Elections, policies, promises and Vocational education

Just in case any of you failed to notice, we are at the beginning of the longest election campaign since the 1960’s and I was hoping that at this point we might have heard some real announcements or policy positions from the opposition parties at the very least around the sector given its high media profile recently.  However about from some rhetoric and banner waving about Saving TAFE (whatever that actually means) we really haven’t seen too much.  The Greens, it seems, still want to decimate the sector by creating an almost complete TAFE monopoly, where only things that can’t be delivered by TAFE could be delivered by Non-TAFE providers, so their policy position hasn’t changed much since the last election.  Labor want a review of the sector, which I am not against, providing as I have said elsewhere it is a fair and reasonable review and not one driven by ideology, which I am not sure we will see when the call for a review is accompanied by rhetoric about the unique position of TAFE.  The Liberals clearly have a contestable market driven policy but ultimately what that will actually look like going forward with the National Partnership Agreement up for renewal next year and the clean up that is happening in VET FEE HELP is at this point a bit of anyone’s guess.  So given I can’t actually discuss any details of any policy announcements I thought that I might look at what I thought a good VET policy might look like or at the very least what it might include.

So in no particular order I think that any policy on Vocational education should address;

  • The purpose and role of the sector and its importance to the overall economy and future of Australia
  • The roles that the various parts of the sector (public, private, not for profit and enterprise) play within the system and their strengths and weaknesses
  • The need for flexible, modern, and high quality learning solutions
  • The need for a sensible funding model, preferably one which is similar no matter what State you happen to be in
  • Student choice
  • The need for a strong, enforced national regulatory system
  • Strong links between training packages and industry practices
  • A recognition that vocational educators are not teachers, but industry professionals as well as educators, they are not just delivering curriculum, they are assessing competence.
  • The issues faced by regional and remote students and how those can be addressed
  • A system that is as inclusive as possible, and allows people with disadvantage and disability to access the system
  • The link between vocation education and employment outcomes
  • The link between vocations education, secondary education and university education
  • An improvement in data collection to provide deeper insights into the industry and its impact

There is probably a great deal more things that a good vocational education policy should do and lets not kid ourselves here the devil is always in the detail, but I tend to think that we could at least get these things sorted out we might well on our way to have a policy that might actually work and not be like trying to sand on a bottle cap, resting on quicksand with mines floating through it.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion.



About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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