In the lead up to the forthcoming Federal election a range of bodies are starting to talk about VET and what needs to happen or change. One of the first of these is the AiG.

VDC will be monitoring others’ insights as they emerge in the lead up to our forthcoming Federal election.

The suggestions

The AiG’s paper looks at a number of suggested ways forward. These include implementing the outcomes of the 2019 review of the Australian Qualifications Framework, and funding to provide “detailed, and ongoing analysis of current and future workforce needs.”

They also favour increasing VET funding and improving pricing models and are very much in favour of committing to micro-credentials “together with greater information and access and the removal of barriers to their provision.” They believe that “a key part of a modern qualifications framework is the need for a broad range of shorter form ‘micro-credentials’ that align with growing and regular re-skilling needs of individuals and industries.”

The paper suggests the need to break down barriers between VET and universities. The paper points out that:

“Industry increasingly requires skills development that straddles both the VET and higher education sectors as combinations of skill sets shift and incorporate higher level skills.”

However, it also suggests that, at present, “barriers arise because of the entrenched divisions inherent in our tertiary education sector.” So, other suggested initiatives include greater cooperation between the VET and university sectors “to enable the development of a richer range of course offerings and industry Partnerships” and the development of “VET, university and industry partnerships that inform approaches to learning and education among universities and industry” which “should [also] include collaborative regional and metropolitan hubs.”

AiG see that it is important to “engage more fully in work-based and work-integrated learning” and by addressing barriers – “both in relation to the recognition of work-based and work integrated learning (WIL) within higher education qualifications and by supporting the engagement of employers.” This, they believe, can be done “through cadetships and enhanced apprenticeships that reach beyond the traditional Certificate III and IV level qualifications.” In essence, what they are talking about is better relationships between VET, HE and industry and – most likely – the further development of higher apprenticeships. Indeed, they believe that this all should involve:

“ … the exploration of innovative tertiary education institutes that mix vocational and higher education, such as the recently established NSW Institute of Applied Technology, which aims to fully integrate VET and higher education in a cohesive tertiary curriculum that has access to industry representatives and that can accommodate employers involved in the delivery of their own proprietary training.”

This concept has been highlighted before in a VDC News article summarising a review of NSW VET conducted by David Gonski and Peter Shergold. Given this, one also wonders how effectively dual sector institutions, predominantly based in Victoria, are seen as working!

AiG’s paper suggests that:

“The newly released Industry Clusters model to improve industry engagement with the VET system presents a much-needed leadership role through which deep and meaningful engagement across providers and users of the VET system will occur.”

Finally, foundation skills are seen as important too “both for future and current members of the workforce.” And, “appropriate digital skills should be included as foundation skills,” as they believe “workplaces should be supported to engage in a refreshed national language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills strategy.”