How do you lose $70 million and still have a job? Work for TAFE in Victoria it seems.

I posted the article on Linkedin yesterday about the foreshadowed losses in the Victoria TAFE system and I have to admit I have been thinking about it a little more overnight. I mean where else but in the public sector could you amass such substantial losses and then get an offer from the government to give you more money.

I struggle to see how that can come about. Did they spent money that they didn’t have in the budget for things like a new SMS, did they grossly underestimate the amount of students. Unfortunately all of these things point to really bad management practices. I have managed very large budgets and even losses of $1 million plus are heavily questioned. Surely they know their business well enough that they can plan forward or are they simply working on the assumption that it doesn’t really matter in the long run because the government will just bail them out and pay the shortfall. Not a way to run any kind of business be it public or private in my opinion.

Now that being said we need to have a public VET education system, but we need to have one that doesn’t constantly need to be bailed out by the government, throwing more money at a system that is clearly broken isn’t going to fix it.

TAFE has a place, but it is struggling to find that place. There are arguments that suggest that it provides support and training in places were non-public providers don’t because of economic reasons, but even that is changing there are plenty of providers particularly NFP’s who are willing to and already do the kinds of work and in the kinds of places that traditionally only TAFE did.

If a business (and even though it is a public entity TAFE it is still a business) can’t support itself with the population base it has around it or its infrastructure costs are too high or whatever the reason is, then something needs to be done. Unless there are strong social and economic reasons for keeping it then closing or merging needs to be seriously considered, as does staffing levels and executive salaries and packages.

Why have separate CEO’s and boards and executive teams at each TAFE why not centralise at least a bit, cut down on management overheads and put the money where it needs to go, the teaching of participants.

Anyway thats just my opinion

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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