What’s the future of community education in Australia? How do we envision new and innovative ways of doing things and how do we get there? This year’s Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference (Sydney, 18-20 October) focusses on these questions, highlighting both the challenges that the sector faces and its opportunities.
Despite the relative size of the community education sector – we deliver 5 percent of government-funded vocational education and training (VET) and just under that amount of total VET delivery – community education is the “little engine that could” (“I think I can, I think I can”).
Despite the dramatic changes in Australia’s VET system, community education providers are still the third largest deliverers, after private for-profit RTOs and TAFE, well ahead of schools, universities and enterprise providers: there were more than one million enrolments in accredited community education VET providers in 2015. And that’s in addition to the large number of non-accredited personal interest, leisure and lifestyle courses that more than 2000 community providers offer.
This year’s CCA Conference examines the future for community education, and posits that – like iconic computer scientist Alan Turing once wrote – “the best way to predict our future is to invent it”.
The conference features a number of sessions specifically devoted to community education, where we have been and where we are going, including:
- David Collins, Executive Director, Training Services NSW, Economic, Skills and Regional Development, NSW Department of Industry, speaking on “The unique place Community Colleges hold within the VET System”.
- Alison Anlezark, National Standards Manager, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, speaking on “Making ACE count: Community education’s contribution to total VET activity”.
- Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia, speaking on “Community Education in Australia – Where are we going?”
- A panel on “stories from the coalface: community services obligations in community education”, organised by Bronwyn Clinch, former CEO of Northern Inland Community College (NSW).
- A panel on VET FEE-HELP and community colleges, led by Helen Zwicker, CEO of Kiama Community College.
There are three ways to register for the conference: