A lack of clear policy direction and leadership is to blame for the degradation of the VET sector.
That’s according to two stalwarts of the industry in Launceston.
Sue Shegog and David Castle operate Learning Partners, a private registered training organisation that has operated in Launceston at Riverside for more than 20 years.
Both have also previously worked at Tasmania’s public provider TasTAFE.
The degradation of the VET sector, not only in Tasmania but nationally, has occurred over a number of years, and Mrs Shegog and Mr Castle believe the federal government is to blame.
“VET under the Howard Liberal government had a dedicated Minister who drove VET in a focused way. Without that Minister of course we will always be a secondary player in the field (behind university),” Mrs Shegog said.
Under the Turnbull Government, Education Minister Simon Birmingham is responsible for the VET sector and is supported by Assistant Minister Karen Andrews, who holds the portfolio of vocational education and skills.
At present, Learning Partners has more than 100 construction apprentices training in Tasmania.
Mr Castle said while Learning Partners was, in a way, a competitor of TasTAFE, the organisation remained committed to building a collaborative approach to VET in Tasmania.
Mrs Shegog said she believed TasTAFE had an important role to play if the sector was to rebuild.
“We rely on TAFE to provide services in industries that we aren’t in,” she said.
“It’s a bigger picture than just us and them.”
A federal Education Department spokesman said the government had invested $1.2 billion into the VET sector in 2017-18.
“Funding for VET is a shared responsibility between state, territory and Commonwealth governments. The Australian Government funds its own programs, which will amount to $1.2 billion in 2017-18,” he said.
The government has invested $60 million over two years to support the Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices program, which will benefit over 40,000 Australian apprentices. The program was launched on 31 January 2018.”
There are four industry specialist mentoring providers that will support apprentices in Tasmania in industries including automotive and building and construction.
“The government also provides significant funding to states and territories for training. This includes: the national skills and workforce specific purpose payment (SPP) and national partnership agreements.”