National Skills Week Puts VET in the Spotlight as CEDA Calls for Review of the Sector
29 August 2016 at 11:34 am
Scandals in the VET sector have done “significant reputational damage” and it is now vital that the sector is supported to rebuild, according to a new report.
CEDA’s latest research into vocational education and training (VET) in Australia has called for a wide-ranging review of the sector.
In particular, the report argues improving outcomes, regulation and oversight, providing certainty in funding and recognising its importance in skilling people for the jobs of the future are critical.
CEDA chief executive, Professor Stephen Martin said VET delivered vital grassroots skills that industry needed but scandals and a disconnect with industry had significantly weakened this “important tier of the education sector”.
“That is why CEDA’s report is calling for a comprehensive national review of the sector to underpin COAG discussions to reach a new National Partnership on Skills Reform,” Martin said.
“The imminent conclusion of the Commonwealth-state funding agreement for VET (National Partnership on Skills Reform) next year, and the fact that there are currently no signs of how or if this will be extended, is a significant issue for the sector.”
Martin said there needed to be a refocus on working with industry to ensure courses were being linked with the labour market to ensure students have real employment outcomes on completion of a course.
“There also needs to be more focus on teaching broad-based skills competency that are transferable across occupational clusters, rather than narrowly focused courses that are too restrictive in a rapidly evolving labour market,” he said.
Martin said there were many positives about VET and it had proven itself an adaptive and agile tier of the education sector.
“It has already shown that it can be responsive to Australia’s skill requirements by increasing the delivery of courses providing qualifications in childcare, aged care and disability care as demand has rapidly increased in the services sector of the economy,” he said.
“With the right policy settings, this sector is well positioned to meet the workforce challenges posed by digital disruption and automation and continue delivering skills needed by industry.
“As Australia faces coming decades of rapid technological change, which will require reskilling and new skills, our education sector needs to be strong at every level.
“The scandals in recent years in the VET sector, despite only relating to a small number of operators, have done significant reputational damage and it is now vital that the sector is supported to rebuild.”
It comes as the diversity, benefits and career pathways associated with vocational education and training are being celebrated as part of National Skills Week.
The annual event, first launched in 2011, seeks to mobilise, inform and inspire Australians of all ages to explore the skills that industry needs to advance Australia’s competitiveness and global opportunity.
SkillsOne general manager Kirstin Casey said the event helped Australians gain awareness about the opportunities out there.
“National Skills Week is about bringing greater understanding to VET and how it provides the opportunity for all Australians to find a career path that suits their passions and interests,” Casey said.
“National Skills Week is about putting skills and trades on the agenda, celebrating its contribution to building a strong workforce, and changing existing attitudes towards VET.
“It is important for people to better understand the important role VET plays in creating skilled professionals, and giving all Australians world-class training, industry connections, and support so that they can create successful career pathways for themselves.”
Throughout National Skills Week, Australian Training Awards Alumni will take part in launches nationwide and share their stories in an effort to shine the spotlight on VET and how it has connected them to a successful and fulfilled future in their chosen field.
The event was launched nationally on 24 August by Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews and Victorian Minister for Training and Skills, International Education and Corrections Steven Herbert.
Casey said it was a great start to the event which celebrates VET, the students who have gained career success from a VET pathway, and “the nation’s bright future”.
“The national launch was a night filled with discussion on the future of Australia’s workforce and how best to move the nation towards economic success and continued competitiveness in today’s global market ” Casey said.
Following the national launch in Melbourne, further launches are set to continue around the country with the next state launch happening on Monday in New South Wales.
National Skills Week runs from 29 August to 4 September.