Monday, 23 November 2015 13:40

Claims job seekers in training still being ‘lured’ with free laptop offers

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Claims job  seekers in training still being ‘lured’ with free laptop offers Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union claims the practices of ‘luring’ vulnerable job seekers in the state into training debt with the offer of a free laptop are continuing and remain largely unchecked.

The union says reports that the continuing practice is under investigation demand immediate action by the Premier Daniel Andrews.

The call from the AEU comes barely two weeks after the Victorian Government was ordered by the Federal Court to pay back millions of dollars to teachers and principals in the state for making illegal deductions from their salaries to pay for access to laptop computers.

The union brought the case in the Federal Court over the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) actions in making unlawful deductions from the wages of teachers and principals.

In a statement issued today, the Victorian president of the union, Meredith Peace said that, despite widespread media coverage and ongoing changes to regulations, “the practices continue and remain largely unchecked”.  

“The Department investigates fraudulent activity on a case-by-case basis, but the market system itself encourages rorting and corner-cutting.”

Peace said it was time for Premier Andrews to step in and act by limiting the amount of taxpayer money that goes to for-profit training companies.

“If the State Government is serious about improving training in Victoria and serious about saving TAFE, they must cap contestable funding available to private providers to 30% and guarantee 70% of the existing VET funding to public TAFEs.

“Private providers sign-up unsuspecting would-be trainees then claim Government subsidies and saddle the jobseeker with thousands of dollars of training debt.

“The courses are delivered online, minimum course hours are not met and often students never complete the qualification.  If they do, they rarely graduate with the skills they need to get a decent job.

“This is a multi-billion dollar industry, profiting at the expense of students and the jobseekers who deserve genuine opportunities to retrain.”

According to Peace, claims made by private for-profit training providers under the VET FEE-HELP scheme have grown by 150% in the past year, with these companies claiming billions of taxpayer dollars “while ripping off the students the Government assumes they are training”.

“Public TAFEs are trusted to deliver skilled graduates.  We must re-invest in TAFEs and limit the funding available to dishonest private providers.

“TAFEs must be resourced to deliver the training communities want and need.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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