Skills for All Scrapped

The State Government has recently announced that the Skills for All program is to be scrapped and replaced with their new WorkReady program to be introduced from the 1st of July. Since 2012 the Skills for All program saw the percentage of South Australian’s with non-school qualifications rise from 58.6% to 62.3% through over 100,000 subsidised or free training places.

Despite meeting training place targets three years ahead of schedule (and thus increasing the cost of the program) in recent times Skills for All has come into criticism for focusing its attention on the overall number of training courses rather than job outcomes. The Department of State Development admitted it did not sufficiently track employment outcomes, simply relying on a voluntary student survey to track the success of the program, in response to The Advertiser’s findings that 40% of enrolled students were failing to complete their courses (The Advertiser, July ’14).

Of the 900 courses subsidised by the Skills for All program, the first change in the transition to WorkReady is to be the removal of subsidies for the 200 courses with no student enrolments. Another 150 courses are to be reviewed to see if they “align with the state’s economic priorities or industry needs” (WorkReady Policy document).

The aim of the WorkReady program is to better support direct connections between training and jobs at the local level and connect people to the training and support best suited to them. This will result in a greater assessment of potential students before they start their training. After assessment students will be referred to one of three streams – pre-entry level courses, apprenticeships & traineeships and higher-level qualifications.

One potential change in the program may see the number of RTO’s licensed to offer free or subsidised training reduced. This potential change stems from the Training and Skills Commission report in December that stated the vocational education system had too many low-quality providers.  At the moment it is not too clear what this means for all current Skills for All providers but the WorkReady Policy document states the “government will work closely with a small number of selected providers to develop tailored training for specific groups” and “training providers will compete to deliver the specific courses. This will be done through a submission process that demonstrates a track record of quality outcomes that link training to jobs”.

It is unknown what changes, if any, are expected to transport and logistics specific courses and will be unknown until the next revised Subsidised Training List is revealed in the coming months.

Despite the cuts to the total number of subsidised training courses Higher Education Minister Gail Gago said WorkReady would retain the same level of funding as the Skills for All program. This may be in contrast to the WorkReady Policy document that repeatedly mentions that the changes are in some part due to the fact “the state’s economic and budget outlook has changed” and that they are looking to raise the quality of skills “within a constrained budget environment” indicating that cuts may eventually be on the way.