TAFE cuts in SA have ECEC advocates worried about quality of training

by Freya Lucas

February 19, 2021

Advocacy groups in a number of South Australian sectors and industries, including early childhood education and care (ECEC) have raised concerns about cuts to TAFE courses and the quality of training offered under private providers, TAFE SA chief executive David Coltman has revealed.

 

TAFE SA last year revealed that 20 courses would be scrapped from metro campuses in 2021, after local publication InDaily outlined concerns from the Australian Education Union (AEU) that many courses were at risk.

 

InDaily recently asked Mr Coltman why the courses were being cut when sector and industry groups had “such serious concerns.”

 

“The policy position of the government is to grow vocational education and training access and choice through the development of a contestable market,” Mr Coltman responded.

 

His initial comments were made during an address to State Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee outlining advocate concerns about cuts to courses which serve “vulnerable community areas, including childcare, aged care and disability services.”

 

While no specific private RTO providers were mentioned, Mr Coltman outlined that advocate concerns ranged from a desire to continue the ongoing relationship with TAFE SA to perceived issues of quality relating to some providers.”

 

“Our interest is ensuring that the students of South Australia have the best teaching and learning opportunities and we will support that delivery,” he added, outlining that the organisation had pledged to provide teaching support to private training providers.

 

“Part of our partnership is to ensure that we will make available the resources that we have developed in those areas including teaching and learning resources and assessments so that those can be used across the private sector as well.”

 

South Australian AEU president, Lara Golding, said the concerns raised by ECEC, aged care and disability sector groups about course cuts “should be taken seriously.”

 

“Our community can’t afford to have any questions about quality when it comes to training those who care for the most vulnerable in our community,” she said, outlining the specific concerns held about the calibre of ECEC courses.

 

“I have heard the level of supervision for students on work experience for those early childhood courses is not the same in private training businesses as it is when TAFE runs those courses,” she said.

 

In response to the concerns South Australia’s Education Minister John Gardner said  the Government “have always maintained that training in South Australia should be delivered by a mix of non-government providers, as well as TAFE SA, with our policy priorities being driven by what is in the best interests of students wanting quality training for a career, and industries who want a skilled workforce.”.

 

“Our priority is to deliver high quality training for students and businesses while delivering value for public money. As we continue to recover from the pandemic this is more critical than ever.”

 

To access the original coverage of this story, please see here

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