Skills Ministers met in Sydney on 24 May, and released a communique covering a wide range of topics. These included discussing “Australia’s inaugural National Skills Plan under the National Skills Agreement and the draft Vocational Education and Training (VET) Workforce Blueprint.”

Ministers also discussed the ongoing reform of the VET sector including important changes to improve the quality and industry relevance of training to students and industry, and strengthening connections between the VET and higher education sectors.”

The Skills Plan and the Blueprint

The National Skills Plan “will outline how governments work together towards national priorities and shared outcomes, while preserving flexibility for all jurisdictions to address local needs and circumstances.” This plan will also guide the development of Jurisdictional Action Plans “which are expected to be published by all governments by November 2024.” It will also “reiterate that TAFEs are valued and trusted public institutions at the heart of our VET sector.”

In relation to the VET Workforce Blueprint (which we are all eager to see, and which we last covered in an article in March this year) the communique points to the need for “a capable and well supported VET workforce [which] is essential to a strong and vibrant VET sector.” Further, the communique notes that “the draft VET Workforce Blueprint … will identify opportunities and associated actions to support and grow a sustainable VET workforce in Australia, including for regional Australia. The Blueprint will respond to the key themes of understanding, growing, retaining and developing the workforce and will be finalised as a priority.”

We’ll summarise what’s in the Blueprint as soon as it is released.

They discussed other things too!

Notably, these included the continued roll out of Fee-Free TAFE and Ministers also received an update on the establishment of the first TAFE Centre of Excellence at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) in the ACT: The Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence. (You can access its LinkedIn page here.) Its establishment “will be followed by the establishment of other TAFE Centres of Excellence in other jurisdictions in the coming months.”

As expected, VET’s quality reforms were also on the agenda. As the communique reports:

Skills Ministers discussed the significant progress on the revised Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and their shared ambition to lift quality and integrity across the entire sector, through a more flexible, robust, quality driven approach to regulation. They also discussed how the revised Standards will enable TAFEs to further develop their role as the trusted public provider at the heart of the VET sector. Skills Ministers agreed to progress the Standards for public release in August and to come into full regulatory effect from 1 July 2025.”

Finally, the Universities Accord got some airplay too, with Ministers affirmingthe critical importance of the VET and higher education sectors, and the need to strengthen connections between them to create a joined up system where students are provided with pathways to study and training to gain the skills needed by industry and the economy.” You can access information about the Accord here. We also covered the release on the Accord’s final report in an article earlier this year.