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Anthony Morrissey -2016: Letter to

Hon Malcolm Turnbull

            PO Box 545

            Edgecliff NSW 2027

                                                                                                              

Trade courses should only be taught at TAFE: end the multi-million dollar rip-offs.

 Dear Prime Minister,

 When you became Prime Minister on September 14, 2015 I was convinced Australia was going to turn the corner after the do-nothing reign of Tony Abbott, especially when you nominated innovation as the key to our nation’s future. You declared you wanted to create a modern, dynamic 21st century economy for Australia. You also pledged you were going to stop the for-profit Vocational Private Provider (PP) sector exploiting young people under the VET HELP program.

 Seven months have passed and the for-profit Private Providers are still ripping off young people doing their certificate III. This I feel is largely due to the Australia Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) being under resourced and clearly lacking the technical ability to appraise the private providers courses. A failure in funding clearly demonstrated when on November 28, 2015 I wrote to ASQA expressing my alarm about the quality of a certain PP delivering sub-standard courses in the Certificate III. As of May 7, 2016 I am still waiting for a reply.

 For your innovation agenda to succeed and for the $40 billion allocated to the building of naval patrol vessels and boats, and the $50 billion to build 12 submarines in Australia, to be a success, you need an Australian workforce with Certificate III (trades). To ensure a high standard of workmanship the training of apprentices should only be carried out at TAFE institutes because investigations into the for-profit base private provider sector has revealed their trade courses are dangerously substandard.

 Unless shonky PPs are stopped in their tracks, your defense projects will be placed in jeopardy. The resultant dangerous and faulty workmanship will result in a catastrophic budget blowouts and possible loss of life. This is your chance to stop that happening right now.

 You also can make a life-changing impact on young people across our nation by vowing in your election speech that a Turnbull Coalition Government will legislate that all Vocational Training courses in Certificate III can only be taught at TAFE.

This will stop private providers ripping off young people and dumbing down trade courses while ensuring Australia’s high standards in our skilled workforce are maintained. Properly qualified tradespeople are also guardians of public safety.

 Think about these young people for the moment and why protecting their future is so important for all of them, regardless of their background. Their three education mile stones are completing the Higher School Certificate; gaining a university degree, or finishing a certificate III trade course, such as in the electrical and plumbing trades.

  For a young person deciding to do a certificate III course, it will be one of the most critical decisions they will have to make, compounded  by  the fact they have to choose between one of 400 for-profit  Private Providers (PP) or TAFE. If they choose a for-profit private provider over TAFE, they face the serious risk their PP qualification will be dismissed as inferior to the qualification from TAFE.  Even worse the PP could go bankrupt resulting in the student frantically looking elsewhere to complete their course.

 Employers are becoming increasingly alarmed at the training provided by some of these PPs, for example consider a private provider recently issued a Certificate III Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE 30811) to an ex-Telstra worker who attended the course for ONLY six weeks; 4 hours /night for 3 nights/week (72 hours). A similar course at TAFE would quite rightly take 756 hours. Four weeks after his “quickie” graduation, the newly-minted sparkie got his Electrical Contractor license, putting the trade to shame.

 Another PP boasts they have processed 200 electricians this year and claimed not one student scored less than 85%. And another private provider delivering the same program in
Electrotechnology, told their applicants there is no class room study required. They’re taking students into very dangerous territory with that one.

 To relieve this pressure from young people and to ensure the high standard of Australian tradespeople is maintained, all Certificate III course (Trade Courses) should only be run by TAFE colleges nationwide.  Consequently the public will have confidence that when they engage a plumber, electrician, builder motor mechanic, or other tradespeople, their services will be of a high and safe standard.

 This will ensure a pink batts disaster will not occur again. The inevitable Royal Commission into workplace tragedies, due to inadequate training causing serious injuries and fatalities, will mean there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide for politicians and bureaucrats from Mr. Turnbull down. The finger will point back to those who could have pushed the buttons to stop it all from happening. Everyone has a stake in this; clean up the training before someone is injured or even dies.

 To emphasise the dangers both tradies and consumers are facing, please see:-

 Attachment A: Results of making TAFE the only Vocational Training Provider in Australia                      running Certificate III courses and

Attachment B: - Listing of some of the Private Providers.

