Final Report Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce

Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce Final Report

So it is out; the final report of the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce.  If you are involved in VET in QLD or anywhere in Australia for that matter this report is definitely worth looking over, and in some cases reading quite closely.  While we have yet to see exactly what the QLD Government will do with the results of the report it is clear that particularly around the restructuring of TAFE campuses in QLD to reduce their overall number, that some of the recommendations put them at odds with the Federal Government (though this is not surprising really).

What does the report say and is there anything in it that we did not really expect it to say.  At first reading I don’t think there is.  There is certainly nothing unexpected about a contestable industry demand driven model, nor the need to restructure TAFE and make it more commercially viable and the criticisms of Skills Queensland simply represent the fact that they were not given the power they need to have in order to be effective, by the previous government.

Let’s then have a look at some of the recommendations of the report;

Recommendation 2.1 –  The establishment of a truly industry led Skills Commission for Queensland.  I think  this is a good thing particularly given recommendation 2.3 which would see the Commission take over all of QLD’s funding functions.  My only concern here is the make up of the Commission, and the potential under representation of the Health and Community Services Sector.  Why; well it is simple we can talk about the wealth generated by the mining, construction and tourism industry, but even when you look at the figures in the report itself (on Page 27) the Health and Social Assistance Sector in the year to August 2012 had employment growth more than double that of the Mining industry.  Regardless of the amount of money the mining sector makes, it is the Health and Community Services Sector then is and will continue to be the biggest growing employer in both the State and the Country and any approach to funding of qualifications, skill sets (Recommedation 2.7) and like should be representative of that fact. The other point to be made about 2.7 is that if more of the funding is targeted at organisations rather than at individuals there will I think be an overall better result in terms of completions and employment outcomes.

Stronger links with VET in Schools (Recommendation 2.9) and a better link to employment outcomes for High School Students by alignment of qualification outcomes with industry need is something I have been advocating for a while now.  Again particularly when you look at the figures that show massive increases in some areas (800+% for arts and entertainment and 300+ for fitness related qualifications) and again Health and Community Services not even being in the top ten.  And I get it being a fitness instructor or a game designer is a much sexier career at 17-18 than being a counsellor or a support worker, but again that is where the jobs are going to be and if we are going to invest and encourage school students to look at career options and qualifications lets link them seriously to employment outcomes.

So what about TAFE, Recommendation 3.4 really stands out; the need to address the award agreements for TAFE workers is long overdue, both in the direct training area and in the administration areas.  Better management of assets (Recommendation 3.7) and a rationalisation of Campuses is also something that is badly needed in a number of areas as is the move to a more commercialised viewpoint the establishment of a new parent entity (Recommendations 3.8 and 3.9)

While the recommendations around the streamlining and the ability to transfer training contracts between employers and others (Recommendations 4.2 and 4.8 in particular) will assist in a number of areas, providing more funding to organisations to be able to recruit, train and retain, their staff would see much better outcomes I think.  This is evidenced by the Enterprise RTO experience where completion rates in the high 90% are the norm due to the fact that it is in the interests of the ERTO and the Organisation itself to hire the right staff in the first place, train them correctly and retain them.  Again the Government needs to look carefully at the Traineeship and Apprenticeship model and understand that it is no longer simply trade qualifications that are necessary components of this system but things like Aged Care, Community Services, Disability and Nursing Qaulifications that underpin and continue to underpin the Governments Four Pillars.

So if you haven’t managed to read the report it is definitely worth a look over, and I would really like to hear other people’s thoughts on the recommendations.

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