The day before heading into a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to discuss skills development in order to ensure the nation’s $7 billion expenditure on vocational education and training (VET) was well-spent, the Prime Minister declared “vocational education is as good as uni”.
Key Issues —
As the nation struggles with another emerging skills shortage, an agenda item of the COAG meeting for August 2019 was reform of the VET system.
Speaking before the meeting the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, spoke of the importance of reforming VET so that business can employ skilled people and that people who want to get trained so that they can get employed.
This commentary builds on the Prime Ministers’ interest in VET that saw him commission Steven Joyce, a former New Zealand Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, to undertake an independent review of the VET system. The Prime Minister spoke of a system that is letting the nation down as it is too bureaucratic and too public service-driven.
Collectively, the Australian Government and the state / territories spend over $7 billion a year on VET and the Prime Minister wants to ensure that this funding is well-spent.
The Prime Minister spoke of the changing nature of work, where people are coming out of one industry and moving into another. He noted that all the technology training that needs to be done goes right across the spectrum of people's ages and experiences, and the nation needs to make sure that we are training people for those jobs. It was in this context that the Prime Minister made the comment that:
“Vocational education is as good as uni”
The Australian Government has a clear reform agenda to get the nation’s VET system right. The Prime Minister said reform needs to be focussed on the people who want jobs and the businesses that want to employ them.
In his recommendations arising from the report entitled Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia's Vocational Education and Training System, Mr Joyce recommended a new National Skills Commission plus work to build up the foundational skills of particularly disadvantaged Australians, including Indigenous Australians. The aim is to make sure that they can get themselves training and have the foundational skills on a range of things like literacy so that they can go on and be successful.
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is involved in high-level consultations with the Australian Government, at a ministerial and departmental level, to deliver VET sector reform. Its important work and members serving on the ITECA Vocational Education & Training Reference Committee are taking a lead role in framing the VET sector’s response.
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.
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