2014 is closing fast and what a year it has been for Vocational Education and Training. At a national level we have seen a succession of changes focussed on reform of the VET system, while at the State level the introduction of Future Skills WA has brought a new funding model that provides greater subsidises for training in priority occupations, but increased fees for other areas of training. This is a concern for many areas of the creative and leisure industries where specialised training to meet the needs of vitally important industry segments with either thin markets, or non-trade type defined job outcomes, is essential, yet potential students are being put off by higher fees. The review of training packages and the contestability on their development in 2015 will also no doubt provide fresh challenges for the VET system as will the overall decline in VET enrolments, including apprenticeships.
At a National level changes and initiatives include:
- A new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to lift apprenticeship completion rates;
- A review of the development and content of training packages;
- The development of training packages will become contestable when the current Skills Councils contracts expire in June 2015;
- New standards for training providers and regulators;
- Unique Student Identifier activated;
- The abolition of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency while the National Skills Standard Council (NSSC) has been dissolved; and
- The establishment of the new Industry and Skills Council Advisory Committee and the VET Training Advisory Board.
At a State level we have also seen a number of changes and initiatives including:
- The introduction of Future Skills WA, a new funding model that provides greater subsidises for training in priority occupations;
- A downturn in the number of VET student enrolments in 2015;
- The conclusion of the Professor Margaret Seares review of the VET system in WA confirming the Training Councils’ role in providing impartial strategic industry advice through the State Training Board and DTWD to the Minister.
- The announcement this week of the fifth Ministerial change in the Training and Workforce Development portfolio in the last 30 months;
- The update to FutureNow’s Creative and Leisure Industries Workforce Development Plan; and
- The introduction of a positive VET in schools action policy, combined with the outcomes of a strategic audit of VETiS delivery and assessment.
We welcome The Hon Liza Harvey MLA to the Training and Workforce Development portfolio and look forward to working with her during 2015 and working through the myriad of changes facing the VET system.
FutureNow, like the other tenants from the fire stricken Sports Lotteries House in Mount Claremont, has spent the last two months recovering and rebuilding following the loss of nearly all of its possessions. Good planning ensured that off-site backups preserved our online records which has been invaluable in having a base to regenerate. However, nearly all hard documents have been damaged and restoration of full records is a lengthy process. We are pleased to advise that we have temporary accommodation, thanks to the Retail and Personal Services Training Council in Leeway Court in Osborne Park. We are still waiting on confirmation of what will happen with the damaged building and how long repairs or rebuilding will take. The team have been tremendous in pulling together to get us through this period and I thank them and the Board for their support and commitment. Meanwhile, please bear with us as we rebuild and I am confident that 2015 will see a resumption of normal service.
Wishing all of our colleagues and partners a very happy, relaxing and safe festive season and working with you again in 2015