Federal Budget overview
News Article from Tuesday 23rd May 2017
The Turnbull government recently released the new Federal Budget with a new funding package included for the training industry.
Read on for our take on this initiative included in the budget.
The National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Skills Reform is set to expire on 30 June with no renewal, instead the Government have presented the new funding initiative the Skilling Australians Fund.
The NPA funding averaged $350 million a year and provided vital funding to states and territories to support TAFE, apprenticeship and skills programs without any strings attached for the funding to materialise.
However, it should be noted that $1.1 billion of this funding under the NPA was for states and territories to achieve structural reform in VET, and the remaining $600 million was for actual training outcomes. Meaning funding was not entirely outcomes based, so some of it fell through the cracks of administering training.
The Skilling Australians Fund commits $1.5 billion over four years which offers a slight funding increase of around $70 million per year compared to the previous NPA. The program commits to creating 300,000 additional positions for apprentices and trainees through this package.
What makes this strategy different to the NPA you may ask?
Well the new Skilling Australians Fund announced by the Treasurer last week will be;
- permanent, meaning it will not expire - unlike the NPA which needs renewing
- targeted - meaning programs must meet specific criteria to be eligible for funding
- outcomes focused - meaning you don’t receive the funding until the outcomes are met
This budget has attempted to be more VET Friendly then previous and seems to be promoting a more positive funding initiative for VET providers, however there are some questions being raised about how this new initiative will be put into practice?
- Have the state governments agreed to the conditions that the federal funding awarded will be matched by state and territories before it is awarded?
- How are the funds for this initiative raised, is it primarily by way of a unproven levy on employers hiring foreign workers?
CEO Darren McDonell is cautiously optimistic adding
“I think the funding’s great, it’s an increase to funding for our industry, but we have no idea about the content and what it’s going to look like in practice. It’s great to have money promised but what we are all keen to understand is how it is going to eventuate.”
One aspect we can all agree upon is that the Turnbull Government said university had too long been regarded as “the only option for a post school education”.
Vocational Education and Skills Minister Karen Andrews said: “While university is a critical element of our education system, a vocation and technical education should be as prized as a university degree.”
Ms Andrews has set out an ambitious three priorities under The Skilling Australians Fund being;
- arrest the decline in Australian Apprentices in training.
- second; restore the number to 2012 levels
- further grow the number of apprentices in training to meet our future workforce needs.
Priorities DGT fully intend to contribute to within our local regional community. DGT are pleased to hear that regional areas such as Toowoomba and rural Australia will be a priority for the Skilling Australians Fund, meaning funding will be easier to secure being from a regional area.
Ms Andrews also talks of the timeless attraction apprenticeships hold in offering real world experience when she said
“It is this focus on real job experience that has withstood the test of time and proved itself to be an indispensable element of the training system.”
One things for certain The Skilling Australians Fund is a significant and crucial change from the approach taken by the previous Government through the National Partnership on Skills Reform.
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Sources for article;
Apprenticeships and training to suffer as programs slashed
Quest Newspapers - May 10, 2017
Hundreds of thousands of new apprentice places spearhead workplace skills drive
The Daily Telegraph, Bruce McDougall, - May 9, 2017
Speech by The Hon Karen Andrews MP - Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills
Wednesday 10 May 2017
Despite $1.5b budget injection, vocational education lacks long-term strategy: expert
Financial Review, Tim Dodd - May 14 2017
Apprenticeship funding at risk after being tied to foreign worker visas
Sunday Herald Sun, Anthony Galloway - May 20 2017