Australia has a tertiary education system comprised of universities and over 5000 vocational education and training providers, of the later 58 are public institutions. These public vocational education and training providers are located in every Australian State, of which there are six, and both Territories of Australia. Unlike universities, public vocational education providers are governed and funded by their local State or Territory, which has an agreement with the Commonwealth Australian Government for training outcomes. In this federated systems, States and Territories, and the Commonwealth Government come together in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to set national targets for education and training. These characteristics of the Australian vocational education and training system are important to understand before addressing the directions of the National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 - 2015.
Australian vocational education and training while administered at the State or Territory level achieves national consistency through the Australian Quality Training Framework, the Australian Qualifications Framework and Industry Training Packages. Australia has a quality assured system underpinned by the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF), which ensures nationally consistent standards and high-quality learning and assessment. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications. It incorporates qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework. Industry Skills Councils or Registered Training Providers, such as public vocational educators develop the Australian vocational education and training system’s qualifications. There are eleven Industry Skills Councils and their role is to design vocational standards based endorsed Training Packages that are responsive to the needs of industry. For example, the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council has a range of Training Packages that set out the competency standards needed to work in the health or community services industries. Public Registered Training Providers, like the Canberra Institute of Technology use the industry developed national Training Packages and also develop AQF qualifications for accreditation to meet local industry needs. Public vocational education and training providers provide broad based training across many industries and qualifications. For example the Canberra Institute of Technology has over 500 courses across 18 industry areas. Public vocational education providers deliver over 80% of the accredited training. The education is practical, applied and aimed at providing skills for the workforce.
The Australian Government’s vocational education and training reforms The Australian Government has embarked on an ambitious reform strategy for tertiary education. Both the university and vocational education sectors are integral to the Australian Government’s dual goals of productivity growth and increased workforce participation. The reform agenda aims to increase the size of the tertiary sector to meet Australia’s significant levels of demand for a highly skilled workforce that can drive growth in all industry sectors, and in particular meet the demands of the construction, and mining and resources sectors. For vocational education and training this will be done through ambitious targets such as doubling the number of people completing higher qualifications and halving the number of Australians aged 20-64 without qualifications at Certificate III or higher.
The changing nature of employment and growth in different industry sectors in Australia is driving this skilled labour demand. Australia has a large mining and resources industry, however, there has been significant growth in employment in the last decade in the health care and social assistance industries, along with construction, professional scientific and technical services, and education and training industries. These industries demand a skilled and qualified labour force.
Significant policy directions are impacting on vocational education and training. The first of these is a new National Workforce and Productivity Agency to begin operating from mid 2012, which will provide support for training for jobs in industries suffering from critical skill shortages. Secondly, the National Vocational Education and Training Equity Advisory Council will develop mechanisms for improving the participation of disadvantaged learners through vocational education. And thirdly the Australian Government has established two new governance and regulatory bodies: the National Skills Standards Council and the Australian Skills Quality Authority. Therefore national training reform to ensure skills are used effectively to increase labour market efficiency, productivity, innovation and increased utilisation of human capital includes: Improving access to vocational education and training at the introductory levels of the AQF Reducing the working age population who have gaps in foundation skill levels to enable effective educational, labour market and social participation Improving quality by the introduction of a national regulator, which began on 1 July 2011 Increasing integration across the tertiary education sector Ensuring industry has the supply of skills it needs from the national training system by introducing industry initiatives and direct funding to industry through: a national Workforce Development Fund which will fund business and enterprises to partner with vocational education and training providers for targeted skills development industry mentors partnerships and co-investment in training between government and industry . Along with these vocational education and training reform initiatives the Australian Governments have also committed to other training reform initiatives to support long term productivity and growth in Australia including the $2.4billion Digital Education Revolution which gave all high school students access to a computer in school.
This tertiary education reform strategy is coupled with Australia’s major $43billion investment in the national broadband network (NBN). The NBN is being rolled out to Australian premises through a combination of fibre to the premises, wireless and satellite technologies to provide connections up to one gigabit per second. For Australia this is a significant national infrastructure initiative reflecting a shift in national policy direction. Australia’s previous ten-year experience of the Internet was mainly through commercial ventures. A series of Education and Skills Services Programs, valued at $27.2 million over four years, will begin in 2012. These initiatives will improve online access to education, training and skills services by facilitating the integration of information and communication technology. For vocational education and training this will mean: Better links between learners, training providers and employers Lifelong learning in the workplace Greater flexibility for people to access learning from home or wherever they are located. The NBN will bring high-speed connectivity to all parts including regional Australia. The tertiary education sector can now implement online innovative ideas that will enable training and lifelong learning to the 93% of homes and workplaces that will be connected with optical fibre by 2021. For a large country like Australia this has many benefits, including it opens the regional areas to innovative and flexible tertiary education.
Taking into account this environment, 2012 to 2015 will see the introduction of a new National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy. The Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG) has strategic responsibility for implementation of information and communication (ICT) technology in Australia’s vocational education and training sector. FLAG was established in 1996 as the key policy advisory group on national directions and priorities for information and communication technologies in vocational education and training. FLAG is a collaborative group, bringing together all States and Territories and the Commonwealth Government to lead the collaborative development and sustained provision of essential national ICT infrastructure. FLAG also evaluates and provides advice on emerging technological opportunities and facilitates access to e-learning products and practices that enable an innovative, flexible and responsive national training system.
