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From the desk of the CEO-May 2017 newsletter address

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Welcome to the May edition of our Sustainable Skills newsletter!

On Tuesday 9 May, the Australian government handed down the Federal Budget 2017 which includes important changes for the TVET sector.  A new $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund will be established to support apprenticeships and traineeships, with the aim to deliver 300,000 new apprentices and trainees over the next four years. States and territories will need to match federal funding to access the funds, which may result in an overall increase in money for the sector. The Fund prioritises occupations with the highest demand, especially those that currently rely on foreign labour, in industries deemed important to future growth, or have a focus on regional areas.

The establishment of a body officially appointed to implement the program and to ensure that investments are accountable and aligned to the TVET industry demand reflects the fact that the government is following a sensible process in allocating funding. In the past, we have seen how the lack of a targeted approach to vocational education funding often results in a significant waste of resources, either through the channelling of funds into oversupplied occupations or through the allocation of funding into poor quality training.

A clear example of this is the VET FEE-HELP loans program, which despite some positive outcomes have resulted in at least $2.2 billion in bad loans. In recent years, we assisted to another case of controversial effect due to the deregulation of TVET funds shown by a massive increase in the number of private colleges occurred after they could set their own fees. In 2015, many concerns were raised about price discrepancies between similar TVET courses, and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) launched an investigation which found problems with two-thirds of private training providers audited. Consequently, many RTOs ended up having to be shut down, thus damaging the whole Australian TVET sector.

We aren’t necessarily suggesting that this Australian program will be entirely successful, or that it should be viewed as an exemplar of a funding program, but it is useful to consider the thinking that has underpinned its development. In our work with clients and partners, we strongly advocate for a demand-driven, measurable and targeted approach to funding that enables skill outcomes for those individuals and industries that truly need it. It is also important though that, beyond having the correct amount of funding available, the correct amount of resources are dedicated to ensuring the program is managed effectively – neglect in this regard can lead to the failure of even the best-designed funding programs.

We are glad to announce that, over the course of this month, the transition from SkillsDMC to Sustainable Skills has been officially completed and a new not-for- profit organisation has been legally constituted with the aim to provide TVET consultancy worldwide. These changes have better positioned our business to respond to the unique and often challenging issues that international development work often raises and we are excited to help clients and partners new and old to make the connections that matter and maximise the performance of their TVET systems.

On 17-18 May, to continue investigating new opportunities for the organisation, Ben Rawlings, our International Development Services Director, attended Latin America Downunder in Perth to explore the feasibility of expanding Sustainable Skills’ activities into Latin America. The conference and exhibition follow the format of its highly successful African counterpart, providing the opportunity for governments, companies, and other stakeholders of the mining industry to network and share their stories and experiences. The event presented the occasion to meet with representatives from Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Guyana, Argentina, and Peru. The meetings raised several encouraging ideas that we will continue to explore.

Over the last couple of weeks, Sustainable Skills Chair of the board, Michael Gill, and I have nurtured recently created partnerships in Indonesia and Myanmar and we are confident that they will soon result in important business opportunities for the newborn Sustainable Skills organisation. I attended a meeting in Jakarta with the Human Resources and Capacity Building Strategy team at KPPIP, the Indonesian Committee for Acceleration of Priority Infrastructure Delivery established by the President to facilitate coordination in debottlenecking efforts for National Strategic and Priority Projects. We had a very long meeting which included a visit to Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) University. PLN is an Indonesian state-owned company tasked with supplying the electricity needs of the Indonesian people. During the next few years, Indonesia will need to train over 900,000 skilled Indonesians to construct a number of new power plants. We are working with KPPIP and PLN to develop a plan to ensure local people are skilled.

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Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs

Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN agency specialised in promoting rights at work, encouraging decent employment opportunities, enhancing social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues, has recently released a new volume of the series “Guides to anticipating and matching skills and jobs”.  The volume forms part of a compendium of methodological guides on anticipation and matching of skills supply and demand developed by the combined expertise of the European Training Foundation (ETF), the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the International Labour Office. This project aims to supply proper methodological tools particularly to developing countries, whose access to labour market information is often quite limited.

In a context of dynamic and complex labour markets, gathering intelligence on current and future skill needs can support better matching of training and jobs, which is of paramount importance for every country in the world. Skills matching can also help reduce unemployment, particularly among young people, build a better life for individuals by improving employability, social mobility and inclusion.

Accurate information and analyses are keys to effective education and employment strategies and to productive investments. Instead, the lack of intelligence can often result in the creation of structural problems in the labour market, problems for individuals in finding work, and problems for employers in finding appropriately skilled workers.

As the Australian Industry Skills Council for the Resources and Infrastructure Industries (RII), between 2003 and 2016, Sustainable Skills (formerly SkillsDMC) played a pivotal role to ensure that vocational education and training outcomes match the actual job market requirements. Sustainable Skills activity was focused on connecting industry, government, and training organisations to shape and maintain an effective TVET systems and frameworks through the development of the RII Training Package, which specifies the skills and knowledge required for workers to perform safely and effectively in the civil infrastructure, coal mining, construction materials (quarrying), drilling and metalliferous mining industry sectors.

In this role, Sustainable Skills activity  consisted of:

  • building Industry-led TVET,
  • providing updated and accurate intelligence to underpin the development of TVET systems and policy,
  • establishing industry committees able to identify the right skills needed by the labour market, and
  • setting up effective training programs able to form highly skilled workforces.

A tangible example of the intelligence provided by our organisation to the Australian RII Industry can be found in the  Resources and Infrastructure Industry Workforce Analysis and Forecast developed in 2016 with the aim to provide information and reasoned forecasts regarding the Australian Resources and Infrastructure Industry’s skilling needs, challenges and opportunities. In effect, this report serves as a long-term planning document for the rapidly transitioning Resources and Infrastructure Industry, and to prepare Industry participants for both the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Anticipating and matching skills with jobs is a core part of the solutions that Sustainable Skills offers to every country in the world to ensure that effective TVET systems are implemented across multiple industrial sectors. We applaud the ILO for producing such comprehensive resources but we also recognise that often access to information is only part of the solution. We know from our work that quality information coupled with mentoring, capacity building and support from experienced practitioners is critical to the short-term success of TVET reform, but also to the long-term sustainability of that reform.

Click here for further information about the compedium “Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs” release by ILO.

We take great pride in assisting our partners to make the connection between international best practice and their local needs. Contact us for further information about how Sustainable Skills can deliver positive outcomes in your market or for your organisation.



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