'No detail' in TAFE reforms, union head says

The state government's draft quality framework for vocational education and training is full of "motherhood statements", according to NSW Teachers Federation Illawarra TAFE organiser Terry Keeley.

Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli yesterday announced the draft framework to support the implementation of the government's Smart and Skilled reform from July 2014.

Under the reform, TAFE NSW institutes will be forced to compete with private training providers for students, with the funding going to the college in which students enrol. Meanwhile, only those courses the government considers to be in "skills shortage" areas will be eligible for subsidies.

"Providers wishing to access government training funds will need to demonstrate a record of quality training and there will be more opportunity for students and employers to give feedback on their training experience," Mr Piccoli said.

"These are powerful mechanisms that will deliver better outcomes for students and employers in NSW."

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However, Mr Keeley said the NSW Teachers Federation wanted more detail on how the government would ensure students had access to quality vocational education and training.

"We have requested that the government put mechanisms in place to ensure the Victorian disaster doesn't happen here. When similar reforms were introduced in Victoria a couple of years ago, a number of shonky private providers sprung up, while TAFE's share in vocational education and training dropped from 70 to 40 per cent," he said. "The NSW government claims in this draft framework that private providers in this state will be required to meet strict criteria to deliver subsidised training - but what's that criteria and who will police it?

"There's nothing in this document but motherhood statements - we need to see the detail," Mr Keeley said.

He said it also didn't outline which courses were in areas of skills shortage.

"To trust any government or industry group to predict what skills shortages there's going to be in five years time is unrealistic," he added.

Mr Keeley said the government cut subsidies to fine arts courses in 2013, and enrolments dropped.

"These reforms will put more areas of study in danger," he said.

The federation will present its views during the consultation process, which runs until March 22.

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