'TAFE' brand on ice out west

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					'TAFE' brand on ice out west
01 Feb 10 by John Ross

Article - http://www.campusreview.com.au/pages/section/article.php?s=News&idArticle=13889

Western Australia is backing away from the TAFE brand, with the name discarded by four of its ten
institutes.

Western Australia is progressively removing the name TAFE from its public training system, as the state’s
institutes respond to their training minister’s challenge for them to “reinvent themselves”.

Last August TAFE WA, then part of the Department of Education and Training, became Training WA in the newly
created Department of Training and Workplace Development. The following month West Coast TAFE, based in
Perth’s north-western suburbs, rebranded itself as the West Coast Institute of Training.

Two months later Swan TAFE – the state’s biggest TAFE – became Polytechnic West. Two other metropolitan
institutes, Challenger and Central TAFEs, have rebranded themselves as institutes of technology.

Training and workforce development minister Peter Collier said TAFE colleges had been “given the opportunity
to reinvent themselves to meet the requirements of the volatile economic climate”, as part of state government
training reforms.

“This is a fundamental change in the state government’s approach to managing training in Western Australia,
and will help raise the status of training and TAFE colleges while providing the opportunity to present
themselves as independent centres of excellence,” he said.

“It is more than just a name and logo change. It represents a new direction for colleges, allowing them to be
more effective in an increasingly competitive and open training market.”

Increasing competition is a central feature of the government’s training plan, ‘Training WA: Planning for the
future 2009-2018’, which Collier released last May. It includes measures to make 50 per cent of public training
funds contestable by 2012.

“This will give TAFE colleges greater independence to compete effectively in an open training market, ensuring
we have a vibrant and diverse training market,” Collier said at the time

Collier declined to say whether the recent name changes reflected any concern in WA over the image of brand
TAFE, or a desire to back away from it.

Polytechnic West is the only WA institute currently offering higher education programs. CEO Wayne Collyer said
the name change was about positioning his institute in response to a changing marketplace and new policy drives
at the state and federal level.

“While the TAFE brand is held in very high regard, it’s primarily around certificate I, II and III qualifications,” he
told Campus Review.

“It diminishes as you move into the higher qualifications. The Commonwealth and state pushes are for us to be
delivering more higher qualifications.”

Collyer said he was also responding to the state training plan’s emphasis on training per se, rather than on public
training provision.

“In most sustainability and business plans of TAFE institutes, polytechnics and colleges across Australia, the
government-funded component is diminishing on an annual basis. It’s about making sure that you’ve got a brand
that can position towards that.”

Collyer said the change also responded to the Bradley report’s push for a single tertiary sector, and to education
minister Julia Gillard’s warning that VET providers needed to be aware of technological, economic and social
changes.

“For us, it was about maintaining relevance in the market place. It’s about portraying a meaningful
contemporary image to your students, staff, industry and wider communities.
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“My experience is that the most successful VET leaders are those that are attuned to the trends and shifts in our
marketplace, and position organisations accordingly.”

Collyer, who’s also deputy chair of TAFE Directors Australia, said he’d expected some “flak” over the name
change. But he said the reaction at local industry events had been overwhelmingly positive. However, he didn’t
advocate general jettisoning of the brand, saying names were a question for each institute and state
jurisdiction.

Dr Leesa Wheelahan, associate professor in adult and vocational education at the LH Martin Institute at the
University of Melbourne, said the TAFE brand was “looking pretty good at the moment” because TAFEs hadn’t
been associated with the reported rorts and collapses that had afflicted international VET. But she said the
community perception of the brand was still phase-locked in a time when TAFEs were “techs”.

“There’s still this perception that TAFE is just about the trades, even though the trades are only 20 per cent of
what TAFEs do,” she said.

Wheelahan said the name changes were motivated by institutional aspiration, and were consistent with the drive
towards a more integrated tertiary sector. She said institutes in other parts of the country, notably Victoria, had
also ditched TAFE from their names – especially those offering higher education programs.

“It’s a way to say that we’re not just the trades, even though the trades are important.”

Four institutes in Victoria – Box Hill Institute, Chisholm, Holmesglen and William Angliss Institute – have dropped
TAFE from their names, while TAFE Tasmania has rebranded itself as Tasmanian Polytechnic.

But even if TAFEs swapped the brand for a hotch-potch of different names, Collyer said, it wouldn’t affect the
public’s consciousness that there was a public training provider. Public awareness is shaped by the infrastructure
people see on a daily basis, he said. “From a general public point of view, their local public training provider has
always been there and will always be there.

“The shift that I think will happen, though – and this is clearly the push in Western Australia – is for the public to
understand that there is a training agenda, not just a TAFE agenda.”




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