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Congratulations Queensland

Monday, March 31 2014

Last week saw an historical piece of legislation passed in the Queensland parliament, which demonstrates strong and innovative leadership by the Queensland Government. I am of course referring to the QTAMA Bill – legislation to establish the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority.

Queensland's skills reform agenda is well under way with the rolling out of contestable funds in 2013-14 for training leading to 17 priority occupations. This will expand to over 700 qualifications from 1 July this year. Queensland has also established a Ministerial Industry Commission that determines the qualifications Queensland industry needs the training system to deliver; and it has established TAFE Queensland as a statutory body separate from the Department of Education Training and Employment.

Other States are at different levels of progress towards a similar set of reforms.

What sets Queensland apart is the government’s intent to create a contestable market to access government owned training assets. TAFE campuses and facilities are now being transitioned to QTAMA which will be established on the 1st July 2014.

QTAMA's independent role is to ensure the most effective use of assets paid for by taxpayers by keeping them in government hands but managing them under more commercial leasing arrangements, so that training providers across the state can maximise their usage. The establishment of QTAMA is also intended to ensure students doing VET qualification can access public funded facilities irrespective of whether they are enrolled with a public or private training provider.

This transition of assets from TAFE control to QTAMA will commence at the start of the financial year and will require further consultation with the sector around lease arrangements, level of usage and short and long term access.

Anyone interested in the efficient and effective use of public infrastructure, as well as specifically ACPET members, should welcome the opportunity for the private training sector to engage directly with an independent, commercially focused, statutory body such as QTAMA to negotiate leasing arrangements of publicly owned training facilities.

This is a significant step towards the establishment of more transparent and equitable arrangements in the VET sector, which will also deliver real value for taxpayers’ investments through improved efficiencies and usage of facilities, some of which have lain dormant for years.

The Queensland government is to be highly commended in taking this important step towards creating a level playing field for all VET providers and to ensuring greater usage of publicly owned training facilities. It will not only provide a boost for Queensland’s private providers (making it easier for them to expand their operations into courses which traditionally have high infrastructure costs), it will also make it easier for interstate providers to establish a foot-hold in Queensland by reducing the costs of setting up a new ‘shop front’).

The rest of Australia is watching and ACPET is keen to see other State governments follow Queensland's leadership.

Against this background I am pleased to be speaking at the ACPET Queensland VET Forum in Brisbane on Wednesday. We have a record number of registrations for this year’s forum and I look forward to providing a confidential update to ACPET members ahead of the Forum (8.15am – members only), as well as giving a national perspective on skills reform later in the day.

If you haven’t registered yet click here.

On a different note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish Ben Vivekanandan all the best in his new role as Chief of Staff to the Hon Nick Wakeling MP, Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills. Ben finishes up at ACPET this week after nearly five years leading our policy and research efforts. He goes with my heartfelt thanks for his wisdom and support in the period since I joined ACPET and I know members who have had dealings with Ben will also wish him all the very best. Alan Keith in our Canberra office will take up the role of A/General Manager, Research and Policy in the interim.

Finally, the ACPET Board met on Friday and gave their support for an exciting new quality initiative which ACPET will introduce from 1 July 2014 to provide direct and ongoing support to our members. We will have full details in next week's edition of National Monday Update along with the regular update from the Chair of the Board, Martin Cass, on the Board's deliberations.

Claire Field
Chief Executive Officer



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