Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to bring attention to the shambolic state of vocational education and training (VET) in Victoria, and in particular the devastating effect it has had on our TAFE system and for our students. The reforms from the previous Labor government, which were continued under the Liberal-Nationals government, have seen a massive shift of funding away from our public TAFEs towards the profit margins of private for-profit providers. The federal government's privatisation agenda and the VET FEE-HELP scheme is adding to the problem.
The result has been described as a feeding frenzy — a get-rich-quick scheme where shonky training providers have been able to come in and rort the system. We have seen TAFE campuses close or downsize, courses cut, jobs lost, students saddled with debt and worthless qualifications, and course completion rates drop. The Victorian government's response has been to sink money into regulating a broken system, and it beggars belief that the opposition is still sticking to its failed policy.
The solution is straightforward. TAFE needs to be at the centre of our vocational education and training system. The government must guarantee the lion's share of the $1.2 billion recurrent VET budget to our TAFEs, improve course quality by mandating minimum supervised hours of delivery for all courses that receive government subsidies and allow students to undertake a subsidised course regardless of the level of qualification so they can compete in the ever-changing jobs market.