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Ai Group welcomes long overdue VET inquiry

"The Federal Government's announcement of a review of the VET sector in Australia is both welcome and long overdue," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"The VET system is critical to ensuring industry has the skilled workforce it needs to grow and to compete internationally. It provides the technicians, the tradespeople, the supervisors and the para-professionals that are needed in an Australian workforce adapting to new technologies and higher-level skills and capabilities.

"Ai Group has been vocal in highlighting the issues that have hampered the effectiveness of the sector in recent years. The funding of the system continues to be inadequate, in terms of both the level and composition and its resourcing relative to both the higher education and school sectors, and is insufficient to meet existing and future skills needs of the workforce.

"The composition of public funding for VET involving shared contributions of the Commonwealth and the States/Territories has fallen in absolute terms since 2013 and relative funding shares between the Commonwealth and the jurisdictions vary significantly. This is leading to confused messages for employers and the needs of industry, businesses and students are not always being met.

"While the level and nature of funding for VET is the highest priority to address, there are a number of other issues about the VET sector's place within an overall tertiary education sector. The review would need wide terms of reference to address these. Ai Group believes this review could provide an opportunity to consider VET within this broader context when Australia is experiencing a significant movement towards universal participation in tertiary education. Changes in either VET or higher education cause impacts for each sector and it will be important to avoid any unintended consequences.

"Within this context a review should address the decline in participation in the VET sector. Industry needs to be assured that students are best suited to the level and emphasis of the programs they are undertaking, and that they have the opportunity to undertake courses that are most relevant to them, thereby creating the best talent pipeline for the workforce.

"As with other education sectors, VET is under pressure to develop people with higher order STEM skills and broad enterprise skills for the digital economy.

"With higher-order skills needed in data analytics, cyber security, social media and mobile-related digital skills, the sector must adopt the higher-level skills approaches taken up in the UK, Germany and the US.

"Given the complexity of issues facing the VET sector, more than three months will be required to conduct an adequate review," Mr Willox said.
 

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Tony Melville – 0419 190 347