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A multimillion-dollar program aimed at supporting “a more prosperous Pacific driven by a skilled, competitive and productive workforce” is undergoing controversial changes which could have significant impacts on the future of vocational training in the Pacific Island region. 

The new leadership at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) says it’s a necessary response to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts. But there’s concern amongst some stakeholders that the process has been opaque, as it is based on a strategic review and rapid assessment that few people have seen, and that it marks a shift away from meaningful Pacific Islands nations’ input into the Coalition’s work.

APTC was established in 2007 as the Australia-Pacific Technical College, and began work a year later. Over that period, the Australian government has invested more than A$350 million (US$271 million) in the effort. Corporate materials state that it has supported 16,000 graduates across 14 Pacific countries, working with TVET (Technical and Vocational Educational and Training) institutions in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, and offering Australian-recognised qualifications and other training. It has since transitioned to become the Australia Pacific Training Coalition.

APTC is managed by TAFE Queensland, specifically TAFE Queensland International Education (TQIE), a company limited by shares that was established in July 2017. TAFE Queensland’s 2019-20 annual report states that TQIE’s primary source of revenue is from the APTC contract. In 2019-20 TQIE recognised revenues totalling A$5.91 million (US$4.57 million).

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