I was recently interviewed by Caitlin Jarvis of the Examiner newspaper regarding vocational training. My thoughts on this issue have been printed in the Examiner newspaper edition of 8 April 2018. The article is extracted below.
I've spoken at length in the Parliament about the importance of supporting technical and further education and vocational education and training. There needs to be confidence in the system, which can only arise from ensuring that public and private offerings are of a high standard and relevant to both students and employers.
"VOCATIONAL education should be given the same attention as the University of Tasmania campus redevelopment, Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart believes. Mr Hart said investing only in tertiary education like the university is “putting all your eggs in one basket”. “We need to invest in the system, because that build the strength and confidence in the institution,” he said. The Examiner’s Pick up the Tools campaign will lobby for a secure federal funding model for TasTAFE and examine the role the VET training provider plays in the new education landscape. The campaign aims to change community conversation around VET and trades training as an alternative to tertiary university education. “VET is important and we should be celebrating the people who go down that path,” Mr Hart said. “The conversations shouldn’t be about a student going on to university and VET should be equal.” While the state government has committed 70 per cent of the state’s education training budget to TasTAFE, vocational education has historically been jointly funded by a state and federal partnership. However, the national partnership agreement expired in June 2017 and Tasmania is yet to sign up to its replacement, the Skilling Australians Fund, announced in March. The Skilling Australians Fund was labelled by Mr Hart last week as “a smokescreen” and one that would not address the apprentice drain affecting Tasmania and the country. Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said negotiations with the federal government on the fund were ongoing but committed to signing up to the fund “if Tasmania got a good deal”. Mr Hart said he didn’t know why Tasmania hadn’t signed up to the agreement but said last week it would not address the issue. He said the 2017 budget cut a further $637 million from TAFE training and apprenticeships. A spokesman for Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews said the federal government was working with the Tasmanian government on the new agreement. “Under the new agreement, each state and territory will be responsible for determining the projects that are proposed to the Commonwealth for access to the fund,” the spokesman said. Funding will be prioritised to projects in agreed target areas, including occupations in demand and industries and sectors of future growth. It is unclear if any regions in Tasmania or occupational skill shortages in the state meet that criteria for access to the fund."