|Policy Development and Implementation of Technical and Vocational Education for Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific - Conference Proceedings - UNESCO - UNEVOC Regional Conference (RMIT, 1997, 520 p.)|
Hon Dr David Kemp MP
Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training
Royal Melbourne Institute of
12 November 1996
UNESCO UNEVOC REGIONAL CONFERENCE
Vice Chancellor Professor David Beanland, Mr Qureshi, Dr Haas and Committee, distinguished guests and delegates:
As the Australian Government Minister responsible for Schools, Vocational Education and Training, I am delighted to have the opportunity to open this conference on behalf of the UNESCO UNEVOC Regional Centre
UNEVOC, which was launched in 1992 following a resolution of UNESCO's 1991 General Conference, is a force for the future, strengthening the development and improvement of technical and vocational education in UNESCO member states and establishing a world-wide network committed to achieve this overall goal.
UNEVOC objectives cluster into three areas.
· The first set is developmental, fostering the international exchange of ideas, experiences and promoting studies on policy issues.
· The second focuses on infrastructure, strengthening national research and development capabilities.
· The third area addresses information communication and networking.
UNEVOC's strategies for achieving its objectives include: advocacy; policy analysis; information sourcing and exchange; professional development and personnel exchange; and, networking.
The UNEVOC work plan for 1996-97 includes a commendable range of activities, including projects that focus on:
· raising the status of technical and vocational education;
· continuing technical and vocational education;
· promoting study visits;
· publication of papers and research; and
· significantly, the holding of this conference.
The importance of Technical and Vocational Education
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is an important conference. Its theme: Policy Development and Implementation for Technical and Vocational Education for Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific speaks for itself. As we move into a world that is increasingly dominated by technology and international trade, the importance of investment in our human resources becomes ever more apparent.
We know that many countries in our region are currently enjoying the highest levels of economic growth in the world. The questions that these countries must ask themselves are:
How do we maintain this level of economic growth?
What are the policies that will provide the know how to continue this phenomenon?
Other countries have slightly different questions to answer:
How to generate increased economic growth?
What policies will attract investment, generate employment, and create a skilled workforce?
Australia is asking itself these questions and I have no doubt that all other countries are asking them in one form or another.
The answers lie, in part, in policies for technical and vocational education (TVE). One key raw material of economic growth is human capital; in some people rich but resource poor countries, it can be the only resource. The demand for people with technical, business and other vocational skills is outstripping demand in high growth economies. The lack of skilled people is a real brake on growth for both developed and emerging economies.
Getting the policies and structures right for nation's technical and vocational education system is a major element in economic management of any economy. Technical and vocational education is the engine room of economic growth. It provides the skills that drive the production and provides the underpinnings for high quality manufacturing and service delivery. Economic prosperity depends upon a skilled workforce this requires an effective TVE system. An effective TVE system is one that delivers the human skills required by industry when they are required and at the right price.
There is no single policy for technical and vocational education that will suit all nations. TVE policies must take account of the culture and the economic parameters of the country in which they are applied. Ignoring the national context is fraught with difficulties and will lead to failure. There are, however, similar goals and similar policy tools which can attain these goals. Within this broadest of frameworks we can learn from each other.
Expectations of the Conference
What are we to expect of this conference? There are many papers addressing important issues for technical and vocational education. These papers relate experiences, identify issues and outline possible solutions.
I would suggest that if you:
· gain further insights into developments in the planning and implementation of technical and vocational education in other countries; and
· take away new ideas as to how the issues confronting technical and vocational education in your country can be approached
then your time will have been well spent. If you take away an action plan for putting some of these ideas into practice when you return home, that is even better.
Australia's Vocational Education and Training (VET) System
I would like to start this process of information exchange by briefly outlining the approach of the Australian Government to technical and vocational education. Australia, like other countries in Asia and the Pacific, recognises the requirement for a highly skilled workforce. We have responded to the imperatives of economic, social and technological change by implementing a major program of reforms to the vocational education and training sector.
Over recent years we have adopted policies aimed to ensure that our TVE system is able to:
· provide the skills needed to continue economic growth into the twenty first century; and
· deliver training efficiently and equitably.
The key to making these changes has been cooperation between industry and government that have worked together closely. For training to be relevant and appropriate, it must prepare people for employment in a wide spectrum of enterprises with varying facilities, equipment and work practices, including contemporary and emerging technologies and business methods.
Reforming education and training systems is not without its difficulties, as most of us here could attest. A range of problems can inhibit the development of an effective system and reduce the employment prospects of graduates and inhibit economic growth. Many of these problems are best addressed through the reconstruction of the relationship between industry, governments and providers.
Creating dialogue, cooperation and partnership between governments and industry, between formal and informal education arrangements, and between employers, employees and training institutions are important steps in the reform of any TVE system. This partnership is essential for:
· the modernisation of training curricula,
· access to state of the art facilities and equipment; and
· maintaining the currency of teachers' and trainers' knowledge and skills to ensure that they keep pace with modern production techniques and work practices.
When a country recognises the importance of having a well trained workforce, particularly when industry moves away from labour intensive manufacturing towards more technologically advanced industry and service sectors, it is then necessary to look into the whole question of linkages between vocational education and training and industry.
Australia, like many countries across the world, is implementing a range of policies to promote closer links between vocational education and training providers and industry. These polices include:
· creating links between industry, governments and providers at the national the state and the local levels;
· encouraging investment in training by industry,
including the development of frameworks which support staff release or exchanges for training purposes and which enable the use of industrial infrastructure and equipment in vocational education and training courses; and
· developing structured education and training programs with credentials or awards that are recognised by industry and business across the country.
