.

Links: TAFE Queensland Act 2013 ; Industrial Relations Act ; Public Service Act

TAFE EB8

The initial departmental offer undermines existing TAFE educational conditions through:

  • removing the five weeks non-attendance time
  • increasing accountable hours per week to 36.25 hours from 32
  • increasing maximum contact hours from 25 per week to 36.25 (without overtime)
  • changing the spread of hours to between 6:00am to 10:00pm, Monday to Saturday, without the opportunity to access TOIL
  • changes to the TOIL system
  • eliminating the Educational Manager category
  • creating a flat pay structure for tutors; this means there are no levels or increments within the bands ($50,000), assessor ($60,000) and trainer ($70,000)
  • removing pay incentives (i.e. progression to a higher band) to increase professional knowledge and skills through gaining additional teaching skills
  • replacing existing salary increments with additional remuneration payments, which are applied at managers discretion and are time limited or project based
  • grand-parenting of all employees whose income is greater than the flat rate for their employment category and eliminating any pay increase for the life of the agreement for grand-parented employees
  • removal of guaranteed time for professional development, preparation and administration
  • replacement of the title "teacher" with "trainer".

VET Investment Plan

  1. The Investment Plan fails to address a key issue: chronic government under-funding of VET in Queensland.
  2. The quality of VET is threatened by continued cost-cutting.
  3. The plan does not recognise the distinctive role that TAFE, as the public provider, plays in underpinning the VET system or provide security of funding to protect that role.
  4. The plan is informed by a deeply flawed competitive market approach to VET.
  5. The proposed “student entitlement” arrangements will actually restrict students' access to quality VET.
  6. The student entitlement and VET Fee-Help arrangements constitute a massive cost-shifting from government to individual students.
  7. The methodology for determining cost funding will encourage decisions about VET course composition and delivery based on cost issues, rather than on quality.
  8. The price per hour will be reduced to $5.23 (at the lowest end of the funding scale), half of the current minimum.
  9. The plan will require a stricter and more comprehensive regulatory framework to protect against market failures.
  10. The state government is levelling the blame for its structural decisions solely at the current federal government and the National Partnership Agreement. The true position is that the TAFE system has not been adequately supported by either state or federal government for quite some time.

Costello audit report

The Costello audit’s main purpose is to reduce government expenditure by cost shifting and marketisation of government services.

In the case of TAFE, there are many similarities between the recommendations of the audit and those of the Skills and Training Taskforce.

One key difference is that the audit recommends that TAFE assets be transferred to a separate commercially-focused entity from whom TAFE will rent facilities. The new entity will be free to pursue other commercial arrangements with third parties, including, it seems, private providers. TAFE will not be bound to the current facilities and will only rent those facilities that it requires for the services it is delivering. This may mean it will decide to move out of your local premises if it’s not profitable to be there, regardless of the need in the community.

What is the QTU doing?

The QTU is fighting for fair remuneration for employees and the protection of their conditions through the enterprise bargaining process. Key components of the QTU’s position are professionalism in teaching and no trade off of conditions (including class sizes). Teaching is the heart of TAFE.

The QTU is establishing TAFE Action Groups across the state to speak out on TAFE issues and lobby for greater investment in TAFE Queensland as the benchmark for quality Vocational Education and Training in the State. Communities need to express the value they place on their local, publicly-owned TAFE. Every year thousands of students get their start, or a new start, in TAFE.

The QTU is actively engaging at state and federal levels to promote TAFE as the backbone of, and benchmark for quality in vocational education and training. TAFE is more than the buildings, it’s the people who work and study in them. The future of the state depends on the maintenance of a supply of skilled, capable workers from every section of society.

What can you do?

  1. Ask your local QTU Organiser to invite a QTU TAFE member to your next branch or area council meeting to talk about the issues.
  2. Join and get active in your local TAFE Action Group.
  3. Go and see or write to your local state Member of Parliament and get them to commit to TAFE.

[page updated 18 June 2013]