TAFE & Adult Provision Inquiry into access to TAFE for learners with disability

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When governments don’t properly fund our TAFE system, it is unsurprising that it is vulnerable members of our community who miss out. This is particularly true for Victorians with disability.

The AEU has long argued that the 2012 cuts made to community service obligation funding for TAFEs, by the Baillieu Liberal state government, have seriously undermined access to courses and qualifications for students with disability. 

Improving the level of support at TAFE for learners with disability is intrinsically linked to increasing the training, policy and curriculum support that TAFE teachers are able to provide. This can only be achieved with adequate resourcing, smaller class sizes, sufficient planning time, and assessment strategies for students who require more support from their teacher. A well-resourced TAFE system would not only benefit students with disability, but all TAFE students. 

The findings from the new Victorian government inquiry into access to TAFE for learners with disability, along with the recommendations from the Macklin Review, show the Andrews government is aware of the current challenges facing the sector.  

The AEU’s submission to the inquiry highlights the impact of insufficient funding on students and teachers alike, along with a series of recommendations about how learners with disability can be supported to access and fully participate in TAFE programs in Victoria.

A well-resourced TAFE system would not only benefit students with disability, but all TAFE students. 

AEU recommendations to the inquiry

Support for apprentices and trainees

Develop regulations, including auditing employers that have rolling traineeships, to prevent employers utilising traineeships as a form of cheap labour, rather than quality skills development. These could work in conjunction with financial incentives for employers to retain employees.

Mandate an increased role for Apprenticeship Support Officers to support apprentices and employers and promote reasonable adjustments for apprentices with disability.

Access to TAFE

Increase opportunities for students to access lower level qualifications without losing fee subsidies.

Further expand the range of free courses while ensuring that the means to deliver them is met by appropriate resources for TAFE.

Course subsidies should not be employed as a mechanism for course ‘rationing’ and should reflect the actual cost of provision.

Funding

At least 70% of state government VET funding to be quarantined for public provision through TAFE, with the remaining 30% allocated on a contestable basis to all providers.

Develop a ‘Unified TAFE System’ to allow for efficiencies of scale and strengthened governance.

Government to provide additional funding to TAFEs in recognition of the greater costs the public system carries, compared to private providers.

Victoria’s expenditure to increase to at least the national average.

Teacher qualifications and supply

Raised minimum teacher education qualification levels for VET teachers. Teaching qualifications must contain substantial content on the needs of students with disability.

Teachers delivering VET should be registered as a TAFE teacher via VIT.

DET should work with TAFE institutes to ensure the ongoing workforce needs of the future are met.

Government must provide financial incentives for prospective teachers to undertake study, so they can study while gaining on-the-job experience.

Dedicated community service obligation funding

Develop and implement an additional, ongoing funding stream to support the needs of students with disability in TAFE.

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