Industry and education close connections  

By CLAIRE FIELD

The question of ‘who speaks for whom’ is one I have been pondering recently

When the Business Council of Australia offers their views on tertiary education they do so on behalf of “Australia’s top companies”.

Amongst these top “companies,” you might be surprised to learn (I was), there is one public university and three public university business schools. In addition, through their members, the BCA also represents one dual-sector private provider, 12 enterprise RTOs (one of which is government-funded), and one of the Skills Service Organisations, which may potentially be adversely impacted by the government’s implementation of the Joyce Review’s reforms of VET.

The Australian Industry Group not only advocates on behalf of its members, it also offers them apprenticeship support through its group training organisation and has a small government-funded RTO (which they are understood to be in the process of closing). I also understand that their membership includes a number of higher education and VET providers and related entities.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry includes amongst its members private higher education providers, government-funded RTOs and community colleges, and government-funded apprenticeship services providers.

The views of the three key business peaks have never been more important as Australia grapples with the impact of COVID-19, the changing world of work, and the need for workers to re-skill and up-skill. Their commitment to the tertiary education sector is to be applauded.

While the details of their members and their interests in the tertiary education sector are all publicly available if you know where to look – none of their recent submissions to the Productivity Commission’s review of VET funding included these details. It would be good to see them made explicit in future public statements and submissions.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector. Her affiliations are included in her public submissions and available on her website.