Page 3753 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017

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Economy—vocational education and training

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM SPEAKER: I have received letters from Ms Cheyne, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mrs Kikkert, Ms Lee, Ms Orr, Mr Parton, Mr Pettersson, Mr Steel and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Steel be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of supporting VET students to contribute to the wider ACT economy.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (3.48): I am very pleased to finally be able to speak on this matter of public importance today, to highlight the significant contribution that vocational education and training students and the VET sector make to the future prosperity of the territory. Our government supports a strong VET system and a strong Canberra Institute of Technology, because these institutions build skills and human capital, which drive our economy. As a government we have made a concerted effort to ensure that all young people and mature age students are afforded a quality education and the opportunity to be supported to gain the skills they need to enter or re-enter the workforce, to build careers, businesses and industries.

Vocational education in the ACT is a well-regarded and nationally recognised alternative and offers a considerable benefit to our community. The skills that are built in the VET system enable students to go on to work in a range of industries that contribute significantly to the economy. The system gives young people and other students the opportunity to develop and acquire practical workplace skills or to re-skill and go on to provide a valuable contribution to the ACT economy.

This week, many of my colleagues have spoken about the importance of our government’s responsible economic management in the ACT. If the ACT is to continue to grow our economy, we need to continue to ensure that our workforce is equipped with new skills and the qualifications for the growing needs of our city and our economy. Often these skills are gained on the job and in close collaboration with employers and their industries. In fact, the distinguishing and important feature of the vocational and education training sector is the workplace learning opportunities that bring students into direct contact with the workplace. This is something we need to continue to build on, to strengthen our VET system by working with employers, industry bodies, the CIT and other private registered training organisations, and by looking at new opportunities. These opportunities are often identified by employers, based on emerging industry skill needs and how students can be better supported and equipped for the needs of employers and the economy.

VET should not be seen as a secondary or lesser status pathway for students. Students participating in the VET system can enter well-paid jobs and have fulfilling careers. VET in the ACT plays a crucial role in meeting the demands of new and emerging market needs that universities simply do not offer. VET should not be seen or become the forgotten “middle child”. That is why our government places a strong emphasis on

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