November 14, 2019
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The Vocational Education & Training system plays a crucial role in the Australian economy
From childcare to land management, from machinists to maritime workers, the VET system is the key to ensuring that Australians have the skills needed for the jobs in demand across the nation.
For school leavers and those entering the workforce for the first time, VET provides critical work readiness skills and real experience in work-like environments. For others who are working in jobs that are rapidly changing, VET provides them with the skills and qualifications needed to harness new technologies and seize new opportunities.
VET touches almost every Australian and Australian business. With just as many students aged between 15 – 19 as 40 – 49, the VET system needs to respond to the needs of Australians wherever they are in their career (NCVER 2018).
In 2018, over 4.06 million students studied in the Australian VET system, or almost one in four (23 per cent) working age Australians. Around half of VET students undertook training in a short course, such as a first aid course, while the remainder were training in an Australian Qualification Framework qualification. While around 1.2 million of these students received public subsidies (NCVER, 2018), the vast majority of VET courses are paid for by students or employers.
VET graduates have strong employment prospects and earn more money than school leavers. For instance, 77.3 per cent of graduates have a job soon after completing training, while the median income for VET graduates employed full time increased 2.9 per cent in 2018. Graduates also continue to be satisfied with training, with 86.8 per cent of 2017 graduates satisfied with the overall quality (NCVER, 2018).
The Australian economy is changing and VET has never been more important. Notwithstanding the strengths of the VET system, globalisation, technological progress and demographic shifts are rapidly changing the skills and knowledge needed in the workplace. This creates both challenges and opportunities and the VET system will be called upon more than ever before.
While we have enjoyed nearly 30 years of economic growth and low unemployment, there is a clear shift to non-routine cognitive jobs to match Australia’s transition to a more service-based economy. Employers are increasingly demanding a highly skilled workforce, but the training system has not kept up with the pace of change. Students and employers are not getting as much out of the system as they used to:
• Employers are satisfied, but less so than they were 10 years ago. A 2017 survey of employers by NCVER found 75.4 per cent of employers with jobs requiring vocational qualifications were satisfied those qualifications provided employees with the skills they required for the job. This is lower than the peak of 84.6 per cent in 2011. (NCVER, 2017).
• Employment outcomes for government-funded graduates are strong, but are lower than their peak in 2011. Of 2017 government-funded graduates, 58.6 per cent improved their employment status after training (got a job, were employed at a higher skill level, or received another job–related benefit). This is lower than the peak result of 65.0 per cent for 2008 graduates, but higher than both 2015 and 2016 graduates (55.7 per cent and 58.6 per cent respectively).
• VET government-funded student enrolments fell 6.2 per cent between 2015 and 2018, and the number of program enrolments fell 4.8 per cent.
Over 90 percent of new jobs over the next five years will need education beyond school and some jobs will need more training than they used to.
Out of the occupations that generally require VET qualifications, employment is projected to grow most for Aged and Disabled Carers (up by 69,200), followed by Child Carers (27,600), Waiters (21,800), Education Aides (18,800) and Bar Attendants and Baristas (14,100) over the five years to May 2023.