Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Confusion reigns

Monday, March 19 2018

This week I again lament the funding confusion in VET.

As March slips by and the next financial year beckons, it is now almost inevitable that the Skilling Australians Fund will not inject much needed funding into the sector this year.

Let’s recap, this fund is worth $1.5 Billion over five years. By my reckoning that’s a potential loss of $300M this year.

We already know about the funding pressures in this sector. Let’s recap:

  • There has been an unprecedented reduction in student Loans - down from $2.9B in 2015 to less than$200M in 2017
  • States and Territories are spending less now than they did 10 years ago
  • Victoria seemingly has failed to spend $500M of its VET budget
  • Northern Territory has largely ceased funding new enrolments while the funding remains unclear
  • South Australia – well say no more.

So where to from here?

ACPET has not sat idle and has been engaging with both Commonwealth and State and Territory Ministers on this risk to the sector.

Minister Andrews remains positive and is adamant that the projects to be approved under the Scheme can be innovative and will not be restricted to just traditional apprenticeships and traineeships. The Minister’s press releases have reinforced this message.

ACPET has also met with State and Territory Ministers to emphasise the importance of continuity of funding to the sector. The mess in South Australia shows the damage that can be done very quickly to the pipeline of skills if short-term decisions are made to remove funding.

Two States tell us they are absolutely ready to get the program rolling. That would seem to be the opportunity to break the impasse. ACPET is working to bring the parties closer together – it is in all of our interests.

Some may roll their eyes and suggest we have a conflict as it is only about funds for the private sector.

This is a falsehood. Australia now has a $30B international education industry and this is built on strong and assured domestic providers. If the platform is put at risk, then so too is our international capacity.

Providers who deliver government subsidised training just need confidence of funding so that they can invest in the infrastructure, people and course design necessary to meet the needs of employers and students.

I again reflect it is now March and no funding has been approved.

Can you just imagine if University or School funding was held up by 8 months? To put it kindly- heads would roll.

Can you imagine if the funding agreements for public and private schools were allowed to lapse with no replacements in sight. Heads would roll.

But not in VET.

In this once proud sector it just happens time and time again.

If we are not allowed to scream, who is?

This is hurting employers and Industry.

This is hurting students

This is hurting TAFE and independent providers.

Rod Camm
Chief Executive Officer


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