Marshall Government fails to improve VET outcomes

AEU SA Branch media release – Wednesday 5 February 2020

The Marshall Government’s shifty response to yesterday’s release of figures from the Productivity Commission’s annual report on funding hides fundamental flaws in SA’s Vocation Education and Training (VET).

The $347.2 million spend  in 2018 may have been an increase on the 2017 total but it was also the second smallest SA Government spend in real terms over the last decade. It was significantly smaller than the average annual spend of $441 million and peak spend of $573 million in 2013. (Figures quoted are in 2018 dollars.) [1]

It was also the lowest total annual hours ever offered in SA - 15.8 million, compared to an average of 27 million from 2011.

The same Productivity Commission Report identifies that SA has the lowest VET qualifications completed per 1000 people aged 15–64 years in the nation, calling into question the Marshall’s Government’s claim of “improved outcomes”.

Australian Education Union SA Branch President Lara Golding says, “While the Marshall Government poured an additional $11 million into private providers in 2018, TAFE educators have just been informed that they need to cut $15 million from the budget between now and 30 June 2020.

“Once again the Marshall Government is pursuing its ideological agenda at the expense of students and communities. It’s a disgrace and a sham that South Australian voters see right through.

“The Marshall Government continues to undermine the valued SA TAFE sector by propping up fly-by-night private providers whose delivery of quality vocational education and training to South Australians is questionable.”

The Productivity Commission has previously said that “the VET sector was a mess.”’[2], echoing the concerns of all major stakeholders. The Business Council of Australia has warned that the residualisation of TAFE will “fail to deliver a good long term outcome”.[3]

AEU(SA) supports the Productivity Commission’s argument that Governments need to define the role of the public provider in order to “maintain a sustainable TAFE network across the country”.

[1] Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2020, Part B, section 5, released 4 February 2020.
[2] Productivity Commission 2017, Shifting the Dial: 5 Year Productivity Review, Report No. 84, Canberra p86
[3] Business Council of Australia 2017, Future-proof: protecting Australians through education and skills, Melbourne, Business Council of Australia, p. 77