The Group of Eight is calling more respect and recognition for the training system. And the lobby also “strongly champions an holistic review of post-secondary education,” CEO Vicki Thomson will tell a Sydney audience this morning.
“It is undeniable that society needs graduates of the TAFE system as much as it needs those from university,” she will say.
The speech is a carefully calibrated statement designed to address concerns that the demand driven system unbalanced post-school education, with universities expanding in enrolments and esteem, while the VET system declined in both. The Labor Party has committed to a post-school education review if it wins the next election.
“It has always seemed the great irony to me, that a system that was conceived to create more equitable access to higher education, gave birth at the same time, to what amounts to almost a repudiation of the alternative pathways to acquiring a range of valuable skills that our nation needs,” Ms Thomson will say.
“There is a need to recognise the immense value of school leavers choosing careers they love and know they can be achieve in; whether it’s as a neurosurgeon or tree surgeon.”
However, Ms Thomson will also carefully point out the benefits of degrees, notably those taken at her members; “we would always say that our role is to ensure our graduates are employable. We would all want our graduates to find the employment they want, and we will continue to assert that a degree will definitely assist their skills base to do so: but we are not job factories. To us that’s a very critical point as we deal with a workforce that is likely to be characterised by change and disruption for some time to come.”
And she will make a case for a national skills-development strategy, including a national post school education and training student ID, to produce more and better data to track demand for graduates and their employment, “so that we have longitudinal data that the sector and the government can actually work with to inform policy.”
“I am committed … to us having a unified strategy for managing skills, advising school leavers, and importantly with all of us having access to a cohesive future planning model that equips us with knowledge of the skills needs, employment trends and timelines of the future. Frankly, we will need this if we are to negotiate the looming challenges of automation, globalisation, big data and other disruptions we have not even conceived of yet.”