Claire Field on the numbers that will drive VET funding


If the Commonwealth puts enough money on the table for states and territories then reforms are likely

With both the Federal Government and Opposition talking about skills and apprenticeships last week, and the National Skills Agreement still to be signed, it seems clear that VET funding will feature in the upcoming election campaign.

Thanks to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, we now have more frequent releases of data on government-funded VET activity and can better monitor emerging trends.

Given that the majority of VET funding comes from states and territories, any and all federal election promises will only have a significant impact if they are agreed to by the premiers and chief ministers. But if the Commonwealth puts enough money on the table for states and territories then reforms are likely.

The starting point for reform of government-funded VET looked like this at 30 June 2021:

* more than 1 million enrolments, up 21 per cent on the first half of 2017 and an increase of 10 per cent on 2020

* 60 per cent of government funded enrolments in TAFE and other government providers, 32 per cent in private providers, 3 per cent in community education providers and 5 per cent in other providers

In the last five years there has been growth in government-funded enrolments across all provider types, except community education providers (where sadly government-funded enrolments have declined 17 per cent). TAFEs, by contrast, saw a 17 per cent increase, while private providers and other providers experienced 32 per cent and 34 per cent increases respectively.

Government-funded enrolments also show some noticeable state and territory differences. Against the national increase in enrolments of 21 per cent, in the five years to June 2021 Victoria saw only a 1 per cent increase, Tasmania a -2 per cent decline and the Northern Territory a substantial -21 per cent decline.

Three jurisdictions saw significant increases in government-funded enrolments:  New South Wales: 36 per cent, Queensland: 33 per cent and South Australia: 30 per cent.

Government-funded enrolment increases in the ACT (17 per cent) and Western Australia (12 per cent) were below the national average.

Further analysis of government-funded enrolment patterns by Training Package are available on my website.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector