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Current VET strategies and responsiveness to emerging skills shortages and surpluses.


This paper provides an overview of the approaches used by state and territories in planning the provision of publicly funded training, including the purchasing strategies that are employed. It also considers the relationship between the authorities and the TAFE institutes and the considerations taken into account by the authorities when dealing with the broader training market It is based on a series of interviews with officials within each of the state and territory authorities, other state and territory planning agencies and a sample of TAFE institutes from most of the states and territories.

The vocational education and training (VET) sector in Australia is oriented towards industrial training. The first national principle for VET is that 'industry and business needs, both now and for the future, drive training policies, priorities and delivery' (DEST, 2005). This principle supports the objective that 'industry will have a highly skilled workforce to support strong performance in the global economy.'

The principles and objectives of the National Training System are enacted through decisions about the allocation of the public training resources. Typically the allocation of these funds is through three means:

* training that is purchased from the public training providers (TAFE) and other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs);

* the allocation of funds for apprenticeships and traineeships via employers through the 'User Choice' allocations and mechanisms; and

* funding that is allocated for programs that are contestable for public and private RTOs. VET in Schools (VETiS) is a further form of funding, but is mostly administered separately.

Responsibility for the allocation of these funds rests with state and territory training authorities. These are located within a national training system that sets guiding principles and objectives and establishes national priorities for VET. The national training system also includes funding agreements between state and territory and the Commonwealth governments that set down agreed profiles for the public purchase of training.

Each of the state and territory governments maintains a set of publicly owned, funded and directed TAFE colleges/institutes (each of Tasmania and the ACT has one TAFE institute). The degree of autonomy of these institutes varies between constituencies. They receive the bulk of public funding for VET, however, and they have substantial remits for the delivery of programs to individuals and industry. Therefore, the decisions on VET provision taken by TAFEs have a significant impact upon the patterns of VET delivery across the country.

Beyond the purchased TAFE provision, there exists smaller amounts of user-choice funded provision, contestable funding and fee for service in public and private training providers. Fee for service is in accredited and non-accredited VET, and industry provided training also can be formally recognised or informal. All of these elements constitute the supply of VET within Australia, and the strategies used by training authorities are designed, at least to some extent, to maximise the quantity, quality and fit-to-need of this supply.

The Training Market

The formation of a national training system in the 1990s included the objective of establishing a 'training market'. Key principles of the national system have been that it should be demand driven, industry led and responsive to industry needs. The supply side infrastructure of the national and state and territory systems has been designed to support these national objectives and principles. This infrastructure consists of three elements:

* the supply of training providers, consisting of 58 public TAFE providers (as of July 1 2006), plus a range of specialist colleges, and over 3000 private RTOs (Harris et al, 2006), and the supply of training personnel;

* the advisory and decision-making infrastructure, which includes strong industry input and leadership; and

* the purchasing infrastructure, which effectively determines the content and the form of the training that is delivered through public funds.

The relationship between the demand for and supply of training is difficult to quantify. On the supply side, Harris et al (2006) estimate that in 2003 there were 2.2 million students in private RTOs compared with 1.7 million in the TAFE sector. The lack of information on the amount of training delivered per enrolment in RTOs makes these comparisons problematic. Average hours delivered per student will be higher in the TAFE sector, and enrolment data gathered at a single point in time rather than annually is typically around half the annual levels, as demonstrated through the 2001 census.

In 2004 fee for service was 11.3 per cent of all accredited training and approximately 8 per cent within TAFE. Private RTOs also deliver non-accredited training, and most estimates find that only between a quarter and a third of private training organisations are registered with the state training authorities, showing that the bulk of non-TAFE training is delivered outside the regulated sector.

On the demand side, the ABS records that 34,200 TAFE applicants were unable to gain a place in May 2005 (ABS Cat No. 6227). The reliability and the implications of this figure are disputed. This unmet demand is for free or minimal-cost training in TAFE. But the statistic does not give any real indication of the level of demand from individuals and industry for training, whether publicly funded or fee based, that is not met because of lack of provision with the required fit for need, location, timing, price and quality.

The training market is not a pure market, in that it has a large injection of public funding that must be managed and accounted for and because the training sector, and especially the TAFE sector, is subject to the constraints of social policy objectives. These constraints take multiple forms and include priorities for different social groups and areas, the maintenance of the public TAFE system, and the location of a significant and growing element of training within the school sector. Moreover, the demand for training can be influenced by externalities, including the Commonwealth subsidies for employers that take on apprentices and trainees.

A failure of or a weakness in demand is endemic to VET systems across most countries and has provoked a range of policy responses. In most cases these have been supply side responses, such as those pursued through the National Training Reform Agenda in Australia. But they also have included demand side responses, such as the imposition of training levies, taxation inducements and subsidies designed to stimulate industry demand for skills and individual investment in VET (Haukka et al, 2004).

Australia has amongst the highest levels of private investment in school and tertiary level education amongst OECD countries, and this investment is growing in both sectors (OECD, 2006). Public policy has both exploited, and in turn is designed to stimulate, private investment in these sectors. This is a more difficult challenge in the VET sector because its individual clients mostly have lower levels of income and weaker educational backgrounds, and because of the inherent difficulties in increasing industry investment in training. In Australia there are limits to industry demand for training, with an apparent fall in employer investment in training (Smith and Billett, 2004). Outside the traded goods sector, and with the growth of contingent employment (Richardson and Tan 2008), the Australian market limits the pressures for firm based training.

On the other hand, it is widely acknowledged that industry makes a substantial investment in training in the workplace. The observable contributions are time off for employees to undertake training, the supervision of training and the payment of wages above levels of productivity. This investment typically is seen as equivalent to the levels of formal investment in VET, i.e. circa $4-5 billion per annum. Richardson (2004, p. 1506) argues that if informal training or skills formation that is gained through work experience is added this contribution can be multiplied. She estimates that if the wage and salary increases gained by workers as a result of work experience are taken into account the combined level of individual and industry investment in training grows to about $30 billion, which is a level comparable with the level of investment in school education.

Therefore, there is a case in Australia for state intervention in both the demand for and supply of training. Demand requires a degree of public subvention and where possible, incentives for firms. Public supply is necessary because, as has been shown repeatedly across nations, private training provision will mostly be concentrated in areas of low capital costs. Therefore, in economies such as that of Australia, there is a need for state intervention to ensure sufficient infrastructure for the processes of skills formation.

For state and territory training authorities, a critical question is how to maximise the overall levels of investment in skills formation and to match best the formal and state funded training with the informal work based skills formation. Therefore, the relationship of the authorities with the training market has some challenges:

* The relationship between formal and informal training is a particular challenge and dilemma for the VET sector. An increase in informal learning amongst mature age workers, and their recognition through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), was cited in interviews with a number of state training officials as important policy objectives. There has been a substantial and recent interest in RPL, or the recognition of informal learning, in Europe and it is seen as a potential means of enhancing individual investment in lifelong learning (Bjornavold 2001), although this assumption remains largely untested.

* The VET sector can be viewed in isolation, yet it intersects with the other education sectors, and the intersections have an impact upon the market behaviour of the VET sector. The school and university sectors have powerful institutional relationships in the form of examinations and selection systems, and the TAFE sector has been coopted into these systems that have not been designed to serve it. This has the impact of introducing market distortions for the TAFE sector.

* For state and territory authorities there are significant complexities in managing the relationship between the supply of publicly funded training, the demand for fee based training and the supply of work-based accredited and non-accredited training. Purchasing profiles run the risk of substituting fee- or industry-based training, and the challenge is to use public funding to encourage industry investment.

