The NSW Government has announced a comprehensive review of the vocational education system to restore TAFE to the heart of it. Dr Michele Bruniges, the former head of the Commonwealth Department of Education, will lead a three-member expert panel that will undertake it.

The other members of the panel are Professor Verity Firth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Social Justice and Inclusion at UTS and a former NSW Minister for Education and Training, and Jason Ardler, a Yuin man from the South Coast of NSW with two decades of experience in senior executive roles in the NSW public sector. The website for the review can be found here.

According to the NSW minister, the review will go beyond the Gonski and Shergold Review of VET published in 2021 (see the VDC News article on this review here) and develop robust recommendations to government following a decade of funding cuts which, according to the review website, have seen:

“a 45 per cent decrease in TAFE NSW teachers from the 2012 TAFE NSW annual report to the 2022 annual report” and “a 15 per cent drop in permanent teachers since 2015 who were replaced by the equivalent number of casuals.” In addition, it’s suggested that there has been “a 28 per cent decline in TAFE enrolment numbers since 2012, a 33 per cent drop in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements since 2011 and “a 67 per cent drop in TAFE completions since 2011.”

The review aims to:

  • “rebuild and strengthen TAFE NSW, recognising its vital role in serving our community
  • address the current and future skills needs of NSW
  • examine the challenges faced by disadvantaged individuals and explore recommendations to promote equity, particularly in regional and remote areas, [and]
  • restore confidence in [NSW’s] high-quality vocational education and training system.”

The review process

The review will be conducted over 3 phases. The first “will involve assessing the current landscape of vocational education and training in NSW, along with the skills needs of [the] state.” The second will see “extensive stakeholder engagement, and will include roundtables, a digital forum where the public can have their say, and a Skills Summit.” In the final phase a NSW Skills Plan will be developed. “This plan will shape government efforts across priority industries, regions and skills requirements, ensuring that our initiatives align with the identified needs.”

An interim report will be issued by the end of this year and a final report by mid-2024. You can also subscribe to the review newsletter.