Government vacation before acting on VET rort

17 Jul 2020

The Coalition Government’s criteria for axing courses in the scandal-riddled vocational education training (VET) sector failed to look at the future employment needs of Australia, particularly the fast growing aged care and disability sectors, NXT Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

The Federal Member also called on the Government to immediately waive the massive VET debts burdening young people who have been scammed by dodgy training providers, particularly in the past three years when the Coalition was overseeing the sector and failed to act on identified problems.
The list of courses that are no longer eligible to receive VET FEE-HELP includes several important courses for our nation’s future, including an Advanced Diploma of Oral Health; an Advanced Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Care; and a graduate Diploma of Building Surveying.
“Why is the Government cutting aged care related courses when all the population figures show we have an ageing population and this sector is clearly a growth area for jobs?” Ms Sharkie said.
“The Government stated this week that the framework for culling or keeping courses, in the first instance, looks at the states and territories’ current list of needs and priorities.
“But these lists are flawed because they relate to current job markets and don’t adequately consider future needs.
“There has been no attempt to place our young people, the future wealth of our country, within a training policy framework that sets them up for success.
“Concentrating solely on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, doesn’t reflect the growing job market in service industries.
“We need to get vocational education right, particularly in regional areas.”
Ms Sharkie also called on the Government to provide a clear and easy to navigate path to waive the debts incurred by students duped into signing up for courses that they couldn’t finish or wouldn’t lead to jobs.
“At the moment our young people have been set up to fail, and to bear the financial burden of that failure for years,” she said.
“Senator Birmingham cannot point the finger of blame solely at the previous Labor Government when the Coalition has had three years to fix the scandalous rorting in the trainer provider sector and it did nothing.
Senator Nick Xenophon strongly backed Ms Sharkie’s concerns and has pledged that the NXT will pursue these issues in senate estimates next week.
“Clearly fixing the rorting was not a priority for the Coalition, leading to three years where thousands more young people were saddled with massive debts for courses of little value that do nothing to help them find work to pay for their education.
“The Government has dragged its feet on this issue and it needs to waive the debts now, not put young people through some long bureaucratic process debt recovery process that goes nowhere.”

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