* There can be a dissonance between individual demand and skill needs. Several authorities reported an excess of individual demand in areas of low priority for skills, such as beauty therapy. Most states and territories look towards VET, and especially the TAFE sector, to contribute towards the broader social objectives or raising levels of initial education and training. In a context where there is falling demand for VET, and especially for TAFE courses, because of the strong employment market, authorities feel the need to provide some response to individual demand. This is especially the case when the demand comes from disadvantaged groups, for example indigenous girls.

* Given the centrality of state and territory authorities to funding and administration of VET in Australia, the states and territories effectively form regional training markets. These markets, however, are not consistent in their definitions and behaviours, as they overlap with economic, industry and labour markets or sub-markets. This overlap provides another level of complexity for the authorities.

Within these constraints an optimal planning regime will:

* locate and design the infrastructure of public (and publicly funded) training providers and their personnel in a manner that can best respond to demand, and remain efficient and effective;

* structure public funding in ways that best stimulate demand, especially in industry and skill areas where there is the greatest current and projected skill needs;

* allocate funding to providers and programs that best meet the demand from industry and individuals; and

* be based upon the best projections of local and wider future skill needs.

Skills, Skills Supply and Skills Shortages

Within an increasingly deregulated labour market, as suggested by the high and growing levels of contingent employment, there is an argument for a minimal state role in the provision of training. Publicly managed training systems invariably are cumbersome and habitually fail to meet enterprise skill needs. Within the traded goods sectors, where nations locate their quest for the competitiveness and high levels of total factor productivity, there is an even greater capacity for disjuncture between skill demands and its provision through public VET systems. The disjuncture is in the types of skills that are delivered and the means of their delivery. Crouch et al (1999) describe this disjuncture as 'inevitable'.

The national VET system is, however, strategically and politically positioned such that it is subject to major demands that go beyond those for skills that are industrially and occupationally defined. At the state and territory level, the VET systems are primarily oriented to their historical functions of supporting industry skills formation and individual skill needs at entry and continuing levels. But state and territory governments have the primary responsibility for social policies and the TAFE sector plays its part in this. TAFE institutes have the

primary responsibility for adult education programs and increasingly provide for the school age cohort. The bulk of the VET infrastructure in Australia is located in the TAFE institutes. Although the sector is exposed to the market, the bulk of the institutes/colleges retain some degree of responsibility for or orientation towards their sub-regions.

These characteristics of VET provision and responsibility have an impact upon the planning and administrative processes for public funded VET and the regional VET markets. State and territory authorities see their roles as extending beyond the function of purchasing training and assuring quality. VET strategies are linked with other state and territory economic and social development priorities and strategies, including industry and regional economic development strategies. In this regard there are some common aspects of the state and territory approaches, and some observations about the training market and system can be reported:

All states and territories are signatories to the national VET principles, objectives and priorities. While there obviously will be differences in emphases in some of the objectives and priorities, on the whole the states and territories share the main priorities. They include the emphasis upon re-skilling older workers, opportunities for young people and an emphasis upon apprenticeship training.

The 'Skills in Demand Lists' provided by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR 2005) are used by all systems. There is less consistency in views on what constitutes skills shortages and there is a feeling that the DEWR list becomes unreliable in localised labour markets. This is especially the case in small and isolated markets where the demand for and supply of skills and labour can be volatile.

With a strong national employment market, several states and territories report labour shortages as well as skills shortages. Labour shortages range between absolute shortages, such as that in the Northern Territory where there is a shortage of low skilled and inexperienced labour, to a shortage of categories of skilled workers who are willing to work at market wages or in their occupations.

Officials in several states have argued that in some industries and occupations there are available stocks of skills. But the industry and employment conditions are not conducive to the mobilisation of these skills.

All systems have identified trade skills as areas of skills shortage and support the emphasis upon apprenticeship training, and in most cases funding for apprenticeships is a priority. But there are different policies towards eligibility for

User Choice funding.

There is a general recognition of the importance of training for para-professional occupations in the future. As a consequence some systems are looking towards prioritising higher level qualifications (AQTF 4 and 5).

The role of the VET system as a means of facilitating employment entry is partially separated from its role as a supplier of skills.

Systems consistently recognise training market weaknesses, including the mismatch between individual demand and industry skill needs. Areas of excess demand include hospitality and various design courses. One factor that might influence this mismatch is VET in schools courses.

Labour Markets

The concept of labour market segmentation has been rejected by some economists in recent years as lacking precision and consistency. Observations of officials from the state and territory VET authorities indicate, however, that labour markets across different regions or sub-regions and to some extent across different populations behave in different ways. These behaviours can lead to Iocalised skill shortages or over-supply, especially in smaller and more isolated regions or sub-regions. State and territory training authorities, mostly in conjunction with state and regional development agencies, typically factor these Iocalised labour market behaviours into their planning strategies.

State and Territory Planning


Each state and territory maintains a training authority that has responsibility for the purchasing of training, administration of the TAFE institutes/colleges, supervision of the AQTF and other planning and strategic programs and initiatives. Most but not all authorities have an industry-based board or council that provides advice to government on VET policy and operations and in some cases approves the purchasing strategies and key initiatives of the training authority.

The infrastructures to support these activities typically include planning and policy units or sections, which frequently have a research capacity. In most cases these units are dependant upon data gathered through their TAFE sector and national data bases (ABS and AVETMISS). Some states have appointed regional planning and advisory officers who provide advice and information that cannot be gained through the TAFE institutes. The authorities also typically utilise the services and output of other agencies, such as those responsible for state and regional economic development. In some states such as Victoria there has been separate regionally based data gathering through surveys and interviews. However, these exercises are not common or sequenced across the states and territories.

The networks of TAFE institutes are an important element of the training authority planning processes. The institutes have their own formal and informal industry links and networks and are able to gather information about student demand and preferences. Authorities also have their own formal and informal relationships with industry and industry organisations. Some continue to support industry training (advisory) bodies (ITABs). Some states, however, have discontinued them and others have recently decided no longer to fund them or to change their roles. The state and territory authorities do not appear to use the national Industry Training Councils (ITCs), although links between the authorities and the ITCs may evolve.

All authorities have multiple links with industry. Apart from the advisory and statutory boards and councils and the ITABs (where they exist), there is a range of linkages and, in some cases, partnerships with industry associations, unions and individual companies. The state and territory level infrastructure for VET planning is quite complex and variable and compares with relatively simple structures for school education, which are primarily based upon student enrolments.


Under the original ANTA agreement and the subsequent arrangements whereby DEST has subsumed most of the ANTA functions, states and territories established VET authorities that have the responsibility for establishing and managing the purchasing of training as negotiated and agreed with ANTA/DEST and detailed in the state and territory training profiles. The authority can be located in a board or in the executive function of the relevant government department. The formal planning processes therefore involve the development of training plans that culminate in their endorsement and enactment by these authorities. The processes through which the purchasing plans and profiles are developed and the balance of factors that influence the plans vary across states and territories. This section gives a brief outline of each of the state and territory planning processes for VET purchase and some of the factors that contribute to the outcomes of these processes.

Table 1: Australian Capital Territory

Planning in the ACT combines quantitative data gained through central analyses and qualitative data gained through the providers and industry groups. The processes are informed by overall Territory priorities contained in the Canberra Plan and utilise ABS and Treasury economic, demographic and labour force data. In 2005, the ACT established a cross-agency Skills Forum to coordinate the ACT Government's data collection and analysis on, and policy response to, skills shortages. As there is only one TAFE Institute (Canberra Institute of Technology--CIT), on-going advice and negotiations with the CIT are built into the planning processes. This includes dialogue over the funding agreement. Input also is received from other RTOs. Industry input is through the ITABs. The qualitative and quantitative data are fed into a computer model to conduct an integrated analysis, although this is not yet fully operational.

