Claire Field wonders why NSW does less with more in VET


 Why is the NSW VET system not supplying the required numbers of graduates the state economy needs?

The National Skills Commission is to be congratulated for their new Skills Priority List covering occupations requiring both higher education and VET qualifications.

The annual list is intended to be “a key input to a range of Australian Government policy initiatives, including targeting of skilled migration, apprenticeship incentives and training funding.”

Definitely worth a read if you are involved in planning the future delivery profile of your institution.

It is the state-territory differences which really caught my eye.

While there are a range of occupations experiencing national shortages – there are some stark differences between the three large east coast states.

The NSC’s analysis shows 17 occupations requiring VET qualifications are currently in shortage in NSW and will have strong future demand; worryingly many are in community services.

In contrast, Victoria has only three occupations in shortage with strong future demand, while Queensland has just one (and that shortage is only in regional Queensland).

Why is the NSW VET system not supplying the required numbers of graduates the state economy needs?

NSW invested almost $400m more in VET between 2017 and 2019 (the latest NCVER data). By contrast, the Victorian government reduced investment by $24m and the Queensland government funded a modest $22m increase.

Perhaps the issue then is less the quantum of funding, than where it being spent?

Although Victoria and Queensland are shifting their VET investment from independent providers to TAFE Institutes and dual-sector universities, they currently still provide much higher levels of funding to non-TAFE providers than NSW.

In 2019, 80 per cent of VET funding in NSW went to TAFE NSW. By contrast TAFEs and dual sector universities received 68 percent of Victorian VET funding and only 59 percent in Queensland.

Would more funding to non-TAFE providers allow NSW to address its VET skills gaps, or is something else driving the shortages?

 Last year on the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast Claire Field spoke to Dr Don Zoellner about the limits and challenges of a ‘market-based’ VET funding model. Listen here