QLD budget 2016 and the VET sector, some thoughts and snippets

Well it was QLD budget time yesterday and if we go to the main budget website we can see training and education right there on the front page highlights with ‘record funding for training and education of $12.9 billion.’  Now I have to admit that that sounds like an absolute wheelbarrow of money, but what is it that the VET sector is actually going to get out of that great big pot.  After digging through the budget papers, (for those of you who are interested, here are the more interesting of them  Budget strategy and outlook and service delivery statements) we see that not to much has changed and the QLD government as it has had a bit of a tradition of doing over quite a period of time has shown a good understanding of the sector and the needs of students and stakeholders.

So what are we seeing, firstly let’s look at the the funding arrangements;

  • User Choice Apprentice and Trainee Training Subsidy increase slightly from  $209 million to  $220 million
  • Certificate 3 Guarantee Tuition subsidy decrease from $152 million to $140 million
  • Higher Level Skills Tuition  Subsidy increase from  $54 million to $60 million

Now firstly you might thing hang on why is the certificate III guarantee going down.  It’s not, the reduction to $140 million is just a better indication of the demand for places under this program and with a $10 million boost to this to provide second chance funding to students who already hold a certificate III, there are not any real losses here for anyone. There is also the $60 million which forms part of the Skilling Queenslanders for work program, which while it is not directly part of the VET sector itself, does increase the number of students having access to training, which is always a good thing.

In addition there are some interesting little tidbits hidden away in the various parts of the budget as well that I think provide a bit of an insight into the sector, and are worth while looking considering;

  • The average annual dollar value of user choice subsidy per student is $2,532
  • The average subsidy value for Certificate III funding is $2,734, with the subsidy for each qualification ranging from $530 to $7,880
  • The average subsidy value for the Higher skills program is $4,281, with the subsidy for each qualification ranging from $2,130 to $11,060
  • The average total cost (to the government) per competency successfully completed is $525 (This figure is calculated by dividing the Training and Skills service area budget by the number of successful VET competencies (individual study units) directly funded by the department)
  • The average cost per competency successfully completed through TAFE is $776, with the 16-17 estimate being $799. (This figure is calculated from total expenses divided by the number of competencies successfully completed by students)

See I told you there were some interesting snippets of information did I not.  When we look at the information in the budget papers it seems to suggest that a unit of competency is about $275 more costly if delivered through TAFE than the average cost to the government of a funded unit.  Now we need to be careful with this information mainly because it may be the case that there are costs associated with non-public delivery (Student contribution fees, offsetting costs through fee for service training etc) that are simply not captured in this information and which may make the cost per unit very similar when calculated in.   What we can say however, from a purely economic and budgetary perspective, for the government, non-public provision of funded training is less expensive than public provision. Please remember though that that is from a completely economic standpoint and does not take into account, the high costs associated with regional and remote training, training for specialist populations, TAFEs high overheads (staff and facilities) and other considerations.

Importantly what I think we can take from this, is that non-public provision of funded training (at least in QLD) forms a vital part of the overall picture of the Vocational education and training sector and without the inclusion of non-public providers the costs associated with the delivery and assessment of VET in this state would rise.

So where does the VET sector stand in Queensland after the 2016 budget, in a pretty strong place I think.  When we roll in the Departments increased risk assessment strategies around PQS providers, a training ombudsman and Training Queensland, I think there is a very solid footing for the next few years to be positive.  The only hole on the horizon though is that the National Partnership Agreement runs out next year and no matter who gets into government federally this could in the long run result in wholesale changes, but that is 12 months away, we can worry about that later.

Anyway that’s my opinion.


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