The issues paper developed for the Macklin Review into Victoria’s vocational education and training system appears to have a clear priority directed at re-establishing Victoria’s TAFEs as leaders in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system; a direction that entirely overlooks the track-record of the independent sector’s ability to deliver students and their employers the quality outcomes they are looking for.
Key Issues —
The Victorian Government appointed former federal Minister, Jenny Macklin, to head the review into Victoria’s post-secondary education and training system with the stated objective of developing a system that meets the needs of the economy, students and the broader community. The Review has published its issues paper.
This Review comes at a crucial time for Victoria, as it is estimated two-thirds of the nearly 1.1 million new jobs to be created around Australia to 2024 will require training at or above a Certificate III level. Research commissioned for the Review indicates that over the next decade, Victorians will commence more than 5.2 million post-secondary education and training programs.
The Review foreshadows a greater role for Victoria’s public TAFE sector, something likely to come at the expense of independent RTOs that has a track-record of delivering quality outcomes: currently the independent providers deliver over 55% of Victoria’s program enrolments in the VET sector compared with less than 30% across all public providers. This focus is expected given the Review has over-looked some key data about the chronic underperformance of public VET providers. For instance, the discussion paper suggests that it “is also too soon to say how well Free TAFE enrolments will translate to completions and employment outcomes” notwithstanding the fact that all available data shows the Victorian Government’s free TAFE initiative is failing students at a great cost to the taxpayer.
Victorian Government Download —
Macklin Review - Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy [PDF]
Of concern is that the Review’s issues paper lacks a strong evidence-base for many of the issues that it raises. It is critical of independent RTOs notwithstanding the fact that data from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) clearly demonstrates the fact that independent RTOs consistently out-perform the public sector. Whether it’s completion rates, student satisfaction or post-study employment outcomes, ITECA members consistently out-perform their public sector counterparts.
There are, however, some important and positive issues identified in the issues paper. For instance, the paper notes that Victoria does not yet have a sufficiently mature regulatory system for VET that can be relied on to deliver good student outcomes and value for taxpayers’ money. Regulatory processes themselves may be driving down quality, by forcing providers to focus on compliance rather than excellence. This of course is not unique to Victoria. Many quality providers report high-levels of red-tape that divert resources from the pursuit of quality training outcomes.
On balance, the issues paper released to support the Review suggests a direction that should concern independent RTOs as it is heavily focussed on improving the underperforming TAFE sector, at what is likely to be the expense of the independent sector.
Member Engagement —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Victoria State Committee.
Further Information —
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