Taskforce recommends closing 38 TAFE campuses
QUEENSLAND'S 82 TAFE campuses should be halved and the benefits of merging universities and TAFEs recognised, an education and skills taskforce has recommended.
The State Government in June established the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce to review the State's Vocational, Educational and Training sector.
The taskforce, in a report released on Tuesday, has recommended a raft of controversial changes to Queensland's TAFE structure, including closing 38 campuses across the state.
On the back of previous research, the Taskforce found TAFE was faced with problems in competing to provide services with private sector institutions and a lack of clarity about TAFE's role as a public provider.
The downward trend is only set to continue, the report states, as VET delivery becomes more competitive.
"Taskforce consultation with TAFE stakeholders confirms a general acceptance of these challenges and recognition that there is an urgent need for change," the report stated.
If the State Government decides to act on the widespread recommendation, TAFE campuses will be merged and divided into six regions - Far North, Fraser and Sunshine Coast, Western Corridor, Brisbane Metropolitan, Gold Coast and a Skills Tech region.
The Taskforce also noted the potential merger of Central Queensland University and TAFE would result in a seventh region.
When looking at the controversial merge, the Taskforce stated VET and higher university graduates were increasingly competing for the same jobs as the needs of employers and the labour market changed.
"While many employers in this category prefer VET graduates with higher level qualifications, given the direct link between VET qualifications, the workplace and the skill needs of industry, more and more are opting for degree qualified graduates," the report states.
"In this context, the Taskforce acknowledges that more integrated approaches between VET and higher education may provide a platform for students with applied learning styles to move seamlessly between the two sectors to gain the required workplace skills along with academic qualifications."
The potential sweeping reform has not pleased unions, who believe it will simply lead to more jobs lost and reduction in education pathways, especially in regional Queensland.
"Closing TAFEs in places where regional industry requires apprentices trained will very likely reduce regional apprenticeships, that's axing jobs and skills for young workers," Together Union secretary Alex Scott said.
"If the LNP government starts shutting down regional TAFEs it would be robbing regional teenagers of future career and training opportunities just as they are starting out in their working lives."
RECOMMENDED TAFE RESTRUCTURE
- Far North Queensland Region (from 26 to 15 campuses)
- Fraser and Sunshine Coast Region (from 13 to 8 campuses)
- Western Corridor Region (from 16 to 11 campuses)
- Brisbane Metropolitan Region (from 15 to 5 campuses)
- Skills Tech Australia (from 6 to 2 campuses)
- Gold Coast Region (from 6 to 3 campuses).