Business Welcomes Concrete Action to Improve Vocational Education and Training

Actions to improve vocational education and training (VET) announced today by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane reflect a welcome commitment to the ‘unsung hero’ of the Australian education system, said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.

Responding to measures announced in the minister’s address to the National Skills Summit in Canberra, Ms Westacott said the speech was a strong and concrete expression of how the Commonwealth, along with state and territory governments, would work to reinvigorate the VET system.

“VET is crucial in maximising people’s potential to have good and rewarding jobs, and the capacity to take up new ones over the course of their lifetime,” said Ms Westacott.

“The minister’s establishment of an industry-led advisory group will facilitate all-important collaboration between government and employers to help ensure the system keeps pace with the needs of our changing economy.”

Ms Westacott said there was the perception of a growing mismatch between what employers want and the skills and capabilities with which people graduate. “Having VET as part of the industry portfolio has given Minister Macfarlane a bird’s eye view of this problem and why it must be fixed, for the benefit of graduates, employers and the nation as a whole.”

Ms Westacott welcomed the minister’s indication that the Commonwealth would expect state governments to do more to qualify for VET-related funding, saying that in an environment where funding is tight, public money must be spent wisely with a focus on outcomes.

“VET equips people, including people who face barriers, to enter the workforce, and it equips them to re-tool, upgrade and change jobs.

“But despite its increasing importance, VET hasn’t been a national priority. The minister has now indicated that we’ll see stronger national oversight of a system that badly needs it.”

Ms Westacott said the BCA looked forward to seeing the details of a review of provider standards and of the system’s regulators. “We need regulation that supports good outcomes, not regulation that stifles innovation.”

Claire Tedeschi, Executive Director, Communications and Advocacy
Business Council of Australia
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