The Liberals will extend their payroll tax rebates and small business grant programmes to support apprenticeships and traineeships through FY 2019-20 and 20-21. These extensions are claimed to support up to 4000 extra trainees and apprentices at a cost of $14.4m.
The Liberals will set a 70% floor on the proportion of state training funds allocated to TasTAFE, in response to commitments made by Labor and the Greens. The policy notes that under present arrangements about 80% of state training funds are allocated to TasTAFE.
Encouraging apprenticeships and traineeships is equitable and future-oriented, and have strong outcomes if targeted at appropriate skill levels. The broader policy aim is evidence-based, equitable, and supportive of a strong future for Tasmanians. Whether payroll tax rebates and direct grants to small businesses are the optimal means of encouraging apprenticeships and traineeships is beyond the scope of this analysis.
The policy is laudable insofar as it protects TasTAFE within a contestable funding market it cannot succeed within for structural reasons. At present, the policy is also superfluous, as funding exceeds this threshold.
Across Australia, TAFEs have suffered from ongoing cuts to funding, contestability reforms, and cost shifting between state and federal governments. The policy does not address the total quantum of funding available.
It is unclear why Labor and the Greens did not target a higher or more specific threshold. The Greens’ policy states 70% of the number of contracts, not total funds, but this could result in more or less than 70% of total state funds going to TAFE, as the value of those contracts is unspecified. Labor specifies 70% of the total skills and training budget.
The Liberals match this policy, though did not need to commit funds to do so, as the alternative policies were either inadequately researched or not articulated clearly.
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