Attack On Tripartite Approach To Skills Will Be To The Detriment of All VET Students

Minister Macfarlane has used his address to the 2014 National VET Conference to outline his so-called reform which includes abolishing Industry Skills Councils and handing over control of training packages, improvement of training and workforce development products and services to a narrow bidding process that will not ensure all key stakeholders have an equal say for their future.

“The VET sector, which includes Industry Skills Councils, under Labor had a truly tripartite approach to skills and training development and delivery.  This was to ensure that good quality training is provided to all students and workers as part of their lifetime of learning and career development,” Sharon Bird said.

The proposal to abolish Industry Skills Councils is yet another short-sighted decision by the Abbott Government to silence the voice of students, workers, unions, TAFEs and other providers on the future of the VET sector.

“Firstly the Minister abolished the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, then in the dead of night he announces a narrow, handpicked VET Advisory Board who have limited experience and expertise.  Now, he proposes to abolish the tripartite Industry Skills Councils and replace the massive experience and knowledge of all their participants with a narrow bidding process.

This country is at its strongest, most competitive and innovative when the national government brings all the brain-power, talent and experience available to the table – on this basis the Minister has massively failed the VET sector.

“I am also extremely concerned by the unexplained reference to the potential of funding skills sets instead of full qualifications in the Minister’s speech.  VET students, whether they are workers or people looking for work, deserve to have their qualifications nationally recognised and valued.  Government should require the training they invest in to have this broader common good.  Narrow specific skills that are required by a particular company should be, in general, provided by that company.

“I do, however, welcome the Minister’s proposal for Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to focus more on high-risk training providers by utilising risk assessment and allowing proven, quality training organisations to operate with light-touch regulation. 

“I also acknowledge the positive proposal for ASQA to take a stronger advisory role in working with training providers, however, the Government needs to ensure that this does not come at the expense of its regulatory role.  There are still many providers out there who need a strong regulatory presence to ensure that we continue to have a world-class training system.