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Education and training workforce: Vocational education and training

Research report

Released 05 / 05 / 2011

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  • Key points
  • Media release
  • Contents
  • The Vocational Education and Training (VET) workforce builds Australia's human capital and contributes to its economic prosperity by equipping workers with the skills that industry needs. The VET workforce also contributes to social inclusion and civic participation.
  • There are nearly 5000 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), ranging from large, broad-based Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes to private sector and enterprise-based RTOs of varying size and scope.
  • The VET workforce comprises about 73 000 TAFE employees and an estimated 150 000 who work for other VET providers. It includes trainers and assessors, other professionals and general staff. It has a greater proportion of part-time, casual and older workers, compared with the general labour force.
  • VET trainers and assessors are required to be 'dual professionals', having both industry currency and educational capabilities.
  • At an aggregate level, the current VET workforce numbers, profile and capability meet many of the existing demands on the VET sector.
  • However, some clear deficiencies should be addressed. The VET sector requires:
    • more trainers and assessors with industry skills in demand
    • greater attention to meeting changing contemporary skills needs
    • and a wider base of the VET workforce that has at least basic educational capabilities.
  • A confluence of demographic, economic and regulatory factors will introduce greater challenges for the VET sector over coming years. Necessary reforms, that will improve the VET workforce's capacity and capability, include:
    • a more flexible industrial relations regime in the TAFE sector, to facilitate recruitment and retention in areas of skill scarcity
    • more consistent delivery of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA) to the required regulatory standard, to improve basic educational capability and consumer confidence. All practitioners in the VET sector should hold a teaching qualification commensurate with their role
    • action to remedy gaps in the:
      • delivery of higher-level qualifications
      • assessment of Recognition of Prior Learning and of Current Competency
      • use of information and communication technologies
      • development of managerial and leadership skills
    • the deployment of strategies that enhance the contemporary vocational competence of those workers withlong tenures or who are employed only in the VET sector
    • more targeted and evidence-based professional development that addresses identified capability requirements of the workforce.
  • Better data - particularly covering the private VET sector - are urgently required to inform policy strategies and assist with workforce planning.

VET Workforce Improvements Needed

Australia's Vocational Education and Training (VET) workforce has several shortcomings which need to be addressed, according to a report released by the Productivity Commission today.

A diverse range of public and private VET providers meets many of the expectations of students and significant segments of industry. However, some industry sectors, such as aged care, disability care and early childhood development, have expressed concerns about the skills of VET workers assessed as competent by some Registered Training Organisations.

The Commission identified a number of areas where the VET sector and its workforce could operate more effectively. These include being more responsive to the needs of Indigenous Australians, improving managerial and leadership skills and making greater use of informationand communications technologies.

The Commission's Deputy Chairman, Mike Woods, noted that 'the current capability gaps will be exacerbated by demands placed on the VET sector by future demographic, social, economic, and technological changes. One important reform is that all VET trainers and assessors should have an educational qualification that is relevant to their role. The Commission is recommending improvements in the design, delivery and assessment of their main entry level qualification.'

Mr Woods added that 'a greater amount of well designed and targeted professional development is also needed. In particular, a number of VET trainers and assessors who have been in VET for many years need to refresh their industry skills.'

The report notes that existing industrial relations arrangements in TAFE make it difficult for individual institutions to respond flexibly to emerging demand pressures, such as in the resources sector and in human services. The Commission recommends that individual TAFEs be allowed to recruit, pay and manage their staff in ways that meet their particular business goals.

The report is the first in a suite of three Commission studies covering the workforces of VET, Early Childhood Development and Schools.

  • Preliminaries
    Cover, Copyright, Foreword, Terms of reference, Contents, Acknowledgment, Abbreviations and explanations and Glossary
  • Overview - including key points
  • Findings and Recommendations
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
    1.1 What the Commission has been asked to do
    1.2 VET and human capital
    1.3 Why focus on the VET workforce?
    1.4 Conduct of the study
    1.5 Other research initiatives in this area
    1.6 Structure of the report
  • Chapter 2 The VET sector
    2.1 Origins of the VET sector
    2.2 Defining the sector
    2.3 The VET sector today
  • Chapter 3 Profiling the VET workforce
    3.1 Describing the different types of VET workers
    3.2 Size of the VET workforce
    3.3 Characteristics of the VET workforce
    3.4 Career pathways of VET workers
  • Chapter 4 Government involvement in the VET sector
    4.1 Public and private benefits of education and training
    4.2 Rationales for government intervention in VET
    4.3 Forms of government intervention in VET
    4.4 The increasing role of market forces in the VET sector
  • Chapter 5 What do students and employers expect from VET?
    5.1 Student expectations and experiences of VET
    5.2 Employer expectations and experiences of VET
  • Chapter 6 Implications of a changing environment for the VET workforce
    6.1 Demographic trends
    6.2 Economic changes
    6.3 Skills policy agenda
    6.4 Changing VET systems and structures
  • Chapter 7 Workforce planning and data
    7.1 Identifying the need for workers through workforce planning
    7.2 Improving the workforce database
  • Chapter 8 Ensuring workforce capacity and efficiency
    8.1 Labour productivity is important for capacity
    8.2 Factors affecting attraction and retention
    8.3 Attracting specific groups
    8.4 Reforms to enhance capacity and efficiency
  • Chapter 9 Workforce capability - background and evidence
    9.1 What capabilities does the workforce require?
    9.2 Institutional settings relevant to capability
    9.3 Evidence on the impact of teachers' observable characteristics on student achievement
    9.4 Workforce capability gaps?
    9.5 Industry currency
  • Chapter 10 Improving the workforce's capability
    10.1 Minimum qualifications for trainers and assessors
    10.2 Professional development beyond the Certificate IV
    10.3 Potential national approaches to VET workforce development
  • Chapter 11 The Commission's proposals
    11.1 What can be expected from the proposals?
    11.2 Implementation timeframes
  • Appendix A List of submissions, visits, consultations and roundtables
  • Appendix B Detailed data on VET activity
  • Appendix C Detailed VET workforce statistics
  • Appendix D System performance
  • Appendix E Detailed institutional and government arrangements
  • Appendix F Overseas and other models
  • References

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