Ross Gittins: Get education and training right at every level

“One of the few things both sides agree on in this election campaign is that we must get education right. A highly educated and well-trained workforce is our best insurance that all the benefits that digital disruption brings don’t come at the cost of many people unable to find decent jobs.”

Ross Gittins, Economics Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, begins his column today with these words. Gittins proceeds to give an impassioned plea for the value of “education for its own sake. Because it satisfies humans’ insatiable curiosity about the world” and “its intrinsic value to our spiritual living standard.”

Gittins also writes:

  • There will be plenty of well-paid, safe, interesting jobs for those who do not want to go to university, “provided they’re equipped with the valuable technical and caring skills provided by a healthy vocational education and training sector.”
  • “A top-notch technical education system will also be key to achieving something we’ve long just rabbited on about: lifelong learning.”
  • “We need to get education and training right at every level, from childcare, preschool, primary and secondary school, vocational education and training, and university.

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, responds:

“It’s a pretty unusual moment when an economist starts using words like “spiritual living”, but that’s just what Ross Gittins does. While education has seemed to slipped down the list of election discussion priorities, skills issues underpin most of the larger macro-economic discussion that the major parties have engaged in.

“CCA has long called for valuing education as an investment and not as a commodity, advocating a move away from the socially destructive forces of privatisation (“marketisation”) of vocational education and training. Ross Gittins takes this one step further, putting the phrases ‘life-long learning’ – in which the community education sector specialises – and ‘insatiable curiosity’.

“Let’s re-introduce the education debate into discussions of our shared national future.”

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