The characteristics of the ACT make its training market different. The qualifications profile of the workforce is high and it has a high rate of year 12 completions, thus lowering the school age demand for TAFE. The Commonwealth Government also does much of its own training and the Department of Defence is a RTO. On the other hand VETiS is strong and a recent survey found a very high interest amongst school students in SBNAs. Moreover, the senior colleges in the ACT are significant providers of adult education. The market is also complicated by geography, as the ACT is the dominant service provider to the surrounding region of NSW. Consequently NSW data also have to be used in the quantitative analysis.

Table 2: Western Australia

The planning process incorporates industry wide and regional analyses. The training authority uses regional and industry planners to produce industry and regional reports. The studies also are supported by the Regional Development Commissions under the Department of Local Government and Regional Development. These studies are combined with econometric modelling using ABS and delivery data to ensure that there is no over supply. An 'Apprenticeships and Traineeships Forecasting Model' (Miles Morgan 2005) has been developed. It was to be tested in 2006 and possibly utilised within the overall planning processes.

Strategic projects related to skills shortages have been initiated: an econometric model for all VET; industry-based studies (hospitality, tourism and resources) to assess how much industry pays; and an analysis of skills shortages in the non-trades areas such as community services and health. Profile based funding accounts for about 90 per cent of the budget and is made up of three components: access programs that relate to particular client groups in particular places; the Skilling WA program that is targeted at existing workers and just in time module delivery; and industry programs delivering full qualifications in skills shortages areas. There is $5 million for contestable programs. A Critical Skills Training fund ($5 million) was established (for 2006), targeted at skills shortage areas, and mostly to be delivered through competitive tendering. Apprenticeships and traineeships are a priority, and overall there has been a growth in funding.

Table 3: New South Wales

NSW has a strong state and regional infrastructure of 20 ITABs, regional industry advisory boards and TAFE institutes, which maintain a strong regional service role. There are strong and iterative interactions between these elements, and targets are set for local skill needs. TAFE has a strong community service obligation across the state, and especially in some regions. The size of the state and its economy and the strength of its state wide TAFE structure make planning a complex on-going exercise that involves multiple inputs and players. There are 900 RTOs, of which 450 receive funds under market programs. RTOs provide training under User Choice and through contestable funds. These funds include those provided under the SkillsGap program (DET, 2005a). Other programs that are available to RTOs include the Contracted Training Provision Program, School Based Traineeships in NSW Program and the Partnering--Training for Older Workers Program. It also funds an Industry Skills Training Program, which allows a range of organisations (including group training companies--but not other RTOs) to apply for funding for programs 'to encourage innovative industry training initiatives and address current and future skills shortages' (DET, 2005b). There is a policy priority of skilling up existing workers, and part of the strategies in addressing this includes the development of a new RPL tool--'Prove it'.

Table 4: Queensland

The directions for VET in Queensland have been strongly influenced by white and green papers under the umbrella of the 'Smart State' objectives that have set the directions for education and training in the immediate future. A recent Research Paper and subsequent Green Paper (DET Qld. 2005a, 2005b) have proposed a number of reforms and initiatives.

The strength of regional populations and industries in Queensland has led the TAFE sector to have a strong regional focus and the planning processes emphasise the interaction between regional analyses and central purchasing plans that lead to the performance agreements. The Department of Employment and Training has

adapted some of the concepts of the Skills Ecosystems (see Buchanan 2003) to the planning processes and the TAFEs are allowed a degree of discretion in their annual profiles.

Table 5: South Australia

The planning process in South Australia attempts to get the big picture right and allows for a degree of flexibility and local decision making. The central planning combines economic analyses that are moderated through industry advice, input of government priorities including a Workforce Development Strategy (DFEEST 2005) and the impact of major projects and advice from the providers. Local knowledge is included through 17 Employment and Skills Formation Networks. TAFE institutes have a degree of flexibility in their profile, and the directors are involved in the central planning processes. The institutes input individual demand into the planning processes and are set 12 high levels targets that are modified annually. South Australia is moving towards a three year planning cycle.

Skills development has become a major policy area as articulated in the South Australia's Skills Action Plan (DFEEST and DTED 2005). The state cannot rely upon skilled immigration, and the recent announcements of major projects such as the destroyer project have raised the urgency of skills development. The South Australian government provides vocational education and training through TAFE, User Choice and South Australia (SA) Works. SAWorks received approximately $23 million in 2005. It is contestable and is administered through 17 Local Employment and Skills Formation networks and identifies 10 industries for actions to deal with skills issues.

Table 6: Tasmania

Tasmania has one TAFE institute and the planning processes are relatively immediate and practical. There is a three year planning framework that is based upon data analysis and industry advice. It once used the Monash model, but with the major impacts of change occurring in sub-regional labour markets the model lacks precision. There are some labour shortages, especially in the skilled trades areas. The planning process has a regional aspect that includes three industry advisory officers and the development of three Area Task Forces, as well as an industry advisory group.

The processes include detailed planning and negotiations with the TAFE institute, where each industry area is examined to determine industry needs and the supply of training. The TAFE also inputs its own information gained through its industry reference groups and student demand. The overall budget is approximately $100 million, of which $2 million is for contestable programs. Most of these programs are located in RTOs. There has been a range of initiatives designed to deal with skills shortages in key industry areas, including the Fast Track Skills Project, the Partnership to Jobs project and the current Skills for Growth initiative which is designed to deal with areas of skill shortages and workforce capacity in the trades and other growth industries and in industries where there are substantial work and career opportunities.

Table 7: Northern Territory

The NT experiences difficulties in attracting and retaining skilled people. A recent strengthening of the economy and predicted economic growth over the next few years have contributed to an increased demand for labour. There is an acute labour shortage (except amongst the Indigenous community) and almost any form of training will lead to employment. Some of the main areas are of skills shortage are automotive, building and construction, cookery, plumbing, hairdressing, childcare, etc. Scarcities are especially acute in the traditional trades. Planning is made complex by the high level of workforce and population mobility, although this level has halved in recent years. Furthermore, the size of the NT means that there are identifiable sub-regions and economies. Small regions are very susceptible to peaks and booms--especially in particular industries. Developments such as the Alcan redevelopment in Nhulunbuy influence the local demand for training, although these projects also attract labour that follows the big projects. Nevertheless the territory has to be able to make training available when it is needed.

The planning process incorporates complex labour market profiling, which involves a detailed analysis of the NT industries and labour market. This utilises detailed workforce analysis (DEET 2005) that includes macro-economic analysis. There are two major public providers in the NT--Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE)and Charles Darwin University. The Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) is able to negotiate with these institutions directly about their profiles. There are few private RTOs in the NT, and public providers occupy 80-85 per cent of the market. There is generally little difference between what CDU and BIITE provide and the priority areas identified by DEET. There is a high level of flexibility for the providers within the targets and the profiles, because of the characteristics of the students.

Table 8: Victoria

The planning process in Victoria uses sets of regional Area Study and Industry Study reports to adjust TAFE profiles and to negotiate performance agreements. The area studies identify duplication and gaps in provision. The Industry Studies, combined with econometric analyses, inform calculations of industry share of the publicly funded training. The two sets of studies inform calculations of shifts in profile across industries and regions. These calculations use a set of weightings that are based upon three sets of criteria: industry skill needs that factor in new entrants to occupations and skill gaps; return on investment--that factors in net replacement rates, skill shortages and the contribution of training to the economy; and government policy.

The analyses are moderated through industry advice, including input from the ITABs and advice from the providers. These analyses then provide the basis for negotiations with the TAFE institutes about their profiles and performance agreements. There are two priorities--under 25s and over 44s (consistent with the Commonwealth's targets), and the state is looking towards AQF 4 and above training in the context of growth in para-professional occupations.

