Unemployment up in South Australia, skills down – go figure.
In South Australia those who are unemployed or long term unemployed have virtually no choice to find a pathway to the future. Prospective students who are looking for or need specialised support cannot shop around and look for the solution that suits them best.
Protectionist policies are ridiculed elsewhere in industry. In VET this approach will not produce the skills system our country really needs.
What is becoming apparent is that Australia needs to have a serious think about the direction of its skills policy. We have a system that is held in the highest regard internationally. It is held up for its National architecture and policy, its industry leadership and for its growing responsiveness.
Anyone involved in the sector must lament the genuine progress in the 1980s and 90s and now admit that our national approach is seriously breaking down, and much of this is a result of ideology.
There remains much to be proud of. We have a national (almost) regulator, an Australian Government showing leadership and making difficult decisions, and some new features that are still bedding down.
We also have some State Governments genuinely engaging with the sector with the view to reform. That is pleasing but in a modern economy, that is global in its reach the multiple approaches don’t make sense.
We have major reviews in Victoria, imminent policy announcements in Queensland for the next financial year (which is only days away) a much needed pending review in NSW, where the new Minister for Skills, the Hon John Barilaro has shown a willingness to engage.
These are all appropriate (the timing aside) and no one questions, certainly not ACPET, the need to assure better quality from providers and integrity in our qualifications. However, the issue is what are we looking for? Do we want a national approach or the current localised model?
There are many questions but it is an issue that needs urgent attention.
Jennifer Westcott of the BCA called for national reform some time ago. It is time for industry to again lead the debate, as that is the future to improving productivity and participation.
No doubt we can find our way, but it is needed fast.