Key Takeaways from the Vocational Education and Training Reform Roadmap

Claudia Reiners
March 4, 2020

Key Takeaways from the Vocational Education and Training Reform Roadmap

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) tasked the COAG Skills Council (Skills Council) with developing a VET Reform Roadmap.

The draft version of the Vocational Education and Training Reform Roadmap by the Skills Senior Officials’ Network is now ready, pointing to some key recommendations for VET reform.

Over the past few years, several reviews have been undertaken on national, state and territory levels to strengthen the VET sector.

In the consultation draft of the Roadmap report, these reviews are brought together to create a unified reform path for the national VET system.

The Demands of VET

VET is a key component of the Australian education market, allowing for skills development and the obtainment of qualifications to meet labour market needs.

As the Australian economy restructures, the VET system must also change to meet 21st century needs.

The Reform Roadmap consultation draft also suggests that access to participation in education and training must be widened and educational attainment levels still need to improve, especially among disadvantaged groups.

To meet these needs, Skills officials identified three priority areas in the VET Reform Roadmap that need to be addressed in order to improve the VET system, which are relevance, quality and accessibility.

Seven “destinations” are identified on the roadmap, but below we will discuss the areas that are of most interest to Candlefox, which are:

  • Trusted and relevant qualifications and credentials
  • High-quality education, training and assessment
  • The ability for all learners to access and thrive in learning that is right for them
  • Stronger alignment and integration between VET and higher education
  • Government VET investment supports economic and social priorities and complements the investment of industry and learners

High-Quality Education, Training and Assessment

There are over 4,000 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in Australia, with many TAFEs and other training providers indicating that the quality of training delivery has been limited by compliance-focused regulation which enforces uniform training packages.

In reality, a quality VET education should be based on more than just compliance. The report urges the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to reform some elements of this regulatory approach to address inconsistent quality in training and assessment.

Some of the ways the VET education system can shift from compliance to excellence include:

  • Implementing changes to ASQA’s practice, governance and regulatory approach.
  • Developing revised RTO standards through research, analysing new models of quality improvement, and helping RTOs access and use data.

Through these measures, industries can enjoy greater participation in assessment and improved trust in the validity of VET qualifications.

Students will also be able to easily identify the best RTO for them, and have greater confidence in their skills and knowledge upon graduation.

The Ability for Learners to Access and Thrive in Training That is Right for Them

To meet the demands of the changing economy, several different educational pathways need to exist so learners can access the education and training they need, when they need it. The report identifies the need for new strategies to remove red tape and create equity in the vocational education and training system.

This can be done by:

  • Improving national coordination of consumer information, tools and resources to help young people and other learners make decisions on VET, pathways and career opportunities.
  • Implement work-based learning opportunities (like traineeships and apprenticeships) for school-based VET students.

This will allow for the VET system to be seen as part of a broader tertiary system, in which vocational training and university education are equally valued pathways.

All learners will also be able to be better supported in accessing VET at any stage of life.

Stronger Alignment and Integration Between VET and Higher Education

As touched on above, the current VET and higher education sectors operate independently. Industry, learners and influencers like parents and teachers can sometimes have the perception that VET is not as valuable of a pathway as higher education.

In reality, VET pathways often offer better employment outcomes, which is a reality that should be made more apparent. The present pathways between higher education and VET need to be simplified, and the two systems need to have a parity of esteem.

In order to meet this objective, there needs to be:

  • Work on new courses that integrate higher education and VET content
  • Revised architecture of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) across higher education and VET
  • Review the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy to provide equal emphasis and tools for moving between the VET and higher education sectors, in either direction.
  • Improvements made to the VET Student Loans (VSL) with consideration of various expert reviews to remove barriers to entry.

This will allow for the VET system to be seen as part of a broader tertiary system, in which vocational training and university education are equally valued pathways.

All learners will also be able to be better supported in accessing VET at any stage of life.

A Formal Recognition of Micro-Credentials

Following the release of the Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework report in October 2019, the substantial reforms recommended in this report clearly tie into VET Reform Roadmap; particularly the need for a frame for validation of micro-credentials.

The Roadmap implies that the development of a micro-credential framework will be tackled in ‘Phase 1 (year 1)’ of the plan, indicating the pressing need to tie micro-credentials in with trusted and relevant qualifications.

This framework will slot into the national VET system that will “facilitate recognition between the tertiary sectors”, and include development, recognition and quality assurance.

Through implementing an updated model to incorporate credential-style qualifications, industry can find trust in these qualifications, and the knowledge and skills they offer to the workplace, while learners can be confident that their training will be recognised in any working environment.

Government VET Investment to Support Economic and Social Priorities and Complement the Investment of Industry and Learners

Greater investment in VET is required, and should be shared between governments, industry and learners.

Australian state and federal governments collectively invest over $6 billion each year in the VET sector, but funding arrangements for VET remain complex.

With the use of new forecasting techniques and big data, existing occupational and skills shortages can be better forecasted.

This information can then be used to enhance public and private VET investment as needed.

As well as using the Productivity Commission’s review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development to inform this objective, we must:

  • Agree on an operational framework for government, industry and individual VET investment
  • Agree on Commonwealth and State and Territory funding arrangements
  • Review and update models on cost and price analysis

By doing so, high-quality outcomes can be supported, while learners will be able to enjoy access to nationally recognised education and training when and where they need it.

In collating key recommendations for VET reform, the Skills Senior Officials’ Network identifies a roadmap with key destinations, all of which can be achieved within five years.

Candlefox looks forward to seeing more insights from stakeholders as the report is finalised.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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