Changes in Skills For All Funding

Skills for All, the SA State initiative offering subsidised training to all South Australians, has announced recent changes to its program after opening to feedback to the program in December of which SAFC contributed.

Due to the initial success of the program, reaching 100,000 additional enrolments three years ahead of schedule, the temporary introduction of a cap system for certain courses was implemented to reduce expenditure where no new enrolments would have been subsidised.

Looking to ensure a sustainable training model, Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills Grace Portolesi (pictured below) announced a series of 5 price bands would be introduced for all courses on the Skills for All program instead of continuing with caps. The bands are to base subsidies on the level of economic and public benefit, with only the top band receiving full subsidies from now on.

Price bands for courses are decided on different factors including the likelihood of a skills shortage in that near future for an industry or occupation and whether courses are known to produce employment outcomes.

To further a sustainable training model the government is introducing Purchase Limits from February 2014. Instead of no new enrolment dates, government will specify the number of training accounts that are to be funded for each course. Industry has looked to welcome the changes especially the removal of caps.

Despite the changes to funding, it is unsure at this time if they go far enough in addressing funding issues arising from the early success of the program.

The Weekend Australian has reported that the rapid increase in costs due to higher than expected enrolments on the state’s budget will lead to an $83 million cut from TAFE SA’s 2014 budget. The Australian expect a similar situation to arise to the one that happened when a similar system went over budget by $400 million in Victoria in 2009 which led to course and campus closings and loss of thousands of training jobs.