Who is in charge of VET in Australia?

My good friend Marc from the famous MRWED made a comedic comment on one of my posts recently, which when I starting to think about it drove something home to me.  His little joke got me to thinking about a very serious question, ‘Who is in charge of VET in Australia?’

I challenge you all right now to answer that question.  It should be easy shouldn’t it, shouldn’t we as professionals within the sector be able to say who is in charge, who is the person that speaks for the sector, who makes sure it actually works?

How many of you said either Minister Birmingham, or Assistant Minister Andrews, the COAG industry and Skills council perhaps, the Australian industry and skills committee maybe.  Is it Michele Bruniges or Subho Banerjee (They are the secretary and deputy secretary of the Federal Department of Education if you weren’t aware) or perhaps the various State based ministers or departments?

Ah, stuff it, I give up.  It is just too difficult!

Seriously though, just thinking about this hurts my head and clearly between all of the Ministers and committees, and departments, there is no one single person who is actually responsible for the oversight of the VET system in this country.  In addition there is no one person whose role it is to promote and advocate the sectors interests, not the interests of TAFE (TDA and AEU) or of private providers (ACPET), or enterprise providers (ERTOA), but the interests of the sector and if the person is supposed to be doing this advocating and promoting is some one from the federal department they are doing a particularly shoddy job of it.  The various ministers and political spokespeople for all of various parties often talk a big game, but also all to often their rhetoric is tinged by political ideology and agendas rather than by what is good for the sector.

Why can’t we have a Chief Vocational Education and Training Officer, someone whose job it is, is to look after the sector, make sure it works, manage all of the conflicting parts and promote and advocate for and on behalf of the sector, even if all they did was promote and advocate for the sector that would nearly be enough.  Because the longer the sector is managed by committees, faceless bureaucrats (with no background in the sector) and an endless array of ministers who usually change at least every 3 years, until it stops being a political football, used by some to pursue their own ideological viewpoints we will continue to see it flop from one disaster to another and for someone who is passionate about the value of the VET sector I find that a really shame.


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.

7 Responses to Who is in charge of VET in Australia?

  1. Paul Saunders says:

    Many sectors of Australian society have complex governance structures. VET is no different in this respect. The federated system is a problem for many sectors e.g.health and I am sure our society would be improved by the removal of at least one layer of government. However I believe the principal problem with VET is the lack of understanding I referred to in my previous comment. Add to this; the historical disrespect for practical work, the very small number of VET graduates in positions of influence, then on-going de-funding of the last decade and the failed marketisation experiment and it is not surprising that we in the sector are feeling somewhat battered, bruised and ignored.

    The amazing fact is that despite all this we are still consistently training around 4.2 million learners per year (universities only cater for 1.5 million) helping those learners work or into better jobs and an awful lot of things are getting built, repaired, a lot of people are being served, assisted, nursed etc.

  2. Ross Woods says:

    I was going to say “the ASQA commissioner” who is probably the most powerful figure. However, he/she tends to react on the basis of consultation, and doesn’t control the AQF nor the training package system. Ministers want to look like they are decisive, but too often don’t know very much and often just follow advice of bureaucrats.
    A few silly ideas were (and still are) promulgated by bureaucrats with theoretical backgrounds but not much sense and could not run an RTO.

  3. Trevor Dutton says:

    Paul all the people and committees you named are in charge, just like the horse designed by a committee that turned out a camel. We have VET☺

  4. Tony says:

    Why are you surprised? A chaos brings and makes business in this country, the status quo helps them survive and thrive as no one can hold anyone accountable for too long; “she will be right, mate” attitude thrives. Change that and you will see a different nation.

  5. Abbie says:

    Paul – firstly…
    Great article. Timely.
    I am guessing more expendable rhetoric is ‘Not’ beneficial. Quip – relish in the notion you are igniting #fierce_conversations. That is where the precipice of possible #set_and_forgets stagnations may be cleaned out of the industry. Likened to a lost lunch, at the back of a crowded, shared work fridge in a TAFE teachers staffroom.

  6. WENDY CATO says:

    whilst we have a system that allows top bureaucrats and politicians to make policy on things they absolutely know stuff all about – it doesn’t matter if there is a person … or agency because unless they have the power to over rule the idiots in Canberra and state politics – what is the point?

  7. John Meara says:

    Yes Trevor Dutton, or the committees who delivered the swing https://goo.gl/UEsSWt

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