Sustaining the unsustainable Part 2 – What the hell is happening in South Australia

So as most of you are aware a little while ago I posted about the Victorian Governments $320 million TAFE rescue package and asked why they were going down this path, how it could be justified and what was it that they were actually supporting with this ‘rescue package’.  Now yet again we see a similar, thought to be fair not exactly the same, thing occur in South Australia.  We are seeing the government not only cut subsidies to more than 200 vocational training courses, but handing 90% of the available funded places, some 46,000 out of 51,000 to TAFESA.  It is a decision which seems to have come with very little warning or consultation and has been roundly criticised by employers, business groups and the training sector.  It appears to neither take into account the capacity of TAFESA to deliver these programs nor the vast amount of training, particularly in the trades sector that in SA is done by high quality non-public providers such as PEER VEET.  It also seems to ignore the hidden ramifications like students having to travel over 300km to undertake training at a TAFESA campus, rather than with a high quality local provider or the job loses that this will cause in the non-public training market, primarily in the small and medium provider end of the market.  It situation is so dire that the Federal assistance minister for education and training, who is responsible for vocational education is consider investigating whether the SA government has breached their agreement in terms skills training.

So why would the South Australian government go down this path which has everyone, except for perhaps for TAFE, although if I was involved in the management of a TAFE in SA at the moment I would be really worried about our capacity to actually deliver the outcomes that the government wants, shaking their heads.  It can’t be because they want to save money because a subsidised place at TAFESA costs about 2.5 times more than the same place at a non-public provider.

It seems that the real reason may have far more to do with South Australia trying to balance its overall budget and to find some ways of utilising the white elephant of Tonsely campus or their $38 million mining, engineering and transport  hub, set up to service an industry (mining) which is rapidly contracting and not taking on trainees.  It is an awesome idea to allow unlimited numbers of people to be trained in trades for which there is little or no demand at the moment, while limiting training in disability support (one of the biggest growth areas in the country) to 200 places.

This decision is at its heart one based on political ideology and protectionism, at the cost of student and employer choices and outcomes.  It is a truly backwards thinking decision which is even more disturbing than the Victorian rescue package and even less based in any kind of rational thought processes.

Anyway that’s just my opinion.

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.

One Response to Sustaining the unsustainable Part 2 – What the hell is happening in South Australia

  1. Deborah Jarvis says:

    TAFE has never been able to stand on its own two feet, for how long can they keep propping it up like this to the detriment of the consumer-how can they even imagine that TAFE can/will cope with an influx of people who want to train. Some people will simply fall through the cracks because they are not suited to an impersonal RTO such as TAFE

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