AGRICULTURE and horticulture students in the bush were among the most likely to be ripped off by dodgy vocational trainers over the past 18 months, with new statistics revealing Dubbo and Cobar as particularly vulnerable to irreputable TAFE alternatives.
Government, meanwhile, insists it has some of the strictest rules in the country around private VET providers, and claimed less money was being provided to the private VET sector than under Labor.
It was the latest flare-up in the long-running battle over TAFE and VET funding in NSW and came as the Minister responsible for TAFE, Adam Marshall, opened a specialist farming and agribusiness SkillsPoint facility at Griffith last week.
Department of Industry documents obtained by state opposition showed since 2016 almost 17,000 NSW students had been enrolled with one of 46 VET providers that had Smart and Skilled funding suspended or terminated because they did not meet standards.
Bateman’s Bay had the most non-metro students impacted by shonky private VET providers (1538 enrollments), while other coastal towns such as Tweed Heads, Forster-Tuncurry, and Grafton accounted for a combined 334 enrollments.
Inland, it was Dubbo that had the most impacted students (241 enrollments), followed by Griffith (213), Albury (186), Bathurst (149) and Cobar (106).
Labor’s Upper House MP and spokesman for Western NSW Daniel Mookhey said among the most common courses offered by dodgy regional providers were Certificates II and III in Agriculture and Horticulture, Certificate IV in Small Business Management, Certificate III in Retail Operations and Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations.
Opposition has long attacked government for its handling of TAFE, and says reforms have stripped teaching and classroom resources, handed $31.5 million to dodgy private operators, and ultimately left many students left without qualifications and in other cases, straddled with debt.
However, a spokeswoman for Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Minister for Skills, said not one student was ‘left in the lurch’ if a training provider had been terminated or suspended.
“If a Smart and Skilled provider is terminated, the NSW Department of Industry works to ensure a transition to another training provider is seamless and does not disadvantage learners or employers in any way,” the spokeswoman said.
The Smart and Skilled program offers taxpayer subsidies to private vocational education providers offering Certificates and Diplomas in various trades and skills.
The 46 VET providers could have had their had funding stripped or suspended for a number of reasons, including being deregistered by Australia skills quality regulator, using unqualified teachers and instructors, subcontracting, using incorrect training tools and assessments, and insolvency.
“Every young person starting their career deserves to know that their State Government is on their side, but this Government continues to back a private training market riddled with fraud and abuse,” Mr Mookhey said.
Government recently announced it was seeking to employ 253 new frontline teaching staff across the state, with the majority to deliver training in construction industry trades.
TAFE NSW currently receives $1.7 billion – or 77.3 percent – of the $2.2 billion skills budget.
Top 10 non-metro areas impacted by dodgy VET providers
- Batemans Bay (1538 enrollments)
- Dubbo (241)
- Griffith (213)
- Albury (186)
- Bathurst (149)
- Forster (120)
- Tweed Heads (111)
- Cobar (106)
- Grafton (103)
- Tamworth (96)
VET providers that have had funding suspended or terminated
- Challenger Training Pty Ltd
- College of Professional Education Pty Ltd
- Comet Training Pty Ltd
- Dazzle‐M Pty Ltd
- Elite Training &Development Pty Ltd
- Equalis Pty Ltd
- Farm Gate Training & Consulting Pty Ltd
- Five Star Training Pty Ltd
- Franklyn Scholar (Australia) Pty Ltd
- Future Academy Pty Ltd the Trustee for Future Academy Trust
- G'Day Australia Pty Ltd
- Global Institute of Learning Pty Ltd
- Igrow Family Day Day Care Pty Ltd
- Impact Training Institute Pty Ltd
- Improvement Tools (Qld) Pty Ltd
- Insight Training Group Australia Pty Ltd
- Kelaart Security Training Services Pty Ltd
- Kirana Training Pty Ltd
- Learning Lab Pty Ltd
- Lisa Nguyen Nail, Beauty & Tattoo Pty Ltd
- Royal Rehab
- Rtm Educational Training Academy Pty Ltd
- Skillstrain Pty Ltd
- Tandem College Pty Ltd
- Texskill Ltd
- Training Specialist Australia Pty Ltd
- Transqual Pty Ltd
- United World College Pty Ltd
- Visual Concepts & Design Australia Pty Ltd
- 3‐AAA Training & Consulting Pty Ltd
- Access Community Group Ltd
- Access Group Training Pty Ltd
- Access Training Institute Pty Ltd
- Alertforce Pty Ltd
- Australian College of Vocational Studies Pty Ltd
- BBT Training Australia Pty Ltd
- Belelmont Pty Ltd
- Management Institute of Australia No1 Pty Ltd
- Management Institute of Australia No2 Pty Ltd
- Maxis Solutions Pty Ltd
- McLeod Training Organisation
- Newskills Ltd
- Nailtech Training Pty Ltd
- Paul Kearney & Associates Pty Ltd
- Precision Training Australia Pty Ltd
- Project Management Partners Pty Ltd