Claire Field on endless VET reform

By Claire Field

Want to know why VET struggles?  Try 465 reasons

The release of “total VET activity” data last week highlighted yet another decline in government funded training. We have also had media reports of low completion rates in some courses in Victorian TAFEs.

Some blamed private providers, others pointed to superior performance by private providers, some suggested students had left their courses to get jobs, and others suggested employers prefer non-accredited micro-credentials. I was surprised to see little debate on the level of VET funding and the damage caused by the ever-changing policy environment.

The reality is state, territory and commonwealth governments have collectively made 465 major reforms to the VET sector in the past 21 years.

That is the equivalent of one major reform every fortnight, every year, for more than two decades. And that figure excludes the reforms made during the same period in the international education sector.

Obviously not all providers have been affected by all reforms but the level of disruption on those trying to run quality institutions is extreme and unrelenting.

If the states are not going to back the Joyce Review reforms they need to develop their own credible, national set of reforms to put to the commonwealth.

And once we have national agreement, we will need all sides of politics to commit to long-term policy stability. VET cannot continue to be treated like a political football.

There’s more analysis on the nature and scale of reforms across jurisdictions here.

 Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education.