CCA releases research report on Western Sydney regional economic development

Community Colleges Australia (CCA), the peak organisation representing NSW adult and community education providers, has released its research report on how the state’s not-for-profit community providers can assist Western Sydney regional economic development.

“The most important priority is for our members, along with governments, business, industry and philanthropic trusts, to invest in a shared regional governance structure. That way the region’s not-for-profit community education providers can leverage collective strengths and undertake large scale education, training and economic development projects,” said Dr Perlgut, CEO of CCA.

“CCA looks forward to working closely with the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments to ensure that the adult and community education sector plays its part in Western Sydney’s regional economic development,” said Dr Perlgut.

“A number of institutional, locational and organisational barriers prevent not-for-profit community providers from contributing fully to Western Sydney regional economic development. Removing or overcoming these barriers – often at no cost to government – will enable our providers to increase their engagement in Western Sydney’s development,” said Dr Perlgut.

Report Findings

The report found:

  • The 13 community education providers active in Western Sydney deliver accredited VET and other education services from more than 120 locations around the region.
  • The greatest training strengths of not-for-profit providers are in business and work skills, early childhood, aged care, disability, community services, foundation skills and adult literacy/numeracy, English as a second language, leadership, management and information technology.
  • Western Sydney community education providers deliver accredited training more effectively to hard-to-reach vulnerable cohorts than TAFE and for-profit VET providers, including people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage (42.5% of community enrolments in 2017), people with disabilities (15.6% of community enrolments), older - age 45-plus learners (46.5% of community enrolments), and people from non-English speaking backgrounds (55.8% of community enrolments).
  • Collaborations with all layers of government and community stakeholders are crucial for broader success. Government post-secondary policy focus on universities and TAFE in the region has limited the ability of community providers to participate in collaborations with governments and other organisations.

New Opportunities

The project identified opportunities which will leverage the capabilities of the not-for-profit community education sector:

  • Investment in a governance structure and shared systems for a regional network of not-for-profit community education providers would lift the sector capacity’s capacity, enabling active participation in economic development.
  • A state-wide policy framework for the role of not-for-profit community providers in the state’s training system that will support and complement the ACE Community Service Obligation (CSO) program.
  • Pilot projects to enable Western Sydney community education providers to work closely with Western Sydney local councils.

Planning and Development Policies and Regulations

Changes in planning for community facilities would enable community education providers to grow their engagement in Western Sydney regional economic development:

  • Require local councils in areas of recognised population growth (such as Western Sydney) to incorporate educational facility planning into their local planning activities.
  • Plan for the inclusion of community education providers and “community hubs” as part of the infrastructure in major new residential or commercial developments.
  • Through the Western Sydney City Deal, provide for the incorporation of not-for-profit community education providers in the education and training mix of providers.
  • Adjust the regulations – or otherwise ensure – that Section 7.11 (previously Section 94) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act developer amenity contributions can be utilised for post-secondary education and training by not-for-profit providers.

About this Project

Thirteen community education providers currently operate in Greater Western Sydney: The Parramatta College, Macquarie Community College, Nepean Community College, Macarthur Community College, JobQuest, MTC Australia, the Deaf Society, VERTO, Sydney Community College, Bankstown Community College (BCCI), Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Community College, St George & Sutherland Community College and Jesuit Social Services (Jesuit Community College). Together these organisations supply a valuable economic development resource for Western Sydney, a resource that is not yet not fully utilised. This project is intended to realise this potential.

The project’s reports include:

This report was prepared with funding provided by Training Services NSW, part of the NSW Department of Industry. The recommendations, views and opinions expressed in this report are those of Community Colleges Australia only, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the NSW Department of Industry, any other government agency or individual CCA members.

Acknowledgement of Country: CCA acknowledges the Darug, Tharawal (also historically referred to as Dharawal) and Gandangarra peoples as the traditional owners of the lands of Western Sydney that are considered in this report, and honours their Elders past, present and emerging.

About Western Sydney

Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy, after Sydney and Melbourne central business districts. It has numerous economic attractions and advantages, notably a rapidly growing Parramatta central business district, the planned Badgerys Creek airport, rich rural and agricultural lands, historical sites, important recreational and sporting facilities, great bushland and World Heritage-listed wildernesses in the Blue Mountains, the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system, and its own university – the multi-campus Western Sydney University.

Despite a booming population growth, the region’s economy has been unable to keep up, with the ratio of jobs to residents falling consistently since the year 2000. More than 2.2 million people live in greater Western Sydney, 35% of them born overseas, from more than 170 countries and speaking more than 100 languages.

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