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SA VET training hits rock bottom

By Malcolm King - posted Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Just when you thought the South Australian government had buried the VET sector through blithering incompetence, there's a knock from below.

The SA government had poured $568 million in to Skills for All VET course subsidies over the past two financial years - funding an extraordinary boost in the natural therapy and fitness industries - only to be scrapped and replaced recently by WorkReady.

According to the SA government website, "WorkReady will support direct connections between training and jobs at the local level and connect people to the training and employment activity best suited to them over a working lifetime."

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How will WorkReady work? No one knows but its being rolled out in July.

Many South Australians are work ready but there isn't any work. Across Australia 850,000 people are hunting for work but there's only 150,000 jobs. South Australia is the worst place in mainland Australia to find a job with real unemployment (non-ABS methodology) above 12 percent.

There are almost 60,000 people unemployed in Crowland with another 20,000 under employed. Youth unemployment is hitting 40 per cent in the northern suburbs. When Holden closes in 2017, more than 3000 people will join the dole queue. Within three years, another 10,000 adults - many of them males over 45 years of age - will join them. A tsunami of mass unemployment is inexorably rolling towards Adelaide.

The state government is hopelessly out of its depth. You'll find some background on the local economy here http://indaily.com.au/opinion/2014/08/19/adelaides-decline-fall/and here http://indaily.com.au/opinion/2015/01/19/sas-unmentionable-problems/

Skills for All was a basket case from go to woe. It was killed off because the state government spent its entire three year budget in the first 18 months through massive over enrolments. It failed to accurately track enrolment numbers, it failed to advertise courses that were strategically important to the state and it failed to track employment outcomes, relying on voluntary student surveys. This is how your tax dollars are being spent.

The Weatherill government has also decided from June to provide TAFE SA with 46,000 of the 51,000 new training places, effectively killing off the private providers.

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I'm no lover of private RTOs. There are a number in the CBD and in the northern suburbs that are shockers. But this diktat tars the best trainers such as Business SA with the bottom feeders.

The government is also slashing the number of subsidized courses at TAFE SA from 900 to 700. Funding will shift to courses that offer the best employment prospects. Why wasn't that a cornerstone of Skills for All?

Let me tell you a secret. I was offered the job of rolling out Skills for All in 2011 but when I read the strategy and implementation procedures, I turned it down. I'm pro-albatross but I don't want one hanging around my neck.

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About the Author

Malcolm King works in generational workforce change. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University. He also runs a professional writing business called Republic.

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