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What is VET Qualification Reform?
The vocational education and training (VET) sector has a critical role to play in helping Australians to get well paid and secure jobs, boosting living standards and creating more opportunities for Australians to prosper.
VET qualification reform seeks to enhance the strengths of the existing VET system to ensure it is relevant to labour market needs and can keep pace with the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian labour market and economy.
Building on their October 2022 agreement to reform the framework for VET qualifications, Skills Ministers have recommitted to substantial qualification reform, agreeing to a VET qualifications system which is:
- high-performing, easy to navigate, and meets the needs of employers and learners now and into the future;
- supports innovation and excellence in training delivery and assessment;
- supports safety and quality in training outcomes;
- delivers an adaptable skilled workforce resilient to structural changes; and
- supports more employers to use nationally recognised training.
In response to feedback from national consultations, qualification reform will retain units of competency as the building block for VET qualifications, but also recognise that VET serves a diverse range of industries, and that a one-size-fits-all approach is not in the best interest of learners and industry.
Skills Ministers have established a tripartite, industry-led process to progress reform and achieve Ministers’ reform ambitions.
Qualification Reform Design Group
In response to stakeholder feedback, a time-limited tripartite Qualifications Reform Design Group (Design Group) has been established.
Skills Ministers have requested the Design Group to provide advice about the design of a reform process for VET qualifications which prepares the sector for the future.
Members of the Design Group, appointed by the Hon Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training, are:
- Mr Craig Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Skills Authority (Chair)
- Ms Sarah Brunton, National Technical Officer, Electrical Trades Union
- Ms Helen Cooney, Principal Policy Officer, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association
- Ms Megan Lilly, Executive Director, Australian Industry Group
- Mr Geoff Gwilym, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce
- Dr Margot McNeill, Chief Product and Quality Officer TAFE NSW, Education expert
- Mr Mathew Pearson, Director – National Skills Reform, NSW Department of Education, State and Territory nominated representative.
Jobs and Skills Councils will provide expert advice to the Design Group on the proposed design and their application within their industries, before further work in 2024 to develop a change program for transitioning VET qualifications.
Updates from the Design Group as this work progresses are available as listed:
This work will be the first step of a multi-year program of work to deliver on the Skills Ministers’ reform ambition.
2022-23 Consultation outcome summary
Between September 2022 and March 2023, significant national consultation activities were undertaken with a broad range of VET stakeholders, including:
- over 80 meetings and workshops with industry and training peaks, employers, unions, training providers, licensing bodies, regulators, Skills Services Organisations and State and Training Authorities across all states and territories,
- an online national survey with 246 completed responses from individuals and organisations, and
- 2 public webinars with a total of 825 attendees.
Consultation activities centred on testing an example VET qualification architecture model based on:
- Skills Standards that described the skills required for a particular job;
- Training and Assessment Requirements that provided guidance to training providers on training delivery and assessment for those Skills Standards; and
- Completion Rules detailing the required packaging of Skills Standards and Training and Assessment Requirements into recognised qualifications and skill sets.
The example model focused on using these elements to develop qualifications with broader vocational outcomes and to provide learners with skills and knowledge that are common across a range of job roles, with specialisations to provide job role specific training.
Feedback demonstrated strong agreement for the need to improve the VET qualification system. However, there were diverse views on how improvements could best be made. Some stakeholders supported the proposed model, others suggested it did not go far enough to support innovation in training delivery, while others argued that progress would best be achieved through improvements to the current model.
In particular, stakeholders noted the importance of ensuring that reform accommodated the diverse uses of VET – and the importance of avoiding a one size fits all approach. Stakeholders also noted the model represented a fundamental shift in the way the VET sector would operate and would result in major impacts across the sector. This would require significant capability building to support a successful transition.
Overall, consultation outcomes showed a need to revise the approach to qualifications reform, which retains units of competency as the building block for VET qualifications but improves the ability of VET qualifications to better address the differing needs of industry. Feedback also emphasised the importance of tripartite industry leadership for qualifications reform – particularly through the newly established Jobs and Skills Councils.
A summary of the consultation feedback is available at VET Qualification Reform.
Case for change
In the decades since the VET system was introduced, it has become complex with around 1,200 qualifications, 1,600 skill sets, 15,000 units of competency and 670 accredited short courses and qualifications. Proliferation and duplication also exist, with over 5,000 units having more than 70 per cent overlap with another unit, creating a difficult VET system for learners, employers, and training providers to understand and navigate.
Some training products have become prescriptive, which can stifle innovation and flexibility in training delivery and hinder the recognition of transferable skills and learner mobility. Combined with poor recognition of transferable skills, a learner who is upskilling or reskilling will likely undertake some training that delivers similar skills to those they already have.
Qualifications reform is an opportunity to retain and build upon the existing features in the VET system that are working well, whilst addressing areas of concern to ensure that VET continues to support learners to acquire the skills that industry and employers need for the future.