Productivity Commission maps out a student centric approach to addressing skills shortages

THE Productivity Commission’s latest report five-year Productivity Inquiry: Advancing Prosperity maps out what’s required to create a tertiary education system that is student centric, more cohesive and better positioned to address workforce shortages.  That’s the view of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.

“The key to addressing workforce shortages and supporting students can be found through creating an integrated tertiary education system in which the skills training and higher education systems operate as one, yet retain their separate strengths and identities.  Many of the recommendations in the Productivity Commission report seek that also,” ITECA chief executive Troy Williams said.

It is significant that the Productivity Commission has taken up many of the recommendations from ITECA concerning student loan programs.

“One of the most egregious aspects of today’s tertiary education system is that many students pay a 20 percent student loan tax simply for choosing to study with an independent provider.  It is welcome news that the Productivity Commission has made recommendations to end this discrimination,” Mr Williams said.

Another recommendation taken up by the Productivity Commission is a proposal to consolidate the Australian Government’s various online platforms to guide student decision-making.

“The recommendation that the Australian Government’s microcredential information platform be extended to skills training courses and other well-recognised domestic course offerings is well over due.  It corrects a hitherto lost opportunity to help students make informed decision making,” Mr Williams said.

For Australia’s skills training system, one of the more significant recommendations from the Productivity Commission was that the Australian Government fund extra training and development programs for trainers and assessors so they can adequately perform independent and proficiency-based assessment.

“If the Australian Government made the recommended commitment to support the development of the skills training workforce, the ability of ITECA members to support the reskilling and upskilling of the Australian workforce would be significantly enhanced.  That’s just what Australia needs at this crucial economic juncture,” Mr Williams said.

Given the significance of the Productivity Commission’s report, ITECA will actively lobby the Australian Government for the adoption of key recommendations.

“The Commission’s report shows what a student centric tertiary education system looks like, one that would be well equipped to help Australia address its skills shortages,” Mr Williams said.

According to data referenced in the ITECA State Of The Sector Report, independent providers support more than 97 percent of the 4.3 million students in skills training and around 10 percent of the 1.6 million students in a higher education awards program.


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