Department of Education and Early Childhood Development - report 2012-13

Written on the 20 August 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I rise to speak on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's annual report 2012-13.

I made mention of this report last week. I referred to the information about the early childhood education sector in this report and highlighted some of the great achievements. I will now talk about the tertiary sector and note that some members have been speaking about various issues in this sector. The report highlights some of the achievements of this government. Firstly, I congratulate Mr Wakeling in his position as Minister for Higher Education and Skills and the former skills minister, Mr Hall. People who represent regional Victoria certainly understand the importance of education needs in regional Victoria. I refute the previous speaker's remarks about the government not giving much consideration to those issues. This government is very concerned about regional education and its ministers are certainly putting a large focus on it.

In the report it says in the secretary's foreword:

    The Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund is a $20 million investment by the Victorian government that supports the development of regional educational alliances between VET and higher education providers in regional Victoria.

That is a significant amount of money. Vocational education and training enrolments across the board are trending, especially in the higher education sector, and that has been emerging since 2008 when the changes were made. There has been some discussion about TAFE, as there constantly is in this chamber. I find it quite extraordinary that those opposite never mention the reforms undertaken by the Brumby government and the then skills minister, Jacinta Allan, the member for Bendigo East in the Assembly, who in relation to this issue signed a policy document proclaiming that 'change' in the training system 'must be far reaching and it must begin now'.

That change started in 2008 and we have seen the impact. Unfortunately the previous government did not give assistance to TAFE providers to undertake the required transitional program, and hence we have seen a market system put in place by the former government and a change in the level of enrolments. In the TAFE sector enrolments have fallen. However, this government has put significant amounts of money into the tertiary education sector.

Coming back to the report, many areas are highlighted, including refocusing, growth and participation. Growth in vocational training has occurred since 2008, when that change was made. The number of students enrolled in government-subsidised courses has increased by 215 000 or 73 per cent and the number of unemployed people in subsidised training has also increased, by 184 per cent to 118 500, so there have been increases in numbers. I thank and acknowledge the responsible ministers for the work they have done.

Regional enrolments have increased. In 2010 there were 126 300 enrolments, and in 2013 there were 168 200. Under this government enrolments overall have increased. In 2010 the number of government-subsidised enrolments was 426 900, and in 2013 the number was 645 000, a 51 per cent increase. Members opposite should take note of some of those figures, and they should also acknowledge that the Napthine coalition government has put $1.2 billion into the 2014-15 budget for training. That is significantly more than any other government has allocated.

The report notes that what is required includes better alignment with industry needs, and that is certainly being undertaken. There is improved industry engagement, with 550 consultations having been undertaken with associations and peak bodies. I am also pleased to see that the government has undertaken a number of reskilling projects, especially in Geelong, where there have been changes in the city's economic fortunes.

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