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The Future of Vocational Education and Training

23 - October - 2019

A lot has changed (not said lightly) in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector since the major reform and investigations into the industry in 2017.

The Joyce Review of the VET sector showed some great work is being done to skill the nation, however, it also indicated (amongst other things) that employers aren't getting people with the right skills for the job market.

This review has inspired some recent initiatives from the government and the key players of the Quality in the VET System. The focus is on students and their needs as a trainee and graduate of a VET course and ensuring the VET sector is delivering the relevant skills for the future.

This blog explores the recent changes and takes a look at what's to come.

The Future of Vocational Education and TrainingThe image above taken from ASQA's website shows the VET system as, "A Shared Responsibility." Key players include:

  • The VET Regulatory Framework
  • The VET Regulators
  • VET Funding and Policies
  • The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
  • Industry and Employers
  • Students and Consumer Protection
  • VET Provision

The Framework - what's happening to change the shape of VET?

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash gave an address at the recent NCVER Conference and stated, "We are passionate about raising the profile of VET and have all levels of government working with a shared focus to deliver this mission. We believe that learning through a vocational education is just as valuable as a university degree, so we want to transform the way we deliver skills, support employers and fund training."

Ms Cash stated that the majority of new jobs projected in the next 5 years will require post-secondary qualifications, with 7 out of 10 of the fastest-growing occupations having a VET qualification pathway.

What are the government's commitments?

You can find all the details on the webpage: Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow.

It talks through the:

  • $525m  Skills Package 
  • Skills Organisations
  • The National Careers institute
  • Industry Training hubs and more.

The revamp of the vocational education and training sector, includes increased incentives for up to 80,000 new apprentices and expanded apprentice wage subsidy trials in rural and regional areas and 10 new Industry Training Hubs in areas of high youth unemployment to better connect schools with local employers, industries and training providers.

Recent Backlash

The government have received some backlash over their recent celebrity endorsement initiative. They hired The Block host, Scott Cam as the National Careers Institute Ambassador. People claim they should be spending the money on funding, not celebrities however, using celebrities to endorse products/brands is a proven way to success in selling. People like to see a familiar face on a product. They remember the ads after seeing them ,and in some cases, people want to be like the relevant celebrity. However, it might be that in the age where we can tap into social networks and be influenced more by a regular "Joe Blow", the use of a celebrity is seen as a less genuine than before. If you are interested in this marketing trend, check out this blog that looks at the future of celebrity endorsements and touches on the concept of Influencer Marketing.

It's not the first time the government have joined forces with celebrities and influencers, as earlier this year they worked with the NRL stars to prepare them for life after footy.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mr Scott Morrison said the country was crying out for more Australians with technical, trade and practical skills. Ms Cash said the Coalition planned to create more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and to roll out a $100 billion infrastructure investment. They stand by their initiative to have Scott Cam as their National Careers Ambassador as he has walked a mile in the shoes of those embarking on a VET course and has become a success story. His role will be to help all Australians of all ages make informed decisions about learning, training and work pathways.

The Prime Minister stated in his recent address, “For many years going to university has been the default expectation imposed on our young Australians, but it’s not the only path to rewarding and successful employment,”

Like it or not, the government are moving forward with the campaign to raise the profile of VET. They are certainly not sitting on their hands.

Industry

Skills Organisations 

The Australian government is investing $41.7 million to pilot Skills Organisations in two key industries; human services care and digital technology. The Joyce Review proposed Skills Organisations be owned by industry and take a leadership role to support the VET system better meet the needs of employers, the economy and learners. They hope to identify the skills, qualifications and training delivery & assessment requirements.

Apprentices

Employers will also be incentivised to employ apprentices in areas of skills needs. 

Upskill

Nearly two-thirds of Australian employees are looking to upgrade their job skills in the next twelve months ,according to a survey conducted by SEEK. Now more than ever, companies are up-skilling employees whether it is because of advances in technology, skills required due to new legislation or to stay ahead of the competition. Many companies are using their Training and PD as a drawcard to recruit and retain staff.

NCVER

NCVER have reflected on themselves since the reform began in 2017. They too want to sharpen their hand in the Shared Responsibility for VET. Speaking at a recent conference, Managing Director Simon Walker asked the crowd, what do you want to see from us in terms of information from the data we collect? If you head to their website you will find they are providing information in multimedia formats and are tackling some relevant and pressing trends that they are finding.

For example:

Are The Training Packages Meeting Students' Needs?

The latest of NCVER’s ‘Vocational voice’ podcast addresses the argument that the VET sector’s reliance upon training packages is failing to meet the real-world needs of students and industry due to how they define and therefore teach competency.

For the full podcast, click here.

The Digital Skills Gap

Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and automation are transforming the world of work. The NCVER report proposes a comprehensive Australian workplace digital skills framework that will assist employers to identify digital skills gaps and to develop targeted training programs.

Read the full report here.

ASQA

The former Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Paterson oversaw huge reform of the sector in his time from Jan 17 - Oct 19.  He oversaw the new risk-based approach to audit is to ensure the focus is spent on the "dodgy providers" rather than allowing them to slip under the radar. ASQA acts when red flags are raised. For example, a change in enrolments, student feedback, shared arrangements and student growth. 

Tasked with restoring trust from students, industry and most importantly, the quality Registered Training Organisations. The state of the VET sector is miles apart since he started his tenure, including how the regulator is working to ensure they are supporting providers with timely and accurate information. You can read more in this blog.

ASQA has released its regulatory strategy for the 2019-21 period. The strategy is informed by ASQA’s evidence-based approach to identifying and addressing systemic risks to the VET sector. The focus for the next few years is on International Education, Trainer & Assessor Capability and VET in Schools as well as looking at Training Products of Concern and Recognising and Supporting quality. The full report can be accessed here.

In conclusion, it can be said that the VET sector already looks vastly different to its former self in 2016. The future looks bright for the VET sector from a reputation point of view and in servicing the needs of the nation's future.

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