The release by Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) of the 2023 JSA Annual Jobs And Skills Report highlights the need for student-centred reform of the nation’s skills training and higher education sectors. That’s the position of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent skills training, higher education, and international education providers.
“JSA’s report shows that in order to meet the current skills challenges and the skills needs of the future, we need to improve access to both skills training and higher education for those entering the workforce and those looking to upskill,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive Officer.
ITECA’s position is that to achieve this goal, the Australian, state and territory governments will need a policy construct that is based upon the complementarity of independent and public providers in the skills training and higher education sectors.
“Students need to be at the heart of the skills training and higher education systems. To address the challenges identified by Jobs and Skills Australia, governments need to empower students to study with the provider of their choice, one that’s able to help them achieve their life and career goals. Sometimes this will be a quality independent provider and sometimes it will be a public one,” Mr Williams said.
ITECA endorses the position set out in 2023 JSA Annual Jobs And Skills Report that the skills training, higher education and migration systems will need to effectively complement each other and have the flexibility to respond to skills and workforce needs.
“We need Australia’s workforce to be supported by a lifelong learning system that enables them to continually develop their skills to meet the needs of a dynamic economy and changing labour market,” Mr Williams said.
With independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) supporting 89.4% of the 4.5 million students in skills training and around 10% of the 1.6 million students in higher education, independent tertiary education providers will do the heavy lifting in supporting lifelong learning.
“When it comes to increasing workforce productivity, achieving sustainable real wage growth, and sustainable economic growth the key will be workforce reskilling and upskilling. Here, it is independent skills training and higher education providers that do the heavy lifting,” Mr Williams said.
When it comes to workforce reskilling, ITECA notes recent National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) data that shows 21.5% of students in skills training with independent providers already had a higher education qualification. This compares with 9.8% of TAFE students in skills training that had a higher education qualification. This highlights how students will access both higher education and skills training throughout their working lives.
“The key to employability and higher productivity is skills currency which is often achieved by undertaking a skills training qualification. In this context, government policy needs to put students at the centre of policy and appreciate that workers with higher education qualifications overwhelmingly chose independent RTOs to upskill,” Mr Williams said.
ITECA Introduction: Founded in 1992, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.
Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive
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