The budget delivered sweeping changes to education and training.
The budget delivered sweeping changes to education and training.

Sweeping changes to education and training

WE'VE had a few months to adjust to the new lay of the land, under the Abbott government's tough Federal Budget.

I'd guess that for most of us, not a lot has changed. The sun still rises in the east and all that.

The budget did deliver sweeping changes to education and training, even if some of those measures are yet to take effect.

Perhaps the largest change is the deregulation of university fees. It means that in the future, unis will be able to set their own fees, a move that is largely expected to result in the cost of tertiary study increasing.

The government intends to reduce university course funding by about 20%, and move money from universities to TAFEs, private colleges and sub-bachelor degree programs.

Reduced government funding means universities will need to recoup the shortfall from students, pushing up fees by an estimated 30%. The reforms are expected to be passed into law next month.

If you started studying before May this year, you're exempt from fee changes until you start a new course, or until 2021, whichever comes first.

The government has pledged to introduce a four-year, $476 million training package for small to medium enterprises, called the Industry Skills Fund.

The ISF is expected to deliver more than 120,000 training places, providing participants with qualifications, skill sets and recognition of both prior learning and current competencies, and 74,300 support services including mentoring and foundation skill.

Which is all well and good, until you read the fine print.

The ISF comes at the cost of 10 other skills and training programs, which will be abolished from the start of next year. The 10 programs - which covered apprenticeships, skills training, workforce development and employment pathways, were worth a collective $1 billion over five years.

Apprentices no longer have access to the four-year, $914 million Tools For Your Trade payments, which was shuttered on July 1.

Financial assistance to help apprentices will instead be provided through the Trade Support Loans Program, to a value of $439m over the next five years, a move that will substantially reduce the financial support available to support the cost to young people of undertaking apprenticeships.