Community Colleges Australia (CCA) CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, has called on Australian universities to partner with not-for-profit adult and community education (ACE) providers to ensure the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australian post-secondary education learners are met.
In a presentation to the Engagement Australia conference this week, Dr Perlgut detailed six ways that ACE providers could make Australia more equal and just:
- Create proper pathways, from ACE to TAFE and from ACE to universities;
- Take post-secondary education precincts seriously – university, TAFE and ACE;
- Assist ACE with intellectual capacity for evaluation and research;
- develop regional skills plans, both metropolitan and non-metropolitan, that prioritise social justice goals and consider the needs of disadvantaged learners and communities – vocational education and training (VET) – including ACE, in collaboration with universities;
- Ensure universities increase the education and recruitment of trainers of foundation skills – language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills; and
- Participate in a national post-secondary education outreach program to re-engage disadvantaged and vulnerable learners who left education and training due to COVID-19 and natural disasters such as catastrophic floods.
“The recent announcement by Commonwealth Minister Jason Clare (pictured) of the new Universities Accord will include now higher education and vocational education and training can and should work together makes this connection more timely than ever,” said Dr Perlgut.
Dr Perlgut’s talk – entitled “Engaging vulnerable and disadvantaged students: Lessons from Australia’s adult and community education providers” – laid our four key principles:
- Education is an important force to tackle inequality of wealth and income in Australia.
- Education for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups is best delivered when provided by not-for-profit or public institutions, not for-profits organisations.
- Australian poverty and wealth are geographically concentrated, yet we often ignore the geography of post-secondary education delivery.
- Online delivery is not the answer for disadvantaged, given poor access by disadvantaged groups to computers, broadband and digital skills.
His presentation included short case studies of how three CCA members undertake unique community engagement can be combined with accredited education: Byron Community College’s Sourdough Business Pathways, JobQuest’s property maintenance social enterprise and VICSEG New Future’s Second Stitch social enterprise for migrant women.