Changes on the way for vocational training
With big changes ahead for vocational training, businesses are well placed to explore opportunities for how training and apprenticeships can work better for their company and their employees.
The Government has announced a suite of changes to vocational education, including:
- creating a single national polytechnic that will absorb the existing 16;
- disestablishing the 11 existing industry training organisations and establishing four to seven Workforce Development Councils, responsible for skill leadership and standard setting;
- shifting responsibilities for on-job training to the new polytechnic; and
- unifying the funding system.
Given that skills and people continue to be a pain point for many industries, it is now a national imperative to make sure our skill system can be more responsive to those industries that are being held back by labour and skill shortages.
There are opportunities arising from the appetite for change, the biggest one being to address some of the long-suffering frustrations of business in being able to easily access skilled graduates and be supported to train their staff on-the-job.
Manufacturing is one of the many industries that primarily trains on the job – businesses are delivering most of the credentialing and qualifications for the workforce. Looking ahead, high quality, relevant and responsive training will be a key linchpin for manufacturers to transition to new technologies in the Industry 4.0 environment and realise the productivity gains this technology has the potential to provide.
Part of that productivity gain will also look like less reliance on labour. Companies are already exploring ways to prepare and retrain their workforce, particularly those in lower-skilled jobs, to navigate a rapidly changing labour market.
The manufacturing industry can be at the forefront of the vocational training reforms, and there is already good work underway of companies working together to understand the challenges facing the industry now, and in the future.
The ability of the vocational training system to be able to respond effectively to these industry needs and retain the bits of the system that is performing well is the biggest challenge of the reforms, and industry will need to be making sure their voices are heard on the challenges they face, and making sure that disruption doesn’t create a gap in the skills pipeline for the next few years.
The outcome of the new reforms must be increased partnership and responsiveness between industry and education to have any chance of turning the tide on the deficit of skilled manufacturing workers in the future.
At this point, we’re focussing on a few key questions, including:
- What does a successful skill system look like in five years’ time?
- How will the reforms strengthen industry feedback loops on the performance of the skills system?
- How do we make sure that we maintain continuity of the skills pipeline that is working well through the change period?
Your feedback on this, or any other issues around the reforms, is welcome.