CCA CEO Russ Hawkins was recently interviewed on “What Now? What Next? Insights into Australia’s tertiary education sector”, a podcast produced by Claire Field. You can listen to the podcast episode here.
In the episode titled “CCA members offer ‘education for adults on a human scale’”, Russ Hawkins highlights the important role of CCA member colleges which are community-based. “We are in a post-Covid period where we think Australians who are looking to retrain, reconnect with community, they are looking to upskill in a local environment.” He adds that these colleges are uniquely placed and agile “We can move quickly to new courses that meet community need and expectation, and we’re demand driven”.
The strength of community colleges is both their connection to their unique communities and their ability to deliver wrap-around support as part of an individual’s learning journey. Russ Hawkins comments: “we service the whole of the persons and the family’s needs, and we’re connectors and we’re connected to our community, and we’ve got really good relationships with governments.”
Community colleges offer life-long learning and play a unique part in the broader context of the VET sector. The recent funding of TAFE on a National scale and the NSW VET Review are steps in a positive direction for VET funding and CCA is actively engaged in ensuring that community colleges are included in this funding. Russ argues that the case is simple, that community colleges offer a greater return on investment in that they service more^ First Nations students, students of low economic backgrounds, students with a disability, women, people over 45 years of age; more so than other providers such as TAFE and other private providers; and often have higher completion rates.
In addition, Russ Hawkins also highlights the need for collaboration to meet the demand for skills, training and civic engagement. He says: “We see it being much more collaborative and we see it being much more fluid and we’re starting those critically important conversations with State and Federal ministries about the need for a networked, highly collaborative, highly agile solution for the VET system.”