Training to deal with climate change

The fire crisis shows we need a skills effort – it’s a job for VET


Happy New Year and what a summer break it has been.

I know there have been hundreds (thousands?) of articles written about the bushfires and climate change but I do not think we have yet started to reflect as a sector on what it means and what we can do.

Having said that, it was great to see the recent statement from the Regional Universities Network outlining how their staff and students supported communities through the fires and the importance of their research efforts. A letter to Minister Tehan from the Group of Eight outlined the research their universities are doing to help tackle climate change and the support they were offering to affected students and others impacted by the fires.

The research that our universities conduct will be critical if we are to address the threat of climate change.

But it will need to be complemented by a major up-skilling effort focussed on increasing the number of people with skills in sustainability, agriculture, conservation, land management, water, etc.

This is where the VET sector can and will need to play its part.

I know many staff and students in TAFEs, community colleges and private regional-based providers have been out volunteering and fighting to save homes and communities for weeks, if not months, this summer.

I wish to also acknowledge their efforts and I look forward to hearing more about the role they will play in both community rebuilding efforts and in helping Australia combat the climate threat.

On a related note – my What now? What next? podcast will return in February. If you work in a regional university, TAFE, community or private provider and want to discuss what you have experienced and what you are working on to make a difference please get in touch. I would love to record an episode on how the tertiary sector can and is responding to the climate crisis.

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