The Australian Council of Trade Unions will not be participating in the consultation process being conducted by the BCA relating to the flawed and ill-considered discussion paper ‘Future-Proof: Protecting Australians through Education and Skills’.

We are providing this information in writing to ensure that our lack of participation is not misconstrued as support for the measures outlined in the BCA paper.

We fundamentally reject this paper and its content. It is mistaken in its most basic premise – that the market system remains an effective and efficient vehicle for the delivery of tertiary education/VET. Until it is acknowledged that this system is, in a large proportion of cases, failing to deliver for students, educators, workers and the community at large then any reform of the system will fail. Any sensible and effective review of Australia’s tertiary education system must begin with a fundamental reconsideration of the necessity of a market underpinning education provision. Perhaps due to the flawed foundation of the paper, the BCA has arrived at recommendations that no body truly wishing to improve the VET sector would countenance. Examples include:

  • the anti-worker skills sets,
  • the watered-down ‘lifelong learning account’ consisting of loans taken out by students; and
  • the imposition of school and teacher ‘standards’ without commensurate investment.

In truth this paper is little more than a rehashing of old ideas designed to disempower workers and students and hand more power to employers and the big businesses which have brought the sector to its current state.

If the BCA has a sincere desire to develop a truly comprehansive tripartite reform blueprint for tertiary education/VET, which must by its very nature include a ground-up reconsideration of the market foundation of the system, then the ACTU will be an enthusiastic participant. As long as this paper remains the BCA’s best attempt at considered reform, the ACTU will not engage in the BCA process.