Rebuilding Vocational Training in Australia


Australia’s manufacturing sector has been experiencing an important and welcome rebound during the last two years. The turnaround has been documented and analysed in previous Centre for Future Work research (including studies published in 2017 and 2018 as part of the National Manufacturing Summit, co-sponsored by the Centre).

Ironically, the manufacturing recovery could be short-circuited by looming shortages of appropriately skilled workers.  This seems unbelievable — given so much downsizing in manufacturing employment that occurred between 2001 and 2015.  But a combination of structural change within the sector, the ageing of the current workforce, and the failure of Australia’s vocational education system (crippled by a bizarre experiment in publicly-subsidized private delivery) means that recovering manufacturers may be unable to find the skilled workers they need.

A recent feature article in Australian Welding magazine highlighted the Centre for Future Work’s research into the problems of the current VET system, the implications for manufacturing, and 12 key reforms urgently needed to repair the situation.

The feature article is extracted from a detailed paper (co-authored by Tanya Carney and Jim Stanford) on the evolving skills requirements of the manufacturing sector, and the failure of a privatised, fragmented VET system to meet those needs.  That paper was unveiled at the 2018 National Manufacturing Summit in Canberra.

“Stable, well-funded, high-quality public institutions must be the anchors of any successful VET system. Public institutions are the only ones with the resources, the connections, and the stability to provide manufacturers with a steady supply of world-class skilled workers.”

Please see the full 4-page article in Australian Welding magazine with our proposals for rebuilding a high-quality, modern VET system to meet the needs of manufacturing and other Australian industries.

We are grateful to Australian Welding and Weld Australia for permission to reprint this article!

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