Tony Morrissey BSc (ENG) UNSW, SMIEEE, MIE AUST CPENG

Chifley NSW

 Attachment A

  Results of making TAFE the only Vocational Training Provider in Australia running Certificate III courses will result in the following:-

 

·         The target Council of Australia Governments (COAG) that 50 % of Australian population will have a certificate III or higher by 2020 will be met. Presently it is only 34% compared to Germany’s 80%

 ·          Eliminate the problem of apprentices having to decide which of the 400 private providers approved by Australia Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to enroll in for the Certificate III course

 ·          The resumption of liaison with TAFE and Industry will result in the latest technological changes being taught at TAFE.

 ·         Employers will not have to cull applicants who have only private provider qualifications. This will ensure all applicants are on the same level footing. Employers have stated that the training provided by the 400 private providers, who are eligible to give Certificate III training, is inferior to TAFE training.

·         This will also prevent colleges in the region closing thus ensuring apprentices do not have to travel over 100km to do their training. Another valuable benefit is that the Literacy and Numeracy courses which have been slashed, can be continued.

 

·         The public will have confidence that when they engage a plumber, electrician, builder motor mechanic, or other tradespeople, their services will be of a high and safe standard.

 

  Attachment B

Listing of some of the Private Providers

Name

Address

comments

Australian Institute of Technology, [email protected]

AITT – Australian Institute of Technology & Trade

 

Ex-Telstra worker after paying $10,000 completed the Electrotechnology Certificate III in six weeks over 4hr /3 nights. Four weeks later he received his electrical Contractor License from the Office of Fair Trading.

 

Another applicant was quoted 70 hrs. to 120 hrs to do their course, so long as they provided photographic evidence of their performing electrical work and have a craft certificate.

 

Total hours to complete a TAFE Electrotechnology Certificate III is 756 hours.

Qualify Me

70 Parramatta Rd Croydon NSW 2132 1800 765 295

They’ve boasted they have processed over 200 electricians this year. Not one person got less than 85% pass mark in the assessments which can be a verbal discussion.

Get Qualified Australia

202/151 Clarence St Sydney NSW 2000

100% Money Back Guarantee 100% best Price guarantee- no class room study

Careers Australia

Level 1 25-35 George St Parramatta

Being accused of using sales people who are targeting disadvantaged areas and enrolling poor students with fake entrance exams.

Aspire College of Education

 

Collapse on 11 February has resulted in 20 campuses around Australian leaving 5,000 students stranded. This is after receiving more the $80 million in total government funding in 2015.

Australian Careers Network

 

Collapsed 22 March 22, 2016 leaving 15,000 students stranded.

Vocation

 

Collapsed on 27 November leaving 12,000 students  stranded

AIPE

 

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is being sued in the Federal Courts for “unconscionable conduct.”

Evocca

 

Evocca received $250 million in taxpayer’s cash for enrolling 27,902 students of which only 1,053 completed the course.

Cornerstone Investment

 

Cornerstone Investment received  $46 million taxpayer’s monies  for enrolling 4,200 students  of which only 5 completed the course

Australian Institute of Education

 

Received $110 million taxpayers and only 117 received their diploma

 

Letter to Mike Baird, Preier, NSW

Dear  Premier

 

                 Our home-grown Third World tradies: a national shame.

 

You may be relieved to know that this will be the last time I will be bombarding you about the TAFE tragedy and the shonky private providers preying on its dying carcass. During the last 24 months I have been writing letters and sending emails to the electronic media; newspapers and politicians on both side of the political fence to very little response. I feel like Saint John the Baptist crying in the wilderness: he lost his head, while I can’t even get a headline.

 

From the practically zero response I am getting, it is apparent that hardly anyone gives a stuff that our trades training is slipping to Third World levels. And no one cares that just about anybody can now pay a private provider $10,000 to get an electrical contractor license. One provider even has the scandalous gall to say there is no need to attend lectures as it can all be done on line. Now there’s a tragic epitaph for the first “under-trained” sparky who will almost certainly be killed on the job.

 

I have attached copies of letters I have sent to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and to the toothless watchdog ASQA; as well a report from a head teacher on how TAFE NSW should be restructured.

