ACT Funding Cuts in the Vocational Education and Training Sector
The vocational education and training (VET) sector was surprised last month when the ACT Government made significant cuts to training course subsidies affecting many industries and training providers.
In the construction industry affected courses include the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, the Certificate III in Carpentry, and Certificate III in Plumbing. Of particular concern is the significant cuts to User Choice funding and Existing Worker funding which mean that both new apprenticeships and existing workers will be impacted.
By way of context, according to the Mitchell Institute (which is part of the Victoria University) funding provided by State and Territory Governments to VET qualifications has been declining for several years. This has occurred when the Australian Government is investing more in real terms in the VET sector than it did in 2008. According to the Mitchell Institute, Australia’s total reported investment in the VET sector is at its lowest level in real terms since at least 2008.
In some cases the ACT has cut 100% of the subsidy. While for the majority the subsidy has been cut by at least 50%.
While we appreciate that the ACT Government has budget pressures, a sharp cut in funding, without consultation with industry, and without a sufficient transition period, will have lasting economic and social consequences for the ACT. We believe these cuts will exacerbate skills shortages, lead some RTOs to reduce training quality, and make it harder to attracted skilled workers to the ACT.
We have written to the Treasurer and relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers this week on this issue.
Our call to the ACT Government is simple - we urge Government to reconsider their decision, to immediately reinstate the original funding, and to commit to sustainable and increasing funding for the sector in the next ACT budget.