National ACE Summit Re-emphasises Importance of Learner Re-engagement and Foundation Skills

The Community Colleges Australia National ACE Summit re-emphasised the importance of adult and community education learner re-engagement and foundation skills. The online Summit – which took place on Tuesday 5 April – included 150 participants representing 120 organisations.

CCA’s Chair, David Mackay (CEO of TLK Community College), said that CCA had “designed the Summit as an opportunity take stock of the current moment of Australian training, and how to design for the future of skills delivery. What is the current state of play in vocational education and training, and what needs to change? As place-based organisations, how do we find our way through pandemics, floods, bushfires and economic disruption, to maintain and improve services to our communities and to our learners?”

In his introduction to the Summit, CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, said the Summit was “an important event that will reinforce the value and importance of Australian adult and community education in delivering essential training and skills that support national educational, social, employment and economic development goals.”

Watch the YouTube video (4‘43“) of Dr Perlgut’s introduction and Welcome to Country from Gadigal Elder Uncle Allen Madden.

Ministerial speakers: The Summit was unique in that four Australian skills ministers provided their perspectives on adult and community education:

  • The Hon Stuart Robert MP, Commonwealth Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business – view his speech (1’15”).
  • The Hon Alister Henskens MP SC, New South Wales Minister for Skills and Training & Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology – view his speech (5’09”).
  • The Hon Gayle Tierney MP, Victorian Minister for Training and Skills & Minister for Higher Education – view her speech (5’47”).
  • The Hon Blair Boyer MP, South Australian Minister for Education, Training and Skills, in his first national appearance after the election of the South Australian Labor Government in March.

Foundation Skills Panel: The Summit featured a panel discussion on foundation skills with Dave Tout, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER); Dr Keiko Yasukawa, University of Technology Sydney (UTS); Vanessa Iles, Manager, The Reading Writing Hotline; and Jo Medlin, President, Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL). View this discussion on YouTube (34’09”).

Reconnect Program: The Summit examined the Victorian Reconnect Program, with a presentation by Jane Ward, Executive Director, Higher Education and Workforce Division; and Desh Balasubramaniam, Manager, Learner Pathways Unit, VIC Department of Education and Training. The Reconnect Program supports Victorians to overcome barriers preventing them from engaging in education, training and employment and provides support into further study or employment pathways: download a copy of their presentation slides.

A Learner Re-Engagement Strategies panel discussed implementation strategies, with Nicole Battle, CEO of Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and President of Australian Neighbourhood House & Centres Association (ANHCA); Kylie Fergusen, CEO of Community Centres South Australia; Angela Angelopoulos, Education & Employment Programs Coordinator, and Rae Jamieson, Coordinator Reconnect Programs, Jesuit Social Services (JSS), who described the successful JSS experience as a Reconnect Program provider; and Liz Jones, Director of Partnerships and Growth, Good Things Foundation Australia, who discussed digital inclusion. View the re-engagement panel discussion on YouTube.

Other Keynote Presentations were delivered by:

Summit facilitator was Frier Bentley, and CCA Deputy Chair (and CEO of Macquarie Community College) Theresa Collignon gave the Summit’s closing remarks.

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