Does Accord Grand Plan require subjugation of VET?

A major inquiry into vocational education and training backs the O’Kane Accord and calls for “seamless pathways between VET and university.” However the first signs of pushback are emerging to what some in VET worry as the subordination of their system to HE.

The report of the House of Reps committee inquiry into “perceptions and status of VET” calls for a “roadmap to a genuinely integrated tertiary education sector.”  

The Committee, chaired by Labor MP Lisa Chesters, recommends the Commonwealth and States plan for:

  • integrated funding to support life-long learning;
  • targeted funding for dual qualifications including advanced apprenticeships;
  • pathways between VET and HE courses and qualifications with defined entry points and processes for credit transfer;
  • agreements between HE and VET regulators, “to reduce duplication and streamline process;” and
  • a national policy framework for micro-credentials, with a proviso that they cannot be stacked into “full qualifications.”

Plus, Commonwealth funding for micro-credentials would only be available to students who have a “full” VET or university qualification.

And the Committee points to “real value” in establishing the Accord proposed Tertiary Education Commission, or something similar, “with national oversight of the sector and a focus on better integrating VET and higher education.”

The interim report of the Bruniges review of NSW VET, released Monday, also backs the Accord – up to a point.  Although their focus is restructuring the State’s public system (“TAFE at the centre”). Dr Bruniges and colleagues support recommendations for cross-sector cooperation, such as piloting self-accreditation for dual sector HE providers and TAFEs which meet thresholds. However while there is an “elevated need for a harmonised tertiary education system” the two systems must “remain distinct.”

And VET system commentator Tony Palladino (NSW Utilities and ElectroTech Industries Training Board) raises a question that will soon be asked across the training community; “could the Universities Accord diminish the value of VET?”

What worries him is that the proposed tertiary education commission will want “to rope in a self-accrediting TAFE into the mix” and that overall the Accord is about “an institutional mode of future delivery over industry-based needs.”  

This creates the need, he argues, for a national apprenticeship commission, that can regulate practise and “bring sound policy to bear and promote the value of trades and respective qualifications and skills formation.”

“Without a national body to lead apprenticeship and traineeship policy, the bureaucracy, including ministers, can have as many apprenticeship inquiries and produce as many reports as they like and add more money to incentives, but it won’t change the trajectory of attraction and take-up,” he argues.



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