Queensland Needs Modern Vocational Education and Training
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has today met with members of the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce to discuss our submission to the Taskforce, which was established to advise the State Government on how best to reform and revamp vocational education and training (VET) in Queensland.
CCIQ reiterated our view that Queensland must move to a VET system driven by the needs of our state’s employers.
CCIQ is eager to work with the Queensland Government to achieve the best possible outcomes for Queensland businesses and employers.
As such, CCIQ supports the Government’s economic goals for our state, including building a four pillar economy and lowering unemployment to four per cent, and we believe that a reformed VET sector will be key to reaching these goals.
Currently, the VET sector cannot play this important role because it is not geared towards the needs of its primary and most important end-users – Queensland employers.
CCIQ considers that the sizeable investments made by both the State Government and employers in VET are justifiable only if it is supporting economic growth, productivity and competitiveness.
For this to occur, Queensland must move toward a system that provides for and funds the education and training that employers require: that is, funding those VET providers that employers have determined provide the best services, and not simply allocating the bulk of VET funding to TAFE, the public provider.
CCIQ identified a number of fundamental problems with the VET sector in Queensland that highlights the need for reform.
Currently, the majority of VET funding goes to TAFE Queensland with few stipulations on the types of courses it must provide in return, leaving little room for employer input into VET funding and decision-making.
The courses offered by TAFE are often criticised by employers as being irrelevant to the qualification being sought, being of poor quality, or located in areas that are simply not accessible for regional and rural employers and their employees.
CCIQ’s submission also highlights that the VET sector does not address skills shortages and labour mobility issues that particularly affect the state’s regions, such as competition with the resources sector for skilled workers and encouraging those who use VET to pursue a non-mining career path.
CCIQ also considers that without change, the sector is ill-equipped to handle future challenges, including an ageing workforce, and an increasing need for reskilling as people move between careers and our state’s dominant industries evolve and change.
Importantly, CCIQ’s submission contains short, medium and long term recommendations to ensure that the changes that need to be undertaken can be implemented in a measured and targeted manner that fix the problems set out above.
Major long-term recommendations include affirming the needs of employers as the best test for whether the sector is performing; putting in place a funding model that requires TAFEs operating in areas that can support a variety of VET providers to move to commercial business models or close; moving decision-making on VET issues and funding in Queensland to regional skills authorities or boards to better meet the needs of regional and rural Queensland; and putting in place a government funded guarantee that would ensure Queenslanders can access VET courses from their choice of organisation.
In the interim period, CCIQ recommends that Queensland begin taking steps towards changing Queensland’s approach to funding VET (such as requiring all TAFEs to meet strict quality and performance indicators); implementing measures to attract skilled workers to regional and remote areas of Queensland; providing greater recognition of and funding for training employers provide ‘in-house’; and finally, establishing better strategies for liaising with employers of all sizes to determine their skilling and employment needs.
CCIQ looks forward to the release of the Taskforce’s recommendations and the Government’s response to those recommendations to deliver vitally needed reform in Queensland’s vocational education and training system.