Labor must affirm cap

Kerri Carr

ALP wants well-resourced VET courses

While Federation welcomes federal Labor’s promise to review vocational education and training if elected, a cap on contestable funds is needed to guarantee funding for TAFE, President Maurie Mulheron says.

“While a 30 per cent cap is NSW ALP policy, which it took to the last state election, the Federal ALP has announced no such protection for TAFE,” Mr Mulheron said.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley last Wednesday reinforced the state party’s stand by introducing a bill on a 30 per cent cap to parliament.

Vocational education shadow minister Sharon Bird announced the review would be undertaken to “build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs”.

Some private VET providers have been in the media spotlight over the marketing of VET FEE-HELP courses and other colleges have collapsed, leaving students with incomplete training and huge student debt.

“Despite its importance to Australia’s social and economic future, the VET sector is at a crossroads. Costs are increasing but quality is declining, particularly in private courses and states that have experienced funding reductions,” Ms Bird said.

“Labor’s review will ensure the VET sector is properly equipped to train Australians for the jobs of the future, proper standards are enforced and the central role of our public TAFE system is recognised.”

In support of TAFE, Ms Bird said there was “abundant evidence that the vocational training sector must be underpinned by a dominant and viable public provider”.

Vocational Education and Skills Minister Senator Scott Ryan responded to Labor’s announcement by saying the ALP’s review would see no reform for at least two years.

“The Coalition is committed to reforming the scheme for 2017 and will aggressively defend the rights of students and taxpayers against dodgy providers,” Minister Ryan said.

He said the Department of Education and Training, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had all taken compliance action against unscrupulous providers and that the Coalition Government had allocated $68 million to ASQA over four years.

“The VET FEE-HELP scheme, introduced by Labor, was demand-driven, uncapped and had insufficient student protections in place,” Senator Ryan said

Mr Mulheron said: “The current federal fovernment is ignoring all the evidence about the failure of the contestable funding model, and just wants to accelerate privatisation.”

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