Labor’s new skills and employment policy, WorkReady, appears to reduce the opportunity for both students and employers to choose the provider they wish to use whilst still attracting a subsidy for training.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, said students and employers should be empowered and supported to access the most relevant, high quality training that gives students the best chance of furthering their employment opportunities.

“My concern is not with who provides training but with the quality and relevance of that training,” Senator Birmingham said.

“I have written to Minister Gago raising concerns that the funding arrangements announced by SA may be regressive and in breach of both the letter and the spirit of the funding agreement SA voluntarily entered into three years ago.

“Premier Weatherill willingly signed on to an agreement in 2012, with then Prime Minister Gillard, to give students and employers more choice, through a more equal availability of funding to support training places linked to job outcomes, regardless of who the training provider is.

“Mr Weatherill needs to explain how changing from a model where 74 per cent of
funding was contestable in 2012 to one where 90 per cent of new places are guaranteed for the government training provider is consistent with the agreement he has signed, Senator Birmingham said.

Industry associations, ranging from Business SA to Master Builders, Restaurant & Catering and Sport SA have publicly stated their concerns with the shift in funding, including the risk of reduced options for student and employer choice of training provider, anticipated skills shortages, higher youth unemployment and business closures. 

“Given the chorus of criticism that has greeted the new SA funding model it seems many
are far from convinced that it will deliver high quality, job relevant and value for money training, Senator Birmingham said.

“My approval of the $65 million in funding is subject to the Commonwealth being satisfied with the content and delivery of agreed Implementation Plans to deliver on terms of the agreement Mr Weatherill signed.

“I want to see every training dollar that is available to SA invested in SA but it must also be invested in a way that gets the best outcomes for students and employers,” Senator Birmingham said.