Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has launched its Federal Election Policy Platform, which outlines CCA’s policies and requests for the next Commonwealth Government.
The Platform outlines the scope and achievements of Australia’s 420+ adult and community education providers, which have 385,000 vocational education and training (VET) students, 9.5% of the national total, and 5.7% of government-funded VET students.
“By any count these numbers make Australia’s not-for-profit community education sector a significant force in Australia’s training landscape, especially in Victoria and New South Wales,” said CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut.
The Platform details how community providers are expert in reaching the country’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged learners through government-funded vocational education and training (VET), including:
- Disability: 23.4% of community students have a disability.
- Non-English speaking: 30% of community education students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, including 39% in Victoria.
- Older learners: 41% of community education students are aged 45 and over, including more than 45% in Victoria.
- Regional and rural: 41% of community students live in regional and rural Australia, including more than 64% in New South Wales.
- Social disadvantage: more than 53% of community students are socially and economically disadvantaged, including 66% in New South Wales.
- Indigenous: While only 6.2% of community students nationally are Indigenous nationally, in New South Wales, more than 13% of community students are.
- Female: Two-thirds of community provider students are female.
“These figures are profound. If governments want to reach and engage Australia's most vulnerable and disadvantaged learners, they must start with not-for-profit community VET providers,” said Dr Perlgut.
The Platform details specific requests to:
- fund community education infrastructure and facilities through a repeat of the 2009 “Investing in Community Education Program”, as a cost-effective means to support the education and training aspirations of the country’s vulnerable learners;
- recognise adult and community education by updating and reissuing the 2008 Ministerial Statement on Adult and Community Education (ACE);
- restore the community college and community education brand by preventing private for-profit from pretending that they are community-based organisations;
- fund Australian community education-provided VET to a minimum 15% of the total VET market (up from 9%) and 10% of government-funded VET (up from 5.7%);
- present clear policies about the role and purpose of TAFE, and how TAFE works with not-for-profit community providers, and ensure that increased funding for TAFE – which CCA supports – does not result in unintended consequences that damage the viability and sustainability of community providers;
- reverse the marketisation and privatisation of VET, ensuring that government and community providers – both committed to the common good – receive the great majority of government VET funding, and not private for-profit providers;
- support increased funding for foundation skills, adult basic education and teaching of English as a second language, because of their intensive and high-cost nature;
- enable community providers to participate in regional economic development through supporting their place-based strengths; and
- upskill older workers through resourcing community education providers.
CCA’s Platform concludes with a plea to Australia’s political leaders to provide vision and leadership for VET and post-secondary education, developing bi-partisan approaches to our significant national challenges.