SUBJECT/S: Turnbull Liberal Government’s secret plans to take over vocational education.
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BIRD: Overnight we have seen reports in the Fairfax media that this federal government has a secret plan to take over the Vocational Education and Training Sector. Given their track record over the last two years with training and skills this can only be a really disastrous outcome. What we have seen, firstly, is over $2 billion cut from the skills portfolio, over $1 billion of that out of apprenticeships support. We have seen the results which has been a huge decrease in the number of apprentices commencing training. Added to that we have seen the federal government act too slowly, make the wrong calls and fail to understand the importance of the rip off and rorts and shonky behaviours. The aggressive marketing that is occurring, pulling students into very expensive $20,000 and $30,000 training courses of dubious quality often not even finishing their training because they shouldn’t have been in the course in the first place and as a result of that we have seen a disaster in the VET sector under this government.
Yesterday, the New South Wales conservative Minister for Skills slammed his federal colleagues for their incompetence in this portfolio. I cannot see, on any day, how them taking over the whole system would be anything other than a disaster.
Secondly I want to make the point that there has been a concerted attack by conservative government’s on our public TAFE system. I’ve travelled all around the country and we have seen the devastation that has been done to TAFE, which is not only an important part of the education landscape for people across the country but is also a public provider and that means that it has the task of making sure people in rural and regional Australia get access to training. It’s got the responsibility of ensure that people with a disability have access, our Indigenous Australians get training and skills. This government has no value for public provision and no value for the importance of making sure that everybody has equal and fair and reasonable access to training and yet they want to talk about innovation and jobs, well what a joke. Have they forgotten that the vast majority of the population accesses our vocational training system to get exactly those sorts of qualifications. Their hands on the wheel of that entire system will be a disaster.