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Message from the Chair – March 2019

An Australian who has led one of our largest and most successful international companies very recently described our environment as a “walled garden”. It was not a compliment on Australia’s horticultural skills. In fact it describes a crippling characteristic.

For a couple of decades the global markets and industrial integration have been the drivers of change. Opportunities have abounded, creating and recreating enterprises in the mature economies and transforming nations as diverse as China, India and Indonesia. In the education sector Australia has had a flood of foreign students into its universities and colleges. Yet it is quite hard to find a sign of any integration of Australian enterprise, including those in education.

The experience with Sustainable Skills in working with a variety of national authorities, many of them near neighbours, has defined a tangible and relatively simple means of delivering what sales folk call a win-win. Both Australians and the citizens of neighbours have the opportunity for considerable benefit if we can work to build a higher standard of vocational training across the region.  Australia has good standards and a lot of knowledge in what works and Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar and possibly India demonstrate both the potential and desire to take advantage of Australian expertise.

My own learning from the experience in recent years with Sustainable Skills is that “walled garden” thinking is holding back what is a golden opportunity. Our leaders in vocational training are very often driven solely by a single dimension of the potential of their resources. That is, they want to fill the channel of students to their Australian facilities. In effect, there is no distinction between domestic and foreign students. Yet the scale of demand is massively greater than that.

If we take Indonesia as an example, the national priority is in building infrastructure. The Widodo Government has been wholly focused for at least three years on an ambitious plan to expand energy supply, transport and shipping and logistics and to rapidly increase the supply of international standard tourism resources. Very early in that process the Government discovered that the supply of skilled people was nowhere near the scale required and now the upgrade of Indonesian vocational education and training is a personal priority of the President.

The opportunity for Australia is to help Indonesia to create an Indonesian vocational education system. Sustainable Skills has found – in Indonesia and quite a few other countries – that the fundamentals of the Australian approach are both well suited and pragmatic solutions to what is often a complex problem. The flexibility of a modular competency-based system has many practical attractions and accommodates the need for people to acquire skills incrementally. The strong industry involvement in competency design and assessment is hugely important in assuring an effective outcome for workers in training and in building commitment and engagement in labour markets where skills standards have been patchy.  In short, it is quite possible that a strategic effort to build capacity in the region would create a higher standard of skills across our neighbourhood, sharply improving economic and social progress and establishing a strong and healthy basis for social and economic exchange. In commercial terms, Australian TVET would create a natural client base through pathways that allow foreign students to acquire specialised skills.

While many Australian institutions have invested heavily in international programs there is very little evidence of anything that is much more than extensions of Australian activity. That is, in our experience, where the greater value and opportunity is located. While many have been entranced by the opportunities that emerged in Japan and China over the past 50 years, somehow Australians have overlooked our nearest neighbour – a country that is expected to rank fourth globally in the size of its economy by 2050.

It’s way past time that Australian leaders knocked down any walls and let the roses run free for a while. There are risks, but the prospective rewards are almost immeasurable.

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International Literacy Day 2018 – ‘Literacy and Skills Development’

International Literacy Day 2018 – ‘Literacy and Skills Development’

In 1966, UNESCO proclaimed 8 September as International Literacy Day (ILD) to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. As outlined by UNESCO, literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.

Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Whilst the data show remarkable improvement among youth in terms of reading and writing skills and a steady reduction in gender gaps,  750 million adults in the world remain illiterate. Of this, 49% are from Southern Asia, 27% live in sub-Saharan Africa, 10% in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, 9% in Northern Africa and Western Asia, and about 4% in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year’s theme of ‘Literacy and Skills Development’ focused on youth and adults within the lifelong learning framework. Integrated approaches to literacy and skills development throughout life allows people to access resources that open doors to decent work opportunities and improved lives.

This interesting video published by UNESCO for ILD 2018 illustrates the general situation of literacy in the world and explains how the integration between literacy and skills development could lead to a more equitable and inclusive society.

Source: UNESCO – International Literacy Day 2018

Foundation Skills Resources

We would like to share two resources available on our website focused on how to develop the language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills required in the workplace.

  • Resource Diggin’ in!

Addressing language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) in the Resources and Infrastructure Industry.

This free resource, funded through the Workplace English, Language and Literacy (WELL) program, is a guide for teachers, trainers and assessors who deliver training from the Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package. It focuses on how to develop the language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills required for work in the Coal Mining, Metalliferous Mining, Drilling, Quarrying and Civil Construction Industry sectors.

The resource provides practical advice and tools to assist trainers to develop core LLN skills that are integral to technical skill development in the Resources and Infrastructure Industry.

Download the Diggin’ In Resource (Free)

  • Foundation Skills Assessment Kit

This kit of assessment tasks has been developed to pre-assess the foundations skills of workers who will undertake training in the Resources and Infrastructure Industry. The tasks are intended to be used on a one-to-one basis to identify whether candidates have the foundation skills required to participate in a particular training program, and if not, to determine the support that can be provided. The assessment tasks align with Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Buy the Foundation Skills Assessment Kit ($35.00)


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The Australian TVET Experience

Technical Vocational Education and Training Models in the World: The Australian VET System

Vocational Education and Training systems are developed by each country based on specific cultural, social, and economic scenarios. However, policy makers are often keen to examine and adopt TVET models developed by other countries and recognised as international best practice due to their positive outcomes.

