The Australian Government Productivity Commission Report on Government Services has been released, with useful data on vocational education and training, indicating the continued size and strength of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector. Selections below.
Funding: The main source of government recurrent funding of VET is via government grants and appropriations and/or competitive tendering/user choice mechanisms. In 2021, available VET funding for State and Territory governments was about $6 billion.
- State and Territory governments provided $3.9 billion (65%).
- The Australian Government provided around $2.1 billion to State and Territory governments (35%) with the majority provided through specific purpose payments.
Government funding of VET is provided to a mixture of government RTOs (including TAFEs), and community education providers and other registered RTOs. Nationally, government payments to non-TAFE providers amounted to $1.2 billion in 2021, an increase from 2020 – especially notable in NSW (compared to QLD and VIC) with an 18.5% non-TAFE increase from 2020 to 2021.
Students: Nationally in 2021, around 4.3 million students participated in nationally recognised VET (total VET students). Over 2 million students were enrolled in qualifications, with the largest number of these students enrolled in Certificate level III or IV qualifications (over 1.3 million), followed by Certificate level I or II (439,200), and Diploma or above (406,700) qualifications. Other students were enrolled in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program (over 2.7 million) and in training package skill sets and accredited courses (182,300).
In 2021, almost 1.3 million students participated in government-funded VET. Over 1 million students were enrolled in government-funded qualifications, with the largest number of these students enrolled in Certificate level III or IV qualifications (746,300), followed by Certificate level I or II (193,500) and Diploma or above (150,800) qualifications. Other students were enrolled in other forms of government-funded nationally recognised and non-nationally recognised training.
Training providers: In 2021, there were 3,529 registered VET training organisations delivering nationally recognised training in Australia , of which 1,302 delivered nationally recognised government-funded VET through state and territory training departments. There were 1,518 VET providers delivering government-funded nationally recognised, locally developed and non-nationally recognised training, at 33,849 locations in Australia. Queensland has the largest number of providers, with 1097, followed by NSW with 944 and Victoria with 786 providers. Government-funded VET was delivered through 33,849 locations (3417 from TAFE), including 7,552 (141 TAFE) in New South Wales, 11,505 (2,235 TAFE) in Victoria and 10,197 (536 TAFE) in Queensland.
Australia’s VET system remains almost equal with schools with the greatest number of students; in 2022 there were 4,042,512 students were enrolled in 9,614 schools (ABS, February 2023). This is much more than university students, with 1.4 million. Both VET and university numbers are inflated by the number of international students: 567,947 as of February 2023, of which 45.8% were at higher education level, 24.2% in VET and 16.4% at ELICOS. Federal Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor has expressed concern about the large number of RTOs in Australia – and resultant issues of training quality; it will be useful to see if the Commonwealth Government attempts to do anything about that. CCA’s efforts with the Productivity Commission seem to have had a result, with the Commission prominently mentioning the role of adult and community education providers in the VET system. – Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO