Community Colleges Australia asked each of Australia's major political parties to respond to its Federal Election Policy Platform. Below are the responses from the Australian Labor Party and the Liberals/Nationals. There is some overlap to CCA's Special Election Newsletter, however the party responses provide additional detail, and CCA committed to publishing them in full.
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY RESPONSE TO CCA
(Read the PDF original letter here.)
Thank you for your correspondence to Labor regarding the Community Colleges Australia (CCA) federal election national policy platform.
Labor believes that all Australians should have access through their lives to the education they need for decent jobs and to be active members of the community. No one should be excluded from access to education as a result of disadvantage, course costs or fear of debt.
Unfortunately, Australia’s TAFE and community education system is under enormous pressure as a result of funding cuts, neglect, and poor and incoherent policy development.
The number of students attending TAFE has collapsed due to funding cuts and unhealthy competition from private providers accessing government subsidies. While the decline in government-funded training taking place in community providers has not been as acute, Labor recognises the impact funding uncertainty has on the sector.
The Australian vocational education and training system requires stable, competent and visionary leadership; instead the Liberals have made nine different ministerial appointments with some oversight of vocational education over their six years in office.
In contrast, a Shorten Labor Government will restore public TAFE as the major provider in the vocational education and training system and ensure that not-for-profit community and adult education providers are supported in the critical complementary role they play.
Recognising the role of Adult and Community Education in the Australian education system
Labor also recognises the strong and positive role adult and community learning plays in delivering quality and inclusive post-secondary education to people in our communities, and the important role of the community education sector in delivering services to older Australians, and some of the most disadvantaged segments of Australian society.
You may also be aware that Bill Shorten recently announced a plan to a tax cut for businesses who give older Australian job seekers over the age of 55 employment opportunities, making it easier for small business to create new jobs and help get more older Australians into work.
In Australia today, educational opportunity remains uneven. Too many people miss out on education and too many Australians have language, literacy and numeracy problems that make them vulnerable to underemployment and social exclusion.
Labor wants to change this. A Shorten Labor Government will break down the barriers that prevent so many Australians from getting the quality education they need. It is time for a renewed shared commitment by federal and state governments to adult and community education objectives, principles and goals.
The last Ministerial Declaration on Adult Community Education declaration was made under Federal Labor in 2008. Federal Labor has undertaken to provide leadership in ensuring a new declaration.
Labor will secure funding for vocational education and ensure that at least two thirds of public funding for training will go to TAFE with the remaining one third of funding will be available to high quality providers, including not-for-profit community providers.
For too long the adult and vocational education sectors have been put under intense pressure due to misapplied competition and incoherent policies. Labor is committed to restoring TAFE as the anchor in the vocational education system and the supporting the unique role of not-for-profit Adult
Learning and Community Education organisations to Australia’s post-secondary education system.
National inquiry into post-secondary education in Australia
Labor has a vision for a stronger, fairer and fit-for-purpose post-secondary education system that meets the needs of our society and economy while helping to deliver fairness, address inequality and ensure equity. In order to achieve our vision, we must reverse the slow decline that has characterised vocational education and training and adult and community education over the past few years.
In the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government we will establish a once-in-a-generation national inquiry into post-secondary education in Australia. This inquiry will be independent and comprehensive. We see adult and community education as central this inquiry as we know that we won’t be able to deliver it without your expertise, practice and community connection.
Labor believes that if we work together to build a stronger education system, we will be able to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future so that no Australian is left behind. Labor will ensure a just transition for Australians by making sure everyone can get access to quality education they need throughout their lives. Labor commits to developing and implementing a national adult literacy strategy, prioritising language, literacy, numeracy and digital learning in the range of contexts in which this is needed.
The Liberals put an end to Labor’s longstanding Workplace English Language Literacy and Numeracy program (WELL). After neglecting this area of education and training for six years they have only just proposed to restore a similar program.
