Union Warns TasTafe not to Renew Contract with Private Provider Foundry

An education union in Tasmania is warning TasTAFE not to enter into another contract with a private company which is not a registered educational institution.

Foundry has just concluded a contract with TAFE where it was paid as much as $220,000 to deliver a course called design fundamentals.

The company is not a registered educational institution, meaning it relies on partnership arrangements with certified education providers.

Its own website states:

“Any information that Foundry representatives share with you about education should be considered general guidance, not professional advice. (Thanks for reading the boring stuff).”

With Foundry keen to sign on again, the Australian Education Union (AEU) has raised concerns.

The AEU’s Simon Bailey has questioned the quality of Foundry’s training and says it provides little detail about it actually offers.

“There were not outcomes listed, there was no and still is, they don’t tell you what the qualification is you’re going to get,” he said.

“They don’t tell you what the cost is, they don’t tell you how it’s going to be delivered.”

Foundry's building in Launceston

Mr Bailey said he was confused by why the company had been contracted in the first place, but Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said it was necessary measure.

“What Foundry are delivering in terms of creative design is very specific and not able to be provided by TasTAFE,” he said.

The union has lodged a formal complaint with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQUA).

In a statement, ASQU said it did not have jurisdiction because Foundry was a non-registered training organisation.

“TasTAFE is required to ensure any training and assessment undertaken by any third parties on its behalf complies with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework,” the statement said.

“If Foundry … is delivering non-nationally recognised training, then it would be required to comply with consumer law [regulated by Fair Trading].”

TasTafe ‘satisfied with training’

Mark Sayer, interim TasTafe chief executive, at senate estimates.

TasTAFE’s Interim CEO Mark Sayer said due diligence had been done and the company was monitored.

“TasTAFE works closely with Foundry to monitor training delivery such as through site visits, reviewing learning and assessment materials, and validation of assessments, and is satisfied with the training provided,” he said.

“Foundry has put forward a proposal to partner with TasTAFE in relation to a future agreement, which is yet to be negotiated.

“Given that negotiations are still in the discussion stages, it is not appropriate for TasTAFE to comment further at this time.”

The operators of Foundry did not respond to specific questions from the ABC, but issued a statement defending its record.

“Foundry works with educational partners The University of Tasmania’s University College [a division of the University of Tasmania] and TasTAFE to provide study options in niche fields the creative industries.

“We have enjoyed a positive relationship with our educational partners in 2017, and we are looking forward to providing our new creative education pathway options in 2018.”