WorkReady – stalemate to solution for South Australia

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On Friday Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham published a media release title The Training Ball is in Your Court Jay and clearly he is not impressed.

The Advertiser published the story, State Government’s decision to redirect training funding away from private providers to TAFE could see Canberra withhold its $65 million.Flickr_-_law_keven_-_Let's_go_to_work....

Minister Gail Gago’s press release back on 21 May 2015 had the headline New list of subsidised training courses focuses on jobs and with Jay Weatherill arriving back from the China delegation on the weekend a formal response hasn’t yet been seen but no doubt it will soon.

From a strategic point of view the South Australian Premier’s 10 Economic Development priorities is the key reference that should be used to inform investment in skill, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and workforce development in South Australia.

10 Economic Development priorities

The 10 Priorities are:

  1. Unlocking the full potential of South Australia’s resources, energy and renewable assets
  2. Premium food and wine produced in our clean environment and exported to the world
  3. A globally recognised leader in health research, ageing and related services and products
  4. The Knowledge State – attracting a diverse student body and commercialising our research
  5. South Australia – a growing destination choice for international and domestic travellers
  6.  Growth through innovation
  7. South Australia – the best place to do business
  8. Adelaide, the heart of the vibrant state
  9.  Promoting South Australia’s international connections and engagement
  10. South Australia’s small businesses have access to capital and global markets

It is unclear as to how these priorities are reflected in the new WorkReady Subsidised Training List.

What might be part of the answer?

Complimented with industry and regional priorities, if you must have a Funded Training List, then qualifications subsidised from the following National Training Packages (and not limited to) may include:

  • Agriculture, Horticulture and Land Conservation
  • Arts and Culture
  • Business Services
  • Community Services
  • Construction, Plumbing and Services
  • Electrotechnology
  • Financial Services
  • Food Processing
  • Health
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Laboratory Operations
  • Library, Information and Cultural Services
  • Local Government
  • Live Performance and Entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Meat
  • Metal and Engineering Training
  • Public Sector
  • Retail Services
  • Seafood
  • Sport, Fitness and Recreation
  • Sustainability
  • Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Training and Education
  • Water
  • Resources and Infrastructure
  • Screen and Media
  • Transport and Logistics

What’s a better answer?

A better way to consider the relationship of the 10 economic priorities to the Vocational Education and Training system would be to identify critical job roles and critical capabilities and then map those to National Training Packages.  This mapping can also be undertaken for industry (identified by peaks and stakeholders) and regional (identified by Industry Leaders Groups and stakeholders) critical job roles and capabilities.

Critical job roles can be defined as those where it is difficult to attract and retain people, where it takes a significant time to build up skills and expertise, where it is needed for a compliance or regulatory function; and/or where the job role is emerging and supports economic growth.

The best indication of true demand is Australian Apprenticeships where businesses are growing and there is a direct impact on the unemployment rate.  With limited funds Australian Apprenticeships, and pathways into them, would be the best investment.

Who is one of the best states/territories?

If South Australia wants the Vocational Education and Training system to be one of the best in Australia, connected to the Premier’s vision and the 10 economic priorities, then a lot could be learnt from the Tasmanian approach.

Tasmania has Ministerial Priorities for Training and Workforce Development for 2014-15 underpinning the state’s economic and employment priorities with a flexible Skills Fund, a Career Start Program, Adult Literacy Programs, and Apprenticeships and Traineeships are an investment priority.

So what could you do with WorkReady to unlock the stalemate?

Preferably ditch the list, or if you must have a list, make it reflect true demand from employers, industry and regions with the 10 economic priorities, critical job roles and critical capabilities.

Fund Australian Apprenticeships and pathways into them as a number one priority.

Place more of a focus (and therefore more money) on a flexible, demand driven fund like the Strategic Employment Fund, moving into the Jobs First pool (no list!).

Inside such a fund, enable preferred providers to work with businesses, employers, industry sectors and regions in partnership to design workforce development initiatives and training programs that match job role requirements and capabilities for:

  • business incubation and coworking
  • collaboration and digital disruption
  • diversification and entrepreneurship
  • export and international connections
  • innovation and growth
  • productivity and profit
  • sustainability and wellbeing

The VET system aims to solve big problems and this cannot be achieved without collaboration and communication.  Perhaps there is a view that enough consultation has occurred, or maybe nowhere near enough, but wherever you stand on this, the conversation must flip to practical and workable solutions.

June 2015


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