Having now heard the Labor Party’s reply to the 2022-23 Federal budget, we’ve tried to look at it with a VET focus. In fact, its major focus is elsewhere and so there’s not much apart from mentioning their plans for secure work and more opportunities for training with more university and fee-free TAFE places, and the creation of Jobs and Skills Australia. However, here is what they said in their platform published in 2021 in relation to education and training.

Naturally we will not have any budget clarity about VET from them as it depends on whether Labor win government in the forthcoming Federal election and then what is in their post-election budget if they do.

Labor’s platform is extensive, and its nearly 150 pages cover a wide range of topics, including building prosperity, a strong and healthy society and an equal and inclusive nation. It also covers developing people and strengthening democracy. It contains a number of detailed statements and the final section includes a set of resolutions.

The platform sees:

“education as the ticket to a lifetime of opportunity and we will modernise our education system to give every Australian an equal chance to succeed … We will end the neglect of TAFE by backing the skills and training of our people, giving them good careers in secure industries. We will help our apprentices and trainees instead of cutting them, and unwind the damage done by our opponents. For Labor, TAFE is worth fighting for.”

They see a realignment of funding to the public provider, therefore, coupled with “the balance of funding [going] to other high quality, trusted vocational education providers which have the support of employers and unions, including in the adult and community education sector.” And, of course, apprentice and traineeship commencements have grown significantly of late.

There is also support in the platform for the international education sector and growing the services sector – including education. In addition, it talks about ensuring “post-school education and training systems meet the needs of the modern agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors by addressing challenges of training delivery in thin markets including in rural, regional and remote areas” and also supports quality vocational education in schools.

The platform also:

“supports a high quality and trusted vocational education system that addresses the needs of students, industries and communities. We will work in partnership with employers, unions, professional representative bodies and educators to help Australians acquire the skills and knowledge they need now and in the future to obtain well paid, secure jobs and build their careers.”

Interestingly the platform “supports the development of a vocational education professional body which will ensure quality teaching and training in the vocational education sector through professional development programs and accreditation.” In a similar vein, Guthrie and Waters’ recent paper on the quality of VET delivery independently put forward the possibility of “establishing a national VET body to coordinate, promote and support high-quality delivery.”

Finally, Labor says it will encourage and support employers of all sizes “to invest in apprentices and trainees.” There will also be collaboration “with industries, unions and social partners to develop and provide high quality qualifications and training products relevant to the labour market, applicable licensing requirements, student aspiration, career pathways and the development of decent work” and support for students, “no matter their individual location, needs and aspirations, to gain education and skills for life and work to the best of their ability.”

While the platform is – perhaps – more motherhood than substance at present it will be interesting to see where all things VET land if Labor does form the next Federal Government.