COAG Call to action on skills

08 Aug 2019 |

The Australian Chamber is calling on the country’s political leaders to agree to reform our vital Vocation Education and Training (VET) system, to deliver the skills that Australian jobseekers and businesses need, at tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Cairns.

Prime Minister Morrison has put vocational training back on the agenda following the recent Joyce review of VET that he announced to ACCI’s members late last year.

It comes amid evidence that, despite significant funding growth in all other sectors within education, the amount of funding nationally for VET and the number of government funded VET students has declined over recent years.

Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson said it was important to improve confidence in the system.

“We know how fraught discussions about VET reform have been, and recognise that COAG has attempted on a number of occasions to consider changes that will make a real difference to the support provided to students and industry  Now is the time for decisions to be made.”

“Industry stands ready to work with all governments, and we know that the Prime Minister is committed to positive change.

“We have worked closely with Ministers and advisers, and government officials, in the lead up to, and after, the Prime Minister’s announcement of the VET review to our members last November.  Our network of state and territory chambers of commerce – the peak business bodies in each COAG jurisdiction – and industry associations is well placed to work with all governments on reforming VET.”

“Given the urgent need to make long lasting positive improvements in VET, we urge COAG to focus first on the end goal.  This is likely to be a more fruitful discussion than the more difficult one about who pays for what and what changes are needed to get there.”

The Joyce Review has repeated our call for governments, education and training providers and industry to agree on a shared vision for VET. Successful reform of VET would include:

  • Meeting the labour market skill needs in occupations that rely on vocational training
  • A return to growth in the number of government funded VET students
  • Real funding increases for vocational training in all jurisdictions
  • Improved student employment outcomes
  • Industry more strongly embedded in the advisory and governance arrangements at all levels of the VET system
  • Valuing equally VET and Higher Education and promoting jobs that require VET qualifications to students and parents as good career options
  • Increased support for apprenticeships and traineeships to address skill needs and youth unemployment

“The path to achieving these objectives is challenging; we call on COAG to take the lead from the Prime Minister and move beyond the cost and blame shifting to restore certainty and growth to VET,” Mr Pearson said.

“VET not only prepares young people for work, but also ensures Australia has the skilled workers required to build the infrastructure so badly needed in our regions and cities.

“With more than a year before the next State Election, political leaders have the clear air needed to be decisive. Australia cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by to make meaningful change to vocational training.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire.

For more information:
Marie Hogg | Senior Adviser, Media | +61 431 299 518

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