Australian industry will have a major say on reforms for vocational education and training (VET) in a bid to boost productivity and competitiveness.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had put skills and training at the centre of its economic agenda.
He acknowledged that Australian manufacturing needs highly skilled workers to compete in the global market.
Addressing the National Skills Summit in Canberra recently Mr Macfarlane said: “In this reform process, we are looking across the whole sector to ensure Australian businesses have access to the skilled workers they need to boost productivity.
“The era of training for training’s sake is over.”
About three million Australians undertake accredited training courses each year.
“We want students enrolling in VET courses to know that their training is equipping them with the skills to get a job or excel in their career, Mr Macfarlane said.
“Our skills and training system must be sophisticated, flexible and reflect what industry needs.”
Mr Macfarlane announced the establishment of an advisory committee of industry representatives “to ensure our national training system is streamlined, efficient and effective.”
“By making targeted and strategic reforms in this sector we will lay the platform for enhanced productivity, jobs growth and greater prosperity for industry and the Australian economy,” he said.
Previous attempts at reforming the training sector had been piecemeal and did not put industry “at the front and centre.”
Releasing an independent review of the training regulator the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Mr Macfarlane said there was an ongoing commitment to cut red tape and reduce business costs for training providers.
“Stakeholders have made clear that the ‘one-size-fits all’ regulation isn’t working. The Government wants ASQA to focus more on poor-quality providers, leaving the majority of training organisations to get on with their training.
“For the foreseeable future ASQA’s fees will not rise and I will be reviewing the regulator’s operating funding to ensure it can support the reform agenda.”
Mr Macfarlane called for feedback on new draft provider and regulator standards for the sector which will help to deliver quality training and provide clarity around the marketing of training courses, subcontracting arrangements and compliance.
The government will spend about $1.4 billion this financial year on its own training programs and provide $1.8 billion to the states and territories for VET programs.
“We are making a significant investment in training and the best way to ensure value for money is putting the focus firmly on Australian industry,” Mr Macfarlane said.
The review of ASQA and the new standards for the VET sector are available at www.vetreform.industry.gov.au
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said business welcomed the new direction for the reform of the VET system.
The AiGroup is looking forward to contributing to the new Advisory Group.
“It is pleasing that progress is being made on reducing the regulatory burden for training providers, Mr Willox said.
“It is important that industry is served by an efficient and streamlined system.
“The focus on apprenticeships is overdue and reflects their importance to our national skills base.”