The Commonwealth House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education, and Training has delivered its final report of its inquiry into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training (VET), providing 34 recommendations to Parliament to address poor perceptions of the sector and enhance the quality of and access to VET pathways.

The Inquiry’s report found that:

‘Despite the critical importance of VET to Australia’s economic security, many people hold negative perceptions of VET and the careers to which it leads. VET is often perceived as less intellectually demanding and inferior to university, and as leading to lower-paid, more physically demanding, and less stimulating employment. These negative perceptions are often driven by low levels of understanding of VET and VET-enabled careers, as well as by policy decisions and media representations which reinforce the belief that university education is necessary for personal and professional success.’

In response to the findings of the Inquiry, the Committee sees an enhanced role for the National Careers Institute (NCI) as a ‘single, trusted source of information’ and a Your Career website that is overhauled and optimised to provide ‘accurate, relevant, and current information on courses, qualifications, and career pathways’.

More importantly, the Committee sees a role for industry to play in addressing those issues canvassed in the report including support for advancing advanced/degree apprenticeships and cadetships, of which Ai Group has been a consistent and longstanding advocate, and an ‘industry-led network of apprenticeship support providers to deliver industry-appropriate mentoring and support to apprentices and trainees’.

The Inquiry’s report captured Ai Group’s views on fostering successful industry-education provider partnerships noting that what employers are looking for is a flexible approach that considers local industry need and is delivered according to individual needs. The Committee understood the concerns Ai Group had raised in its submission about the barriers to successful partnerships and highlighted those partnerships where success had been proven, like Cantech and White Industries.

Other major recommendations emerging from the Inquiry include:

  • a national careers education strategy for secondary schools along with enhancing the quality and consistency of VET delivered to secondary school students;
  • a national campaign to promote VET pathways and careers;
  • addressing systemic barriers that hinder participation by under-represented cohorts of students;
  • creating a robust framework for developing, implementing, and funding micro-credentials;
  • implementing measures to attract and retain a VET workforce with industry expertise; and,
  • working towards an integrated tertiary education system – a proposal of the Australian Universities Accord and a reform Ai Group has advocated for in its 2019 paper Realising Potential: Solving Australia’s tertiary education challenge.

You can download a copy of the Centre’s submission to the inquiry here.

To read the Inquiry’s final report please click here.