Victoria, Australia Government Looks to Overhaul Vocational Ed


In a bid to streamline vocational education in the Australian state of Victoria, the government wants to build a stable and less complex funding process for its vocational training schools and providers so that both trainees and organizations get the most out of it. According to a review by Bruce Mackenzie, former Hokmseglen Institute chief executive, under his proposed funding model students will partially pay for any government-subsidised course they enroll in.

Mackenzie says the state of Victoria needs targeted funding, and that courses with high employability rate should be getting more funding. In his review, Mackenzie also recommends that the government-funded courses are reduced.

The reviewer suggests a better model for investing the $1.2 billion annual vocational training budget in the future. In the state of Victoria, 2,900 courses were eligible for state funding this year, yet 40 percent of government funding was absorbed by just 20 courses. All in all, the review by Mackenzie features more than 100 recommendations which aim at making vocational education prospects aware of the fact that the education available to them comes with a state cost and that they take their training more seriously.

The introduction of minimum student fees will stop private vocational education providers from exploiting government-funded courses, says Victorian Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert according to ABC News Australia. Today, the vocational training funding model leads to the waste of money on subpar training that doesn’t guarantee learners a job and doesn’t offer companies the skilled workforce they seek. He explained the rationale behind student contribution:

“The idea of minimum fees is not to put a burden on students doing training, but just to ensure they have a bit of a buy-in to that qualification, that they think about whether they really want to do it and what the job outcomes are.”

Student fees will be relative to a course’s qualifications, and the proposed model will protect low-income students.

According to Macro Business, currently fraudulent behavior in the vocational training business is running rampant. Leith van Onselen writes:

“There is clear evidence of rorting and rent-seeking in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The behavior of some training providers, agents and brokers is nothing short of despicable. Thousands of students are being signed up to courses that they have little or no chance of completing.”

At the same time, employees consciously avoid hiring graduates from particular vocational training providers due to concerns about student qualifications.

Victoria’s vocational training issue is not an isolated case. Globally, there is strong demand for skilled employees and small numbers of truly qualified staff. While most countries produce a surplus of university graduates, many countries including China and India face a shortfall when it comes to vocational employees.

Citing a report by the City & Guilds group, the BBC says that India needs to incentivize vocational training because its need for skilled workers will continue to rise.

The stigma associated with vocational training is one issue that decision-makers need to overcome, as though most parents find value in vocational training, they don’t want it for their own children because they see vocational education often leading to jobs with low-status and low-pay.