A vocational education and training (VET) system, which functions well and delivers necessary skills, is fundamental to a buoyant, strong and prosperous economy in Australia that delivers the jobs and industry that everyday Australians require. This is the message from the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training.
In order to deliver these VET objectives, the government is involved in a significant reform of the nation’s VET system. The reform is designed to enhance the status of VET in Australia, to ultimately improve employment prospects and outcomes.
The Department of Education and Training notes the importance of high quality VET providers and courses, stating:
“Top quality providers and top quality courses enhance the contribution VET makes to employment prospects of students and boost the status of VET amongst families, students and employers, industry and community.”
In 2014, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council (CISC) held an opening meeting about the VET reform. During this meeting, ministers approved six objectives required for the successful reform of Australia’s VET system.
1- Effective governing
One objective of the reform is the effective governing of the VET system. The efficient management will include defined responsibilities and roles for industry, as well as the Commonwealth and territories and states.
2- Streamlined industry-defined qualifications
Another objective is to create a system of “streamlined industry-defined qualifications”. This system should be able to adapt and respond to leading priorities, both at a national and state level, and any required skills that may arise.
3- Trade apprenticeships
Trade apprenticeships are another objective of the reform. These apprenticeships need to develop a clear career path for apprentices and be appropriately valued.
4- Regulatory system that is modern and responsive
Another key criterion mapped out by ministers from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council (CISC), is to create a national regulatory system, centred on responsiveness and adopting a modern approach. The regulatory system needs to apply a risk-management strategy, which supports a well-functioning and competitive market.
5- Ensuring consumers are well-informed
A further key objective is to ensure consumers are kept well-informed about choices they have related to VET providers and courses. This should be implemented by ensuring people have access to the information they need to make well-informed decisions.
6- Efficient and targeted government funding
The final principle VET reform objective is to ensure that government funding for VET is efficient and targeted and considers “inconsistencies between jurisdictions and disruption for the fee-for-service market.”
As the Department of Education and Training reports, considerable progress has been made to meet these reform objectives.
However, it is vital that ongoing support to these objectives is implemented and utilised if Australia’s VET industry is to function well and deliver the necessary skills to create a prosperous and progressive jobs market and economy.