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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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Nigel Carpenter Interview for The Australia-Indonesia Centre

How Australia can meet Indonesia’s demand for high quality skills training

In June Susinable Skillsta CEO, Nigel Carpenter, was invited by the Australia Indonesia Business Council Victoria (AIBC) to speak at the Education Panel discussion about education in Indonesia. The conference aimed to unpick some of the key issues in a critical sector for Indonesia, and learn more about the country’s aspirations.

We are sharing an article about how Australia can meet Indonesia’s demand for high quality skills training written by Nigel Carpenter for The Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) as well as a video interview produced by AIC.



President Widodo has elevated infrastructure investment to the top priority and has an enormous investment agenda.

In this case it appears likely that a major constraint will be skills. Already, key projects are heavily staffed by foreigners – a practice that Indonesia simply can’t sustain.

Indonesia is a fiercely independent country with an economy that continues to grow. As the Indonesian economy has grown so has the need to improve the education system particularly vocational education.

We found a country with a strong desire to improve its VET system that has a high degree of alignment with industry demand and a practical design that supports the needs of low income communities.

The Australian model, with its well-established industry-based competencies and modular course design, is very often the preferred choice for both qualitative and pragmatic reasons.

Our approach has been to work with Indonesian Ministries that have developed plans to reform VET, take key principles of the Australian VET system, understand the local culture and develop solutions.

Indonesia has the chance to reform its VET picking the best the international education system has to offer.

Nigel Carpenter in West Java to understand local cattle farming with the objective of developing a plan to develop skills and therefore productivity.

Prior to my first trip to Jakarta I was told Indonesia requires a lot of time and patience to succeed, that business is done differently, and a lot of effort is required to understand the culture and build relationships.

All the advice I received has proven true.

The challenge is being prepared to build sound relationships and there’s only one way to do this – be in front of people and let them know you’re truly interested in their problems.

Indonesians tell me they like Sustainable Skills because we’re committed, and we don’t think several visits over six months will deliver success.

By building the relationship and understanding the problem, an Indonesian solution can be developed. Once a relationship and trust has been established then projects will proceed.

There are major VET capacity constraints and a massive need to build skills. For example, Indonesia wants to build 35 GW of energy.

Nigel Carpenter delivered a lecture at Universitas Pendidikan Bandung on what an Indonesian TVET Centre of Excellence could be.

The Indonesian Government estimates the construction and operating of this system will create 1 million jobs. This creates a huge opportunity for Indonesia to build skills and bring more people out of poverty.

These jobs require world standard competencies and a training system that will deliver world standard skills, otherwise more foreigners will be required.

We are working with the Indonesian government to develop plans to seize this opportunity.

Opportunities are not straight forward, and no one would advocate a rush of investments in Australian-styled institutions in environments with very different economic and social drivers, not to mention much lower incomes.

But the risks can be managed and the scale requirements beyond the initial capacity-building are manageable. Yet so far, most of the activity by Australian providers in these markets has a focus on accreditation, implying some of sort of local delivery of Australian courseware.

Australia has an opportunity to not only attract foreign students but to also develop offshore opportunities and extend the value of our education capabilities and expertise. This requires the development of new solutions.

In pursuing our usual work, we identified the need and commercial opportunity to establish an Australian led Indonesian managed stand-alone training centre.

We have identified a strong local partner and have had significant encouragement in testing the proposition with Indonesian industry and government approval authorities.

This opportunity aligns with the very high priority of infrastructure and tourism investment in the Widodo Government’s agenda. We’ve developed a business plan that doesn’t need a change to Indonesian laws.

Sustainable Skills has developed several very interesting opportunities that we will continue to explore and develop. Each requires a local focus and strong guidance from experienced Australian specialists.

This will take time, but we are confident that strong results will emerge from the application of that Australian expertise. We’d welcome partners or supporters in any of these projects.

Source: Australia-Indonesia Centre

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TVET in Vietnam

Current Situation of Technical Vocational Education and Training System in Vietnam

With a population of 94 million and people under the age of 35 accounting for 70 % of this number, the Socialist Republic of  Vietnam is currently one of the most dynamic and fastest growing emerging countries in East Asia region with an annual GDP growth of 6.6%, a GDP per capita of US$ 2,111, and an unemployment rate of 2.2% .

Vietnam is currently transitioning from a centrally planned to a market-based economy, and is now a lower middle-income country with an emerging middle class accounting for 13 percent of the population and expected to reach 26 percent by 2026.

Today education is equitably distributed with primary school enrollment reaching 99 percent of eligible children, and school attendance ratios for boys and girls largely equalized. In 2006, the Law on Gender Equality established the principles of gender equality in a number of fields as well as promoted measures to increase gender equality in the TVET (known as VET in Vietnam) such as ensuring that the proportion of man and females participating in the study and training is equal, and assisting female workers in rural areas to access VET.

In the coming years, Vietnam will need a large number of skilled and productive local workers able to  make the country competitive regionally and globally particularly for the infrastructure, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors. The local young and well-educated population, able to effectively gain knowledge and skills, work efficiently, and embrace new technology and innovation, is key to the Country’s development. The Vietnamese Government has put VET and boosting employment at the heart of its development goals by investing in education approximately 6.3% of GDP, much greater than the average for most low to middle-income nations, as well as some higher income countries such as Australia.

From 2010-2014 the state budget allocated to vocational training was 2.54 billion USD, out of which 40.81% was allocated to capital construction and 21.79% to the national target programmes. TVET in the formal education system is not legally free and institutions are free to determine the fee levels. For public VET institutions, tuition fees for programmes at the secondary and college education levels are capped at approximately 5 USD. However, institutions may add additional charges for special purposes, such as contributions for training materials and books. Private training providers have to recover all costs through tuition fees, and around 15-18% of trainees from lower-income or target groups are exempted from paying tuition fees, partially compensated by state subsidy.

The “Law on Vocational Education and Training” document, entered into force in 2015, regulates the vocational education and training system, stipulates the objectives of VET at the different education levels, and calls for:

  • encourage the private sector to be involved in the provision of VET;
  • support craftsmen and skilled workers in vocational training, especially in traditional vocational and vocations in rural areas;
  • involve socio-political organizations, social organizations, socio-professional organizations in formulating strategies, planning, and policies regarding VET;
  • develop bridge programmes to facilitate VET students to take programmes as higher education levels in the same or different disciplines.

Current reforms are focused on the implementation of the Law and Vocational Education and Training, and include:

  • reforming the testing and examination procedures;
  • developing policy reforms to improve the quality of teachers and trainers;
  • establishing a network of VET institutions and enterprises;
  • increasing the autonomy of VET institutions.

There are five main challenges to the TVET system identified in Vietnam:

  • adapting the VET system to technological developments;
  • poor ratio of skilled workers working in the sector;
  • skills mismatch affecting productivity;
  • increasing autonomy among VET institutions;
  • outdated technology of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cannot provide proper employment.

Sustainable Skills is currently exploring opportunities to support the reform of the VET system in Vietnam. In 2015-2016, our organisation was engaged as an implementation partner by the Australian Department of Education and Training to support the development of occupational standards aligned to Industry operational needs in Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia which could be used for benchmarking of qualifications in each of the countries. In this capacity we took part in in-country visits and technical workshops, provided a two-week secondment for TVET professionals from the participating countries, and worked closely with the relevant public sector organisatons to achieve the goals of the project, targeting the development of Industry engagement strategies, the development of regional occupational standards and benchmarking qualifications against these regional standards. Click here to read more about the project.


Source: Unesco-Unevoc World TVET Database

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