TAFE & Adult Provision Negotiations over new Skills Agreement
A new National Skills Agreement, to replace the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (NASWD), is due to be finalised by the end of August 2021. This agreement will contain commitments to funding and policy by federal and state governments, so it is critically important for the future of TAFE.
The Heads of Agreement (HOA), the basis for the new National Skills Agreement (NSA), was signed by state and territory premiers and the Prime Minister last year. This HOA recognises the critical role that vocational education and training will play in supporting Australia’s growth and prosperity, including the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the parties agreed that “Australia’s VET system needs reform so that Australians can access high-quality and relevant training, to ensure they have the skills to take on the jobs that emerge through the next decade and beyond”.
Victoria is currently engaged in discussions with the federal government about the new NSA.
As mentioned in previous TAP newsletters, the federal government instituted a review of the current NASWD by the Productivity Commission. Its report indicated that the current funding agreement was not fit for purpose.
Despite all that TAFE has endured in Victoria, including the introduction of contestable funding by Labor in 2008 and massive budget cuts under the Liberals in 2012, the Productivity Commission claims the VET system is not in crisis. It recommends that government continues to support the development of a more efficient, competitive VET market through informed user choice and a focus on quality via a “provider agnostic approach”.
Even though the current Andrews government’s free TAFE program has been a success, the Commission criticised state governments for offering free courses on the basis that it distorts contestable market conditions!