I returned home from Canberra today to do what Jay Weatherill has failed to do – listen to students, employers and training providers about South Australian Labor’s flawed new training model, WorkReady.
This model has been universally criticised as stripping students and employers of effective choice in accessing high quality, value for money training.
Sectors as diverse as fishing, nursing and building have outlined how their students and businesses will be devastated by Labor’s planned changes, with regional SA students and businesses hardest hit.
These changes are hitting some of South Australia’s most reputable trainers hardest, like the Civil Industry Training Centre and Royal District Nursing Service Training.
The SA Government will drive trainers out of the market. While Labor claims it will all be better by 2019 that is of little consolation for those who go broke in the meantime.
Jay Weatherill signed an agreement to access more Commonwealth taxpayer funding for training with the Gillard Labor Government in 2012, which required them to strengthen an “entitlement to a government subsidised training place … accessible through any registered training organisation, public or private, which meets state-based criteria.” This agreement runs until 2017.
As the Federal Training Minister my job is to uphold this agreement and, in my opinion, the model SA Labor has unveiled for 2016 and 2017 is regressive and unwinds steps made towards its implementation in earlier years. In 2012 about 74 per cent of training in SA was contestable, but under this new model around 90 per cent of new training places are reserved exclusively for the public provider.
There remains $65 million in funding available to SA under this agreement. I want every dollar of it to be spent in SA. But the State Labor Government must keep its word and implement the reforms it agreed to.
This is not about preferring TAFEs or private providers, as both do a great job in many areas. It is about giving students and employers the choice to access the highest quality, best value for money training that delivers the skills needed for the jobs of the future.
Jay Weatherill and Gail Gago need to do what I did today – convene a meeting of students, employers and training providers and listen to their concerns, act on their concerns and fix this flawed model. Then, and only then, will they be meeting the requirements of their funding agreement.
The ball is in their court.
Media contact: Caitlin Keage 0427 729 987