The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Howard’s ‘vision’ for Technical Training

Today I attended a 2007 planning day at a regional TAFE College for coordinators of VETiS programs – Vocational Education and Training in Schools.

VETiS has been happening in one form or another for about a decade. The mostly state funded program provides Year 10, 11 and 12 students with in-school and/or local TAFE and industry training in a wide range of nationally recognised courses such as Automotive, Agriculture and Horticulture, Electroengineering, Child and Elderly Care, Engineering, IT, Multimedia, Hospitality, Retail, Conservation and Land Management, Equine Studies among many others in direct response to the needs of local businesses and industry.

Wherever possible the training involves workplace training and assessment, and articulates into higher Certificate, Diploma and Graduate qualifications. In many cases students also gain Victorian Certificate of Education credits and assessment scores as well. Parallel systems exist in other States. VET courses also provide for the New Apprenticeships and pre-apprentice training programs, again working closely with local business and industries.

Howard’s new federally funded Australian Technical Colleges are coming on line next year. From discussions today I have learned that a state funded secondary college has been given the contract for one of three ATCs in Victoria, and will competing for the same clients with the local TAFE which has provided these services for many years. The local Tafe was the competing applicant for an ATC. Ironically, while the new ATC facilities and infrastructure are being developed the TAFE will be the auspicing Registered Training Organisation. The ATC will also use some of the TAFE’s facilities during the interim.

No doubt there are those who would argue that competition between the Tafe and the ATC will be a good thing. The reality in this small regional town in rural Victoria will be different, as I suspect will be the case across the country.

Both the Tafe and the ATC will be delivering essentially the same programs to the same client base. There will be expensive duplication of facilities and capital works (the TAFE is in the middle of an extensive building and renovation program) and no doubt, many of the staff for the ATC will be poached from the TAFE.

In the regional centre I travelled to today, the most efficient, and most effective way and simplest way to deliver skills training to the region would be through rationalisation with the existing TAFE. Both organisations are being funded by public money with significant duplication and overlap of services including buildings and equipment in a market that likely cannot adequately sustain two players.

This is a direct consequence of Howard’s skills and training policy on the run in the campaign for the last election. Rather than coming up with a sensible and practical plan to provide the needed services through cooperation between State and Federal funding, they’ve reinvented the wheel at great cost with quite probably a net detriment to both training and students.

It would be interesting to know what the distribution of the ATC projects is with respect to the marginality of federal elctorates. I doubt that it’s been determined purely from a rational needs/benefits analysis. It may be good politics, but whether it will deliver effective outcomes in an efficient manner is a moot point. That would be too much to ask from a Government that sees itself as the natural economic managers.

Instead we get duplication and waste of public funds in an area the Howard government has sytematically neglected for a decade, despite being an essential investment in skilling a nation for the new economy.

The prognosis for a takeover of education by the federal government under the new constitution busting corporations ruling would not be good. If a national government places education at a lower priority, pushes ideologically flawed or ineffective curricula, or are simply incompetent managers, the whole nation will suffer, without the buffer of diverse and locally adapted state systems.

Some things, like water and carbon policy may well benefit from centralisation, but education is not one of them. Practicality must prevail over ideology.

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics

2 Responses

  1. […] tech colleges Flagship in the doldrums Late last year I posted an analysis of Howard’s ‘vision’ for Technical Colleges. “Both the Tafe and the ATC will be delivering essentially the same programs to the same […]

  2. […] education works in Australia could have seen that one coming. Oh wait…I did already. From my Howard’s ‘vision’ for Technical Training post last year. “Both Tafe and the ATC will be delivering essentially the same programs to […]

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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