The Greens have backed Opposition calls for action on the revelations about TAFE SA aircraft maintenance engineer training at Parafield but have added that an audit of just this course ‘won’t go far enough’.
Greens Education and Training spokesperson, Tammy Franks MLC, has sat on two recent select committee inquiries into the troubled TAFE and VET sector.
Ms Franks said: “The Opposition is right to diagnose we have a problem in our skills training sector, but TAFE needs major surgery, not just a band aid.
“If the evidence to the recent select committee on Skills For All is a guide, then this scandal is likely to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The corporatisation of TAFE has seen widespread abuse of a system that rewards seeking profit over developing our state’s skills.
“TAFE is essential for our future yet we are treating students and staff in the system as second class. We need first class skills development for our workforce, not this shoddy tick and flick approach that is far more widespread than just this weekend’s revelations.
“Investment in skills education is essential, public accountability for that investment is also. However, the State Government’s recent ‘hands off’ approach has seen standards fall and systems fail. Questions in parliament are routinely deflected by Ministers as they claim the new ‘independent statutory authority’ status of TAFE somehow absolves them of parliamentary public accountability measures.
“If questions won’t be answered in parliament we need a VET Ombudsman to ensure we are not seeing public monies rorted.
“An independent audit of this particular (Parafield) incident is simply not enough, we need to rein in the corporatisation of TAFE, prioritise quality skills development and immediately create an ongoing independent VET Ombudsman to nip issues in the bud now.
“The Greens are proud defenders of a strong TAFE system. We opposed the corporatisation of TAFE for the very reasons we are now seeing dog our VET sector. It is limping along when it should be setting the pace, in a system that puts skills development well below profit-seeking and in this case putting public safety at risk.”