Skills deal delayed
The federal and state governments are bickering over the terms of a new national skills funding deal.
The Federal Government reportedly offered state and territory governments an additional $1 billion on top of its $1.5 billion in funding for the previous National Skills Agreement, but wanted increased transparency, consistency in the pricing of courses and control over how the money is spent in return.
The agreement has now been delayed until the first half of next year.
Some media reports claim Labor states are delaying while they await a federal election, hoping a federal Labor government would allow them to negotiate a better deal.
Analysts say that all the states and territories have been disappointed by the National Skills Commission’s efforts to make pricing of courses more consistent and efficient.
“Instead of coming up with a single price, the NSC has now landed on a band of pricing, recognising that different students in different areas come at a different price point to deliver quality training to,” says Troy Williams, chief executive of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia.
“A kid straight out of high school in North Sydney is going to have a different level of pricing than someone who has been long-term unemployed in Karratha.”
Another alleged point of contention is in which courses will be funded, with the states wanting the flexibility to be able to respond to workforce needs in localised contexts.
The Federal Government also wants more data collection and analysis of policies and performance.
“There is considerable pushback from some state and territory governments to the reporting framework that the Australian government is seeking,” Mr Williams said.
The agreement was due to come into effect in August, but has now been delayed until 2022.