Funding and Providers

Contestable funds

All states and territories include programs that are delivered through competitive processes and that are outside User Choice. In most cases, the share of these programs in the overall VET budgets is not great, and mostly it ranges between 4 per cent and 10 per cent of the overall VET allocations; although when User Choice funding and those elements of VETiS funding which are used for purchasing of training are included, this can grow to up to 20 per cent of the VET budget.

Contestable funds typically are allocated through special programs that mostly are directed towards critical skill and industry needs, local priorities and the needs of social groups or communities. The combination of 'critical skills' and 'strategic priorities' is suggested in the titles of these programs: the Critical Skills Training Fund (WA); the Priority Education and Training Program (Victoria); Skills Equip (Tasmania); the Strategic Skills Training Program (NSW); South Australian Works (SA); and the Strategic Purchasing Program (Queensland).

Variously the funds are designed to target: key industries and developments; types of industries, such as rural and small businesses; key industry areas, such as manufacturing; types of workers, such as seasonal and rural workers; and equity groups. In many cases the targeting is associated with major economic and social policies, priorities and strategies that have 'whole of government' foci. Some authorities have stressed the importance of the capacity of contestable

User Choice

The terms for the purchasing of formal training for apprenticeships and traineeships are established by the national User Choice agreement. Within these terms, however, states and territories have certain discretions related to priorities for funding. These priorities are in the context of an increase in traditional apprenticeships reported by most authorities and confirmed by NCVER data that indicate a 14 per cent increase in apprenticeship commencements over the year to June 2005. This is in the context of an overall increase in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements of 4 per cent and a decline of numbers in training of 2 per cent.

These trends are consistent with the observations and actions of the state and territory authorities. The 6 per cent increase in withdrawals is consistent with a strong employment market and with an increased availability of apprenticeships. Most states and territories have priorities for User Choice funding that favour apprenticeships and new entrants.

There are also some general features of the operation of user choice, and they include the following:

* Across jurisdictions, the TAFE sector has most of the market for apprenticeships and the private RTOs have most of the market for traineeships. In the more isolated regions the lack of RTOs does not allow User Choice to operate and TAFE is the only viable provider. TAFE also is the only provider in some industry and occupational areas.

* There are restrictions on the allocation of User Choice RTOs in some industries in some states and territories. Examples of this are relatively few, however.

* Regional and rural areas tend to depend more than urban areas upon TAFE for User Choice-based provision.

* TAFE is the major but not the only provider for VETiS and SBNA apprenticeships.

* Some industries, especially construction, have pre-apprenticeships.

Brief details of the implementation of User Choice in each of the states and territories are as follows:

* The ACT has a priority for apprenticeships and traineeships. Both new entrants and existing worker apprenticeships and traineeships are funded, although existing workers are assumed to require less training through the use of RPL. SBNAs are supported, but pre-apprenticeships are not strong in the ACT.

* Victoria does not prioritise apprenticeships or traineeships and funds both. But it does prioritise new entrant apprenticeships and traineeships, which are fully funded, and restricts funding for adults apprenticeships, especially traineeships. Employers are paid a completion bonus for apprenticeships. SBNAs are integrated and they are cap free. Pre-apprenticeships are strong (and virtually required) in construction and are being introduced in automotive and engineering. The training authority encourages more pre-apprenticeships.

* Not all qualifications are funded in Tasmania and there is a preference for higher level qualifications and the entry level. All entry level apprenticeships and traineeships are funded. Existing worker apprenticeships are not funded, although there are some exemptions. A program (Trades Express) is being introduced which is designed to accelerate trades recognition and training processes in trade areas which are in demand. SBNA apprenticeships are not a priority, and to some extent mainstream VETiS programs fill this role with its heavy emphasis upon extended work placements.

* Under its Green Paper (DET Qld. 2005b), the Queensland Government has proposed a series of reforms (some of which have already begun) to the apprenticeship and traineeship system. They include shortening some apprenticeships, introducing a period of intensive training for some apprenticeships prior to workplace entry, the establishment of a specialist Trade and Technical Skills Institute and providing means of reducing private provider barriers to entry into training areas Western Australia has a general priority to support apprenticeships, which have been growing in recent years. The traditional trades are a particular priority. The focus has been upon 15-18 year olds, but existing worker apprenticeships are funded. Pre-apprenticeships do exist but are not a priority.

* About 75 per cent of all apprenticeships and traineeships in South Australia are supported through User Choice funds in South Australia. Most Certificate I to Ill programs are funded, plus some Certificate IV, V and IV (diploma) level programs. Trainees can be funded only for two programs. Priorities are provided in some areas, such as construction (upon the basis of the DEWR list), defence (because of the destroyer project) and mining.

* The Department of Education and Training (DET) in NSW supports all 'approved' apprenticeships and traineeships and does not discriminate between age groups. Training is provided by TAFE institutes or RTOs. There are restrictions on RTOs in some non-metropolitan regions and in some industry areas. SBNAs have not been encouraged in NSW.

Personnel from the authorities identified the following difficulties in User Choice:

* In the context of a robust employment market, many entrants are unwilling to undertake apprenticeships or are likely to withdraw when they can earn higher wages as full-time workers.

* There are a number of employers who want to take on an apprentice, but cannot find suitable school leavers. This is especially the case in manufacturing.

* Throughputs in some industries and occupations (such as industrial chefs) are high. But an industry's inability to hold workers may be due to poor wages and work conditions.

* There are some regulatory barriers to apprenticeships, including licensing.

These weaknesses limit the capacity of the system to meet industry skill needs. State and territory authorities have invested and are investing in various innovations to attempt to overcome some of the weaknesses. The innovations mostly are directed towards means of shortening apprenticeship programs.


More than 85 per cent of publicly funded training is delivered through the TAFE sector. TAFE profiles typically will take up at least 80 per cent of state and territory training program budgets. TAFE also competes for contestable funds. Therefore, the TAFE sector has a major impact upon strategies and responses to current and emerging skill needs and shortages across the country. This impact is through both the direct provision of training and the market impact of TAFE programs. The availability of publicly funded programs through TAFE can have the impact of undermining fee-for-service provision by private RTOs and TAFE institutes.

In 2004 fee-for-service represented 11 per cent of recurrent revenue for VET in Australia, and payments to non-VET providers for VET delivery represented 7 per cent of public activities expenditure. The extent of fee for service outside total VET revenue is unknown. In some states and territories, officials have indicated that unaccredited training within the private sector could match formal accredited training. But other estimates are below this level. While VET authorities are conscious of the capacity of poorly planned VET profiles and service contracts with TAFE to undermine this market, as well as the fee-for-service market in accredited training, the lack of precise information makes it difficult to factor these considerations in the profiling and contracting processes.

The planning processes and the other levels and innovations that are used by the state and territory VET authorities are partially a response to market or demand side weaknesses in the training market and partially a response to policy requirements and initiatives from state and territory governments.

TAFE's operation as a market responsive provider is restricted in a number of ways.

* The TAFE infrastructure represents the bulk of the capital investment in VET. Private RTOs typically are absent in high capital cost training and the TAFE workforce represents the majority of the trained workforce for formal VET delivery. In some states, TAFE staff are centrally employed and in some, students are centrally enrolled. Under these circumstances the capacity for radical changes in profile, especially in the short term, is limited and a type of path dependency is created. TAFE institutes across most states and territories have some degree of specialisation for institutes/colleges and campuses. This, together with negotiated swapping of profile between institutes, can to some extent ameliorate the problem of slowly changing profiles.

