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Education - TasTAFE

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: TasTAFE, Education, Vocational Education

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, why were the THA and the TICT given $1 million to start a new hospitality RTO and why wasn't that money directed into TAFE?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I'm happy to talk about this in the TAFE scrutiny, but we have invested into our Drysdale facility quite significantly. We have been working with the tourism and hospitality sector in terms of their desire to establish an RTO and we have come to an agreement that is the direct responsibility of the minister for Hospitality -

Ms O'BYRNE - Who referred us to you for questions.

Dr WOODRUFF - Don't you have confidence in TAFE to do that work themselves?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Yes, I do have confidence in TasTAFE. Part of the new investment in terms of the $1 million we are talking about is into non-accredited training, which will distinguish one of the differences between Drysdale and the new RTO.

Dr WOODRUFF - Are you trying to privatise education in this sector?


Dr WOODRUFF - It's not even going to be accredited. Is this a payback for the THA for their support for the Liberals in the last state election?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I reject that question, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, what is it if it's not accredited? What is it for? What is it going to do and why are we spending $1 million of taxpayers' money that could be going to TAFE to support the education and skills that they provide? Why are we giving it to private organisations? What are the outcomes? What are the standards? What's the quality of the training? It seems like an open-ended cheque - to do what?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Dr Woodruff, it's important that within the training market we have choice. The industry has worked with representatives, of State Growth. We believe we have a good way forward. There is a particular need in their eyes to have that non-accredited training and that is part of what will be established

Dr WOODRUFF - What are the standards? What are the outcomes? What will be achieved? You can't just hand over $1 million to private companies to do what they want with for their own business investment. How many other industries would like $1 million to do a bit of business investment? How do we know what the output is going to be?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Output 5.4 covers Events and Hospitality and the funding is committed in that output.

Dr WOODRUFF - So it is to run an event - no outcomes?

CHAIR - Order, Dr Woodruff.


Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, not only has the $1 million that you have budgeted to give to the industry, the TITC and the THA, going to private skills training but it is skills training that has got no quality assessment, no accreditation package, no certificate.

CHAIR -Dr Woodruff, this particular Budget allocation isn't in this Budget output.

Dr WOODRUFF - I thought we were talking about skills training. This is a Skills question. I will frame this as a Skills question because that is what it is. This is a straight hand out. Is it actually more immediate to look after your own donors than to funnel money -

CHAIR -Dr Woodruff, you said you would frame it as a Skills question. Either frame it as a skills question or we will move on.

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, will you please let me finish my question so I can finish the framing of it. You keep interrupting me.

CHAIR - No, I do not. I have already told you that this is not in this budget output. Please frame it as a Skills question immediately or we will move on.

Dr WOODRUFF - I can understand why this is a very difficult question.

CHAIR - Please do not reflect on my ruling from the Chair, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am not reflecting on your ruling. I am pointing out it is a difficult question which is why I need to raise it.

Is it more important to put skills training money into Liberal Party donors who funded you through the last election than it is to accredit Tasmanian and provide real skills for people in the hospitality workforce through TasTAFE?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I reject the premise of your question, Dr Woodruff. My responsibility is working to establish a Tourism and Hospitality Industry Workforce Advisory Committee to provide input into setting priorities for the Government's investment in training and workforce development. The Government, through the minister for Hospitality's portfolio, is also working with the Tasmanian Hospitality Association and the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania to develop a sustainable approach for a tourism and hospitality industry-led training provision. This includes working with the THA and the TICT on their proposal for an industry-led training provider.

Dr WOODRUFF - To do what? That is what everyone wants to know.

Mr ROCKLIFF - To provide training to complement the work of Drysdale.

Dr WOODRUFF - How non-specific.


Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, respecting the enormous stresses on teachers that have endured providing training over the COVID-19 period. It has been reported to me that the time each TAFE student has with a teacher in the on-campus learning environment, has halved in many cases. This means the number of students to a teacher has nearly doubled in some classes. Can you confirm that is occurring in some TasTAFE classes?

Mr ROCKLIFF - That would depend on the setting, no doubt. Ms Dodd, would you like to answer that?

Ms DODD - Yes, I am happy to answer that. We are a very broadbrush deliverer and we have lots of courses and lots of students. In order to be able to do some things, we are now trying to look for innovative solutions to make sure that we can continue to deliver, right across the state.

I will give you an example where we picked up some of our creative industry courses with increasing a component of online to make sure that we can have face-to-face workshops in every single region for smaller groups of students. In some of our courses, the ability to deliver our theory to larger groups can be replaced with smaller groups and practical learning and that is what we needed to be able to do when we hit this COVID-19 time of changing the number of students in a class.

Our students are absolutely our first priority and so listening to them and their feedback and ensuring they get the right amount of face-to-face for what they need in the course they are in, blended with a contemporary mixed mode delivery mechanism is really important.

It is difficult area because every course is so unique and trying to blend those courses across the state for consistency, to make sure that every student in the state is getting the same experience, sometimes we are looking at different solutions. Therefore we are making sure that we get the right mix.

We are a practical learning environment. That is what we stand for. There will be a mix of face-to-face, there will be some online in most of our courses. We also get lots of comments from our students and our students tell us they like the online component. It gives them better access to learning; it gives them more control over when they can learn. None of our courses will ever go fully online unless the teachers drive it that way.

There is a course where the teachers might be driving it that way, but if the teachers are not driving it that way, no we will not be going to fully online in any way. There will always be the blend.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, is there a minimum standard by TasTAFE for the student to teacher ratio? I understand there are different learning environments required but are there minimum standards?

Ms DODD - Currently, in our subsidised training environments, we have a ratio of 53 students, which is higher than it was in the past. Sorry, 45 students to 53. I am looking at a graph here that Scott has shown me.

Dr WOODRUFF - Was that 45 students to a teacher?

Ms DODD - To a teacher.

Dr WOODRUFF - Really?

Ms DODD - This is better than it was in the previous 12 months, which was higher than that.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is incredibly high.

Ms DODD - We are an adult learning environment. That is our entire delivery, remembering that a lot of our courses are short courses. Short courses also absolutely equating to that. We would have to give you the granularity of that data. The point at the moment is there is no difference to what it has been in the last 12 months. If anything, the number of students per teacher is less than it was. We are driving for as many students as we can to get access to TasTAFE. That is our goal, our mission in Tasmania, to provide as much learning for as many people as we possibly can.


Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, I understand over 200 students have applied recently for an electrical reparation course that can only take 30. That means 170 applicants were left incredibly disappointed. What are you going to do to expand TAFE's capacity to meet that demand, particularly for courses like this that are receiving hundreds of applicants?

Ms DODD - A couple of comments on that. We are doing an overall assessment of where demand is, so thank you, there are some courses where we need to have a look at where our resource is to make sure we are meeting high demand. In that particular example, there is a budget allocation of $1 million this year in priority industries and that will allow us to assess where we have the high demand. We know electro is a high-demand course and will therefore recruit additional teachers to be able to meet that.

I refer to nursing. We knew nursing was in huge demand. The refurbishments we have done at Clarence and Alanvale with the funding the Government has made available has allowed us in 2021 to take 90 new enrolled nursing students. We are very proud of that.

CHAIR - I am sorry, Ms Dodd, we are out of time for this output. Thank you very much for your time.