During National Skills Week Victoria’s Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney released the Victorian Skills Plan aimed at meeting the skills and workforce challenges the State faces.

The Plan aims to do this “through a more organised, planned, responsive, steady skills pipeline with “clear, easy-to-navigate pathways and provide adaptable skills development opportunities and clear, flexible entry points for all learners.”

The plan promotes the connectedness of the system by promoting improved collaboration between TAFEs, other training providers, universities, adult and communication education providers, industry and unions. It will also focus on improving the esteem in which VET studies are held.

The key word is ‘action’

The Skills Plan points to a need for around 373,000 more workers in 13 industry sectors over the next three years. Major shortages are focused in health and community, service and building and construction sectors – along with education and training as well as needs in the professional, financial and information services sectors. Other sectors in need include transport and logistics, manufacturing, public administration and safety as well as other administrative roles.

The plan highlights 11 key areas for action. These include starting the VET journey at school and enabling learners and workers to make informed skilling and career choices. It will also involve expanding opportunities and approaches for students to put theory into practice during their course and building foundation skills to enhance workforce participation. (See this article in the last issue for more insights on foundation skills.) More specific actions include working to close the gender gap and building skills to support Victoria’s clean economy intentions.

This all leads to actions 7, 8 and 10 that focus on innovative solutions to support future skills development (action 7), aligning qualifications to new needs (action 8) and expanding reskilling and upskilling opportunities through skill sets and accredited micro-credentials (action 10).

Finally, the plan proposes a need to “drive for higher skills and progression through education and training” and through “harnessing the information on skills identified through big data techniques with the new structures offered through the revised AQF.” As the plan notes:

“An important design feature will be to highlight the significance of applied skills and knowledge as the foundation of vocational learning to successful careers and as a credit toward higher learning. These features will also need to be considered as the basis of the new teaching skills in vocational education and training to support these new learning expectations.”

A very important action is focused on building the VET workforce

This brings us to action 9, which is where the VET Development Centre (VDC) is set to play a critical role. There are, like many other sectors, shortages in the VET workforce and “this is having the effect of limiting training delivery to varying degrees across the State.” Skill shortages in key areas of training need are not helping either.

The plan supports NCVER research by Tyler and Dymock, highlighted in a couple of earlier VDC News items (here and here), that point to problems RTOs have in getting and keeping teachers and trainers. So, the Skills Plan suggests developing a Workforce Strategy “including a review of practices to attract, retain and make best use of industry expertise.” Nationally, there is a VET workforce quality strategy in the pipeline, with a draft strategy released for comment in September last year.

In addition, providers “need guaranteed access to an education workforce and VET trainers and assessors need quality professional development.” This is where the VDC comes in, and it will take a lead role in establishing “a contemporary professional development framework that builds capability and promotes excellence” through collaboration with the Sector. Thus, the strategy will:

“provide a comprehensive approach to deepen and broaden the vocational teacher workforce, building out the role for industry to provide and support the next significant wave of VET teachers.”

Most likely, this will also involve good induction, effective mentoring, quality teaching resources, knowledge about their learner cohort, skills in using learning technologies, help with planning their teaching and finally using reflective practice effectively.