The Australia’s competency based TVET system is highly recognised worldwide largely due to its strong focus on industry demand, skills application, and to its scalability and flexibility. Currently, in Australia there are 4.2 million TVET students attending 4,200 Registered Training Organisations that include 58 public providers – TAFEs, compared to 3.8 million school students in 9,400 schools, and 1 million University students in 43 universities. TVET students represent 24% of the Australian population between 15-64 years. Of this, 17% are 19 years or under, 57% 20-44 years and 24% over 45 years.

Brief History

  • 1960-70s: a significant reform of the system started, aimed to establish a national VET system and nationally funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Colleges
  • 1980-90s: the fundamental reforms to the sector occurred with the introduction of  industry-led national qualifications
  • 2000s-present: reform effort has focused on greater integration of industry engagement, national regulation and ‘demand-driven’ funding models.

Characteristics of the current formal VET system

  • Certificate I (approximately 6 months) and Certificate II (approximately 1 year)

Certificate I&II are preparatory/pre-vocational qualifications for schools, and school based apprenticeships, offered at the lower secondary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, schools, and community education providers. Graduates from Certificate I and Certificate II courses are able to proceed to vocational education and training at higher certificate levels. Certificate II is the entry-level qualification for some occupations.

  • Certificate III & IV qualifications – (approximately 1-4 years)

Certificate III&IV are offered at the upper secondary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, schools, community education providers, enterprise providers and some dual-sector universities. Certificate IV qualifications typically provide training for ‘advanced trade occupations’ or supervisory roles in the workplace.

Apprenticeship is the collective term for traineeships and apprenticeships that are ways to become trained and qualified in a trade or particular type of job. Most apprenticeships are aligned with a Certificate III qualification. Apprenticeships and traineeships can be full-time, part-time or school-based through a legal agreement with an employer called a training contract, which lasts until training is completed and competence achieved. All apprenticeships / traineeships combine learning with paid employment. Based on data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), in 2017 there were 275,000 of TVET students undertaking an apprenticeship with a decrease of 3.7% from 2016. This equates to 2.3% of Australian workers who are employed as an apprentice or trainee.

  • Advanced Skills and Higher Education articulation – Diploma (1-2 years), Advanced Diploma (2-3 years), Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma (6-24 months)

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, and Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma are offered at the tertiary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, and enterprise providers.

These qualifications provide for occupations requiring advanced skills, supervisory or management roles or as pathways into Higher Education degrees.

The TVET system also provides post –school training in foundational skills such as literacy, and numeracy.

What are the key features of the Australian TVET System

  • ‘Fit for purpose’ qualifications

A key strength of the Australian TVET system is the existence of qualifications that meet industry’s needs (employment skills match) and individuals’ needs (portable skills to move across the labour market and support life long learning). Qualifications ensure opportunities for students to engage and progress in TVET via multiple entry and exit points (‘flexible articulation’) learning pathways.

  • Industry Engagement

Industry is involved at every step of the process including qualification development and implementation (training), as well as contributing to the development of government policy.

  • Quality training market

Public funding incentivises TVET responsiveness to industry and individuals and ensures government optimises its return on investment (‘value for money’). The system involves ‘In-built’ continuous improvement processes to push quality standards in teaching and student-centered learning.

  • Effective regulation

Effective regulation is in place to allow maximum responsiveness (adaptability and competitiveness) while minimising market failures and student risk.

The shared responsibility

Shared responsibility is key to a successful and efficient Vocational Education and Training system able to involve all actors such as government, industry, training organisations, civil society, communities, and students. In this context, roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder need to be clearly defined.

  • Government 

Government’s role consists in promoting research, establishing policy, release regulation and accreditation, plan and manage funding.

  • The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) is responsible for research and policy establishment, the COAG Industry and Skills Council and its sub-committee, the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) establishes national policy, and state governments align local policy with national directions.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)and theAustralian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA) accredit qualifications,  ASQA regulates Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), while States regulate apprenticeships.

• Government, the Skilling Australians Fund, and state governments provide publicly funded training, which currently account for approximately AUD$5-6 billion per annum.

  • Industry/Business

Industry is one of the key stakeholders in the Australian Vocational Education and Training systems, also defined as industry-led VET model. Industry is engaged in consultation about policy development, in training and assessment by RTO, as well as in providing private funding (estimated AUD$5 billion per annum) for accredited and non-accredited training, such as ‘in-house’ enterprise training. AISC’s 64 Industry Reference Committees (constituted of employer/employee organizations, industry regulators, and experts) are key stakeholders consulted in national qualification and government policy development.

  • Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)

RTOs are in charge of conducting training and assessment of students against national standards and regulation, and accredited qualifications, ensuring that training meets local industry needs and is customized to the student particularly in apprenticeship training, as well as issuing qualifications to students against the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Sustainable Skills has  nearly twenty years’ experience shaping and maintaining TVET systems and frameworks in Australia and around the world, and can assist Governments with the implementation of successful TVET system based on Australia best practice. Contact us for further information about how Sustainable Skills can deliver positive outcomes for your organisation, or to discuss how we can partner in TVET projects.



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