Claire Field on a VET review which HE people need to read


In November 2019, the Victorian Government commissioned a review of their post-secondary education and training system (the Macklin Review). Yes… another review and yes, despite the post-secondary focus, VET issues understandably dominate the final report released last week. But the higher education sector should not ignore it.

The report includes important modelling (by economic consultants, AlphaBeta) highlighting that “relative to other advanced economies, Australia lacks skills depth in occupations at each of the elementary, semi-skilled and skilled levels”, i.e. we need to lift the number of VET and higher education graduates.

Based on AlphaBeta’s modelling, Macklin recommends the Victorian government focus on four key strategic sectors:

* green economy

* health tech

* digital, and

* advanced manufacturing.

The report notes that digital and the green economy in particular have the potential to create an extra 271,000 jobs in Victoria by 2030 – and that advanced research and development capabilities (amongst other factors) will be required across all four sectors.

Macklin also fully engages with changing teaching practices and argues for the “scale up” of innovation in digitally-supported learning, including through the co-design (with industry, providers and online learning experts) of on-line work-integrated learning models that “combine frontier digital practices in industry with cutting-edge learning”, and an examination of “best practice in ensuring equity in the use of technology in online and blended learning environments.”

And of course, there are also recommendations for more/better pathways between VET and higher education and reduced regulatory overlap for dual-sector providers.  So definitely worth a read by higher education leaders.

Finally, on a different note, I wanted to acknowledge the TAFE CEOs whose Institutes made submissions to the review arguing for improvements to state VET funding arrangements. With TAFE’s relative lack of autonomy, it takes courage to make a public case for changes to government policy. Pleasingly Macklin recommends significant VET funding reform and greater autonomy for TAFE Institutes.

Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector.


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