 

I have summarized the main points in various letters and emails below:

 

Going back to the state governments of the 1960s and even earlier in the 1880s, politicians discovered the importance of having a skilled workforce as the core of an educated society and enable it to reach its full potential. This was essential for building a new industrialised nation using the latest technologies and skill sets.

 

So TAFE was set-up to provide an affordable public education throughout NSW for the young and disadvantaged, as well as providing a ‘second chance’ for Australians hungry for new skills in our fast developing industrialised nation. A technological revolution was underway and it needed the highly skilled workers TAFE was about to provide. TAFE was not set up as a not-for-profit all, or money-making organisation to compete against shonky private providers as championed by Liberal State and Federal Governments. The only “profit” intended by earlier governments was a talent-bank for the entire country,  both for corporations and citizens alike.

                

TAFE gave students quality training and education pathways into the work force. It also provided language and literacy skills courses. In order for the courses to be relevant TAFE liaised with industry and commerce. This was crucial to TAFE and Australia’s success. 

 

It is quite clear that in the interest of short term gain, the policy of the O’Farrell and Baird governments has been aimed at destroying TAFE and substituting it with private providers. This is dramatically shown by the sacking of 5000 TAFE teachers; the proposed mass sell-off of 27 TAFE colleges and vastly increasing TAFE student fees by offering Commonwealth VET HELP loans.

 

The new TAFE EBS $600 million computer system implemented in October 2014 is a complete failure and should revert back to the old system. Prior to it being rolled out TAFE staff analysed the system and found it to be only 30- 40% suitable. Consequently in May 2016 thousands of TAFE students are still not officially enrolled in their courses because of computer glitches.

 

What is even more disastrous is students cannot access their results, especially if they did subjects at different TAFE colleges. In short the computer system does not interact with other TAFE colleges. Even the Auditor- General is having trouble trying to access $477.4 million in TAFE course revenue.

 

What is even more ludicrous is that TAFE NSW has been forced to pay consultants KPMG $5.86 million out of its slashed budget to track down $477.4 million in course fees lost somewhere in TAFE’s computer system (EBS),

For a young person deciding to do a certificate III course ( trade course), it will be one of the most critical decisions they will have to make, compounded  by  the fact they have to choose between one of 400 for-profit  Private Providers (PP) or TAFE. If they choose a for-profit private provider over TAFE, they face the serious risk their PP qualification will be dismissed as inferior to the qualification from TAFE.  Even worse the PP could go bankrupt resulting in the student frantically looking elsewhere to complete their course.

 

The industry watchdog on the providers is the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) which is toothless and totally incompetent when cracking down on shonky private providers. It is imperative that all trade training (certificate III) should only be run at TAFE colleges before a tragedy occurs. Table below identifies some of these shonky private providers.

 

To relieve this pressure from young people and to ensure the high standard of Australian tradespeople is maintained, all Certificate III course (Trade Courses) should only be run by TAFE colleges nationwide.  Consequently the public will have confidence that when they engage a plumber, electrician, builder motor mechanic, or other tradespeople, their services will be of a high and safe standard.

 

Finally for TAFE to be an efficient and cost-effective organization, the current 10 institute model should be abandoned and replaced by a single body as it was in the 1960s and called TAFE NSW. This will dramatically reduce overheads and internal negativity by a simplifying systems.

 

Tony Morrissey BSc (ENG) UNSW, SMIEEE, MIE AUST CPENG

.

The table below lists the private providers in the top 10 in 2014 who have attracted media or regulatory attention, the amount of VFH money they received, and amount they received per student who graduated.

PROVIDER

Amount received ($)

Student enrolled

Students graduated

Amount per graduation ($)

Evocca College

$ 250,185,150

26,848

1,053

$237,592

AIPE

$109,957,263

8,814

117

$939,805

Study Group

$101,714,437

13,715

470

$216,414

Unique

$76,766,985

2,824

172

$446,319

Cornerstone Investments

$46,136,016

4,251

2

$23,068,008

College of Creative Design and the Arts

$35,473,698

3,530

30

$1,182,456

 

(Source: Senate Committee: Education and Employment Q on N No.AQ15-000668)