This review, undertaken alongside “key developments at national and state levels such as the signing of a new National Skills Agreement, is seen as a timely opportunity “to carefully review the NSW VET system, examine its strengths and weaknesses and take action.”

This Interim Report “provides recommendations based on the Panel’s findings to the NSW Government. It captures qualitative insights from [their] consultations and reflects on the extensive research undertaken to date.” It also “outlines priority recommendations and emerging opportunities for further exploration.”

Their Final Report is due in mid-2024. It builds on an earlier discussion paper. You can access the Review’s website here, and there are clear synergies with the first article in this VDC News issue.

Consultations, which they say have been extensive, confirm that there are a series of immediate priorities identified in the report with associated recommendations.

The context

As noted above, significant changes are taking place in VET at a national level underpinned by substantial proposed reforms, reviews and reports. In the context of NSW, the state, like other jurisdictions:

  • is experiencing significant skills shortages
  • needs to attract and retain more skilled trainers, educators, and assessors
  • needs appropriate, accessible, and well-maintained facilities.

In addition, it is felt that “the VET funding model must evolve to be sustainable and viable for the long term.” Finally, “students with additional or complex learning needs require the right support.”

Priority 1: TAFE at the Centre

Placing TAFE at the centre is seen as a first step in broader VET reform for the state that delivers “a vibrant VET ecosystem that serves … learners and employers.” However, they heard that “TAFE NSW needs to operate in a way that instils confidence and shows leadership for the entire VET system.”

Four recommendations relate to this priority. These focus on:

  1. Clarifying TAFE NSW’s role and purpose “through a TAFE NSW Charter based on key principles including that it is a future- and public-good focused and is a strategic leader “that meets the skills needs of NSW,” and that it is place-based, locally focused and industry aligned
  2. Developing and implementing a revised operating model for VET
  3. Working with education regulators “to pilot targeted self-accreditation processes across selected and agreed Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications,” and
  4. Revising funding directions with an aim of rebuilding NSW TAFE.

Priority 2: Delivering VET in NSW

The panel’s interim report noted that there are:

“critical VET delivery issues impacting the broader sector which need to be addressed as a priority. Addressing key VET delivery issues, including how the system is governed and connects to industry, the permanency of the VET teaching workforce, and the current provision of infrastructure and facilities used to deliver VET should be prioritised by the NSW Government for action.”

Three recommendations are relevant here:

  1. Reviewing the strategic governance of the NSW VET system
  2. Prioritising “the expansion and conversion of permanent roles for VET teachers in the NSW Department of Education and TAFE NSW workforce, and
  3. Undertaking “an asset audit to ensure it has a clear understanding of current VET infrastructure across NSW, including its condition, age and geographic location.”

Directions for further exploration and looking forward

There are several directions to be explored in the remainder of the review, and these are focused around three themes:

  1. Delivering VET in NSW through examining funding, industry engagement and partnerships, infrastructure and facilities and the VET teaching workforce
  2. Boosting Student Success focused on student outcomes, access and equity, VET in secondary schools and apprenticeships and traineeships, and
  3. Future VET Success, including VET perception and tertiary integration, skills needs and emerging technologies and future trends.

The Interim Report contains a lot of useful detail that puts substantial meat on the bones of our summary here. The full document is certainly worth a look as is the report highlighted in article 1 of this VDC News issue.