The Hon. John Barilaro MP, NSW Minister for Skills (now Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Skills and Minister for Small Business) gave the Opening Address at the CCA Annual Conference on 19 October 2016. CCA has now uploaded the audio and the transcript of the Minister’s speech.
The following are highlights from the Minister’s opening address:
“Often, we talk about the public provider being TAFE here in New South Wales. As the minister responsible, we talk about the private providers and sometimes we lose sight of how important the community college sector is, when you look at the vocation education landscape.”
“Unfortunately, through VET FEE-HELP, what we’ve seen is a lot of rogue providers coming into the sector and, I think, damaging the [VET] brand.”
“TAFE will always be the public provider; the largest provider in New South Wales. It’s actually the largest public provider in the nation. And, can I make it absolutely clear, it will continue to be. There are no plans to privatise; there are no plans to diminish TAFE’s footprint.”
“If the community college sector had the sort of funding that TAFE has, in relation to its admin and its management costs, you’d do it very, very well. You work on a shoestring budget.”
“For those efficiencies that we’ll find in TAFE will give us the opportunity to put that money then in our skills budget. So, it’s not leaking; it’s not going back to Treasury. I retain it in my budget, and [it] allows me to explore greater opportunities in funding a number of different channels, or sectors when it comes to delivering vocational education. That means greater opportunity for community colleges.”
“Community Service Obligation funding: I have no plans, here in New South Wales, of opening that up to contestability. I have no plans of withdrawing Community Service Obligation funding. If anything, through the efficiencies that we will find in TAFE, those saving measures, what I’m hoping to see is more money for Community Service Obligation funding. And there is no question and no doubt that community colleges play an important role when we’re looking after the most disadvantaged in our community, and have done so for 100 years, here in New South Wales. And you will continue to do that over the next 100 years.”
“I’m committed to making sure that we give best value, for the investment that we have, and I think community colleges play an important role. So, I give you that commitment this morning. At times, you may not hear it; at times, you’ll hear the political debate which is always about the public provider and private providers. And unfortunately, that is the game I’m in. But, I am … committed to outcomes.”
“This period of prosperity [in] New South Wales … gives me an opportunity to build a legacy of opportunity for young people to gain skills and genuine training that sets them on a life of employment and a great lifestyle … and there is no other sector in the community than the community college sector that is more passionate about making sure people have the greatest opportunity to have a great life.”
“I believe community colleges are absolutely in the right place to partner with Government, because of your connection to community, your connection to business and industry. Together … we’ve got a great opportunity to make sure that we actually skill up at the most… for the young people in this state.”
“When it comes to community colleges, what we’ve got to be able to do is start selling the message that you’re not … part of the sector that’s on the fringe. That you are mainstream, that you are just as important as my public provider being TAFE, or those private providers. I think with what we’ve done in New South Wales.
“Now, for the first time, we can clearly define what community colleges: where you apply, what [and] how unique you are … how important you are to the sector…. You’re not the second chance pathway, you actually are the first choice, and that you are part of the total VET landscape.”
“I thank the many volunteers that sit on [your] boards, because it’s your expertise, that passion, and that drive, and those volunteers that sit on the boards that run community colleges. It shows you how passionate the people are in the community college sector. Without you, you wouldn’t have a sector.”
“Thank you for what you do. You are important. You are valued. And as a Government, we’ve got to possibly do more to support you. This year … funding is about … $18 million. Can it be more? Of course it can…. I’m … looking at growing the Community Service Obligation funding component, and I am keen to make sure community colleges receive their fair share. And that you have a bright and thriving future.”