Melbourne summit unites Victorian adult and community education sector

The Victorian Government has hosted a state adult and community education (ACE) sector summit, as the Andrews Government works on building a Ministerial Statement to support the state’s not-for-profit education and training sector.

Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney (pictured), opened the ACE Summit on 7 August, bringing together this diverse sector that plays a unique and crucial role in giving adult learners the training and skills needed to secure employment and participate in the community.

Attendees at the Summit included representatives from Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, ACE Victoria, Community Colleges Australia and Adult Learning Australia, along with the Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board, the Victorian Department of Education, a number of Learn Local providers and higher education experts.

As part of ACE Summit, the Victorian Government is seeking input into a Ministerial Statement on the role of adult community-based vocational education and training in the post-secondary education system. This is the first time that a Victorian state Ministerial Statement will have been released since 2004.

The Summit focussed on identifying ways the sector can adapt to meet the needs of learners engaged in training and employment programs; and on fostering collaboration within the sector and across the broader post-secondary education system.

The Summit considered the views of industry and employers on the kind of skills and training they look for when taking on employees, so that the adult and community education sector can provide the best education to make their students job-ready.

“It was important to be part of this summit, working closely with the network of Victorian ACE peak organisations. The work prepared by the network and by the ACFE Board is outstanding and will result, I am certain, in a high-quality Ministerial Statement that will become a model for other states and the Commonwealth,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia.

“We are listening to the sector to build a framework for the future. The ACE Summit is another example of the work we’re doing to support the adult and community-focused education sector to support the training needs of students and industry – and deliver jobs for Victorians,” said Minister Gayle Tierney.

“It’s great to see so many members of the adult and community education sector come together, as we focus on ways to deliver the very best outcomes for adult learners across Victoria,” said Maria Peters, Chairperson of the Adult and Community Further Education (ACFE) Board.

Each year, the Victorian Government invests more than $100 million to support accredited and pre-accredited training delivery by ACE providers as well as supporting capacity-building and administrative services. Additional recent Victorian Government contributions to the state’s ACE sector include:

  • $5 million in 2018 for initiatives to boost literacy, numeracy and language training;
  • raising the subsidy rate for pre-accredited training delivered by Learn Locals, delivering a 27% increase for providers; and
  • as part of a $2.6 million investment, introducing regional delivery loading to rural and regional Learn Locals, acknowledging the additional costs associated with providing training in these communities.

A 2008 report (PDF, 822 kb), entitled The Economic Benefit of Investment in Adult Community Education in Victoria estimated an increase in the Gross State Product from ACE activities from 2007 to 2031 at $16 billion from both “market” (productivity, wages, etc) and “non-market” (health and well-being, social capital, volunteerism, decreased crime, etc) activities.

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