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Australia’s vocational education system has been in the headlines over the last week as our political leaders gathered in Cairns for a COAG meeting. It is reassuring to me that both federal and state Governments recognise that a strong vocational education and training (VET) sector is critical for our economy. It is important that we all work together to address skill shortages and ensure Australians are equipped for the workforce now and in the future.
A key outcome from the meeting was that the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers are establishing a new COAG Skills Council. This body, in consultation with education ministers, aims to advise the heads of all our governments on future reform priorities by the end of 2019. It will provide COAG with a reform roadmap in early 2020.
COAG’s Vision for Vocational Education and Training sets out the goal of a “responsive, dynamic and trusted sector that delivers an excellent standard of education and training”.
It aims to ensure employers have ready access to a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, while acknowledging industry has shared responsibility for growing a skilled economy. It also recognised that VET and higher education need to be equally valued pathways into employment.
While several reviews into our VET system have been completed recently or are currently being undertaken, it is important to note that while there are opportunities to improve, our VET system is underpinned by industry leadership and is recognised globally as a high-quality system.
We are committed to maintaining a strong and ongoing partnership with government and industry to ensure that skills standards and training delivery keeps pace with a fast moving and evolving workplace. We have a good basis on which to start this important work. Last week, the Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) released their Skills Forecast summaries. These provide a brief overview of important information contained in the Forecasts, and set out key industry trends, challenges and opportunities. To read the Skills Forecast Summaries, visit the Skills Forecast page for your industry.
On 16 July I was pleased to attend a forum in Brisbane facilitated by IOT Skills Australia, a new division of Energy Skills Queensland, to discuss what workforce skills the Energy Industry will need in the future. The forum attracted a broad range of stakeholders who explored how emerging technology will affect jobs across the industry to formulate a picture of the workforce in 2025.