It’s long been recognised by observers of our education system that Queensland TAFEs are under-utilised and that many of them are sitting on valuable land that would fetch a high price from developers. Hence I’m glad to see the Brisbane Times article Queensland TAFEs set to close which reports on the muscular recommendations in an excellent report from the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce released yesterday.
If the Government adopts the report’s recommendations it would expect to reap several tens of millions of dollars from the sale of TAFE properties, and obviously it would save on future operating and capital refurbishment costs. For this reason, I expect the recommendations will be very attractive to the Government.
The highlight of the report for me was the discussion of the inflexible HR rules in TAFEs which limit the ability of TAFEs to utilise their facilities in the evenings – i.e. when a lot of people already in the workforce might want to use them. The report notes:
A common finding of all recent reviews of TAFE Queensland is the need for institutes to have more flexibility in terms of staffing and industrial relations provisions to meet the increasingly diverse needs of VET sector clients.
The TAFE teachers’ award prescribes a 36.25 hour week, only 32 hours of which can be programmed for duties related to teaching delivery. Of the 32 programmable hours no more than 21 hours can be programmed in any one week for teaching. Typically, all teaching hours in excess of 21 hours incur additional overtime payments to teachers. An additional provision which contributes significantly to the low utilisation of TAFE facilities in the evening is that an hour of teaching after 6.00 pm is counted as 1.5 hours toward the weekly total of 21 hours – or else is paid at time and a half.
The Government would be well advised to adopt the recommendations in the report.