Vocational Education Crisis Continues

The crisis in the vocational education portfolio continues with the release of the Training in security programs in Australia report by Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) yesterday which identified a “systemic issue of graduates who are not sufficiently skilled to carry out public safety roles”.


Last year in Senate Estimates, Labor raised concerns about the security industry following reports of extremely short courses and safety issues in the industry and asked for answers on what was being done to address these concerns to be told that the report would be released by the end of last year.


The long-overdue report also identified problems with inadequate levels of language, literacy and numeracy skills in the industry.


This report follows recent reports that nine out of 10 employers say that poor staff literacy is hitting their bottom lines and is further proof that the Liberal Government’s $2 billion in skills cuts, including cuts to adult numeracy and literacy programs were ill-considered and are hurting Australia’s productivity.


The Abbott/Turnbull Government has been ignoring these critical issues and, instead, dithered about disbanding Industry Skills Councils (ISC) and yesterday formally announced successful private company tenderers to undertake training package development. This has resulted in the loss of decades of industry experience from the training package development process.


Given that this new ASQA report identifies some critically important issues in training package development it is very concerning that there is very little known about the successful tenderers and the breadth of industry and training knowledge they will be able to access.


Industry Skills Councils brought together the voices of industry, unions and professional organisations to the table to ensure that all stakeholders had a voice in the development of training packages.  There has been collaboration on the development of training packages for over 30 years and, when Labor left office, Australia’s training system was widely regarded as one of the best in the world.


The Minister’s announcement yesterday has failed to ensure the inclusion of any voices representing workers or students and disregarded some ISC tenders which were widely supported by their sectors.


The Abbott/Turnbull Government needs to stop wrecking and start investing in Australia’s future workforce before it’s too late.