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Skills, Training and Workforce Growth – TAFE Culture

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 8 June 2023

Tags: TasTAFE, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, in April this year, the Mercury quoted a former TasTAFE teacher who described the training institute's workplace as, a 'toxic environment', with people who, 'make your day-to-day work life a misery'. In response to these claims, the CEO discussed a staff survey where he said that 58 per cent of staff responded who said they were satisfied working at TasTAFE following the transition. That's ambiguous phrasing. Are you able to table the results of the survey or at least clarify the response rate, the proportion of respondents who were satisfied and dissatisfied?

Mr ELLIS - Sure. In the first instance, we've already tabled to parliament that six month review, which included data from that survey, Dr Woodruff. That's available to you. We're committed to a strong workplace culture at TasTAFE. There are so many teachers and staff at TasTAFE who are really proud of their workplace. They're proud of the work that they do in training the next generation of Tassie workers and they're focused on building the best possible TasTAFE for the future.

TasTAFE regularly engages with its staff, including through the transition process. I mentioned the review and this will continue. The TasTAFE 10 year strategic plan contains a number of actions that will build on the workplace culture and make sure that we're better recognising the outstanding contribution of our staff: implementation of a new staff recognition and reward program; completing the employer of choice accreditation, which is also further funded through this Budget; recruiting a dedicated People, Performance and Culture director; finalising a new delegation framework so that staff at different levels are empowered to make more decisions; and delivering a program so our staff can grow professionally.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Chair. I appreciate your comments. Minister, I asked you can you table the full results of the survey so that my questions can be answered?

Mr ELLIS - Sure. As I mentioned, the results of the survey were provided as part of our six month review. I'll pass to Mr Dreher to perhaps provide further updates on that survey.

Mr DREHER - We have spoken to staff about the survey. I'd like to go back to the numbers. The numbers that were quoted in the press were that 58 per cent of staff responded. That shows it's a balanced sample of staff. The second was that there was 58 per cent satisfaction compared with 59 per cent in the year prior to the transition. That shows that staff satisfaction is about equal to what it was before. It was a survey undertaken by TasTAFE by an external provider. It sits with TasTAFE and TasTAFE board as the employer. A summary was provided in the six month review.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. Through you, minister, could you please table the full survey details?

Mr DREHER - I would have to go back to my board to get permission to do that.


Mr DREHER - Because they're the employer.

Mr ELLIS - Obviously, Dr Woodruff, the survey -

Dr WOODRUFF - You're here under the minister's authority, which is why you're here.

Mr ELLIS - Dr Woodruff, TasTAFE conducted a survey. We will work through what information or conditions that information was provided by our staff and our team. We will get back to the committee if that is appropriate. Ultimately, the work is clearly demonstrated through the statutory process of the six-month review. I should remind there is a legislatively-required process that we provide that information in good faith. It clearly demonstrates support among our workforce for the transition. We also -

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Chair. Minister, I want to know what the total number of staff were, what the total number of staff who responded were, what the total satisfaction at the different levels of the Likert scale that presumably would have been asked for was. We want to see that information so we can we can have an assessment of the workplace culture that staff say what their views are at TasTAFE. Can you please table those basic figures? That is not what you tabled to parliament.

Mr ELLIS - We will work through what information is available there. We had a bit over 400 people respond to that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Can I please interrupt and ask rather than talk about a little over and that sort of stuff, just give us the figures I have asked for?

Mr ELLIS - If you provide that in writing -

Dr WOODRUFF - Write a question on notice?

Mr ELLIS - Just provide it in writing and we will see what we can follow up with -

Dr WOODRUFF - I will write the question on notice and then you will provide me the answers to the question on notice. That is how it works.

Mr ELLIS - I am aware of the process. We will work through. If you could provide that in writing, we will see if we can get you that answer today, if appropriate. If not, we will work through it and get back to you. It is worth acknowledging TasTAFE has a really low turnover rate -

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, I have a question specifically on the turnover rate, because it was reported by the CEO in the same Mercury story the turnover rate was 2.87 per cent in 2022 and 2.12 per cent in 2021. The Chief Operating Officer recently advised in a Fair Work case that the natural attrition was five per cent for teaching and ten per cent for non-teaching staff in 2021-22, and 6 per cent and 8 per cent respectively in 2021.

As I understand it, minister, the attrition, the natural attrition means staff that leave due to retirement, death, or relocation. But it is a fraction of the overall attrition rate. The turnover rate is then on all attrition for roles that are intended to be refilled. How can the turnover rate that was reported to the Fair Work Commission by the CEO be three times lower than the natural attrition rate, unless the vast majority who are leaving aren't having their positions refilled? Was the CEO being misleading when he claimed the turnover rate was so low?

Mr ELLIS - To describe someone as misleading on that matter is frankly over the top. I will pass to Mr Dreher to provide a further statistical explanation on that matter.

Mr DREHER - The natural attrition is an equation that is worked out fairly standard across the board, and it is the figures quoted in the paper. The people that are leaving is worked out in a different way, so the figures do not just naturally correlate.

Mr ELLIS - I might also mention is that to describe a public servant faithfully discharging their duty and providing their information as misleading based on your statistical misunderstanding is typical of what the Greens do in these inquiries.

Dr WOODRUFF - Excuse me.

CHAIR - The minister is answering the question, Dr Woodruff.

Mr ELLIS - Over the top attacks on public servants. I just think it is not on. We can probably do better.

Dr WOODRUFF - There are two people in TasTAFE. One is the CEO who is sitting at the table. The other is the Chief Operating Officer and they have given us different under the Fair Work Commission.

CHAIR - Order.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am just reporting what the Chief Operating Officer reported to the Fair Work Commission.

Mr ELLIS - You described them as misleading.

CHAIR - Order.

Dr WOODRUFF - Something's wrong.