With ongoing teacher shortages and workload issues, AEU members know first-hand the difference that funding and resources make in our TAFE institutes. Union members continue to lobby and campaign for improvements to TAFE, and these efforts have not gone unrewarded: federal Labor recently announced that it will provide 60,000 new fee-free VET and TAFE places in 2023, in addition to the 120,000 places already made free, along with a commitment to reduce student fees.
Following member phone calls, meetings and contributions at pre-election education forums, Victorian Labor has also committed to introducing legislation into state parliament to guarantee 70% of total VET funding for public TAFE. Premier Andrews will also expand the eligibility for enrolment in fee-free TAFE courses, create new TAFE campuses in Melton and Sunbury, and provide greater investment in buildings and upgrades for TAFEs across the state.
These welcome improvements are hard won. AEU members have been calling for these reforms for more than a decade. These wins are already motivating more members to take active roles in their workplaces, helping to build their sub-branches and contributing to improvements for their students and colleagues.
Have your say on qualification standards
The draft revised Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTO Standards) were released for consultation at the beginning of November 2022 by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. Members have been making submissions, but further contributions are needed so that the profession’s voice is heard loud and clear. We want RTO Standards that are fit for purpose and can effectively meet the needs of TAFE teachers and the vocational education sector more broadly.
The current standards for RTOs have been the same since 2015. This is an opportunity for us to stand together as a union and make this a better industry to work in. You can participate in the consultation process at skillsreform.gov.au/get-involved.
These reforms have implications for the design and reform of qualifications. There are currently 67 training products in development across Australia, including the Certificate IV and the Diploma in Training and Assessment. Through the federal government’s commitment to reforming the VET sector, it aims to finalise as many courses as possible prior to transitioning to Industry Clusters in late 2022.
One focus of these reforms will be skill sets. Members know that the Certificate IV does not currently develop the required skills, and without your contributions we fear it will become possible for people to teach in the VET sector with even fewer qualifications. Make sure you have your say.