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Business Council address brings long overdue focus on the VET sector

Group Training Australia (GTA) has welcomed the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) call for the national discussion about vocational education and training (VET) to be elevated, and afforded equal policy priority with schools and universities.

The CEO of the BCA, Ms Jennifer Westacott last week delivered the Swinburne University 2014 Chancellor’s Lecture, calling for VET policy debate to be given greater national attention and for an overhaul to rectify serious shortcomings. 

“VET is a crucial piece of the national armour we need to protect Australia’s economic competitiveness and social cohesion,” Ms Westacott said.

“If we undervalue VET, we will continue to push the university sector to become more of a mass education sector, which it was not designed to be.”

The Chief Executive Officer of GTA, Mr Jim Barron said the comments were extremely timely and should be a wake-up call that piecemeal and incremental reform will not be sufficient.

“There are many in the sector who have been bashing their heads against a wall for many years to see these issues addressed and to give VET the recognition it deserves.

“Unfortunately, the VET policy debate seems to undergo a re-invention every few years and we often end up where we began,” Mr Barron said.

He said the BCA highlighted real problems with the present arrangements, including the quality of VET graduates, a “siloed” focus, and inadequate links with industry.

“Significantly, the BCA also said that VET is a national economic priority and should be a Commonwealth responsibility – not devolved to the states as recommended in the recent Commission of Audit,” Mr Barron said. 

Media Contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications, 02 9241 2811, 0412 753 298,    

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