South Australia Scene for Jobs Fight
7 March 2016 at 11:50 am
South Australian welfare groups have warned that a new state government jobs plan could slash subsidised training – a key pathway into workforce participation.
The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) and the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia (MHCSA) have today added their voices to a growing chorus of groups deeply concerned about Employment Minister Gail Gago’s WorkReady training system announcements.
Gago said the government would be replacing the current Skills For All scheme with WorkReady, a plan that would see 81,000 vocational training places.
Gago admitted however that the number of courses available has been reduced from more than 900 to about 700.
“We need to make sure that the training we are offering leads to jobs,” Gago said.
“WorkReady is designed to improve completion rates and employment by supporting a skilled and capable workforce to fill current and emerging jobs in priority areas.”
But SACOSS Executive Director Ross Womersley said implementing the scheme in the way proposed would destroy investments in high quality training infrastructure that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) linked to community based organisations have built up over the last decade.
“Many of our member organisations are extremely concerned about the consequences that will flow from this decision,” Wormersley said.
“We believe the impacts will be felt by those working directly to get people into work, as well as those that have created RTOs so our sector has access to a training system that is flexible, responsive, and delivered in a customised way to the needs of learners and employers.
“Our members developed their training arms in large part because TAFE had limited relationships with sector organisations and was not managing to provide the specialist services and support that disadvantaged members of our community needed to navigate the pathway to employment.
“We are not convinced that this is any more likely with WorkReady.”
Executive Director of MHCSA Geoff Harris said his organisation had developed its training over a decade in close collaboration with industry employers.
“Work in mental health is some of the most challenging you can find and our members need people to have training that is based in real world experience,” Harris said.
“MHCSA only enrols students who are employed subject to achieving a Certificate IV qualification so there is a direct link to both keeping up to date with the employer’s needs, and ensuring the students remain employed. Our trainers have recent and highly relevant experience in the industry.
“This is not an approach that a large generalist organisation can achieve and this decision means MHCSA will be closing its RTOs doors.”
While MHCSA has to close its RTOs, a number of other SACOSS members are anticipating they will lose between 40 and 50 per cent of their training business, seriously threatening their ongoing viability.
“For all the problems with Skills For All, its subsidised training provided one of the best ways to help many people find their way into, or back into, the workforce,” Wormersley said.
“These subsidies have now been slashed at the very time we have an unemployment crisis especially amongst our young people, and this will completely undermine any other work we are doing to get people ready for and into work.”
SACOSS and MHCSA said they were concerned the decision by the government has been made without proper consultation with current training providers.
Both organisations called on the government to immediately put a hold on any move to WorkReady until there was a full review with proper stakeholder consultation.