* In most states and territories TAFEs face the prospect of having funding (or SCHs) withdrawn if profile is not met. Therefore for most TAFEs meeting profile is a delivery priority. Fee for service can represent up to 30 per cent of the recurrent revenue for an individual TAFE. In most cases, however, it is much less than this and for institutes/colleges that concentrate upon trade programs it can be as low as 5 per cent. A drop in overall demand for VET coupled with an increase in traineeships and apprenticeships has exacerbated this situation. Moreover, the formula used for SCHs can influence TAFE's flexibility in shifting profile across industry and course areas. Methods used include different rates for industry areas and weightings for different areas. Most apprenticeship programs are more expensive than the standard rate, and the shift towards apprenticeship programs has put pressure upon delivery profiles.

* The strength and universality of the TAFE system make it a critical source of intelligence and advice to the central planning processes. TAFE institutes/ colleges gather information through formal and informal links with industry and other agencies and through student demand and destinations. The systems utilise this intelligence in different ways, not the least being in the negotiations over funding and performance agreements. Information on industry skills need is gathered through a range of mechanisms:

** formal institute/college industry committees or reference groups. These can range from the institute/college council to department advisory committees or councils;

** informal relationships between institute/college staff, industry associations and individual companies, as well as the ITABs. This includes linkages with and feedback from employers that recruit graduates from the institute/college;

** the use of labour market and industry data provided by the state training authority and the ABS;

** advice and feedback from the state training authority that is gained in the negotiations over the funding and performance agreements;

** linkages with local government authorities, especially in the large states where there are large numbers of institutes; and

** the use of environmental scans that are initiated either by the institute or the training authority.

* The patterns of these arrangements vary considerably across the different institutes/colleges. Some of the large inner city and highly market-oriented TAFEs will tend to have formal industry advisory councils. TAFEs in rural and regional areas are significant service as well as economic entities and therefore will have linkages with local government and other elements of the regional economic and social infrastructure.

In 1975, the Kangan Report helped to fashion the TAFE sector as a community service provider that Goozee (2001) describes as being 'all things to all people'. Although the national training reforms have emphasised the role of TAFE as an industrial trainer, there is strong evidence that TAFE has maintained much of its community service role. As Noonan (2002) noted, the TAFE institute is 'the bridge to the community' (p32). It is the largest provider of adult education in the country, and its access programs are designed to provide educational re-entry and access to education for equity groups. Most TAFEs have reported a heavy community service obligation, and this is especially the case for non-metropolitan institutes/colleges. The amalgamations that have occurred in states such as Western Australia and South Australia have emphasised their regional roles and the associated community obligations. Indeed, the strong role of the TAFE institutes in VET planning in states such as New South Wales has stressed their regional responsibilities. Under these circumstances, the responsiveness of the TAFE sector to skills needs and shortages is limited. Those institutes/colleges that have the heaviest community and regional obligations are least inclined to have strong fee-for-service programs. This appears to make them more vulnerable to changes in demand within a period of strong demand for labour, as they tend to concentrate upon lower entry level training. Those institutes and colleges that have high fee-for-service demand, and that typically are located in the centre of the state capital cities and tend to concentrate upon higher level and para-professional provision, are less vulnerable.

* The TAFE sector also needs to be seen in relation to the other education sectors. There is no discrete TAFE market, as students can alternate between the sectors and because the other sectors, or certainly the higher education sector, also play a role in meeting skills needs and shortages. Furthermore, there are five multi-sector universities in Australia, several more include TAFE and VET provision, the bulk of secondary schools deliver VET and there are a number of educational precincts and community colleges that incorporate school and TAFE provision.

** Some of the more market-oriented institutes/colleges have strong diploma and associate degree programs and tend to have stronger articulation with the universities. This is a two-way articulation, with high levels of inflow of university graduates into TAFE.

** The substitute role of TAFE for university courses is not clear, but it does exist. Moodie (2005) has examined the complex and apparently conflicting data on enrolment traffic between TAFE and higher education and estimates that the share of all transfers of 'upwards transfer' is between 58 and 62 per cent that and of 'reverse transfer' is between 38 and 42 Per cent. DEST data indicate that 9.5 per cent of commencing higher education students in 2004 had a TAFE course as the basis of their admission. It is not possible to identify the proportion of these students who undertook the TAFE studies for the purpose of gaining entry into and credit towards a university course. In 2001, the figure was 9.4 per cent of commencing students, and of these 52.8 per centsought credit. This suggests that a good proportion of the TAFE originating students intended to move on to higher education.

** Thus VET and TAFE profiles and purchasing plans need to factor in their potential overlap with university markets, especially in areas such as engineering and business studies.

** TAFE is the major provider for VETiS programs, and especially School Based Apprenticeships (Formerly SBNAs), although this varies across states. In most cases TAFEs see these relationships as problematic, and generally VETiS programs are driven more by student demand than by industry skill needs (see below).

** States and Territories have different approaches to the funding of VETiS. The two main models are purchasing and the incorporation of TAFE provision with purchasing agreements and profiles. The latter would have some capacity for the TAFEs and the VET planning systems to influence the industry and skills orientations of the VETiS programs. Some TAFE institutes have indicated that payment upon the basis of SCH prices does not factor in the higher administrative and advisory costs of VETiS provision.

TAFE institutes and colleges can play, and in most cases do play, an important role in the development and refinement of the state and territory training profiles. The variations in planning processes across the jurisdictions and the different numbers and configurations of institutes and colleges mean that the nature of the input also varies. In some cases, the TAFEs are formally included in the decision making and advisory processes, as in South Australia, where the three institute directors are formally part of the executive of the state training authority.

Inputs into the planning processes can include:

* formal advice through executive, planning and advisory committees of the state/territory training authority;

* formal input by TAFE directors as members of committees or councils;

* advice on VET demand that is gained through enrolment patterns and other TAFE based sources;

* informal networks, which in most if not all systems are facilitated by the regular exchange of personnel between the authorities and the institutes/ committees;

* processes and outputs of the development of institute/college strategic plans;

* other data gathered from local areas, either informally through such mechanisms as environmental scans and advisory committees, or through networks; and

* the negotiation processes that lead to the funding and performance and service delivery agreements.

Some of the larger systems, such as that of New South Wales, include the TAFE institutes as part of the staged planning mechanisms whereby institutes respond to draft plans and profiles.

In turn, the training authorities in some states, such as Victoria, have a brokerage in negotiating profile between institutes. In some cases the planning processes have located several institutes that are delivering the same programs to clients within small regions or sub-regions, and this has allowed the effective swapping of profile between the institutes.

Private RTOs

This study has gathered little information on private RTOs, having concentrated upon planning processes at the state and territory level and the TAFE institutes that typically have broad program portfolios and broad regional industry and community services obligations.

Private RTOs play a minor role in publicly funded training. But they deliver a large amount of fee-for-service and non-accredited training and play important niche roles, especially in traineeship programs and in new industry and skill areas. Funding through contestable programs is a minor part of their operations and they operate mostly outside the publicly funded training programs.

The relationships between the state and territory training authorities and their funding systems varies, and the RTOs include a heterogeneous mix of providers: group training companies, schools, government departments, skills centres in enterprises, ACE providers, large specialist providers in areas such as hospitality and small niche providers. Some officials have commented that private RTOs tend to be more innovative and flexible, and when their delivery of non-accredited training is included they are the most market-sensitive suppliers of training.


A major area of growth in formal VET provision has been through VET in Schools (VETiS) and School Based Apprenticeships, with 211,900 students enrolled in 2004. Although most states and territories incorporate school and VET administration within single departments, VETiS is typically administered and funded through the schools division, and this funding is not part of the state training profile. Under these arrangements, the schools purchase training from TAFE or private RTOs, or are RTOs. Tthere are exceptions to this whereby funding for VETiS is incorporated into the performance agreements of the TAFE institutes/colleges.

