03 June 2016

Vocational Education & Training – the Cinderella of Australia’s education system

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You could call Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector the Cinderella of our education system. The Australian Federal Government (or step-mother in the equation) has largely overlooked the potential of our VET sector in recent years.

The number of enrolments in the VET sector is only 13 percent higher than they were 10 years ago. This is an alarming statistic when compared to the number of undergraduate enrolments which has risen by an enormous 43 percent over the past four years.

Falling student enrolment numbers are worsened by the cuts in Government funding, which has seen a decline by 31 percent since 2005 - the lowest level of government investment amongst all education institutions.  

The 2016-17 Federal Budget confirms an even further reduction in VET investment, alleging that funding will fall by more than $500 million between 2017 and 2018, with an additional reduction of $50 million over four years.  
VETs are not only facing pressure from the weakening number of student enrolments and collapse in government funding but are also under enormous pressure from increasingly stringent regulatory requirements. Only 20 percent of VETs were seen to be fully compliant to the ASQA standards in 2013 and 2014.
Given the tumultuous landscape of the Australian VET industry it has become increasingly evident that VET’s must innovate their business models. VETs need to capitalise on novel revenue streams, reducing reliance on government funding and student fees.
Some VETs are beginning to capitalise on this idea, innovating their offerings to attract new students. A regional community college in NSW has introduced a new course, essentially training students on how to repair their lawn-mowers. Students can then go out and start their own businesses with the necessary skills to do so.
This is just one great example of the potential for VETs. Akolade’s 2nd Annual Innovative Business Models for VET Forum is a meeting point, bringing together thought leaders across public and private VET institutions. These experts will gather to share their plethora of knowledge and industry experience on ways which VETs can grow and thrive amidst an era of reform and compliance.  
Whilst some may fail to recognise VET’s true beauty (just like Cinderella) there is no denying that VET’s have the ability to shine.    
Ashley has lived on Manly beachfront her entire life – she worships the sun and chases it year round. Having recently finished her Bachelor of Business in Portugal’s gorgeous capital, Lisbon, she thought that producing conferences at Akolade would be a great new experience.  Ashley loves her new dinner-time conversation, enlightening people on her research topics! 

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