Labor will guarantee the funding the Liberals have finally restored for adult language, literacy, numeracy and digital foundation education and will work with adult and community educators to design and implement the program. In addition, Labor has also committed to addressing the problems in the Adult Migrant English and Skills for Education and Employment programs from the Liberals reforms that cut funding, which impacted quality, and lead to a decline in enrolment.
Yours sincerely, Australian Labor Campaign Headquarters
LIBERALS AND NATIONALS RESPONSE TO CCA
Thank you for the opportunity to provide the views of the Coalition on important issues facing your organisation. A response to your questions is attached.
This election will have real consequences for Australia's economy and our future. Despite global headwinds, our economy is strong. This year, for the first time in more than a decade, the Government will deliver a Budget surplus.
A stronger economy means we can deliver on our plans to:
- Create 1.25 million more jobs over the next five years.
- Maintain budget surpluses and pay down debt.
- Deliver tax relief to encourage and reward hard working Australians
- Guarantee increased investments for schools, hospitals and roads.
- Keep Australians safe and our borders secure.
The alternative at this election is Mr Shorten. Labor's risky agenda includes billions of dollars of higher taxes — on retirees, housing, incomes, investments, family businesses, electricity and more.
Thank you for communicating our response to your members.
Andrew Hirst, Federal Director, Liberals
Ben Hindmarsh, Campaign Director, Nationals
MORRISON GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO COMMUNITY COLLEGES AUSTRALIA
To ensure Australians have the skills they need to drive a growing economy, the Morrison Government is investing more than $585 million in our Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package in the vocational education and training (VET) sector to better equip Australians with the skills they need.
The package of measures will include up to 80,000 new apprenticeships in industries with skills shortages through a doubling of incentive payments to employers (to $8,000). The new apprentices - including bakers, bricklayers, plasterers, hairdressers, plumbers and carpenters - will also receive a $2,000 incentive payment.
This commitment is in addition to the Morrison Government's Skilling Australians Fund that supports projects that will train apprentices in areas of high employment demand and in future growth industries.
The Coalition has continued to invest in skills development. This year alone the Morrison Government will invest more than $3 billion in skills and vocational education including $1.5 billion to the states and territories for skills development through the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development Specific Purpose Payment.
This ensures states and territories have the ability to decide how to allocate this funding within their own training sectors. Across Australia, the states and territories support a combination of TAFEs, private for-profit providers (including duel sector universities), and private not-for-profit providers.
Funding allocation is a responsibility for the state and territory governments.
To address youth unemployment in regional Australia and create better connections between school students, employers and the VET sector the Morrison Government will also establish ten industry Training Hubs.
The Hubs will create better connections between local industry and schools to improve outcomes for students, employers and the VET sector. They will be an on-the-ground presence where new approaches are needed to help students transition from school to training and work, and are supported by 400 VET scholarships.
The Morrison Government is ensuring the VET training system is flexible and responsive to critical skills shortages as they emerge and is undertaking some longer-term reforms in line with the recommendations of the Joyce Review, such as the establishment of a National Skills Commission and a National Careers Institute.
We are also supporting lifelong learning by expanding the Unique Student Identifier to all tertiary students and creating a Tertiary Learning Repository. These measures provide a necessary down-payment for developing a more flexible system of learning across a worker's lifetime.
We are supporting STEM skills development in all stages of the pipeline, including early childhood education, secondary and post-secondary education, workforce skills, and STEM engagement and awareness.
Our initiatives include $51 million for our Embracing the Digital Age schools initiative, $14 million for STEM early learning programs, and over $20 million in gender equality initiatives for STEM, including appointing Australia's first Women in STEM Ambassador.
The Morrison Government will establish a new national program and a series of pilots to address low language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills among employed and recently unemployed Australians.
One in five Australians have poor literacy and numeracy, robbing them of the fundamental skills for employment or career progression. This program will help participants engage with further training and job opportunities.
