The AEU welcomes the Government’s decision to keep Drysdale School of Hospitality as a valuable part of TasTAFE. Drysdale has and does offer a unique experience to its students and industry. Drysdale’s employer and student satisfaction rates are high and the negative comments made by Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania (TICT) CEO Luke Martin come with little or no evidence.

Luke Martin (Talking Point 16/1/2020) asks the question “How do we engage more Tasmanians into the career opportunities emerging from a buoyant visitor economy”, yet at no stage did he address the issue of attracting Tasmanians to the sector he represents.

I can understand Luke Martin not wanting to mention the poor working conditions, low pay, cuts to penalty rates and wage theft that has been found to be rampant in tourism and hospitality, but to try and lay the blame for Tasmanians not lining up to take positions in these industries at the feet of TasTAFE Drysdale Centre of Excellence is a bit rich.

Training outcomes and completion rates are linked to the need for employers to employ people in contracts of training. There needs to be a sharper focus on ensuring that employers are looking into the future and value employees who have completed accredited programs. Luke Martin stated that only 202 students completed a qualification in 2018, but doesn’t mention that this is for one particular qualification only, not every qualification delivered by Drysdale during this period.

The AEU urges the Government to reject the push from TICT for the establishment of a private Industry Tourism and Hospitality Training organisation. Public money is better spent supporting TasTAFE around the state with better facilities and programs. TasTAFE has invested heavily in the tourism and hospitality sectors with the opening of its new $1.5 million Centre of Excellence at Providore Place in Devonport and a new $2 million delivery point in the Northern Suburbs at Claremont College is proceeding as planned.

The new TasTAFE Drysdale Centre of Excellence Scholarship Program has been launched and supports tourism and hospitality professionals in sharing their skills with others in the industry. The scholarship allows these professionals to complete the relevant qualifications required to deliver programs within TasTAFE. To date 11 industry experts have been awarded these scholarships.

For the government to provide $1 million dollars of taxpayers’ money for the establishment of a private training organisation is disappointing. The Minister says that he supports the public provider of TAFE while funding privately operated training organisations.

The truth is that the Tasmanian families and kids “sitting around kitchen tables” Luke Martin alluded to are talking about working conditions and whether they’ll be paid penalty rates if they work on weekends if they take up a position in the tourism and hospitality sectors. That’s what matters to people making career choices, much more than the training outcomes linked to TasTAFE Drysdale Centre of Excellence.

Sure, there is room for improvement at Drysdale, but until the hospitality and tourism sectors improve their image and become employers of choice to Tasmanians, they will continue to have issues with attracting and keeping new employees into its sector.

 

Simon Bailey
AEU Tasmania TAFE President