Responsiveness and Effectiveness

The Planning Infrastructure

The areas and types of training that are funded with public monies are formally controlled by decisions that have three major loci:

* the planning and allocative processes of the state and territory training authorities;

* the internal priorities and allocations of the public training providers TAFE; and

* the demands of users through User Choice, VETiS purchased training and fee for service.

These decisions are mediated in various ways, including:

* Commonwealth--state/territory negotiations over the training profiles;

* State Training Authority--TAFE negotiations over funding and performance and service delivery agreements;

* the flexibility allowed within these agreements and the capacity to re-negotiate agreements;

* limitations placed upon the use of User Choice funds;

* accreditation and funding restrictions applied to VETiS and SBNAs by state and territory education departments; and

* variations in the division of VET budgets between profile, User Choice and contestable funding.

This set of decision making loci and the mediating procedures and rules together lead to the allocation of publicly funded training hours by location, course type and levels, mode and timing. A more difficult question is how these allocations influence the demand for training. For example, a frequently cited objective of RPL is that of stimulating individual demand for training, and countries have experimented with both sticks in the form of training levies and carrots in the form of partial subsidies for firms to invest in training. Furthermore, the case studies that were undertaken as part of this project have shown that localised planning and optimal provider market conditions can both stimulate regional demand for training.

At the macro level, the location of decision making at three levels--system planning, provider planning and allocations and user demand--appears to be an appropriate framework. This is not to suggest that the infrastructure is perfect.

* The geographic and demographic variations in the states and territories do not make them ideal as regional planning infrastructures, and the configuration and characteristics of the TAFE institutes and colleges vary across and within states and territories.

* The allocative mechanisms lack flexibility. They are mostly based upon SCHs and as such provide little incentive for providers to be innovative in their delivery. The SCH system also discourages cost transfer and subsidisation within institutes of courses that are partially fee for service.

* There remains a major divide between large and mostly publicly funded TAFE institutes/colleges and mostly fee-for-service based private RTOs. The failure of the TAFE sector to establish a strong fee-for-service element is in contrast to the limited access of private RTOs to public VET funds, and the high levels of activity outside of the regulated providers and programs. The operational and cultural differentiation between the public and private sectors appears to be too great.

* In a similar manner, the amalgamations of TAFEs, such that there are now almost as many universities as there are TAFE institutes in Australia, raises issues of whether sufficient proportions of public training funds are located in providers that are responsive to local skill needs, are able to adapt to changes in skill needs and short term needs, and are likely to work within industry in designing delivery for future skill needs.

Data for Planning

All authorities use quantitative data on skills needs and industry and occupational trends at state and sub-regional levels. The data include the DEWR data, other ABS data, AVETMISS data and data gathered and/or computed at the state or territory level. In several, if not most, cases these data analyses are quite detailed and employ sophisticated modelling systems. Authorities have, however, recognised the limitations of these exercises because of the unreliability of data at the regional and especially sub-regional levels. Hence while all authorities use the DEWR data, they all acknowledge its limitations, and there has been a tendency for several authorities to reduce their use of the Monash model.

Authorities supplement the survey-based quantitative data with a range of data gathered through other means. These data include the input of the TAFE institute and college strategic plans and proposed profiles, which in turn are based upon local reconnaissance and analysis. This is an important source of information, but it also has its limitations. There is a tendency for many institutes and colleges to display path dependency and to have a limited market outlook, and this is in part conditioned by the difficulty in changing staff profiles. The state-centralised employment of some TAFE systems is likely to reduce flexibility in shifting profile. Nevertheless, the interaction between the state training authority and the TAFE institutes/colleges is a key part of the planning processes. This is often iterative and can extend to either one or more adjustments of profile throughout the year, or the capacity to renegotiate and possibly trade profile with other institutes throughout the delivery year.

Most large systems employ regional reconnaissance or data gathering beyond the TAFE networks. These are either regional studies, which can be detailed (as in Victoria), or the input of regional planning or liaison officers or offices. In most jurisdictions, ITAB/ITBs have been reduced in number, if not abolished. But all systems retain industry advice mechanisms and networks, and the planning processes typically include industry studies or analyses, so that they entail a combination of regional and industry analyses (as in Western Australia). All systems have devoted resources to planning units and personnel that coordinate and synthesise these inputs and processes.

Economic and Workforce Policies

All systems are influenced by state and territory economic and social strategies and priorities. It would seem that most if not all state and territory governments are more active in these policy areas than in the past. Strategies and statements that impact upon VET planning have been issued by the department responsible for VET or jointly issued by several departments. Examples include the Northern Territory Jobs Plan--Building the Northern Territory Workforce (2004) South Australia's Skills Action Plan--First Steps (2005) and the Queensland Smart State Strategy (2005--Premier and Cabinet).

These strategies and statements emphasise the centrality of workforce skill development in state and territory government policies. This was indicated by the decisions of the February 2006 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting to support 'a substantial new National Reform Agenda embracing human capital, competition and regulatory reform streams'. In the smaller states and territories, the VET priorities can be influenced by major projects. The Olympic Dam and naval destroyer projects in South Australia and the North West Shelf in the Northern Territory are two examples.

Table 9 compares the percentages of the Australian population aged 17 and 20 engaged in full time education and in full time work in 1985 and 2004. The collapse of the full-time youth labour market has placed huge pressure upon the three education and training sectors. All systems have policies of increased levels of youth and young adult participation in education and training. With university enrolments plateauing in 2004 and an incapacity to raise apparent school retention rates beyond their 1992 peak of 82 per cent, governments are now looking towards the TAFE sector to accommodate larger elements of both the school and post-school age cohorts. Tasmania has looked towards TAFE as one means of diverting high drop out rates in year 10 under its State of Learning and Guaranteeing Futures (2005) policies, and two states have recently adopted policies of guaranteeing all people a place in a public provider (school or TAFE) until the age of 20 to complete year 12 or equivalent.

Social Policies

TAFE's role as a general provider of education for the community is strongly felt at the agency and the institute/college level (see 5.3). There is variation across the institutes and colleges and some of the institutes located in the inner parts of the large cities have taken a more commercial approach. Most of the directors of TAFE institutes and colleges, however, stress their community role. While many are unhappy about the increased demand from school age students, they do accept a responsibility towards this cohort. The patterns of enrolments reflect this across the country. School age and immediate post-school age enrolments tend to be higher in non-metropolitan areas, where school retention rates and higher education participation rates are low.

Conclusion: An Optimal Model?

Is it possible to make judgements about VET's current and adaptive strategies? This question may be approached in four ways.

First, as has been argued in this paper, the sector's focus upon skill needs is mediated by the demands of state and territory, as well as national social and economic policies and programs, and by the infrastructure of the TAFE sector and its historical remit as a community provider.

Secondly, the adaptive capacity consists of a largely open market of fee for service VET, predominantly in the private VET sector, and the multiple level planning infrastructure of the formal state and territory training systems. The relationship between these two elements is determined almost totally by the patterns of realised demand for the funded and accredited VET programs, mostly in TAFE. That is, demand for non-publicly funded VET is residual to the funded VET for reasons of access (availability, location, mode, timing) or quality. On the whole, personnel within the planning regimes have little idea about this relationship. Approaches to the use of public funding to stimulate fee for service demand, and to a lesser extent industry and individual investment in training in the form of fees and opportunity costs, do not have a significant presence within the planning regimes.

Thirdly, the planning infrastructures are multi-level, use a range of data and are relatively interactive and dynamic. These approaches contrast with the much cruder and mostly student-demand based approaches of the university and school sectors.

