Australian Financial Review | 29 October 2012
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is losing faith that national skills reform will deliver a simpler, higher quality system for employers and students after NSW became the latest state to announce its plans.
The NSW government outlined a cautious approach to deregulating the vocational education and training sector, insisting the state had learned from the Victorian experience and consulted heavily with industry.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said government-subsidised training would only be available in skills shortage areas and through approved private providers, allowingNSW to avoid a budget blowout similar to that which occurred in Victoria, where students flocked to personal fitness and other low-level courses that were not aligned to labour market needs.
We are determined that we will not make the same mistakes they have made there.
But ACCI employment, education and training director Jenny Lambert says the jigsaw-like changes occurring across the states are confusing for employers and students, and there is no sign as yet of a nationally consistent training system, which was the intention of the $1.75 billion National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, signed in April and to be delivered by 2014.
Lambert also warned against going further down the route of student demand-driven, uncapped systems for post-school education.
We certainly believe an uncapped, student demand-driven system has got to be significantly restricted. It needs to be capped and directed to where the skills needs are.
David Collins, the general manager of state training services in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, said the government would work with industry to make sure that subsidised courses on offer were in line with skills shortages.
We will be working with industry to establish a skills list which will really define the scope of the qualifications that will be funded under the entitlement.