March 20, 2015

TAFE NSW as the backbone of the state's training system

By Adrian Piccoli

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government supports TAFE NSW as the backbone of the State’s training system. TAFE is a dynamic organisation which sets the benchmark for quality and delivers the skills needed in a growing economy.

The Government’s vision for TAFE NSW, made clear in the Statement of Owner Expectations in August 2013, is that it is a state-wide inclusive service, offering a broad range of courses, delivering skills critical to the economy, leading quality, innovation and customer focus in service delivery and that it operates as a sustainable business and is an employer of choice.

In just four years, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has created more than 126,000 new jobs. The NSW Government wants NSW to continue to lead the country in sustainable economic growth and we can do this by ensuring we prepare a skilled workforce to lead us into the future. Maintaining a strong, viable system of dynamic and innovative TAFE institutes will help NSW to achieve this.

Let’s look at the facts regarding TAFE and VET in NSW:

  • The 2014/15 NSW Budget provides $2.3 billion for vocational education, including $1.86 billion for TAFE NSW.
  • The 2014/15 budget for vocational education and training is 11 per cent higher than the budget for 2010-11 under Labor.
  • There are 9% more student enrolments in TAFE NSW in 2013 compared to 2009.

In TAFE in 2013, compared to 2009, there were 30% more enrolments at Certificate III and above and 59% more enrolments at Diploma level and above. Completions at these higher level courses have also risen significantly.

These great achievements demonstrate the excellent work of TAFE NSW.

As many of you would realise, the former Commonwealth Labor Government required NSW to introduce a competitive student entitlement as part of the National Partnership for Skills Reform. This is a fundamental part of ‘Smart and Skilled’ and to not do this would have risked $561 million in funding to NSW.

Our Smart and Skilled VET reforms have been carefully designed to improve quality, improve consumer choice, maintain budget neutrality and ensure the strength of TAFE.

We’re creating more than 60,000 extra student places in 2015 than would have been the case without these reforms.

The Smart and Skilled Quality Framework is a guarantee of quality for qualifications funded by the NSW Government. All approved training providers will charge the same fee when offering a Smart and Skilled government subsidised place.

Smart and Skilled fees reflect the shared benefits for students and the Government. We are asking students to make a contribution to a valuable qualification which will greatly improve their prospects in the job market, their weekly income and the quality of their life.

Fees in NSW are lower than the maximum fees in other states such as Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Generous fee concessions and exemptions are available.

Competition between training providers is not new. TAFE NSW has been competing very successfully with private training providers for 20 years and remains the dominant provider of vocational education and training in NSW.

Under the reforms, the percentage of the total VET government budget that is contestable is comparatively small at around 19% in 2014/15 — a fact confirmed by the NSW Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General‘s report also found Smart and Skilled was introduced with appropriate independent governance and with a clear focus of ensuring the ongoing viability of TAFE.

The continued success of TAFE NSW as a strong, contemporary public provider is central to our policies which are focused on increased participation in training and skills growth in the right areas to support the NSW economy.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals will ensure a strong and resilient TAFE NSW and VET sector.