"Tomorrow's meeting of the Council of Australian Governments provides an important opportunity for the Commonwealth, the states and territories to put aside differences and agree to vital national training reforms," Ai Group Chief Executive Designate Innes Willox said today.

"For too long our training systems have been plagued by inconsistent approaches, funding models and regulations, variable and often unacceptable levels of quality and unacceptably low levels of completion.

"The meeting tomorrow has an opportunity to remove inequities faced by students enrolling in diploma and advanced diploma courses; raise the proportion of the population with post school education qualifications, improve training quality and the transparency of our national training system.

"Industry is particularly supportive of the thrust of the Skills for all Australians package that forms the basis for the proposed new Commonwealth and State funding agreement. This includes the 'HECS for skills' initiative which would improve equity and remove the disincentive of upfront fees for diplomas and advanced diplomas.

"The introduction of the national training entitlement up to Certificate III would help raise the number of Australians with post-school qualifications and remove barriers to higher skilled opportunities.

"Quality remains a serious concern for industry and we need to see a significant lift in the quality across the sector. Lifting the quality requirements of providers in order to access income contingent loans would be an important step in this direction. Equally the introduction of independent validation of training provider's assessments would be a major achievement and that should deliver greater confidence in outcomes for both students and employers.

"A lack of transparency in the training system has long frustrated employers. The launch of the 'my skills' website and the introduction of the unique student identifier would help employers and individuals navigate the system and make more informed choices.

"These reforms apply right across the Vocational Education and Training sector. All providers have an important role to play in developing and delivering quality outcomes with the role of TAFE being central. Our training system must be industry-led, in order to deliver outcomes in the best interests for all.

"Ai Group urges, as a matter of national priority, for all governments to support these reforms in the interests of the broader community and the economy.

"Ai Group has a long led the skills debate in Australia. The policy agenda has been driven by our landmark reports - World Class Skills for World Class Industries; It's Crunch Time; Skilling the Existing Workforce; and, When Words Fail (on adult literacy)," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries:
Tony Melville, Ai Group: (02) 6233 0700