Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on the government to guarantee that public vocational education training (VET) will be prioritised in the government's skills funding package, to be announced in detail later today.
"The government should commit to putting public VET providers, such as TAFE in NSW, front and centre in the funding package to get the maximum long term value from the investment", said Senator Rhiannon.
"The current skills shortage has been exacerbated by federal Labor's policy pushing for a scale back of public providers and leaving VET in the hands of private providers.
"Handing over a blank cheque to private providers and the whims of the market place is not the path to comprehensive skills training and secure quality jobs growth in Australia.
"Tertiary Education and Skills Minister Chris Evans needs to learn the lessons from Victoria, where the private provider share of the market has more than doubled from 14% to 32%.
"Victoria has seen a blossoming of low cost, high volume courses delivered by private companies, largely providing low level qualifications in courses unrelated to skills shortage areas. The Australian Education Union has reported significant growth in cheap 4 and 5 day diplomas.
"The survival of TAFE institutions in regional areas in Victoria has also been threatened.
"Private providers driven by profit will leave courses that have little or no financial return by the side of the road.
"There is a risk that this large injection of funds for skills training could become a wasted opportunity to restore our TAFE system to its rightful place as the nation's skills training flagship.
"If the government wants to be at the steering wheel to drive comprehensive skills training, Minister Evans needs to ensure the funding is spent in a targeted way predominately by TAFE, not driven by the market", said Senator Rhiannon.