Fourthly, however, the adaptive capacity of the VET systems at the point of delivery is almost totally dependent upon SCHs. This has led--certainly in the past--to practices such as trading of profile across course/industry areas and providers, and even dumping of SCHs. When combined with the increased size of the TAFE institutes, their limited capacity to supplement public with private revenue and their industrial cultures and tendencies towards path dependency, these mechanisms would appear to have limitations. In contrast, authorities have used contestable and targeted funds to stimulate innovation in delivery.

These conclusions are expressions of the tensions within the 'national VET system' that result from multiple demands, historical legacies and different economic and social contexts across the country. They also are a result of the limitations of a training market that is mostly reliant upon supply-side initiatives. In turn, this is partially because of the limited success of demand-side initiatives such as vouchers (Haukka et al. 2004).

Is there an optimal adaptive model for VET to meet current and future skill needs. Any answer ventured to this question needs to be qualified with the different regional and infrastructure contexts across the country. Upon the basis of the state and territory approaches and initiatives and the regional case studies, however, the following are possible elements of a 'best model':

Multiple, interactive and responsive planning. The nature of the training market means that, while a large percentage of delivery is Iocalised, a significant element is for a broader market and even some national markets. Therefore, the multiple level planning arrangements that have evolved need to continue and to be refined.

The levels should be interactive in the flow of information and responsive to this information, rather than restricted to compliance. Moreover, the agencies involved should go beyond the suppliers, at all levels. At the local level, the providers should be more than the TAFE institutes/colleges, which in many if not most systems appear to have a monopoly status at this level.

In this regard, as the case studies have indicated, a Iocalised capacity for planning and cooperation between providers and other agencies and stakeholders and for the integration and dissemination of information can improve adaptability.

The use of multiple data sources at all levels in the planning and allocative processes is important.

The practice of some systems in gaining reconnaissance on both regional and industry sector and occupational needs is a useful approach. The location and characteristics of demand or needs are both important, as is the nature of the relationship between them.

It is important to have providers that are geared to both current and potential market demand. This is a major challenge to the VET sector and suggests that internal structures should be geared to this need. But the current funding arrangements based upon SCHs would appear to militate against internal structures that have both a high degree of flexibility and a high degree of external autonomy to establish market or client relationships.

In a similar manner, and as also indicated by the case studies, Iocalised markets that include a range of providers, such that competitive conditions are created, are likely to be more responsive and adaptive to skill needs and demands.

More flexibility should be built into the funding allocations. This implies mechanisms beyond SCHs and more funds allocated for contestable programs and private RTO delivered programs.

ACE    Adult and Community Education
ANTA   Australian National Training Authority
AVCC   Australian Vice Chancellors Committee
CIT    Canberra Institute of Technology
COAG   Council of Australian Governments
DEST   Department of Education Science and Technology
DEWR   Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
AQTF   Australian Quality Training Framework
ITAB   Industry Training Advisory Board
ITC    Industry Training Council
OECD   Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
RPL    Recognition of Prior Learning
RTO    Registered Training Organisation
SBNA   School Based New Apprenticeships
SCH    Student Contact Hours
TAFE   Technical and Further Education
VET    Vocational Education and Training
VETiS  Vocational Education and Training in Schools


Bjornavold (2001), The Changing Institutional and Pofitical Role of Non-formal Learning: European Trends, Office for the Official Publications of the European Community, Luxembourg

COAG (Council of Australian Governments (COAG) (2006), Communique: Council of Australian Governments' Meeting, 10 February 2006. Online (accessed 16 February, 2006)

DEET (Department of Education, Employment and Training) (2005), Workforce Report, Darwin.

DEST (2005), Skilling Australia's Workforce: Commonwealth-State Agreement for Skilling Australia's Workforce sectors/training_skills/publications_resources/agreement/default.htm, accessed 12.10.2005.

DET (Department of Education and Training) (2005), Skills Gap Training Program, Requirements, 2005, DET online: au/trainingmarket/tmtender/tmtender.htm#tender2006.

DET (Department of Employment and Training) Qld. (2005), Skills for Jobs and Growth,

DET (2005b), Industry Skills Training Program, au/industryprograms/programs/induskil/welcome.htm

DEWR (Department of Employment and Workplace Relations), (2005), Skills in Demand Lists States and Territories, Canberra.

DFEEST (Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology), (2005), Better Skills. Better Work. Better State, Adelaide.

DFEEST (Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology) and DTED (Department of Trade and Economic Development) (2005), South Australia's Skills Action Plan, Adelaide.

Department of Education and Training (2005), Half Yearly Outlook, Canberra, July

Department of Premier and Cabinet (2005), Smart Queensland Smart State Strategy 2005-2015, Brisbane.

Harris, R., Simons, M. and McCarthy, C. (2006), Private Training Providers in Australia: Their Characteristics and Training Activities, NCVER, Adelaide.

Miles Morgan Australia, (2005), Apprenticeships and Traineeships Forecasting Model, Perth, Department of Education and Training (unpublished).

Mitchell, R. (2005), The Planning Process, Swan TAFEWA, Perth, Unpublished

Moodie, G. (2005), VET- Higher Education Transfer and the Structure of Post School Education, Adelaide, NCVER. (unpublished).

NCVER (2005), Australian Vocational Education and Training Statistics: Apprentices and Trainees--June quarter 2005.

Noonan, P. (2002), The role of TAFE. Outcomes of Consultations and Identification of Key Issues, Department of Education and Training, Melbourne. (unpublished).

OECD, 2005, Education at a Glance, Paris

OTTE (Office of Training and Tertiary Education) (2005) Technical paper: Methodology for Determining Industries' Share of Publicly Funded Training, Melbourne, Department of Education and Training (unpublished)

Richardson, S. (2004), Employers' Contribution to Training, NCVER Report.

Richardson, S. and Tan, Y. (2008), 'Forecasting Future Demands: What We Can and Cannot Know', Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol 34, pp 154-191.

Smith, A, and Billett, S. (2004) Mechanisms for Increasing Employer Contributions to Training: an International Comparison, NCVER Adelaide.

Haukka, S.,Keating, J. and Lamb, S. (2004)Alternative Mechanisms to Encourage Individual Contributions to Vocational Education and Training, NCVER, Adelaide.

Jack Keating, Centre for Post-Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne
Table 1: Summary of VET Planning Process,
Australian Capital Territory

Planning          Use of          Regional
process           ITABs           officers

* Analysis of     Small           No
ABS and           number          regions
Treasury data     through
to produce two    the ACT
 'Half Yearly     Industry
Outlooks';        Advisory
* Incorporates
skill  shortage
RTOs, DEWR etc

* Moderated
the Canberra
Plan and

* Meetings with
providers twice
per year.

* On-going
links and
with providers
--mainly the

TAFEs             Development     Survey/
                  plans/          studies
Only one
TAFE--so          The Canberra    As
has a             plan--          practicable
major             Economic
influence         White Paper

Statistical/      Advisory/       Other
models            Stat

Developing        Vocational
computer          Education
model to          and
accommodate       Training
and               Authority:
quantitative      --advisory;
and               and
data              --responsible
                  for strategic

Source: Interview data, 200

Table 2: Summary of VET Planning Process, Western Australia

Planning          Use of            Regional
process           ITABs             officers

* Regional &      Yes-              8 Regional
industry          provide           Coordinators
analyses.         qualitative       --Industry &
                  information       Community
* State                             Planning
Training                            --To be
Strategy                            discontinued

* Regional

* Planners with
8 non metro.
ABS, Monash et
al data.

