by CLAIRE FIELD
Government involving industry in qualification design is good but excluding training providers isn’t
The COVID-19 pandemic was a long way off when Steven Joyce provided the Australian government with his reform recommendations for the VET sector.
The government has recently committed to new industry advisory arrangements for VET which adopt some, but not all, of Joyce’s recommendations.
It is commendable that the government has recognised the problems with the current arrangements. The worry is that, based on the available details, training providers will yet again be excluded from the design and development of qualifications.
It was 29 years ago when governments first committed to reforms for an industry-driven VET system. The problems since then (and on-going reforms to fix them) have not been due to any lack of will to give industry prominence in the sector. It has been that in doing so we have confined educators to being an afterthought.
In that approach, we are out-of-step with other leading VET systems (think Germany, the UK, New Zealand and elsewhere) where industry representatives and educators jointly develop qualifications.
In Australia, we understand that knowing how to build a house or design telecommunications infrastructure are specialist skills. We ignore the fact that it is educators and not industry who know how to design programmes to teach these skills.
If the new Industry Cluster reforms are to work they must include a clear role for educators, particularly given the changes the VET sector and many industries have gone through as a result of COVID.
Further, as Jenny Dodd from TAFE Directors Australia recently pointed out, with the world of work rapidly digitising – TAFEs need greater flexibility within training packages to tailor training to local needs, and they need a new VET funding agreement which gets the balance right between national and local skills development priorities.
As the sector waits for governments to implement the new Industry Clusters and settle the new National Skills Agreement – the question is what the new arrangements will mean for TAFEs and other providers.
Claire Field spoke with Jenny Dodd, interim CEO of TAFE Directors Australia on the latest episode of the free ‘What now? What next?’ podcast. Listen in your favourite podcast app or online.