Albert Einstein is credited as saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It is time to view the traditional Vocational Education and Training (VET) model as bordering on insanity.
As well intentioned as the VET system is, HVIA members are reporting a huge and concerning skills shortage across the breadth of the heavy vehicle industry.
These concerns are validated by the statistics. An analysis of the occupations on the National Skills Commission’s Skills Priority List (SPL) identifies 57 occupations as being in a “shortage” and with a “strong future demand.”
That is 57 high-priority occupations that need an immediate policy fix.
Of the 57, HVIA has identified seven occupations that are jobs routinely used in the heavy vehicle industry. These include welders, transport engineers, and sheet-metal workers for example.
There are an additional twelve heavy vehicle industry occupations in the next band of urgency; jobs such as automotive technicians, diesel mechanics, fitters and turners, panel beaters, and vehicle painters.
Within the context of a skills shortage, it is concerning to find that the success rate for VET students to gain a job post training is just 36.2 per cent of students, where the student was not already employed prior to undertaking the VET training.
This is according to a report undertake by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), which further highlighted a 10 per cent decline in this metric from its 2019 report.
The VET system was largely designed in the 1970s. HVIA would contend that a 36 per cent success rate of post-training employment is alarmingly low. Our concern is noted and shared by the Productivity Commission’s Shifting the Dial Report.
Yet, despite a declining success rate, the system persists with its rigid, inflexible, outdated model.
Sending VET students to their work placement just one-day-a-week, whilst completing their educational requirements at school, robs them of consistency and repeatability and struggles to build momentum in their new working environment.
Additionally, the student – particularly in a heavy vehicle sense – is often unable to start and complete a task in a single day, which impacts the sense of achievement for the student. This sense of accomplishment is an important element for any impressionable young person considering their future career options.
Industry also struggles with this model, as they spend too much time repeating site specific and basic safety requirements to a student who lacks the familiarity of the workplace, impacting productivity.
It is not their fault; it is the rigidity and inflexibility of the system which is letting them down.
The heavy vehicle industry affords an opportunity for an amazing career, with opportunities aplenty. If we want students to consider it, we need a flexible, responsive, modern VET system that maximises their opportunity for success.
The current model is not it – and it is time for action.