Fragmentation & Photo-Ops

The Failures of Australian Skills Policy Through COVID
by Alison Pennington

Strong vocational education and training (VET) systems are vital to the success of dynamic, innovative economies and inclusive labour markets. Australia’s VET system once provided well-established and dependable education-to-jobs pathways, but a combination of policy vandalism and fiscal mismanagement plunged the VET system into a lasting and multidimensional crisis.

During the pandemic, the federal government has pursued further VET restructuring through the implementation of several wage and training subsidy programs at the cost of several billion dollars. This has deepened the “contestable market” experiment unleashed in the 2000s, by subsidising further decentralisation of course content, delivery and student recruitment to unaccountable for-profit training providers. Meanwhile, more TAFE institutes have been closed and enrolments have continued to decline.

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