TAFE in Australia: beyond survival
TAFE colleges and campuses across Australia have been significant key public education institutions for over four decades. The educational mission and breadth of the important work that TAFE does is unfortunately not well understood or recognised.
In December 2016, the notorious VET FEE-HELP scheme was replaced with a new scheme – VET Student Loans. The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, claimed the new scheme would “secure the future and reputation of Australia’s high quality vocational education and training system.”
Have hope, the Vocational Education and Training system has finally reached the bottom and government, industry, peak training organisations and policy makers are ready to start the long climb out of the hole dug by failed policies. They simply need a ladder.
Vocational education is distinctively embedded in its context. The curriculum for schools and higher education either comes from the education system or it originates from occupations but is strongly reinterpreted by educationalists.
The VET sector in Australia has traditionally been linked to workforce participation goals and outcomes. As such, the purpose of VET as defined by policy and practice has always been to provide opportunities for the skilling of participants preparatory to either joining the labour market or upgrading the skills and qualifications of those already in employment.
At this year’s Group Training Australia conference, one of the speakers proposed that Australian VET policy tended to mimic the United Kingdom with a five year time lag.