Federation and industry pressure has caused a partial rethink of the NSW government’s flawed Smart and Skilled funding and pricing strategy, with funding being increased for the heavy vehicle qualification.
The heavy vehicle industry had previously successfully persuaded the NSW government to increase the qualification price for apprentices enrolled in Certificate III in heavy commercial vehicle mechanical technology. (The qualification price is the level of government funding obtained by TAFE and other training providers to offer a course of study.)
In December 2016, however, the Department of Industry reduced the heavy vehicle qualification price from $16,450 to $13,360 per student.
Industry employers of apprentices lobbied politicians and the Department about the impact of reduced funding, saying it would jeopardise the attainment of the high-level skills and knowledge required to ensure roads are safe and our apprentices properly skilled.
Teacher unionists held statewide Federation meetings to demand restoration of funding. Heavy vehicle students are enrolled at TAFE across the state, including at Wetherill Park, Shellharbour, Kurri Kurri and Dubbo.
Federation met the Minister for Skills and Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the new assistant Minister for Skills, Adam Marshall, as well as Department of Industry officials to highlight the safety implications of the funding reduction.
The outcome is that the Department of Industry has increased the heavy vehicle qualification price from $13,360 to $17,270, with the funding increase backdated to January 2017 for heavy vehicle apprentices. The change was noted in the publication, Smart and Skilled Prices, Fees and Subsidies — V3 2017.
Federation will continue to highlight the flawed funding and pricing structure and demand that TAFE students are guaranteed recurrent funding outside any competitive voucher system. Smart and Skilled has caused the loss of more than 5000 TAFE teaching jobs.
Teachers are encouraged to check the 2017 Skills List and discuss the inadequate funding levels with industry partners and their local state MPs.