The ability of the existing building, plant and equipment infrastructure (in the publicly funded training system) to meet current and anticipated needs
The existing infrastructure required for the delivery of qualifications undertaken as part of New Apprenticeships is adequate for the task.
RTO’s ability to access the real workplace with all the latest equipment at no cost has proven to be the answer to avoid costly capital purchases of equipment that dates quickly and is expensive to maintain.
The delivery of training to the seafood industry that utilises State Funds has been confined to New Apprenticeships and the units from Certificates I, II & III qualifications from the Maritime and Seafood Training Packages, including the TasSkills program.
The physical resources required to deliver the maritime component of the aquaculture qualifications are considerable. These vessels, survival centre, machinery and simulators are currently operated by private RTO’s without any specific state funds for their high operating costs. The current Competitive Bids and TasSkills Investment programs that provide State funding for these qualifications allow training providers to recoup some of the costs of maintaining capital training equipment.
The State funded courses related to occupational diving for fish farms are equipment intensive. The 6 unit skills set from Certificate III in the SFI Aquaculture requires a significant capital investment and costly ongoing maintenance. These courses are delivered by a private provider who bears the cost of infrastructure from delivery funds alone! Inadequate capital funding may drive small RTO's into cutting corners. Great care needs to be taken that OH&S is not compromised if the financial viability of courses is marginal. As the market has grown thinner in the last 12 months this comment is even more relevant.
The new TasSkills courses funded in 2007 for Machinery handling & Wader Safety both require specialist equipment and can be met at a cost by RTO’s using their own and hired equipment. The food Safety courses funded under TasSkills can be delivered in partnership between RTO’s and Industry using combined physical resources.
The fact that private RTO’s receive no additional funds for capital costs and in many cases public providers receive grants for the purchase, operation and maintenance of capital infrastructure appears to be inequitable. This effectively creates two levels of funding and sometimes for the same qualification.
The seafood industry has received little towards infrastructure costs from State coffers, especially considering the funds that have gone to TAFE Institutes delivering to industries with lower State priorities than that of Seafood.
Develop and implement a funding protocol that treats training providers equally, whether public or private to ensure that the plant and equipment used is current and maintained to a safe operational level. This could be facilitated by holding a forum of stakeholders especially RTO’s and Government.
The desirable outcome of this forum would be an agreement on a funding model that will ensure the equipment required to deliver training to the seafood industry is maintained and renewed as required by OH&S and up to date with technological advances.
There can be difficulties in maintaining competent staff when the client base is contracting even if the contraction is for a year or two only. RTO’s operating in a thin market have difficulties in maintaining the human resources required to deliver even a narrow range of qualifications within the Seafood and Maritime Training Packages. This is particularly evident in some Maritime qualifications especially engineering.
Part 5 Information on VET in schools, including school based new apprenticeships
Qualifications and pathways appropriate for delivery through a VET in Schools program including school based new apprenticeships
Certificate I &II in Seafood Industry (Aquaculture)
Certificate I &II in Seafood Industry (Seafood Processing)
Certificate I & II in Transport and Distribution (Maritime Operations).
The delivery of school based qualifications from either the Seafood or Maritime Training Packages is conditionally supported by Industry. The consensus is that each case should be looked at on its merits with a view to approval or rejection.
For the qualification stream core units, employers see the merit of training and assessment, taking place in the workplace, at least for the practical component.
School based apprenticeships are supported in principal by this sector. Broad support exists from the relevant union (AWU) and finfish and shellfish enterprises have expressed support.
Development and support for VET in Schools programs including school based new apprenticeships
Industry remains fully committed to the VET programme in Aquaculture and welcomes the work placement of these students. Despite this, the number of VET in school participants has fallen dramatically in recent years.
From 2002 to 2006 the numbers enrolled has dropped significantly with several schools withdrawing Aquaculture programs all together. Without major intervention by Industry and schools, (promotional resources?) it is likely that the current state will continue for the next few years at least. Enrolments in Certificate I in the SFI Aquaculture have fallen from about 50 in 2002 to the current state where a Northern college offers Aquaculture units to a handful of students as part of a combined rural qualification.
Whilst the interest in VET aquaculture has waned the interest in the Maritime qualifications has risen. These Maritime qualifications provide a pathway into aquaculture via the vessel operation units common to both packages.
A partnership has been formed between Rosny College and Seafood Training Tasmania to deliver the Certificate I in the Transport and Distribution Package (Maritime Operations). This is now the third year of this arrangement and its existence is largely due to the enthusiasm of the Rosny College VET Staff and the willingness of Seafood Training Tasmania to support the arrangement financially.
A second partnership arrangement between The Hutchins School and Seafood Training Tasmania exists to deliver the Certificate II in the Transport and Distribution (Maritime Operations). Both organizations are very optimistic about the proposal and see the popularity of the qualification (10-20 students) as a good indication of its longevity. It is expected that this course will run every second year.
With adequate promotion and a commitment from schools to share human resources the interest in Certificates I & II in the Seafood Industry (Aquaculture) could be renewed by 2007-08.
The interest in Certificates I & II in the Transport and Distribution (Maritime Operations) is expected to continue beyond 2006.
Issues in implementing VET in Schools including school based new apprenticeships
Some of the major issues impacting on VET Aquaculture programs are the thin market, lack of promotion by schools and industry, better job prospects in other Industries, lack of co-ordination between VET providers, high cost of on line courses and a very limited human resource base when compared to other VET areas for teachers.
The dependence on individual teachers’ enthusiasm to promote these qualifications rather than relying on institutional support is the Achilles heel of these programs.
The University of Tasmania has expressed some concern that VET in school courses may detract from demand for their degree courses. The University sees VET courses as not desirable for students with tertiary ambitions. The University is uncomfortable with the percentage of a student’s overall study load required to complete a VET course and that this may be too onerous if a good University entrance score is a priority.