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MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Training) (10.54): Mr Speaker, I present the Vocational Education and Training Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the introduction of this Bill represents a watershed in the coordination and management of the ACT system of vocational education and training. It is the first overhaul of our vocational education and training legislation since the Act to establish the Vocational Training Authority was passed by this Assembly in the very early days of self-government in 1989. There has been vast change in the national and ACT system of vocational education and training since then, change which was only just emerging at that time. As part of our response to these changes, often referred to as the training reform agenda, it is now imperative that we revise the legislative underpinning of the system to ensure its continuing relevance.

It is worth recalling some of the change which has occurred over the past five years. There has been the introduction of a competency-based system of vocational education and training, involving the establishment of the National Training Board to facilitate and endorse industry and enterprise competency standards. Such standards ensure that the training system is delivering the skills that industry needs. A new national agreement for the recognition of training has been implemented, aimed at achieving greater consistency and better quality assurance in our course accreditation and provider registration system. Our entry-level training arrangements are being reformed through the introduction of more flexible pathways under the Australian vocational training system. A new system of vocational education and training qualifications has recently been introduced. There are new processes to enable development of national common core curricula. Delivery arrangements are more flexible and accessible. Our schools are now more closely linked to the vocational training system, and the Australian National Training Authority, ANTA, has been established to bring greater focus to the strategic planning and funding of the vocational education and training system.

Each of these major policy initiatives and the detailed implementation required at the State and Territory level has impacted on the way we manage and coordinate our vocational education and training system. The current legislative framework is under severe strain. While it has coped to date, it can cope no longer. Furthermore, it is still heavily focused on regulatory and inspectorial approaches to system management. This legislation will refocus it on coordination, quality assurance and resource allocation in line with the move to a more client orientated approach. Additionally, our industries and enterprises are quite correctly demanding a greater say in the management and coordination arrangements under the new system. It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact

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