Looking back at a year of constant change and development within our industry, it would be easy to concur with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) that vocational education and training in Australia is at ‘tipping point’.
In a recent SWOT analysis of the sector undertaken to coincide with the meeting of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council in November, ACCI conducted a strategic review which found that vocational education and training has the very real ability to transform lives and that ‘for many VET graduates, long term career and salary outcomes match or exceed those being achieved by graduates from higher education’.
However, the report observes the Australian VET sector is currently in decline with regards to overall student enrolments and funding, and that the ‘small window of optimism’ with regards to Federal reform appears to have been ‘slammed shut’. Stark reading indeed.
With a long term view of setting a renewed vision for Australian vocational education and training, actions outlined by ACCI to undertake in the short term include acknowledging the underfunding of VET and setting goals to achieve real growth in VET funding; finalising agreements on the Skilling Australians Fund as soon as possible; and rallying as an industry around the Real Skills for Real Careers messaging launched by the Federal Assistant Minister in November to improve the status of VET.
Launching the Real Skills for Real Careers initiative aimed at improving the status of VET at the 2017 Australian Training Awards last month, Federal Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon. Karen Andrews MP declared it ‘a long-term, sustained program of activity to unify and promote the sector.’
“For too long, perceptions surrounding VET have been out of step with reality. Many parents are still inclined to encourage their children to go to university after leaving school, rather than consider a VET career pathway…The fact is that VET qualifications lead to successful, meaningful, professional careers with great salaries and outstanding career prospects.”
Preparing the sector for the incredible opportunities that international education presents should also be paramount – Australia is now the third largest destination for international students after the US and UK. Julie Hare of the University of Melbourne, has observed the need to make sure this boom is sustainable with the cities of Sydney and Melbourne currently attracting 65% of incoming international students. Regional areas are missing out and a lack of capacity in housing and rental options in the two major cities may impact future growth.
“What is needed is a real, coordinated, practical, focused and strategic oversight of this enormously important sector to ensure its reputation and financial health into the future.”
We will be back in the new year with an update on developments, as it definitely feels as if there is a lot of momentum currently behind pushing high-quality vocational education and training to the forefront. It’s a real privilege to be able to champion this cause in collaboration with all of our valued clients and colleagues, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best of the season and here’s to a progressive and positive 2018!