National school trades reform support secured
- Assistant Minister for Education
A landmark agreement will deliver a national approach to addressing the shortage of school students taking up trades and training for the first time in over a decade.
Federal Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley has secured support from her state and territory counterparts for the national Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) framework to be updated.
Ms Ley said the current framework had not been updated since its introduction in 2001 – “when most of us had dial-up internet and mobile phones the size of bricks”.
A working group of experts from industry, training, education and government will also be set up to guide the reforms, which will focus on strengthening links between employers and schools and the quality of training and career advice delivered.
Only 16 per cent of Australia’s 15-to-19 year olds are enrolled in a VETiS course, with that number dropping to just 1.5 per cent for school-based apprenticeships – a lower number than in 2008.
Ms Ley – who has been spearheading the need for national reform – commended state and territory governments for their support, saying it was a “landmark step” towards addressing the nation’s skills shortages.
“Our kids are our future – and this has never been truer in regards to addressing the nation’s skills shortages,” Ms Ley said.
“And to build a stronger nation we literally need to get the next generation involved in trades and training while they’re at school and deciding on a future career.
“The fact that only 1.5 per cent 15-to-19 year olds in this country are enrolled in a school-based apprenticeship shows Labor’s deliberate effort to putting university on a pedestal over trades is putting Australia’s economic success at risk.
“Our kids need to know trades and training are first-class career pathways just like university - they shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re playing on the ‘B team’.”
Ms Ley said individually states and territories had a number of innovative strategies and programs to addressing the current skills shortages within their own borders.
"However this is a national problem that transcends geographical borders and all parties recognise a national, co-ordinated approach will help deliver better outcomes both at local and national-level.
“This is about working with the states and territories to create a relevant set of overarching guidelines that encapsulates the good work that’s already underway and gives them the flexibility to continue to build on it.
“It’s just disappointing Labor was so preoccupied with big spending promises of new buildings that they failed to see the real problem was going on inside their walls.”
The agreement was reached between Ms Ley and state and territory ministers at the recent COAG Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood.
It follows a national roundtable Ms Ley convened in February between industry, schools, training providers and government, where she received initial backing for the national VETiS framework to be updated.