My adjournment matter this evening is directed to the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, and it deals with the government’s assault upon skills development across Victoria through this government’s dramatic funding cuts to industry advisory boards. The Labor government repeatedly acknowledged the value of these advisory arrangements, recognising that the industry training advisory boards (ITABs) were the best in the country and were a cost-effective means of providing advice on training policy, industry needs and training provision.
The advisory boards were formed to provide accurate, informed and timely advice on industry education and skills training needs in both the short and longer terms through the development of strategic industry training plans.
They were there to facilitate the development of meaningful and accessible career paths for all employees, promote the pursuit of excellence in skills development to all employees, encourage equal employment and training practices and increase the level of investment in and commitment to industry training. These are all very noble ideals performed well by these organisations.
A perfect example is the success of Automotive Training Victoria, which was for over two decades the pre-eminent advisory body to both small and large business in terms of training needs. Its board continues to be supported by major industry organisations, both employee and employer. Clearly those organisations and businesses recognise that the strength and value of ITABs providing independent advice on training issues is a major strategic advantage to that industry, which makes the position of the minister even more remote from the day-to-day application of skills training and development in this state.
The minister claims that the elimination of the Victorian Skills Commission and the 16 ITABs will make it easier for industry to articulate its training needs to government. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is difficult to see how this can possibly be the case given that previous governments and all industry stakeholders have consistently acknowledged that ITABs provide key intelligence on industry training needs. These funding cuts are an act of social and industrial vandalism and should be withdrawn.
As a matter of urgency I therefore call upon the minister to consult properly with industry, both large and small, to develop alternatives to the destruction of successful partnerships through state-based ITABs. I ask that the minister expeditiously advise the Parliament of those consultations and the outcomes of those discussions.