The Productivity Commission’s final report into Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector has called for serious overhaul around its confusing and underperforming aspects.
The commission found that the multi-billion-dollar sector’s funding agreement between the Commonwealth and the states needed major change with lack of transparency, targets not met and poor accountability for monetary allocations.
Rod Camm, Group CEO for the Motor Trades Association of Queensland said the report creates an important evidence base for the reform road ahead.
“There remains enormous skill shortages across the automotive industry, so it is critical that apprentices and those seeking upskilling are able to access training solutions suitable for their work,” said Camm.
“Many of the current structures of the VET sector have had their day. Australia needs a system that keeps pace with the rapidly changing skill demands of industry.
“To remain internationally competitive, the fundamental building blocks of reform need to include genuine industry engagement, targeting of funding to industry and job needs, a qualification system that keeps pace through recognising stackable micro-credentials and nationally consistent pricing and contractual terms.
“Incentivising and supporting employers to take on apprentices will also create real jobs post government support programs.”
MTA Institute General Manager, Paul Kulpa said he is encouraged by the recommendations to better link funding to high demand job areas that have high growth potential, like the need for specialist technicians to service and repair hydrogen and electric powered vehicles.
“While encouraged by the logic of market approaches to the allocation of funding, the current system is too complex at all levels to truly enable informed choice. A balanced approach needs to include informed student choice, quality and oversight of performance.”
The Productivity Commission report says that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of VET and why ‘getting the system right’ is critical to meeting Australia’s changing skills needs.
In 2019, governments spent about $6.4 billion on VET. In addition, the Australian Government provided about $500 million in VET Student Loans and Trade Support Loans.
The commission recommends changes to make the next intergovernmental agreement more effective and improve accountability.
They include making more courses, including Certificate IV options, eligible for loans, with the emphasis on courses which deliver genuine results for students.
Too many VET students do not complete their courses, revealed the report.
“Governments can support students — especially apprentices — to complete their training through better matching of students and courses, more support during training and timely employer incentives.”
The report also said that mid-career employees often do not need the formal qualifications funded by governments; they want short-term, focused training.
“The Commission recommends a trial to test whether a new financing instrument is needed to support people obtain training tailored to their needs.”
To download the full report click here.