Friday, November 7, 2014

Do Private Training Colleges Deserve a Pass?

It is completely unacceptable that three out of four private training colleges have given students sub-standard training or questionable assessments.

This finding from the Australian Skills Quality Authority clearly indicates that we need to rethink the wisdom of supporting private training colleges at the expense of TAFE. First, State Governments should rethink their push to privatise vocational training.

Secondly, as suggested by TAFE Directors Australia, the Federal Government should delay extending public funding to private colleges for at least three years.

At present the Federal Government wants to extend funding to students at private colleges from 2016, but this should not happen until concerns about the regulation of the sector are resolved.

As Pat Forward, the Australian Education Union's Federal TAFE Secretary, has said:

"Allowing private providers to receive government funding to provide vocational training has led to for-profit operators getting rich from taxpayers' money, while delivering shoddy education to students... For many students, the training they receive from these private providers will be their once-only chance to receive a government subsidy for their training, so it is crucial that it meets quality standards.”
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) audit found 75 per cent of training colleges were unable to demonstrate compliance with the core standard for quality training and assessment. Even after being granted 20 days to rectify the problems, one in five colleges still could not comply, according to Natasha Bita writing in The Australian.

Examples of sub-standard training outlined by ASQA include private training companies issuing safety white cards for the construction industry after half an hour of online training rather than the recommended six hours, and some trainers offering three-week Aged Care Certificate 3 for courses which take six months at a TAFE College.

Australia's young people need and deserve high quality training. They deserve protection from exploitation, and neither they nor their parents should be fitted up with fees for courses that won't deliver the skills they need to find secure work.

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