The federal and state governments will create a new “skills council” to drive vocational education reform and deliver a plan to overhaul the sector next year, as premiers unite with Scott Morrison to put TAFE on an equal footing with universities.
Businesses and the housing industry hailed the Council of Australian Governments commitment to VET yesterday following warnings of skills shortages in some sectors and calls for bolder reforms to fix the nation’s training system.
“It needs to be agile, it needs to be modern, it needs to be up to date,” the Prime Minister said. “It can take you 12 months to change a qualification in this country.
“I mean, that’s not agile and that needs to be improved. I want, and we all want, students, whatever age they are — they could be 21, they could be 61 and going through a career change, or 41, or whatever age it is. And I want them to have confidence that that system is going to help them with their future intentions and their future careers.”
COAG released a “vision” for the VET sector, including that it provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of the economy.
“A co-operative approach between the federal government, state and territory governments, together with meaningful consultation with industry, will help to deliver a much-needed refresh for the VET sector,” the Housing Industry Association’s Kristin Brookfield said.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said COAG’s agreements — including that the skills council advise leaders on future reform priorities by the end of the year — marked a new page in the country’s education and training manual.
“Our parliamentary leaders have come together to agree on what that looks like — a vision where VET and university education are given equal standing,” Mr Pearson said.
Also discussed at COAG was the embattled Murray-Darling Basin Plan, with all states agreeing to reaffirm their commitment to the plan and to the appointment of an inspector-general to oversee water resources and improve transparency and accountability.
The state leaders acknowledged the impact the drought was having on rural communities.