Refocussing Vocational Training in Victoria – comparison with Skills for All

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Often people in the VET sector make the comment that Victoria and South Australia have a similar approach to implementing the national entitlement model – I disagree.

At the recent ACPET 2013 National Conference in Adelaide, Dr Lee-Anne Fisher presented on Victoria’s approach – reform and performance.  Both Victoria and South Australia have had 61% growth of students in AQF courses from 2008 to 2012 with the next state/territory being ACT with 28% and NSW with 24% growth.

Victoria is addressing gaps with the implementation of skills reform whilst retaining the fundamentals of entitlement, diversity of providers and differentiated subsidies.  Whilst apprenticeship numbers have slowed, traineeship numbers increased in 2012 and then dropped in 2013.

With a banded funding approach to subsidies, Victoria’s market has shifted to courses of “higher public value and labour market need” and a system of direct industry and employer engagement has been implemented for gathering workforce demand intelligence.

The key difference with Victoria is their focus on workforce demand related to the economy including the identification of in shortage and specialised occupations plus support for the largest employing sectors.

Reports are published quarterly by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Quarter 1 Report for 2013 makes for interesting reading showing an overall slowdown in the market from 2012.

I would describe Victoria’s priorities as 95% on workforce demand and 5% on the individual or learner.  In contrast, and it was only when I heard Clare Feszczak from DFEEST present on Skills for All after the Victorian example, that I developed the view that South Australia’s focus is 95% on the individual and workforce participation with 5% on industry and employer (workforce) demand.  This seems out of balance and highlights again the issue of whether or not the Skills for All Funded Training List reflects industry workforce demand.

Of particular note is the table (slide 11) that shows a significant mismatch in projected demand for VET qualifications in the 5 years to 2015-16 and investment in qualifications in the three quarters to the March Quarter 2013.

There is an opportunity to identify and reflect workforce demand, critical sectors and job roles, in the next version of the Skills for All Funded Training List.  This would be informed by evidence from enterprise needs, industry workforce strategies and regional workforce plans.

Refer to the Skills for All – No New Enrolments latest blog post.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, 11 September 2013.

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