COAG Skills Council agrees on an approach to enhance VET in Australia.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Skills Council met in Brisbane today to discuss matters including  a draft COAG VET Reform Roadmap that will deliver reforms to ensure Australia’s future is one where our people are highly skilled and our businesses are competitive.

University debt and limited job prospects mean learning a trade at TAFE is better for income, report finds

The earning capacity of many young Australians would be significantly higher if they learned a trade instead of going to university, a new report has found.

Key points:

  • The Grattan Institute looks at the earning capacity of university students and those young people who learn a trade
  • It finds for some people, particularly young men with lower ATAR scores, vocational occupations result in higher earnings
  • The report comes as the vocational education industry is reporting a 43 per cent drop in trade-based enrolments
  • One commentator says the idea that university is the only option often comes from parents

The Grattan Institute report found that for men, particularly those who scored lower ATARs at school, vocational qualifications in engineering, construction and commerce resulted in higher average earnings than a degree qualification.

The number of students enrolling in university has swelled by more than one-third over the past decade, with more students with lower ATARs and those from diverse backgrounds now attending.

That increase has come at the expense of vocational education, with the number of students taking up a place in those trades-based courses down 43 per cent in the past five years.

The Federal Government made the issue a key focus of COAG talks last week amid concerns about critical skills shortages. It has also commissioned a review of post-secondary school pathways.

Grattan’s higher education program director Andrew Norton said some university graduates were struggling to get jobs, especially if they studied generalist degrees in humanities and science.

This was particularly the case for students with lower ATARs.

“This report is looking at the concern that some low ATAR students, who have been increasing in numbers at university, would have been better off in vocational education,” Mr Norton said.

“The report finds that is true in some cases, particularly for young men.

“We find that there is a high risk that they won’t get the financial benefits of higher education that higher ATAR students would get, and that they would do well in a range of vocational occupations such as engineering and trades related [to] construction and some commerce type degrees.”

But Mr Norton said the picture was different for women.

“By contrast, lower ATAR women who go into nursing and teaching degrees have pretty good employment outcomes, very high rates of professional employment, and we think they’ll end up earning a lot more than the women who go into vocational education,” he said.

Students growing up with university as only option

Nineteen-year-old Liam Mills enrolled in a university degree earlier this year but left in favour of a TAFE course. He’s now studying web development at Hornsby TAFE in northern Sydney.

“I prefer a much more hands-on approach, so sitting in a lecture wasn’t really doing it for me,” he said.

“I much prefer being behind the computer.”

Mr Mills said he had grown up with the idea that going to university was the only option.

“My choice to go to university was mainly based on what a lot of my friends were doing at the time,” he said.

“It was kind of the plan I’d always had basically from starting high school, [but] by the time I got there I realised it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.”

Many parents still believe university is the ‘right route’

The decline in those taking up vocational training comes despite national skills shortages in many of the trades that are predicted to soon become more critical.

It is estimated Australia will need up to a million workers with vocational qualifications by 2023.

The decline in vocational students will be a focus of National Skills Week later this month.

The event’s founder Brian Wexham said he believed change needed to come from parents.

“We’re faced with this challenge that many, many parents still believe that the right route for their child is to go to university and they will get a more fulfilling and better career, and for some that is true, but of course it’s not true for everyone,” he said.

“A lot of students are practical learners, they’re not academically inclined.

“And frankly I think universities have got a lot to answer for, because they encourage people to go there even if it might not be suitable for them.

“It’s been widely reported that some universities have accepted ATARs of 50, and frankly all they’re doing is enrolling somebody who’s probably destined to fail, and all they end up doing is having a HECS bill, but if you’re an apprentice you get paid to learn.”

Universities have defended their graduates’ employment outcomes in the light of the Grattan report.

Universities Australia chief Catriona Jackson said a low ATAR can be a sign of disruption during a student’s Year 12 studies, or which postcode they came from.

“It doesn’t predict the destiny of every student, and the vast majority of students who enter university go on to successfully complete their studies,” she said.

On graduate jobs and salaries, she said: “University graduates earn up to $1 million more over their lifetimes on average and are 2.5 times less likely to be unemployed than those without a higher qualification.

“Nine in 10 university graduates are in full-time work three years after graduation, and four out of five undergraduates work in professional or managerial roles.

“And the median salary of university graduates three years on from finishing their studies is $70,000.”

SOURCEAAP:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-12/university-vs-tafe-what-will-lead-to-a-higher-income/11399662

COAG Call to action on skills

The Australian Chamber is calling on the country’s political leaders to agree to reform our vital Vocation Education and Training (VET) system, to deliver the skills that Australian jobseekers and businesses need, at tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Cairns.

Prime Minister Morrison has put vocational training back on the agenda following the recent Joyce review of VET that he announced to ACCI’s members late last year.

It comes amid evidence that, despite significant funding growth in all other sectors within education, the amount of funding nationally for VET and the number of government funded VET students has declined over recent years.

Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson said it was important to improve confidence in the system.

“We know how fraught discussions about VET reform have been, and recognise that COAG has attempted on a number of occasions to consider changes that will make a real difference to the support provided to students and industry Now is the time for decisions to be made.”

“Industry stands ready to work with all governments, and we know that the Prime Minister is committed to positive change.

“We have worked closely with Ministers and advisers, and government officials, in the lead up to, and after, the Prime Minister’s announcement of the VET review to our members last November. Our network of state and territory chambers of commerce – the peak business bodies in each COAG jurisdiction – and industry associations is well placed to work with all governments on reforming VET.”

“Given the urgent need to make long lasting positive improvements in VET, we urge COAG to focus first on the end goal. This is likely to be a more fruitful discussion than the more difficult one about who pays for what and what changes are needed to get there.”

The Joyce Review has repeated our call for governments, education and training providers and industry to agree on a shared vision for VET. Successful reform of VET would include:

  • Meeting the labour market skill needs in occupations that rely on vocational training
  • A return to growth in the number of government funded VET students
  • Real funding increases for vocational training in all jurisdictions
  • Improved student employment outcomes
  • Industry more strongly embedded in the advisory and governance arrangements at all levels of the VET system
  • Valuing equally VET and Higher Education and promoting jobs that require VET qualifications to students and parents as good career options
  • Increased support for apprenticeships and traineeships to address skill needs and youth unemployment

“The path to achieving these objectives is challenging; we call on COAG to take the lead from the Prime Minister and move beyond the cost and blame shifting to restore certainty and growth to VET,” Mr Pearson said.

“VET not only prepares young people for work, but also ensures Australia has the skilled workers required to build the infrastructure so badly needed in our regions and cities.

“With more than a year before the next State Election, political leaders have the clear air needed to be decisive. Australia cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by to make meaningful change to vocational training.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Improvements to TAFE top of COAG agenda

Improving the nation’s vocational system is at the top of the agenda at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Far North Queensland. The nation’s leaders were met by a group of protestors on Friday as they came together for the first time since the federal election in May. The leaders are expected to consider the recommendations of a recent review that identified a spate of challenges in the education and training sector. The Australian Industry group called for reforms to ensure there were enough skilled Australians to support the government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline. The group also raised concerns about a growing skills shortage and a struggling training system. Image: News Corp Australia

SOURCEAAP:https://www.theaustralian.com.au/video/id-5348771529001-6070193432001/improvements-to-tafe-top-of-coag-agenda

Queensland facing potential skills shortages in 139 different areas

Queensland could soon be struggling for workers in dozens of skills areas from plumbing to robotics unless changes are made to vocational education, the state’s Premier says.

Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday identified 139 potential future skills shortages in traditional, but rapidly changing professions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia's future skills training system.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia’s future skills training system.CREDIT:AAP

Electrical works, plumbing, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, early childhood, digital technologies, robotics and utilities all fit the bill.

Skills and training were among a number of issues Australia’s premiers, chief ministers and the prime minister tackled on Friday at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns.

Ms Palaszczuk’s comments came before the meeting and the council later produced a vision statement for a revamp of Australia’s vocational education training sector.

Ms Palaszczuk said future skills shortages were the reason the Queensland government launched a “free” apprenticeships scheme on August 5, which will cost taxpayers $32 million.

That policy will encourage 60,000 Queenslanders under 21 to take up an apprenticeship.

“They will be in skills areas where we have recognised where we will have skills shortages in the decades to come,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Queensland has already done the work and identified 139 skills where there could be shortages into the future.”

After the meeting Ms Palaszczuk said the $32 million funding would pay for the training component for apprentices to make taking on an apprentice more cost-effective for businesses.

“I think we need to make it easier for young people to get a loan if they choose to go into vocational education and training,” she said, adding that traineeship fees needed to be simplified.

At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.
At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.CREDIT:STEVEN SIEWERT

“There has a been a lot of focus in the past on university education but I think there needs to be an equal focus on vocational education because there is going to be a skills shortage and we need to get young people into these employment opportunities now.”

Prime Minister Scott Morison said the “jobs of the future” weren’t just in technology, but increasingly in human services areas such as aged or disability care.

He said parents should be confident about their child’s future if they chose to pursue a trade or a skills-based education.

“It is not second prize,” he said.

The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.

A new COAG Skills Council will present leaders with a reform road map for the sector in early 2020.

A detailed federal government study, Strengthening Skills, released earlier this agreed changes were needed to simplify student loans.

“The Commonwealth and the states and territories agree to develop a simpler, nationally consistent funding policy for all government-subsidised qualifications, which provides confidence and certainty to trainees, industry, employers and all funded providers, public or private,” the Joyce report says.

Ms Palaszczuk said work to restrict Australia’s waste export industry and control plastics and packaging was also commendable.

