Two state governments recently released VET investment plans for 2017-18.
VET is worth it. Ask the community. In 2016, there were an estimated 4.2 million VET students – that’s one in four Australians aged 15-64. VET participation is higher than its partner in tertiary education – in 2016, Australian universities enrolled 1.3 million students (including 518,000 international students).
How governments invest in VET substantially influences the return individuals, communities and industry can capture from VET participation. Constant changes in VET policy and funding arrangements can be frustrating, but they are also inevitable. State and territory governments recognise their VET systems must respond to constantly evolving regional economies, industry profiles and skills requirements.
Queensland’s 2017-18 Annual VET Investment Plan
The Queensland government’s 2017-18 Annual VET Investment Plan (20 pages) explains how its $768.9m VET investment responds to emerging circumstances. While affirming current strategy and programs, two adjustments in particular are worth noting.
First, the Plan embeds a clear regional focus. It acknowledges a practical and pressing reality that ‘economic and labour market changes are not being experienced consistently across Queensland.’ To that end, two initiatives are planned:
- A Regional Skills Investment Strategy will work with selected regions to identify current and emerging jobs, and design tailored training solutions
- A Regional Skills Adjustment Strategy will ‘invest in regions facing economic uncertainty, and support individuals to gain the foundation, employability and technical skills needed to transition to jobs in demand. Mature aged workers seeking to transition from traditional industries will be a core focus of this strategy.’
Second, and reflecting a renewed national concern about quality VET provision, the 2017-18 Plan reinforces the Queensland VET Quality Framework, released in May. The Framework’s priorities are program design, supplier entry requirements, information and support, market performance and oversight, and compliance. The coming year will see further emphasis on RTO financial viability and compliance history when assessing RTOs seeking to become or remain pre-qualified suppliers that can access Queensland government VET funding.
South Australia’s 2017 Skills Investment Plan
In South Australia, the state government released Work Ready – 2017 Skills Investment Plan (16 pages). It sets out intended outcomes from government investment of $290m in 2017-2018. Nine changes (page 9) are proposed to current policy and funding arrangements.
Among the proposed changes are:
- Earlier release of training places to providers and simpler application and assessment processes
- Availability of more subsidised courses to private providers on South Australia’s Subsidised Training List (STL).
South Australia is also seeking to maximise benefits from the Upfront Assessment of Need (UAN). UAN is designed to identify early the additional support needs of each student, and to ensure a student is enrolled in ‘the right course at the right level with the right supports.’