CCA Submission to Jobs and Skills Australia outlines the big issues for not-for-profit community providers

The Community Colleges Australia (CCA) submission to the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has outlined the “big issues” for the work-plan of the new Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA). As an independent agency, JSA is responsible for providing advice to underpin Australia’s response to current, emerging and future labour market and workforce skills and training needs, helping to improve employment opportunities and economic growth. It takes over from the previous National Skills Commission, with a team of diverse specialists – economists, data scientists, analysts, researchers, product developers and designers, and project managers.

CCA has identified several “big issues” that relate to the establishment and Terms of Reference of Jobs and Skills Australia (download a copy of the CCA submission here).

Recognition of Australian Adult and Community Education as an important VET sub-sector and the need for an updated ACE Ministerial policy declaration. CCA strongly believes that a renewed national policy statement on ACE is a very high priority, with the 2008 statement an excellent model. Without a policy framework around what ACE providers do and why they do it, it is not possible to develop programs and understand their role in Australian society. CCA expressed disappointment that many research projects, programs or policy developments undertaken or funded by DEWR’s predecessor DESE did not acknowledge the community education sector, despite clear NCVER data that shows the community education sector is a vital part of the Australian skills sector.

It’s not all about the economy: recognition of community development as a valid and important part of training and skills. CCA has requested the JSA to examine the needs of the “community” and not just the needs of the “economy” and employers. Community development is an integral part of what our sector does, an aspect that the Commonwealth Government (although not NCVER) has not recognised for some time. Community cannot be separated from employment and economic activity, and our members are community-based and community-managed.

Skills planning from 50,000 feet up: the importance of JSA taking a spatial perspective and the lead in regional and local skills plans. The CCA submission reads: “There is an old adage in town planning that so much planning took place at 50,000 feet (about 16,000 metres) from earth – in other words, so high up, that people where not relevant (or seen). Unfortunately, in CCA’s view, much of the work undertaken by the (previous) National Skills Commission appeared to operate at that level, without much connection to local communities and regions. CCA has requested the new Jobs and Skills Australia to consider local and regional needs as a priority: employment, ‘markets’, social needs, networks and major employment perspectives all vary tremendously from region to region, and nobody appears to be bringing this together in the way it needs. CCA strongly believes that skills and training have a crucial geographic perspective and is concerned that much Australian skills planning ignores the spatial aspect. So much of VET, in particular, is undertaken in person, frequently in traineeships and apprenticeships and skills that are developed through face-to-face training.”

Do not duplicate the role and functions of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), which has proven to be a reliable and consistent source of data. Recent CCA reports based on NCVER data:

Recognise the role of VET in reducing Australian inequality – and, by extension – improving social and economic participation. CCA CEO, Dr Perlgut has identified six ways to enable VET to make Australia a more equal and just society.

Support the role of VET in sustaining Australian democracy: All Australian education has an important role in sustaining Australian democracy. Events over recent years (including the “storming” of the US Capital) have shown how fragile democracy can be at times. In early 2020, CCA completed a major research project that examines the role of Australian adult and community education providers in sustaining Australian democracy. CCA firmly believes that this topic – the role of VET in Australian democracy – needs to be on the workplan, with institutions such as the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD) ready-made partners.


Download a full copy of the CCA “Submission on Jobs and Skills Australia to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations”, 10 February 2023 (PDF).

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