Page 4157 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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I have already spoken in this place about the enhancements we have recently made to the user choice program and to major initiatives undertaken by the Education and Training Directorate to improve stakeholder engagement. However, the pace of reform in the VET space is unrelenting and the ACT has achieved many more reform objectives worth noting. In March of this year, we introduced the ACT quality framework, including the release of a revised ACT funding agreement. The quality framework promotes excellence and transparency of VET in the ACT and seeks to ensure only the highest quality providers can deliver publicly funded VET in the ACT.

We recently completed a review of our VET schools program in which we committed to improving clarity and confidence for key stakeholders by clearly articulating the goals, visions and purpose of VET in our schools; increasing the quality of VET workplace experience by building efficiencies in how we deliver VET in schools and reducing red tape; ensuring ongoing compliance with national training standards and local reporting requirements; and finally by encouraging collaboration among schools and with CIT to maximise the effectiveness of VET in our schools.

We have made amendments to the CIT act that give CIT a new governance structure. Replacing the CIT’s advisory council with a governing board demonstrates our commitment to supporting the public provider to remain strong in a more competitive environment and helps to ensure even greater accountability for public funds. The act clearly sets out CIT’s mandate to continue to provide high quality vocational education and training, engaging and supporting the community, consulting and collaborating with business and industry and developing pathways for learners.

We have also introduced Skilled Capital, which I spoke about earlier during the day. It is ACT’s signature employment program. It complements training provided at CIT and through the Australian apprenticeship user choice program. Skilled Capital will provide $21 million over three years for the provision of high quality training in areas of identified skills need. Since applications for Skilled Capital opened in February, over 1,900 students have been approved and 300 have completed their qualifications. Skilled Capital is a dynamic program in which new targets are being developed once previous ones have been met. We have recently released an additional 750 new places across 14 qualifications.

We recognise that much work still needs to be done in renewing the VET sector in the ACT, but also across Australia. There will be significant discussions at the ministerial council meeting on Friday and ongoing VET reforms. The VET programs need to be responsive and nimble. We need to do more to ensure that VET is seen as a viable option for all students planning their careers. The ACT economy certainly needs people trained through our VET pathways.

To succeed in the economy of the future, workers will need new and different skills and knowledge. We must keep this in mind, not just with university programs but in the valuable vocational education and training sphere where students come from groups that are already vulnerable to structural economic changes.

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