Fed Govt threatens to cut $200m training funds to NSW

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Fed Govt threatens to cut $200m training funds to NSW

The performance of the States has been 'patchy' in vocational and technical education and training according to the Federal Government, which has threatened to withhold $200m in Government funding from NSW over its performance on school-based apprenticeships.

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The performance of the States has been 'patchy' in vocational and technical education and training according to the Federal Government, which has threatened to withhold $200m in Government funding from NSW over its performance on school-based apprenticeships.

NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbut this week announced a plan to tackle skills shortages while providing Year 11 and 12 students with more training opportunities through the creation of 10 new trade schools.

However the Federal Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, Gary Hardgrave said the NSW Labor Government's 'so-called HSC revolution' is 'a glorified work experience program where students are still robbed of their right to commence Certificate III and IV trade studies while still at school'.

'If the NSW Government wants to do something constructive about addressing skills needs it should put in place the necessary industrial and legislative arrangements for the introduction of real school-based apprenticeships in the trades,' Hardgrave said.

Funds not guaranteed

'Unless the NSW Government gets its act together, the Australian Government VTE Grants to NSW of some $200 million for the remainder of 2006 cannot be guaranteed.'

Hardgrave said a national report has revealed almost 1.64 million Australians enrolled in vocational and technical education and training last year.

But he says the figure could be much higher if not for the patchy performance by some states.

Hardgrave said the latest preliminary research by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) indicates a 2.9% increase in the number of Australians taking up vocational and technical education opportunities.

Patchy performance

'These figures show the difference across state-by-state jurisdictions, which in itself underscores recent reports which show our training system to be operating in a patchy way,' he said.

'From my point of view, we have to see an end to this state-by-state approach and ensure that states are contributing to, not holding back, the nation's economic progress.'

Hardgrave said Victoria's decline 'shows that this state is under-performing compared with the rest of Australia when it comes to VTE'.

The evidence

He said the NCVER notes that:

  • the total number of VTE students nationally has increased to 1.64 million students in the public VET system in 2005 – up by 2.9% on the 1.6 million students in 2004;
  • overall figures have been skewed by a reduction of 4.5% in student numbers in Victoria – all other states and territories achieved increases in 2005; and
  • total subject enrolments increased by 2.9% and total hours of delivery increased by 3.9%.

Leading the way

NSW Education and Training Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, welcomed the NCVER findings saying they showed NSW is 'leading the way in reducing skills shortages, recording the greatest rise in training activity in the country'.

'In 2005, the largest growth in student numbers (including TAFE and high school students doing vocational courses as part of their HSC) occurred in NSW - an increase of 8.6% compared with 2004,' she said.

She said NSW also topped the growth in hours of training delivered: 'In 2005, NSW delivered 122.5 million hours of training, an increase of 9.7% and over twice the national growth rate of 3.9%.'

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