The Gillard Government deserves credit for its new training reform package, Skills for All Australians, released today. If adopted by the States it will made vocational education and training (VET) a demand-driven system and extend HECS-HELP loans to all VET qualifications. The move has been welcomed by the Business Council of Australia:
Queensland is already at the forefront of VET reform with Skills Queensland vigorously pushing for a demand-driven system (see its Skills and Workforce Development Plan) and the Government having cleared a merger of the Central Queensland University and TAFE – a merger that would go more smoothly if the Gillard Government’s reforms are adopted.
Given Queensland’s already strong commitment to training reform, I’m a little puzzled by the following promise in the Opposition’s First 100 Days manifesto released today:
establish a Skills and Training Taskforce to reform and revamp skills and training and ensure accountability, value for money, and increased completion rates.
I expect an incoming Newman Government would play the COAG game and reach an agreement with the Gillard Government and other States over the proposed training reforms. I doubt it will implement more radical policies and hence I don’t see the need for a specially commissioned Skills and Training Taskforce to reform and revamp VET. While the Opposition has an additional proposal to improve TAFE governance (Overhaul needed for lagging TAFE training) I’m unclear why this job can’t be given to the Department of Education and Training or Skills Queensland.
Of course, the most likely way an incoming Newman Government will create the Skills and Training Taskforce is simply to re-badge Skills Queensland. My old friends over there may enjoy a change of name. As I remember a colleague of mine back in the Beattie Government’s Employment Taskforce saying, “Taskforce sounds tough!”