Federal funding for training is in need of major reform to address skills shortages in Western Australia, WA Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
Research released this week by Pit Crew Management Consulting Services showed Western Australia's workforce will be able to meet only half the demand for ten key trades next year. Senator Ludlam said the three billion dollar investment over six years announced by Labor in the 2011-12 Federal Budget needs better planning to fill the gaps.
"The skills package announced in the budget is much needed and very welcome but the reform agenda is being undermined by competitive tendering failures."
"Nationally, private training companies have received a big share of public funding but have not always delivered the skills training needed to boost apprenticeships. Instead we have seen unprecedented growth in the number of courses that cost little to run and therefore turn a high profit for the training companies."
"In August last year the Federal Government launched a $558 million National Workforce Development Fund. The Greens want Vocational Education and Training (VET) funding to be directed to TAFE to service those sectors of the economy which are experiencing skills shortages, instead of being a de facto business subsidy for private trainers."
Data released in response to questions in a 2011 Senate Estimates Committee revealed that the only key skill shortage area to attract significant training under the government's Productivity Places Program was aged care.
"Nine of the top ten courses under the Productivity Places Program were not in the priority sectors announced in the National Workforce Development Fund," said Senator Ludlam. "Through the Productivity Places Program, 233,000 jobseekers are reported as having commenced a course, 87,000 completed a program and only 29,000 ending in employment. Clearly the funding is not reaching apprenticeships."
"Precious little of the Productivity Places Program funding was directed to TAFE. The Federal Government must ensure that private providers who are getting National Workforce Development funding are offering the same quality training which TAFE provides."
2011 data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showed a decline in the number of commencements for new apprenticeships and traineeships over the previous three quarters.