Australian industry will take a lead role in advising on reforms for vocational education and training (VET) to ensure the sector drives productivity and competitiveness improvements across the economy.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Australian Government had put skills and training at the centre of its economic agenda, and would focus on real improvements to turn out highly skilled workers that businesses need to compete in the global market.
The Minister made the commitment in a keynote address to the National Skills Summit in Canberra hosted by the Australian Council of Private Education and Training and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“In this reform process, we are looking across the whole sector to ensure Australian businesses have access to the skilled workers they need to boost productivity,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The era of training for training’s sake is over.
“Around 3 million Australians undertake accredited training courses each year. We want students enrolling in VET courses to know that their training is equipping them with the skills to get a job or excel in their career.
“Our skills and training system must be sophisticated, flexible and reflect what industry needs. That’s why the Government is establishing an advisory committee of industry representatives to ensure our national training system is streamlined, efficient and effective.
“By making targeted and strategic reforms in this sector we will lay the platform for enhanced productivity, jobs growth and greater prosperity for industry and the Australian economy. Previous attempts at reforming the training sector have been piecemeal and haven’t succeeded in putting industry at the front and centre.”
Releasing an independent review of the training regulator the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Mr Macfarlane said there was an ongoing commitment to cut red tape and reduce business costs for training providers.
“Stakeholders have made clear that the ‘one-size-fits all’ regulation isn’t working. The Government wants ASQA to focus more on poor-quality providers, leaving the majority of training organisations to get on with their training.
“For the foreseeable future ASQA’s fees will not rise and I will be reviewing the regulator’s operating funding to ensure it can support the reform agenda,” Mr Macfarlane said.
The Minister also called for feedback on new draft provider and regulator standards for the sector which will help to deliver quality training and provide clarity around the marketing of training courses, subcontracting arrangements and compliance.
In 2014-15 the Commonwealth will spend about $1.4 billion on its own training programmes and provide $1.8 billion to the states and territories for VET programmes.
“We are making a significant investment in training and the best way to ensure value for money is putting the focus firmly on Australian industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.