Plans to reform Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system have the potential to improve its quality and responsiveness to student and industry needs, said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.
Ms Westacott said the package announced today by Prime Minister Julia Gillard included much-needed improvements to assuring the quality of VET credentials and teaching, and greater transparency around the performance of VET providers.
A key plank of the package is the proposal for a ‘national entitlement’ to a subsidised training place for every working-age Australian to obtain Certificate Level III qualifications.
“By introducing an element of ‘demand-driven’ funding into the VET system, the national training entitlement would increase participation and promote a more responsive system by increasing student choice.
“As the COAG Reform Council made clear in its most recent report, increased participation in vocational training is essential to meet COAG’s target of halving the proportion of the workforce without a post-school qualification.”
Ms Westacott welcomed the government’s offer to provide HECS-style loans to cover student contributions to VET diploma and advanced diploma courses.
“This will remove the unfair distinction between VET and higher education students in terms of access to student loans.
“It’s crucial these reforms are complemented by further improving the quality of system, and opening it up for more competition and greater participation from the private sector to make it vastly more responsive to industry needs.”
Ms Westacott said that the package was likely to involve increased state expenditure and it was important for the Commonwealth to work it through with governments across the country.”