Australia continues to strengthen global VET connections

AIS COO Paul Walsh recently took part in an ASEAN-Australia Infrastructure Skills Dialogue meeting in October. The two-day meeting in Melbourne brought industry, government and vocational education and training representatives together to discuss skills challenges in Southeast Asia and best practice in engaging industry throughout skills standards development.

Earlier this year, Australia hosted the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, where the Australian Government announced initiatives in counter-terrorism, security cooperation, economic integration and education cooperation. One of these, the ASEAN-Australia Infrastructure Cooperation initiative is being conducted with the World Bank under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. It will establish a pipeline of potential projects and identify sources of funding. This initiative will, in turn, increase demand for skills in the fields of education, defence, maritime, health, urban and telecommunications infrastructure. How to address this demand and shape industry-relevant skills development was the topic of last month’s meeting of Australian and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) representatives.

Paul joined a panel discussion about industry engagement in the development of skills standards in Australia. Fellow panellists were Mark McKenzie, Chair, Transport & Logistics Industry Reference Committee, and Craig Robertson, CEO, TAFE Directors Australia. Drawing on AIS’s experience in developing skills standards in Australia, and Occupational Standards for the logistics industry in APEC and Pacific Alliance economies, Paul emphasised the importance of collaboratively engaging with industry. This requires building strong connections with enterprises, government and unions to help identify shared challenges and opportunities. Establishing an effective partnership takes time and effort, he said, with face-to-face meetings like the ASEAN-Australia skills dialogue an essential part of the process.

The panel took questions from the meeting participants, who were interested in learning more from Australia’s experience in establishing and maintaining our highly regarded VET system. They were particularly interested in hearing about the types of strategies that are used to engage more closely with all areas of industry.

AIS continues to work on international Occupational Standards frameworks through a current project in Vietnam to pilot an industry led model for skills development in the Logistics industry. AIS’s role is to provide advice on the establishment of a logistics industry representative body and the implementation of Occupational Standards to deliver training through Vietnamese colleges.

By 2022 the population of ASEAN, which comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, is expected to reach 685 million people. Already, ASEAN is one of Australia’s top three trading partners, representing around 15 per cent of Australia’s total trade. With this year’s Special Summit and the initiatives it has launched, we are likely to see much greater interaction and further opportunities across the industries AIS represents.