* 19 industry
based studies:
data analysis,
and industry

* Profile
forwarded to
TAFEs for

* Annual
negotiated with
TAFEs through
annual review
of profiles--
reviews and

TAFEs             Development       Surveys/
                  plans/policies    studies

Negotiate         Regional          Use of
profiles          Development       regional data
using             Commission        gathering--
quarterly                           qualitative &
reviews           Have had a        quantitative
                  priority in the
                  metals area       Use of state

Statistical       Stat
models            authority         Other

Econometric       State             Regional
analysis          Training          development
to check          Board:            commissions
analyses.         -- strategic
Piloting          advice and
of model          leadership;
for               -- establish
apprenticeship    taskforces &
and trainee-      initiatives;
Less              -- recognise
emphasis          industry
upon              training
Monash            advisory
model             bodies

Source: Interview data, 2005

Table 3: Summary of VET Planning Process. New South Wales

Planning process       Use of                 Regional
                       ITABs                  officers

* Background           Strong                 Regional
research and           network-20             offices of
analysis--             ITABs                  Dept. of
labour market                                 Education
and industry                                  and
skills, plus                                  Training
special areas
such as ATSI

* State
negotiated with
treasury &
other agencies.

* NSW Strategic
VET Plan and
TAFE Strategic
VET plan

* National
priorities &
targets and
distributed to
all providers.

* TAFEs develop
related to
local needs
TAFEs assisted
to develop
Strategy based
upon central

* Local
with industry

* Negotiated
Results and
service plans
with TAFE

* Profile
recommended to.
Minister by

TAFEs                  Development            Surveys/
                       plans/policies         studies

Strong role            Close                  Environmental
in assessing           relationship           scan--
local                  with Dept. of          demographic 8
needs and              Commerce.              employment
negotiating                                   projections.
agreements             Immigration
through the            has a major            National
negotiated             impact upon            Economics
development            skills profile.        -occupational
of the                                        level
institute              Overall state          analysis of
Service                priorities             demography
Agreement              negotiated             & economy/
Strategies.            with Treasury          LM

Statistical            Advisory/              Other
models                 Stat

Environmental          Board of               Regional
analysis               Vocational             Industry
                       Education              Advisory
                       & Training             Boards
                       & overseas
                       policy and
                       Forum to

Source: Interview data, 2005


Table 4: Summary of VET Planning Process, Queensland

Planning             Use of               Regional
process              ITABs                officers

* Labour Market      Yes, but             Regional
Research Unit,       likely to            planning
Regional             modify               officers
planning                                  in each
officers, and                             region
district youth
together with
TAFE provide
local market

* Targeted
--from Dept.
of State
Smart VET for

* DEWR skills
list Skills
area analyses

* State
ITABs, Centres
of Excellence

* Other

* Negotiate
processes with

TAFEs                Development          Surveys
                     plans/policies       studies

Through              White paper:         Survey
regional             Education            of local
planning             & Training           training
officers and         reforms for the      providers
the Skills           future,              --2nd
Ecosystems           including:           year
                     17 Skills
                     of regional
                     Office of
                     investment in

Statistical          Advisory             Other
models               /Stat

No longer            Training and         Venues or
use                  Employment           Excellence
Monash               Recognition          --Mining
model.               Council--            industry
                     advisory only
Analysis             re planning

Source: Interview data, 2005

South Australia

Table 5: Summary of VET Planning Process, South Australia

Planning             Use of               Regional
process              ITABs                officers

Three Key            9 State              No
drivers:             Industry
Government           Skills
priorities;          Boards
economic and
labour market
using the DEWR
list as a
point); and
major projects
The planning
process has
of: workforce
industry asked
about their
skill needs;
SA's Skills
Action Plan
using Monash
etc Moderate
through TAFEs
and develop and
negotiate TAFE
Allow local
flexibility as
the year

TAFEs                Development          Surveys/
                     plans/policies       studies

3 TAFEs              Motor projects       Survey
--2 metropolitan     --e.g. Olympic       of
and 1                Dam, Air             SBNAs
regional             Warfare
                     what are the
                     likely areas of
                     skill shortages?
                     SA's Skills
                     Action Plan

Statistical          Advisory/Stat        Other
models               authority

Yes--                Training             17 Local
based                and Skills           Employment
upon                 Commission--         and
Monash               assists, advises     Skills
Model                and makes
                     to the Minister

Source: Interview data, 2005

Table 6: Summary of VET Planning Process, Tasmania

Planning          Use of             Regional
process           ITABs              officers

Use of a three    No longer          3 industry
year framework    funded             liaison
--adjusted        except for         officers; and
annually.         Building &         3 area
Direct industry                      Taskforces
liaison,                             (in the process
including with                       of being
national skills                      established
councils.                            --focus on
Training demand                      youth).
moderate the
with TAFE.
Industry advice
process and
user choice
through TAFE
Liaison with
development and
labour market

TAFEs             Development        Surveys
                  plans/policies     studies

One               Tasmania
only.             a State of
                  Dept. of
                  of industries.
                  Plan and
                  Council plans

Statistical       Advisory/Stat      Other
models            authority

No--once          Learning and       Industry
used              Skills authority   advisory
Monash            --advice to the    groups
model.            Minister on the
                  development and    20 regionally
                  implementation     based
                  of policies,       skills
                  plans and          centres
                  advises on

Source: Interview data, 2005

Northern Territory

Table 7: Summary of VET Planning Process.
Northern Territory

Planning               Use of                 Regional
process                ITABs                  officers

Use o national         Industry               No
(ABS, DEWR)            Training
data and NT data       Advisory
for labour market      Councils
Workforce NT
deficits and needs,
survey of major
demographic data,
surveys from
Industry Training
Advisory Councils
Moderate through
industry advice
Negotiate with
providers over this
(two major
Allow 6% variation
from modelling

TAFEs                  Development            Surveys/
                       plans/policies         studies

Negotiate              Workforce NT           Through
with two               Report & NT            Workforce NT
public                 Jobs Plan              Report
providers              NT Government
and 6                  priorities,
smaller                National
RTOs                   priorities.
that                   Priorities for
receive                community
recurrent              development--
funding.               e.g. indigenous

Statistical            Advisory/              Other
models                 Stat

No                     Chief
                       Executive is
                       the 'Authority'

Source: Interview data, 2005

Table 8: Summary of VET Planning Process, Process, Victoria

Planning             Use of               Regional
process              ITABs                officers

* Analysis of        Yes, but             No
19 industry          diminished
skill needs to       numbers
determine            role in
industries'          planning
share of

* Analysis of
13 Area Study

* Use
model to
share across
regions of

* Moderate and
industry advice
peak bodies;

* Other
inputs Inputs
from government
and policies
25s & over 44s

* Negotiate
profiles and
agreements with

                     plans/               Surveys/
TAFEs                policies             studies

Negotiate            Min.                 19 industry
profiles             Statement            studies
and                  on Adult and         upgraded
balance of           Community            annually;
delivery             Education            and 13
between                                   area
TAFEs                Dept. of             studies

Statistical          Advisory/Stat
models               authority            Other

Use CBS              Learning and         31 Local
data to              Employment           Learning
analyse              Skills               and
demand &             Commission--         Employment
AVETMIS              advisory role        Networks--
for supply.          and executes         minimal role
Use                  responsibility       in planning
weightings           for the
model to             state training
determine            system.
share                Manufacturing

Source: Interview data, 2005

Table 9: Year 12 Retention Rates, % of 17 and
20 year olds in Education, Training and Employment

Year    Year 12           Full-time       Full-time Work
       retention          Education
                          Age (years) Age    (years)

                     17       20      17       20

1985     46.4       35.51    14.26   35.30    62.32

2004     75.3       52.21    37.07   13.41    43.91

Year   Higher Education      Enrolments
                             in TAFE
          Age      (years)   15-19

          17         20
          3.1       15.0     40.6
         13.5       34.5     26.1

Source: ABS, Schools Australia, Labour
Force, Various years, NCVER
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Contributed Article
Author:Keating, Jack
Publication:Australian Bulletin of Labour
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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