CCA virtual launch highlights how NSW ACE providers reach vulnerable and disadvantaged students

The latest Community Colleges Australia (CCA) report shows how NSW adult and community education (ACE) providers significantly over-perform on almost all tracked measures in reaching vulnerable and disadvantaged students.

The NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, the Hon Dr Geoff Lee MP, launched the CCA report (PDF) on government-funded NSW students, in a virtual “Zoom” event on 24 September. Almost 100 online participants included 20 NSW Members of Parliament, every CCA NSW member, senior staff from the NSW Department of Education, and other organisations such as TAFE NSW, ASQA and NCVER. View the full launch via CCA’s YouTube channel (44’30”).

“Community colleges play a vital part in the state’s skills, and tap into areas where other providers do not, including people on the margins, who have difficulty engaging with training,” Minister Lee said.

“Skills is one of the state’s six points of recovery, an enabler of social mobility with the state’s commitment to JobTrainer. Community colleges will play an important part in that program,” said Minister Lee.

Philip Clark AO, Chair of the NSW Skills Board, spoke at the launch: “The pandemic has created unique challenges for the disadvantaged and vulnerable of society to obtain the skills and training needed to get jobs. It’s great to see how well the ACE sector does, getting the most out of every dollar. I make no secret that I am an advocate of strong funding for ACE.”

Image above: Speakers at the virtual launch (clockwise from top right: David Fuller, CCA Chair & CEO of WEA Illawarra; Philip Clark AO, Chair of the NSW Skills Board; Theresa Collignon, CCA Board Director & CEO of Macquarie Community College; the Hon Dr Geoff Lee, NSW Minister for Skills & Tertiary Education; and Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO. Amelia Bolt (Aunty Mim, not pictured), a proud Wiradjuri woman connected to Bundjalung country, did an Acknowledgement of Country, speaking from ACE Colleges in Lismore. (View the full video launch on CCA’s YouTube channel.)

The event also celebrated the release of the NSW Government’s Adult and Community Education Policy statement, which Dr Don Perlgut (CCA CEO) hailed as “an historic milestone for the NSW ACE sector, with national significance for all of VET.”

Highlights of the CCA Report

The CCA report, entitled Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Students of NSW Adult and Community Education Providers: Analysis of 2019 Data, uses NCVER statistics on government-funded. Highlights:

(Download a PDF copy the Executive Summary.)

CCA also showed a short video highlighting achievements of ACE students who were finalists in recent Community Education Student of the Year Awards.

CCA Chair David Fuller quotes

“There would not be an electorate or a region in the state where one or more of our 33 NSW members deliver some form of educational, community or social service. Our members are particularly important outside of metropolitan Sydney, with two thirds headquartered in regional or rural locations.

“We are the quiet over-achievers of our sector, providing post-secondary education across the state of NSW to a diverse and widespread group. ACE providers people achieve their aspirations for a better life through education, skills and the employment opportunities their training creates.

“As community-based not-for-profit organisations, NSW community colleges re-engage ‘missing’ learners, and create and nurture social and community networks. We do this through place-based local programs. NSW Government investment in our sector reinforces and sustains our communities, our regions and our state at large.

“We provide small classes, we focus on personal support and work collaboratively together as a sector. We also create connections with other organisations and sectors, the most important of which is the New South Wales Government.

“State Government funding, particularly through the “ACE Program” and Smart and Skilled programs, are the life-blood that supports our work,” David Fuller said.

CCA Board Director Theresa Collignon quotes

“I want to reinforce David Fuller’s remarks about the value and the importance of New South Wales Government funding. CCA estimates that our state government funding is possibly the best targeted in the whole of Australia in reaching the most vulnerable and disadvantaged learners.

“We achieve the same results of gaining employment or further study as other VET providers. However, our achievements are especially notable because ACE providers proportionately engage more vulnerable and disadvantaged learners than other provider types.

“Community Colleges Australia regards our relationship with the New South Wales Government as one of partnership. Thank you, Minister, for your work in sustaining that partnership. We also thank the Premier and Treasurer for their ongoing support,” Theresa Collignon said.


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