The quality of Labor’s Trade Training Centres (TTC) in schools programme will be independently reviewed amid feedback students are not graduating with the skills employers need.
Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said taxpayers had spent more than $1.4 billion on the programme1 since Labor dismantled the Howard Government’s successful curriculum-focussed Australian Technical Colleges in 2009 in favour of an infrastructure-centric approach.
However, Ms Ley said industry had raised numerous concerns about inconsistencies in the quality of training, qualifications and equipment offered from one TTC to the next.
“We need to get more kids into trades and training if we’re to address the nation’s skills shortages, but it also needs to be high-quality and include on-the-job experience to be effective,” she said.
“Unfortunately, Labor’s Trade Training Centres programme was more focussed on building flashy new buildings rather than the quality of training delivered inside.
“TTCs operate under 20 year contracts, so this review is about ensuring they deliver taxpayers and students maximum value going forward.
“It’s important we understand the true state of what’s going on inside TTCs as part of our broader plan for a nationally-consistent approach to vocational education and training in schools.”
Ms Ley said the Abbott Government was currently working with the states and territories to update the national Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) framework for the first time since 2001 and the review could complement this work.
She said the key focus would be ensuring there were stronger links between industry and schools and better career-guidance for students.
“Employers want well-rounded graduates who not only have the physical skills - but also the employability skills and workplace maturity - needed for their business to be successful.
“For example, if you’re a TTC offering a Certificate II in construction there needs to be hands on experience and training with tools on a worksite for it to be a worthwhile experience for both the student and the employer.
“On the flipside, it’s imperative a TTC delivering a hospitality qualification doesn’t just teach school students how to make a great meal, but also trains them in business fundamentals such as customer service.
“This is ultimately about ensuring our kids know trades and training are first-class career pathways just like university - they shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re playing on the ‘B team’.
“To achieve this we therefore need to ensure the quality of the training and qualifications they receive reflects this goal and that’s what this review is all about.”
Ms Ley said the review would focus on examining three areas:
1. The current utilisation of training facilities to identify opportunities for increased or improved utilisation.
2. The training provided, particularly in terms of industry and employer engagement. This will involve an examination of the current role of industry and employers in training delivery models to identify:
a. models of best practice
b. options for strengthening industry and employer links, and
c. opportunities for enhanced involvement leading to better training outcomes
3. Training outcomes and whether they are meeting industry and employer needs. This will involve an assessment of the current training outcomes under the Program against:
a. Program objectives
b. original funding proposal expectations
c. contractual obligations
d. industry and employer expectations
Ms Ley announced Ms Patricia Scott would undertake the review using her extensive policy, advisory and implementation experience in various public service roles, including as a former departmental secretary.
The TTC review will report to the Government later this year, Ms Ley said.
Ms Ley said the Government would work closely with the states and territories as part of their combined goal to strengthen VETiS nationally.
Ms Ley said schools and Trade Training Centres could also have their say about improvements that could be made at www.education.gov.au/trade-training-centres-schools-program.
1This includes the 136 Trades Skills Centres that the Coalition delivered in a final round of funding earlier this year.