I was listening to Hack on Triple J last week and heard a piece about the TAFE Futures inquiry being run by Associate Professor Peter Kell. The Hack team interviewed some TAFE students about their experiences at TAFE and asked how relevant their TAFE studies were to their work. The responses were mixed, depending on the areas of study, but it was clear that there remains a tension between the curricula delivered and the relevance to industry(ies).
It's is an interesting time for Australian public TAFEs I think - state governments are varied in their attitudes and approaches to TAFEs via funding and governance, although (despite the?) there is a national training system that governs the VTE curricula and registered training status of TAFE institutions.
The inquiry adds to the conversation about what the future of education will look like and how institutions like our public TAFEs will need to be 'reconfigured' to remain relevant to learners and to industry. You can also make a submission to the inquiry. It asks this question (in framing its terms of reference):
What are the desirable futures for the public TAFE system in the context of its history and contemporary pressures?Working in the public TAFE system myself, I don't see a blanket solution; more we need to recognise the diversity within the system itself, and I think draw out those 'pockets of innovation' in order to capture and then enhance the progressive elements currently in play. Change is itself a cultural thing and to change a culture will require time for substantive, meaningful change to occur.
I'm not sure how we can streamline the bureaucracy of public institutions which are also strained by reduced budgets, when the governing system is itself not readily open to change. It should be recognised that the part is connected to a greater system that is dominant and almost omnipresent! But it's good to see some of the commentary coming out of the submissions to the inquiry so far:
TAFE remains the backbone of skill development in this country...The inquiry, as many would agree, is an important step. Even more important is the results and their dissemination, and how the next steps will be implemented to bring about real and relevant change.
The Inquiry is asking questions that go beyond the current narrow focus on skills...
TAFE needs to meet industry-led training, engage Australian youth and at the same time attract great staff to grow with these new needs...
This inquiry into TAFE will enable a comprehensive analysis of the effects of government education and training policy on the ability of TAFE to deliver sound outcomes... [see website for more...]