Council of Australian Governments releases a national vision for VET

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia – has released a Vision for vocational education and training (VET).

The release took place on 9 August 2019 following COAG’s Cairns meeting of the Prime Minister and premiers of all states and territories.

The agreed summary COAG VET vision is:

“A strong Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector is critical for our economy and ensuring Australians are equipped for the workforce now and in the future. Leaders agreed to a shared vision for VET delivering high quality education and training that meets the needs of students and employers. VET and higher education are equal and integral parts of Australia’s post-secondary education system. The Commonwealth and states and territories will work together to deliver a system which helps all Australians – for those getting first qualifications or re-training – get the skills they need for employment. Skills ministers will work together through a new COAG Skills Council, in consultation with education ministers, to advise leaders on future reform priorities by the end of 2019 and provide a reform roadmap to COAG in early 2020.”

Following the release of the VET Vision statement, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said of Australian VET: “It needs to be agile, it needs to be modern, it needs to be up to date…. We all want students, whatever age they are – they could be 21, they could be 61 and going through a career change, or 41, or whatever age it is. And I want them to have confidence that that system is going to help them with their future intentions and their future careers.”

CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, comments:

“COAG has emphasised that VET and higher education now need to be viewed as equal parts of Australia’s post-secondary education system. We will increasingly hear the term ‘post-secondary’ being used to encompass both VET and university.

“These are extremely positive developments, and CCA commends the Commonwealth Government and the states and territories on the vision statement, which is likely to pave the way for future much-needed reforms to Australia’s VET system.

“The emphasis on the needs of regional, rural and remote Australia is very important, as well as the inclusion of ‘foundational skills’, and ensuring that VET is flexible at all points in a person’s career cycle – foundation training, initial training, upskilling and re-skilling.

“We are particularly pleased that the Prime Minister’s statement referenced older workers, as Australia’s community education sector well and truly over-performs in engaging people who are aged 45 and older.

“While this is a great start, CCA is keen to see the VET vision complemented by a nationally agreed statement of the role that Australia’s not-for-profit community education providers can and should play in Australian post-secondary education. Our sector represents almost 10% of total VET activity each year, yet the absence of policy attention means that our sector’s contributions remain under-appreciated, and our capacity under-utilised in achieving national training goals.

COAG Vision for Vocational Education and Training (VET)

(Below: the full COAG VET Vision, published 9 August 2019; also available on the COAG website in PDF.)

The vocational education and training sector is a responsive, dynamic and trusted sector that delivers an excellent standard of education and training. It provides strong economic and social outcomes, and supports millions of Australians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in the modern economy.

This vision is intended to build upon action already undertaken.

Economic change and transformation will continue to shape the way we work and the skills needed to succeed as workers, as employers and as a nation. The nature of work in Australia is changing, with technology being rapidly adopted and growth in jobs requiring complex skills and knowledge. As a result, Australia’s capacity to grow, compete and thrive in the increasingly global economy is dependent on employers and all individuals, regardless of background or circumstance, being able to access and use the right skills at the right time.

VET and higher education are equal and integral parts of a joined up and accessible post-secondary education system with pathways between VET, higher education and the school system.

Our vision for Australia’s VET system is one that:

  1. Provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of Australia’s modern economy.
  2. Is flexible in providing skills at all points in an individual’s career cycle whether it be foundational training, initial training, upskilling or re-skilling.
  3. Delivers high-quality education and training for all learners in recognition that VET and higher education are equally valued pathways into employment.
  4. Provides useful and accessible careers information that enables prospective learners and trainees to make informed decisions about their future.
  5. Is responsive to the needs of private industry and the public sector, ensuring employers have ready access to a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, while acknowledging industry has shared responsibility for growing a skilled economy.
  6. Provides VET qualifications to school students that are valued by employers and provides a clear pathway from school to careers that require VET qualifications.
  7. Delivers positive opportunities and outcomes for all Australians regardless of geographic, social or personal circumstances. This includes access for learners in regional, rural and remote areas, and to foundational skills when individuals need them.

Delivering high quality VET is a shared responsibility across the Commonwealth and states and territories. All jurisdictions acknowledge the importance of a viable and robust system of both public and private providers, and the particular role of states and territories in facilitating the public provision of VET. A focus on national consistency in key areas, such as quality assurance and qualification levels, whilst maintaining flexibility in the system for jurisdictions to meet local needs will ensure VET continues to work for all Australians into the future.

News coverage

News coverage about COAG’s VET Vision statement includes:

“TAFE says students should steer away from University”, Radio National Breakfast program featuring an interview with Craig Robertson, TAFE Directors Australia, 9 August 2019.

“Universities and VET should be in ‘the same sentence’: Berejiklian”, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2019.

“Skills crisis: Restoring confidence in training means rescuing TAFEs”, The Monthly Today, 9 August 2019.

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