The VET International Engagement Strategy 2025 was launched in December last year by the Australian Government.

It provides a guide for shaping and informing international VET engagement activities in Australia and offshore.

Why an international strategy for VET?

International VET is a big and growing ‘business. The strategy tells us that “the number of onshore VET enrolments grew by an annual average rate of 13 per cent from 2013 to 2018.

VET enrolments for 2018 also “generated $6.3 billion in export earnings for Australia, representing 18 per cent of total onshore earnings and growth of 21 per cent on 2017.” Finally, “a growing number of Australian VET providers are active offshore, delivering training … through formal qualifications and non-formal programs.” Offshore enrolments in 2017 were almost 37,000.

The Australian vocational education system is also much admired overseas, and the strategy is focused on maintaining and enhancing our international reputation. This is the good news, but there is significant vulnerability to this onshore market as the current Novel Coronavirus outbreak has amply shown.

What is the focus of the strategy?

The VET strategy has been informed by the key objectives, goals and actions of the broader National Strategy for International Education 2025 published in 2016 and “was developed in partnership with key VET stakeholders, including providers and industry peak bodies,” according to a press release from Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.

The strategy is focused on being leading, but collaborative and outward looking. It has a number of strategic objectives. These are that “Australia is viewed as a preferred strategic partner for helping countries meet their domestic skills development needs.” It is also seen as being a leader and its processes are highly sought after.

There are a number of key foci and ten ‘actions points’ for the strategy:

  1. Ensuring consistent Australian Government promotion, branding and messaging
  2. Encourage greater community support for onshore international VET students
  3. Building strategic linkages with bilateral partners, multilateral forums and international agencies responsible for skills development
  4. Increasing market access opportunities offshore
  5. Encouraging and promoting more open models of training and products for delivery
  6. Promoting Australia’s VET frameworks and systems internationally to create opportunities for Australian VET providers
  7. Promoting international collaboration to improve labour market data collection, to identify and address changes in international skills demand
  8. Encouraging greater business-to-business engagement, including leveraging Austrade networks and Australia’s VET alumni
  9. Strengthening the foundations of international VET delivery to appropriately skill the global workforce, and
  10. Providing VET students, graduates and staff with opportunities to prosper in the global economy.

The strategy has also identified a number of success measures, focused on: accessing more international students from a diverse range of countries, having more countries refer to the Australian VET system as a ‘benchmark’, having Australian VET qualifications widely recognised and valued by employers and governments internationally, seeing international VET students continuing to be satisfied with the quality of their Australian VET study experience and, finally, “continuing to grow international demand for Australian expertise on VET system design and governance reform, including bespoke training courses that meet firm-specific skills needs.”

Finally, and importantly, the Australian VET system needs to be seen as continuing “to produce graduates with the appropriate skills and knowledge to compete in a global labour market.”

Implementing the strategy

According to the Minister’s press release, the strategy will be implemented in collaboration with industry and the VET sector to enable the development and implementation of innovative strategies and activities. In order to do this an implementation plan will be developed in 2020 with a working group drawn from the sector and to be guided by Expert Members of the Council for International Education.

And, as usual, we’ll be keeping an eye out for that implementation plan!