It’s good to see that Queensland TAFEs are preparing for the more competitive training market expected in the next few years and are considering cutting courses that are not economically viable. For example, as reported on in the Fraser Coast Chronicle yesterday, TAFE’s Hervey Bay Arts Department is under review. And, as I noted in a post from earlier this year (Further TAFE job cuts likely in new contestable training market), a number of TAFEs have already started cutting costs through redundancies.
The next few years will be tough for TAFE colleges across Queensland as the training market is opened up further to private providers such as Sarina Russo under the Government’s Great Skills Real Opportunities reforms. If the Victorian experience is any guide, there will be a huge shift to private training providers as the market is made more contestable, as shown in a recent NCVER paper: Early impacts of the Victorian Training Guarantee on VET enrolments and graduate outcomes. There will be big opportunities to make money for anyone with a training background who has the patience to deal with the bureaucratic requirements for setting up a registered training organisation. Of course, there will also be big opportunities for rorting by offering low-cost, low-value training courses which the Government will have to be on the lookout for.
I expect training reforms will be a major topic of discussion at the upcoming NCVER National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference in July in Melbourne. I’m currently scheduled to present a paper on setting public subsidies for VET courses on the morning of Thursday, 10 July. Anyone with an interest in VET policy should think about attending the conference, which is usually very informative and a good opportunity to meet prominent people in the VET sector.