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Tuesday, December 21

The role of VET for the Australia of 2020

As our population grows older and our society depends on people staying in the workforce longer, it is important that the opportunities for relevant education is available for all at all stages of their lives. This could be in relation to industry identified skills shortages or enabling adult basic education for those who did not have adequate schooling earlier. Such education or training could be sponsored at a local community level where industry, RTOs and community organizations identify a gap in what is needed for the development of the local area. Currently the various Institutes of TAFE NSW fund TAFE Outreach sections which work directly with community organizations to enhance Community Capacity Building in the community by offering relevant educational courses as requested by communities. These courses are vital as a stepping stone to further training and education. The future of such courses could be jeopardized without a commitment by VET to flexible, community based delivery.

The current approaches by DEEWR to fund programs that incorporate partnerships between organizations such as the Innovations Funds and the Critical Skills Investment Funds reflects attempts to encourage planning at a local level. However this is perhaps somewhat in tension with VET curricula course planning being driven by industry skills councils. When funding is more directly market driven there is the danger that the most vulnerable learners will become more marginalized and that local communities will be unable to respond to their local labour markets (Collaborative Learning Ecologies: Reflections on the Governance of lifelong learning, 2009, p6[i]).

For Australia to be a leading international economy in 2020 we need to be informed by models of best practice and to encourage innovative thinking and work practices. This will not come through a sole focus on competency based training in the VET sector. In addition, with the current low standards of qualifications required by the trainers/educators of this sector we are losing the ability of the trainers to critique the sector, model flexibility and vision a different approach.

[i] Inquiry into the Future of Life Long Learning Sector Paper, Collaborative Learning Ecologies: Reflections on the Governance of Lifelong Learning, 2009, England, National Institute of Adult Continuous Education)


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