In undertaking these reforms we have created a national system with the flexibility to meet the different needs of enterprises where ever they are in Australia.
Awareness of the reforms that have been implemented.
Recent fundamental changes to Australia's technical and vocational education system include:
1. The adoption of a competency based training system which has as its foundation the competencies identified by industry;
· where progression is based on what a person can actually do rather than how long they have spent in training;
2. The integration of on and off-the-job training into a
structured training program
· this is an essential component of a competency based training system. This approach requires close collaboration between training providers and industry for training development, delivery and assessment.
3. The move from a supply driven system to a demand driven system;
· a national planning and administrative system has been established which is substantially directed by industry;
4. The establishment of a national qualifications framework that links the qualifications that are awarded:
· in the senior years of secondary school;
· to those that are awarded in the technical and vocational education sector; and
· to those that are awarded in the higher education or university sector.
The linking of qualifications in the three sectors provides a bridge between the sectors. It creates an articulated set of education and training pathways that enable people to move from, for example, the TVE sector to the higher education sector. People are able to continue education and training throughout their working life and achieve higher skill levels and maximise their own potential over a period of time.
5. The encouragement of flexibility in training delivery, including the development of complementary on and off-the-job training arrangements;
· Flexible delivery methods extend the ways in which workplace training is supported by public institutions, including incorporating new communication technologies, the provision of training materials through a range of media, direct tutoring services, or the establishment of structures in which support is provided on a regular basis by workplace mentors with occasional visits from professional trainers.
· Assessment in the workplace is now a requirement of many accredited programs. Arrangements vary, but they involve training providers in either conducting the assessment or in providing training for workplace personnel to act as assessors. Records of assessment conducted by workplace personnel are incorporated as part of the requirements for a credential offered by a training provider.
6. The opening up of the training market where public, private and industry providers operate in a competitive environment.
7. The provision of increased access and improved outcomes for those people who have missed out on training opportunities in the past.
8. The commencement of the reform of Australia's entry level training arrangements;
· to improve the transition from school to work.
Apprenticeships and traineeships have always have always combined off-the-job learning in institutions with workplace experience. The recent reforms extend this focus by developing a range of flexible pathways moving between the workplace and formal education settings. Structured workplace training is a key part of Australia's TVE system
The thrust of our approach is to encourage cooperation between industry, government and providers, including public, private and enterprise TVE providers, working to satisfy the training needs of industry and commerce in Australia.
1996 and Beyond
Have we done enough? I don't think so and the Australian Government does not think so.
Australia's economic prosperity depends upon the skills of its workforce. The commitment of Australia's businesses to quality training that delivers world class skills is crucial to achieving competitive advantage in today's global economy.
The Australian Government has recently announced further initiatives to make its TVE system responsive to the needs of industry. We have announced the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System to rejuvenate the traditional entry level training system as the centrepiece of our commitment to improved vocational education and training. The Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System is all about flexibility, choice and quality training to meet the skill needs of the future.
The major objective of the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System is to make training an attractive business option for a much wider range of enterprises and to make it more accessible and responsive to employers' needs - that is, to make investment in training a sound business decision.
In this way, opportunities for young people are being increased and new pathways leading to real jobs are being created.
Implementation of the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System involves the cooperative effort of all Australian governments, employers and industry and business bodies.
The principles of the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System are:
· that it is an industry led training system:
At all stages, from the development of competency standards to the delivery of training, industry must be able to shape the system so that it meets employers' needs. This means that processes which frustrate industry involvement, and which are often unnecessarily bureaucratic, will be reformed.
· Employers and employees will have a much wider choice in the selection of training providers:
From the beginning of 1998 employers and their apprentices and trainees will select the training provider of their choice to provide their training. All public funding for off-the-job apprenticeship and traineeship training will be allocated on this user choice model.
· Regulation by government agencies is being streamlined:
The current systems for the approval of apprenticeships and traineeships, approval and accreditation of courses, registration of providers and approval of eligibility for Federal Government subsidies is being simplified to reduce delays and costs.
· Expanded training opportunities are being created:
Training opportunities, especially for young people, are being expanded, particularly in industries and occupations where:
· there are skill shortages;
· there is a current lack of training effort; and
· where there is projected employment growth.
Modernising existing arrangements is making participation in structured training more attractive to employers and young people.
There will also be a significant increase in the provision of vocational education and training in schools, including arrangements for students to begin apprenticeships and traineeships while they are still at school.
· Local and community involvement is being facilitated:
In a country as large as Australia it is important to strengthen the partnerships between industry and the community at the local level, develop stronger links between schools, training and work and ensure that the training system meets the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.
· A national framework ensures Quality training outcomes and qualifications that are portable between jobs and between States and Territories.
· An access and equity focus will provide opportunities to participate in, and gain quality outcomes for, those who may otherwise be disadvantaged in their access to training.
To sum up, the Australian Government sees the two essential features for the reform of its technical and vocational education system as:
· giving full ownership of the decision making processes to industry; and
· providing user choice by the end users of the training.
It is only in this way that we are able to ensure that we have the skills required to continue and accelerate economic growth well into the next century.
Ladies and gentlemen, through this conference we have an ideal opportunity to exchange of information, expertise and experience.
It is my hope that, by undertaking the major reform of our vocational education and training system, we in Australia will not only reap our own economic and social rewards but that Australia will provide a more effective contribution to vocational education and training in the Asia Pacific region.
Finally, I would like to thank Mr Qureshi from the UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and Mr Adrian Haas from the Royal Institute of Technology, Melbourne for giving me the opportunity to open this conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your time this morning. It is my hope that there will be a full exchange of ideas and views during this conference and that you return home energised with new ideas for the continued development of technical and vocational education in your countries.