Andrew Butler, Year 11/12 Extension School Project Officer, reports …

One of the significant opportunities that Year 11/12 Extension Schools can offer is provision of meaningful programmes that directly relate to the needs of their local communities and engage and retain students.

This objective is directly identified as part of Ministerial Priorities for Training and Workforce Development 2016 which states: “Continue to support innovative initiatives that provide Tasmanian youth with opportunities for education and training with a direct employment outcome” and “Enable young people to pursue training that suits their personal capability and that reflects the need of the Tasmanian economy”.

Many Extension School workplaces are thus either involved or planning to offer innovative programs through VET or alternatively funded programmes using specialist staff with specific industry qualifications and experience.  However, this has proven a challenge to DOE Human Resources who, despite having a discretionary provision for recognising qualifications and experience of specialist staff, have insisted upon conferring base-grade unqualified teacher-status when determining rates of pay.

This has had a direct impact on the capacity of Extension Schools to initiate and sustain employment of experienced professionals in offering industry-specific courses in local communities—at least one teacher/trainer recently resigned and other programs have been placed in jeopardy while staff consider similar action.

Following representations from us, and subsequent meetings with HR representatives, the DOE has indicated that the issue will be further evaluated.  Accordingly, a new proposal that provides greater flexibility in validating industry expertise and specialist qualifications will be presented for our consideration in the near future.  In the meantime, DOE HR has also committed to finding interim solutions for any Year 11/12 Extension Schools that are experiencing issues in attracting and retaining specialist staff, on a case-by-case basis.  Workplaces who may be impacted by this issue can contact HR directly or via the AEU.