The Greens, TAFE and the future of the Public VET system
August 15, 2013 1 Comment
Before I even start talking about this, please note this is not a political discussion, it is a discussion about the Public VET system and the Greens position on it.
So as some of you are aware the Greens have released a position paper on TAFE and the public VET system
Essentially it seems to be their position that the competitive VET market place has ruined TAFE, failed miserably and not met the needs of the country, so in order to rectify this they needs to give TAFE $1.2 Billion.
First off (and for any of you who read this regularly yes I am on my soap box again) as with so many discussions of the VET system in this country the people who have written this paper show an utter lack of understanding of the landscape, by simply focusing on the TAFE vs Private provider. Yet again the Enterprise RTO segment of the market is not even considered, mentioned or acknowledged. The ERTO space is not about making a profit through the provision of training, it is about providing the best possible training to its staff, and, and I have said this many times before, if the public VET system worked and provided industry and organisations with the level of training and quality that they required then there would be no reason for enterprises to go through the costly exercise of becoming and maintaining their own RTO status. They also as I have discussed elsewhere lumped all of the so called ‘private’ providers into one bag, which again simply shows their lack of understanding of the system and the players who make it up. However as I have said before time and time again, at least in my experience TAFE has failed to provide the level of service and outcomes that organisations need and this failure has little to do with funding levels or having to compete and far more to do with inflexible systems, generic programs and overly convoluted management practices. So if you are going to have a discussion about VET and if you are going to have a position on it, please at least be aware of all the players and stakeholders. (Ok I am off my soap box now)
So what about the position paper; firstly let me be clear about this, I support public education, to my mind education should be free that has always been my position, whether that is primary, tertiary or vocational, people’s social and economic status should not prohibit their ability to get a quality education. I also support the TAFE system, in principle; we need to have a public provider of quality education, we need it for a range of reasons, but and here is the but, it has to deliver the outcomes that industry needs and it is not doing that and I fail to see how throwing more than a billion dollars at a broken system is going to change that.
Rather than just throwing money at TAFE, fix what is wrong, make them more competitive, responsive, innovative, less bureaucratic and top-heavy, more about the outcomes that industry, individuals and the country needs. If the VET system is failing it is not failing simply because they don’t have enough money, it is failing because there are systematic flaws in the bureaucracy that surrounds the entire area, which makes it much less agile and responsive to need than it should be.
If a non-TAFE provider can deliver a program, which gets better outcomes and suits the needs of business and individuals better than the one delivered by TAFE, why should people to forced to undertake the TAFE program and get a lesser outcome.
My question is why shouldn’t TAFE compete with everyone else who provides training, those TAFE’s which have embraced this competitive funding model, and who are responsive and innovative and who provide industry with the outcomes that they need are successful, it is ones who not willing to do this, who are stuck in their old models who are failing.
TAFE needs to be supported, but it needs to be supported in a way that makes sense, that provides for the future industry needs of the country. Just locking away funding and throwing it a TAFE is not sensible way forward.