The Morrison Government stands for quality and integrity in Australia's vocational education and training system. We cleaned up Labor's failed VET FEE-HELP scheme that left thousands of young Australians ripped off by dodgy training providers, leaving them with a mountain of debt and no qualification to show for it.
Between 2011 and 2013, Labor cut employer incentives to businesses employing apprentices a total of nine times (at a cost of $1.2 billion).
While Bill Shorten was Employment Minister, the number of apprentices and trainees in training collapsed by 22 per cent or 110,000 —the biggest annual decline ever. By contrast, the Morrison Government is supporting employers with a range of incentives that will be streamlined to make them easier to navigate.
The Morrison Government will establish 10 industry Training Hubs to address the challenge of high youth unemployment in regional areas. The Hubs will create better connections between local industry and schools to improve outcomes for students, employers and the VET sector. They will be an on-the-ground presence where new approaches are needed to help students transition from school to training and work.
The Hubs will facilitate additional education for trainers as well as career advice and mentoring for young people with a specific focus on traditional in-demand trades. A career facilitator will form partnerships between industries in sectors of local skills shortages and those providing advice and education to students.
This initiative will support Year 11 and 12 students at 10 selected pilot sites across regional Australia.
Commonwealth Scholarship Program for Young Australians
The Morrison Government will establish a Commonwealth Scholarships Program for Young Australians to help more young people enter the vocational education and training sector and gain the skills they need for a successful and rewarding career.
Four hundred Commonwealth Scholarships will be available to students in regions surrounding the pilot industry training hubs to provide a comprehensive pathway for young job-seekers in those regions.
Successful students will receive scholarship funding up to $17,500, depending on scholarship length and the type of study or training, for a maximum period of three years.
Priority will be given to eligible applicants in the following cohorts:
- individuals who have exited from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in the previous 2 years (the age criteria will not be applicable for ADF applicants);
- Indigenous young Australians;
- young Australians with a disability; and
- young Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
A National Skills Commission and Skills Organisations
In line with recommendations of the Joyce Review, the Morrison Government will establish a National Skills Commission to build a nationwide approach to skills development that serves students, industry and drives long-term VET reform.
The Commission will undertake research and analysis of future skills needs and investigate the efficient and fair price of qualifications. The Commission will also play a role in promoting apprenticeships, including by collaborating with industry to assess and respond to workforce needs.
Linked to the Commission, new Skills Organisations wilt be piloted in areas of future jobs growth. The Organisations will provide industry-based advice and develop industry partnerships to trial new ways to develop VET qualifications.
The initial pilots will be in the growth areas of human services, digital technologies and cyber security.
National Careers Institute and National Careers Ambassador
The Morrison Government will establish a National Careers Institute to transform the delivery of career advice for Australians across the life of their education, training and employment.
This will be supported by a National Careers Ambassador who will have strong relationships with key stakeholders and raise the profile of VET.
The institute will address a current gap in quality careers information to support the transition from school to further study or training.
As the expectations of employers evolve, young people and others transitioning through multiple careers and jobs need to know what to study to match their ambitions to the demand for skills. The Morrison Government will establish a competitive grants program to support high impact programs that build innovative partnerships between schools, tertiary providers and employers. This will enable employers to play an active support role in developing the skills they need for the jobs of the future.
Grants of up to $350,000 will be available for eligible partnerships. The National Careers Institute will administer the program.
National Program to Address Language, Literacy, Numeracy and Digital (LLND) Skills Deficits
The Morrison Government will establish a new national program and a series of pilots to address low language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills among employed and recently unemployed Australians. One in five Australians have poor literacy and numeracy, robbing them of the fundamental skills for employment or career progression.
This program will help participants engage with further training and job opportunities. Foundational skill levels are an even greater concern in remote Indigenous communities. Pilot programs will be undertaken in four locations to address the needs of adults in these communities with LLND skills deficits. The pilots will be co-designed with local Indigenous community members.