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VET reform processes gather pace

In recent weeks there have been a number of significant developments in the Australian Government’s ongoing process to reform the VET system. These include:

Formation of a COAG Skills Council

The Council of Australian Governments has established a new body, the COAG Skills Council, to develop and implement high-level policies to assist Australian industry to be competitive and motivated to create jobs and investment. Minister Michaelia Cash chaired the inaugural meeting of the council in Melbourne on 20 September. Ministers agreed on priorities to strengthen the VET system and build a roadmap to be presented to COAG in early 2020.

Council members agreed that industry taking greater responsibility for the skills and training of their workforce will be central to the achievement of the COAG vision for VET. They also confirmed the centrality of effective regulation to the quality of and confidence in the VET sector and agreed that the national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), should improve its engagement with the VET sector.

First meeting of skills expert panel

In September, Prime Minister Scott Morrison convened the first meeting of the Skills Expert Panel appointed to provide independent strategic advice to the government on key reforms flowing from the Joyce Review of Australia’s VET system, released in April 2019.

Steven Joyce will chair the Expert Panel and is joined by Peter Noonan, Professor of Tertiary Education Policy at Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute and Dr Vanessa Guthrie, a senior executive and company director with 30 years’ experience in the resources sector.

Left to right: Dr Vanessa Guthrie, Stephen Joyce, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Senator Michaelia Cash, Professor Peter Noonan and Assistant Minister Steve Irons at the first meeting of the Skills Expert Panel last month.

Formation of a VET Stakeholder Committee

Minister Michaelia Cash has established another consultative mechanism, the VET Stakeholder Committee, to help drive the VET reform agenda. The panel consists of 19 representatives from business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and non-for-profit providers.

Changes at the VET regulator

Ministers Cash and Irons announced at the end of September that ASQA will ‘expand its scope to adopt a more educative approach to lift quality in the delivery of vocational education and training (VET)’.

ASQA’s Chief Commissioner, Mark Patterson, took this opportunity to announce he would conclude his term on 6 October. ASQA’s Deputy Chief Commissioner, Ms Saxon Rice, has been named as the regulator’s interim Chief Commissioner.

Co-design consultations

The National Skills Commission will oversee the Australian Government’s investment in VET and drive long-term improvements to the VET sector. It will undertake research and analysis of future skills needs across industry to ensure government funding addresses national labour market priorities including those arising from developing technologies. Stakeholders are invited to provide input to inform the final model for the Commission. Find out more: https://www.employment.gov.au/NSC

The Government will pilot Skills Organisations in human services care and digital technology industries. The pilots will trial innovative ‘end-to-end’ training solutions that are more responsive to skills needs. They will be industry-led. Lessons from the pilots will inform improvements to the national training system. Find out more at: https://www.employment.gov.au/SO