The Australian 21 March 2012
John Ross comments that, for a sector that attracts precious little interest, vocational education and training sure draws an awful lot of rhetoric. And he obviously thinks a lot of it’s empty. Much of the commentary on the Commonwealth’s 84-page skills statement was on how much of it said nothing – the 25 pages mostly dedicated to photos and coloured space. Of the things it did say, many had been said before – some several times since 2010. And commentators ask whether even these recycled announcements mean much, saying the central proposal – a training entitlement – already exists in state-funded TAFEs. The government’s rhetoric goes into overdrive on the need to preserve TAFEs – the “bedrock” of training and bastions of “sophisticated technical education”. For years TAFEs have cross-subsidised their expensive technical training through the margins they make on cheaper classroom-based training, and through fee-for-service work for local companies. But with private colleges increasingly cornering these profitable activities, the funding model is in danger of falling over – and he points to the experience Victoria, where TAFE generally appears to have hit the wall.