by CLAIRE FIELD
The election brings policy change, which won’t settle the strategic shifts underway
VET was an area of clear policy difference between the two major parties at the election. Labor’s VET policies cover three main areas:
* fee-free TAFE places
* limiting Commonwealth funding to non-TAFE providers, and
* VET sector reforms.
The experience in Victoria indicates fee-free TAFE may not come without its challenges and the programme may not deliver a lasting increase in TAFE student numbers. Conversely fee-free TAFE is not necessarily bad news for most independent and community providers.
To ensure TAFEs receive the majority (70 per cent) of Commonwealth VET funding we can expect to see changes to VET Student Loans where currently TAFE students receive 56 per cent of VSL funding and private/community students 44 per cent.
If Labor provides the same level of funding to the VSL scheme, then independent and community providers look to lose (and TAFEs look to gain) approximately $38.25 million per annum.
Looking at Labor’s plans for the VET sector as a whole – they support the new Industry Cluster model and associated VET qualification reforms, and will establish a new agency, Jobs and Skills Australia, which will incorporate some of the work currently being done by the National Skills Commission.
When releasing their costings Labor stated that the differences between their figures and the coalition’s included their extra investments in areas like VET, so funding for the 465,000 fee-free TAFE places appears to be additional to the extra $3.7bn that the former government included in the Budget. That means more new VET places above the fee-free TAFE places.
Labor has not indicated it will reform VET pricing in the National Skills Agreement, which will be welcomed by states and territories. Labor has also said it supports microcredentials but has not indicated they should be government funded.
There are more details on my website.
And as if navigating all of these changes was not complex enough there are a broader range of strategic shifts impacting businesses, the community and the economy – which still need to be understood and addressed by both public and private VET providers.
Claire Field was joined on the What now? What next? podcast by public and private VET sector leaders sharing how they are dealing with significant, high-level, change impacting the industries they train for and their learners. Listen in your favourite podcast app or online.