SOURCEAAP:https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/queensland-facing-potential-skills-shortages-in-139-different-areas-20190809-p52fpw.html

Leaders act to counter skills shortage

PM Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders hold a formal COAG meeting in Cairns on Friday.PM Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders hold a formal COAG meeting in Cairns on Friday.Image

Australians seeking to learn or renew their skills and businesses looking for qualified employees will be at the centre of an overhauled vocational education system.

The nation’s leaders have agreed to pull together to make sure the vocational education and training system is working as it needs to in the face of a growing skills shortage.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said ensuring Australians were trained for the jobs of a modern economy was one of the biggest challenges the country faced.

“We all want students, whatever age they are, they could be 21, they could be 61 and going through a career change … to have confidence that that system is going to help them with their future intentions and their future careers,” he told reporters after the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns on Friday.

The system needed to be more agile and less bureaucratic.

The “jobs of the future” weren’t just in technology, Mr Morrison said, but increasingly in human services areas such as aged or disability care.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said training more tradies was vital to politicians seeking to build the infrastructure they had all been elected to deliver.

“We have to change the way TAFE and vocational education, non-university pathways are viewed,” he said.

“This is a first-class option, not anything less than that.”

His NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian said that was a point on which all the leaders agreed.

She has called for universities and vocational education to be treated as a single sector, something the Business Council of Australia has also been pushing for over several years.

The COAG communique didn’t go that far, but Ms Berejiklian was happy nonetheless.

Mr Morrison said parents should be confident about their child’s future if they chose to pursue a trade or a skills-based education.

“It is not second prize,” he said.

The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.

A new COAG Skills Council will present leaders with a reform roadmap for the sector in early 2020.

The leaders also agreed to ask their environment ministers to set a deadline for Australia to stop sending its waste overseas.

The country exported 4.3 million tonnes of waste in 2018 at a cost of $2.8 billion.

They agreed to the fourth national action plan on reducing domestic violence, for more cooperation between the commonwealth and states on how to spend infrastructure money, and to make mental health and reducing suicide a national priority.

However, a deal on permanently funding free preschool for Australia’s four-year-olds was pushed off until early 2020.

SOURCEAAP:https://7news.com.au/politics/morrison-urges-states-to-collaborate-c-390366

Leaders have skills test ahead of them

The best way to give Australians the skills they need to find quality jobs will be top of mind for the nation’s leaders as they meet in Cairns on Thursday and Friday.
Vocational education and training is shaping up to be a key discussion point for the Council of Australian Governments as leaders consider the recommendations of a recent review that identified a spate of challenges in the sector.
Employers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning of growing skills shortages and a training system that isn’t coping.
The letter from Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox points to the large pipeline of planned infrastructure projects – driven by the commonwealth’s $100 billion budget – an ageing population and degraded training and apprenticeship systems.
He calls for COAG to start work on “bolder and more decisive reforms” to vocational training and directly engage with industry.
Mr Morrison said he understood the situation was frustrating both for businesses and people who were seeking training to get a job.
“The system is letting us down. It needs to be far less bureaucratic and public service-driven,” he told reporters near Townsville on Thursday.

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“It’s not about the providers … it’s about the people who want jobs and the people who want to employ people.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also wants the leaders to look at radical reforms, calling for universities and the vocational sector to be treated as one.
“I am concerned the usual COAG approach that simply divides up responsibilities between the commonwealth and the states will detract from us getting better tertiary education outcomes,” she told AAP in a statement.
“We want universities and VET to be thought of in the same sentence for workers looking to prepare themselves for the high-value jobs of the future.”
NSW wants more integrated degrees, where a student can start at a vocational provider and finish at university, or vice versa, to gain a broader range of skills.
It sees the siloed system of keeping the two types of tertiary education separate as outdated.
Mr Morrison agreed, saying TAFE was just as good as university and his government wants to lift the status of training.
Queensland leader Annastacia Palaszczuk is keen to use the discussion to highlight a number of her government’s initiatives, including payroll tax concessions and free apprenticeship training for people aged under 21.
Earlier in the week, federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash warned desperately-needed reform of the vocational education sector could only occur if state and territory governments put political differences aside.
The COAG agenda also touches on population and infrastructure after treasurers met in February to start developing a national framework that sets out a practical approach to improve population planning and management.
NSW will argue for more autonomy for states over federal infrastructure funding and a bigger say in what projects attract cash.
Early childhood education including universal access to preschool, coastal erosion, indigenous disadvantage and suicide, domestic violence, and state restrictions on gas developments are also expected to be discussed.
The leaders are travelling to Cairns for the COAG meeting at the invitation of Ms Palaszczuk.
The premier wants the chance to showcase Queensland’s investments in tourism and exports, particularly targeting Asian markets.
“Since the agenda includes northern Australia where better to meet than one of our northernmost cities,” a spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk told AAP.
“The temperature differential between Cairns and Canberra on Friday is 20 degrees. Our national leaders are about to experience a Queensland winter.”