Where to from here? Some reflections.
August 31, 2016 1 Comment
Well hasn’t the sector been in the news again recently. Minister Brimingham addressing the ACPET conference and talking about VET FEE help changes, the CEDA chief executive saying that VET has suffered significant reputational damage, a suggestion that the VET sector is the weakling of the Australian educational system, the release of the apprenticeship reform report and a number of other releases and statements has made it an interesting few weeks. So given all of this I thought I would reflect on the last few weeks and ask myself the question where to from here. Interestingly as soon as I did the song “the only way is up” by Yazz jumped into my head, (And yes I did link to it for those to young to remember) because it feels a little bit to me like that is the only way we can go from here.
Now I know a few people were a little critical of my last post where I suggested that we perhaps look for the positive in all of this, but really when you look at the beating that the sector has taken over the last 12 months or so, it really does to me feel like we have bottomed out and are finally starting to move forward again. While there are certainly issues with the sector, what I am finding now is that more and more people are talking about the underlying issues which have impacted the sector for a number of years now in a positive and solutions based manner; in particular the fact that the sector has been treated like a second class citizen when compared to the K-12 and university sectors in areas like funding, deep policy settings and the purpose of the sector itself. Now sometimes I agree with what is being said and sometimes I don’t, but what is important in my book is that these issues are now actually coming to the surface and being talked about.
We are seeing the government move to fix the VET FEE help mess, which while as most of you know only really affected a small group of providers and clients, has caused the bulk of the reputational damage to the sector in the last couple of years. The impact of such a small part of the system will, even with positive changes, haunt us for a while to come yet. We are seeing changes though and more importantly we are seeing people called to account, either through legislative, market or other forces. I agree with what Peter Noonan says around what he has suggested will be the changes to the program in his article in the conversation and while I disagree with some of the other points he makes (that might make an interesting discussion for another time) the need to come up with a workable system between the State and Federal governments is paramount. This is particularly important because it needs to be remember that the National Partnership agreement ends in 2017. It presents an opportunity for everyone involved to develop a comprehensive, robust system that addresses the reputational damage done to the sector as well as moving us out of the Middle child syndrome we seem to be stuck in.
Anyway that’s just my opinion.