TAFE & Adult Provision Quick fixes not the answer

The Victorian Skills Authority launched its 2023–2024 skills plan in October last year. The aim of the skills plan is to help identify and deliver the education and skills training needed in Victoria both now and into the future, focusing on four broad priority areas:

  • Recognising the diversity of Victoria’s employment needs

  • Promoting post-secondary skills and career pathways

  • Increasing participation in education and training; and

  • Delivering the right skills for the jobs of today and future.

The plan identifies the Victorian industries expecting the biggest growth in new workers:

  • Healthcare and social assistance – 83,300

  • Education and training – 46,400

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services – 35,000

  • Accommodation and food services – 32,300.

Also, the number of additional workers needed for jobs in demand:

  • Aged care and disability workers – 17,600

  • Registered nurses – 10,200

  • Software and applications programmers – 6,400

  • University lecturers – 5,700

  • Primary school teachers – 5,300

  • Secondary school teachers – 4,900.

A skills plan that seeks to address the needs of society both in terms of service and economy is valuable – but superficial quick fixes are not the answer. The Victorian government regards TAFE as the core deliverer for vocational education, including in schools. With the education sector experiencing significant workforce shortages, there are a range of issues that need to be addressed before we simply put more students into courses.

With the government looking to review the requirements for becoming a TAFE teacher, it must not introduce underqualified teachers into our classrooms. This would not deliver the genuine skills and societal participation the plan seeks to achieve.

To be a VET teacher, two conditions must be met: the individual must hold at least a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and have current vocational qualifications in their area of industry expertise at the same level they are teaching, at a minimum.

TAFE courses are now being considered for self-accreditation, putting the credibility of the courses and a graduate’s success into question. This would only risk making Victoria’s vocational education courses less reputable then those in other states. 

The AEU values steps to address skills shortages and attract more teachers into TAFE, but the quality of our teachers and their employment conditions cannot be downgraded in response. This would only lead to negative consequences for many of Australia’s most important sectors of industry – which is why we will continue to advocate for TAFE qualifications that are robust and transferable. 

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