Ministerial Statement - TAFE SA


There is a clear need for reform in the vocational education and training system in which TAFE SA has a critical role to play alongside other quality providers. The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) findings in 2017 highlighted problems of quality at educational program level and were the catalyst for an independent quality review and a strategic capability review. The findings of both the quality review and the strategic capability review, commissioned by the former government, clearly document a downturn in performance and emphasise the need for organisation-wide reform.

Both reviews highlight serious concerns around quality, leadership and strategic direction. Expectations of quality training fell short in a number of fields. The strategic direction of the organisation was not aligned to South Australia's training needs. TAFE SA's leadership and the former government's oversight failed staff, students and the people of South Australia. The strategic capability review concluded that 'the last four years have been a lost opportunity for TAFE SA and for South Australia as a whole'.

Today, I will table the reports of both the strategic capability review and the quality review and, importantly, I also present to the house the government's plans for the transformation of TAFE SA that will enable the organisation to regain the confidence of the public and industry and be sustainable into the future. The Marshall Liberal government is delivering a fresh start for TAFE SA, focused on meeting the needs of South Australians seeking the skills with which they can build their careers and South Australian businesses and industry seeking a skilled workforce in order to grow and prosper.

The VET market of the future will be based on contestability, access and choice. The Department for Industry and Skills, as the purchaser of training, will drive the development of this market, aligning public funding to industry sector analysis and making funding available to non-government providers as well as TAFE SA. The market will take time to develop. It cannot simply be fixed overnight with a shift of funding. The capacity and capability of non-government providers will need to grow in a number of ways at the same time as TAFE SA transitions into an environment where it will compete.

A new funding model will be introduced from 1 July 2019 for the VET market in South Australia. This will provide transparency and include clear arrangements for how TAFE SA will be appropriately resourced in order to deliver the social obligations we expect of our public provider. The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies has been commissioned to provide some further advice to inform the extent of the social obligations that TAFE SA should be funded to deliver. This body of work was suggested by the Strategic Capability Review and will inform the new funding model for TAFE SA.

The government is committed to TAFE SA's role as a quality provider in a contestable market and is providing a rescue package to ensure that TAFE SA can not only overcome the position in which it was left by the former government but transform and flourish in the VET market of the future. For TAFE SA to become efficient and effective within the market will require some internal changes.

There will need to be changes to the TAFE SA training profile and greater alignment with community and industry needs. At the same time, course fee structures will be reviewed to ensure that fees are appropriate to the market. There will need to be changes to delivery methodologies and more innovative practices, such as partnerships and collaborations with community, industry, employers, schools and universities. TAFE SA's extensive infrastructure must be utilised to its fullest extent to support the skilling of local communities.

In the current TAFE SA system, the majority of the training is delivered in the classroom. As TAFE SA responds to the needs of industry, enterprises and learners, the amount of training delivered in the workplace will increase, as will the use of technology. A number of TAFE SA campuses are expensive to run, are not fit for purpose and are not well utilised. Part of its efficiency drive sees a review of the use of facilities in order to deliver courses in the most effective manner possible.

There will be some impacts on some campuses where courses will be offered in a different way rather than within expensive underutilised facilities. This will enable TAFE SA to deliver courses more effectively, which is important, given both the significant investment needed from South Australian taxpayers to rescue TAFE SA and the fact that the organisation was left with millions of dollars in efficiency dividends by the former government in their last Mid-Year Budget Review.

Critically, these reforms will enable more students to receive training in a manner that more closely aligns with industry need. TAFE SA will operate with a clear understanding of its cost structure to ensure viability and prevent budget shortfalls and reliance on government and will also attract other sources of revenue from fee for service and international students.

Whilst the market will allow for choice of training providers for businesses and students, TAFE SA must have the dexterity to respond swiftly to industry and student needs through increased staffing flexibility and accessibility. As the public provider, TAFE SA will set the benchmark for quality. It will be recognised by its peers, by industry, by business and by the public at large as the government's own brand, synonymous with reliability, professionalism and high standards.

I am pleased to inform the house that in recent months, TAFE SA has already commenced a range of measures to address quality issues. A new academic board is being established. TAFE  SA has recruited an executive director of quality teaching and learning and internal audit quality processes have been ramped up. Transformation will mark a new era of governance and leadership. I thank the current interim board and the interim chief executive, Alex Reid, for their hard work in getting us this far.

The recruitment process for the new TAFE SA board has commenced and will be finalised in the coming months. Once a new board has been confirmed, the final recruitment of the chief executive will be finalised. The board and chief executive will be charged with the recovery and redesign of the organisation to address capability and capacity shortfalls. We will expect them to continue to strengthen educational leadership and financial capability without compromising the delivery of quality training.

There will be appropriate strategies to support organisational change: a renewed commitment to professional development, performance management and succession planning to improve organisational capacity. I look forward to approving a revitalised strategic plan for TAFE SA. The ministerial charter and performance agreement for TAFE SA are being updated and strengthened, with regular monitoring in place. The government will maintain appropriate oversight over the transformation of TAFE SA and we have put in place resources within the Department for Education for this prudential oversight.

The transformation plan for TAFE SA is designed to restore the confidence of students, businesses and taxpayers, whilst establishing TAFE SA as a principal contributor to the skilling of the state. I table the TAFE SA Strategic Capability Review 2018 and the Quality Review of TAFE SA.