The FLAG group is responsible for developing the latest National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012-2015. This strategy builds on three previous strategies. In the first of these strategies the emphasis was on capability building with the focus on creating registered training providers able to respond and demonstrate the potential of e-learning. As registered training providers increased their capability the second strategy in 2005-2007 was able to focus on client engagement and in particular strengthening how industry, Indigenous Australians, and community groups could shape vocational education and training provision to meet their needs. Moving into the third strategy, e-learning was now embedded in training providers and business and they were able to integrate it into all forms of delivery and capitalise on the infrastructure created through previous strategies. Developments emerged in this period in the area of mobile technologies along with further work on standards.
During this period, FLAG’s E-standards for Training business activity acted as the focal point for fostering standards implementation. Its ongoing objectives are: To secure and maintain a national vocational education and training e-learning infrastructure capable of meeting current and projected demands and advocating these standards nationally and internationally To provide up-to-date information on and support for standards adoption and implementation To facilitate collaboration on standards adoption and promotion across jurisdictions and providers.
The standards ratified for use in the Australian vocational education and training system are (http://e-standards.flexiblelearning.net.au/index.htm): Content formats, packaging and client platforms Vetadata & vocabularies Intellectual property Accessibility Mobile technologies Authentication, authorisation and identity management Trials of emerging technologies and tools Improved teacher access to e-learning functionality (Teacher E-learning Toolkit) Analysis of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Trust federation trial Persistent identifiers.
Over this decade these strategies have led to growth of e-learning and supportive infrastructure. For example, 65 industry Training Packages are now supported by e-learning materials which equals over 1000 units of competency, a national network of e-learning experts providing support and guidance exists, 62% of teachers say e-learning is a priority for their training organisation, and a set of nationally agreed technical standards that promote quality and interoperability across Australia exists. 43% of vocational education and training now formally involves e-learning and, in partnership with registered training providers, 50% of businesses now use e-learning as part of structures or unstructured training. The diagram shows that the demand for e-learning and flexible delivery is continuing to grow across the board. With the rollout of the National Broadband Network, it is anticipated it will only generate further demand for flexible delivery options from business, communities and individual students.
The 2012 - 2015 National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy will extend this decade of previous e-learning strategies and will continue to deliver a globally competitive Australian vocational education system. A system characterised by the Australian Qualifications Framework and Australian Quality Training Framework and underpinned by world-class e-learning infrastructure and capability. It will achieve this through the following three broad strategic directions.
In Goal 1 of the 2012 – 2015 strategy FLAG proposes to lead projects in each of the 24 first round national broadband sites to demonstrate how the national broadband network can connect learning with the labour market, the workplace and enable community development. There is an expectation from businesses and learners that the NBN will increase the interactivity of education and training and will improve how learning is connected with the workplace and community.
The 2012-2015 National VET E-learning Strategy will develop the Australian training system’s capacity to leverage this investment and ensure that teachers have the skills they need to be able to take advantage of this opportunity. The 24 sites include at least one in each State and Territory. The National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 – 2015 will exist alongside the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to develop the NBN E-learning Program over the first six months of 2012 year.
The second gaol of the National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 – 2015 concerns workforce development. Under the 2008-2011 strategy $1million per annum was allocated to the Industry Integration of E-learning business activity. Under the National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 – 2015 FLAG will build on this, engaging with industry partners to develop industry-wide planning for e-learning integration.
This will involve engaging with two to three industries each year of the strategy, in order to maximise effort in priority areas, including regional partnerships between businesses and providers. The potential for industry workforce development will be stimulated by: Large-scale industry-wide planning for e-learning integration Regional partnerships between business and providers to deliver e-learning for the needs of local industry A workforce development service providing comprehensive e-learning advice for industry and business.
Finally the National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 – 2015 will have programs in foundation skills and e-literacy for disadvantaged learners. It will also provide support pathways through a national e-portfolio based approach that will enable recognition of learning specifically for labour market needs in Australian States and Territories. This part of the strategy is titled Partnerships for participation and aims to use e-learning to meet the policy direction of improved access and participation. The focus will include: E-learning programs in foundation skills and e-literacy for disadvantaged learners Supported learner pathways through a national e-portfolio-based approach to recognition of learning E-learning initiatives to support learners (including regional and remote learners) to develop skills that respond to labour market need
Like other international governments, the Australian Government knows that a highly skilled workforce is the essence of retaining a competitive place in the world environment. The 2012- 2015 National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy is one of a number of policy initiatives that will secure that future. This strategy will bring about vocational education which has rapid supply responses, regional engagement with affordable technologies, expanded access to government funded training for those less advantaged, access to foundation skills to improve workforce participation, and strengthened technology supported partnerships between vocational education providers and industry.
The Australian vocational education and training e-learning strategy – Aligning e-learning with national policy directions: productivity and participation Roger Bryett Member of the Australian Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG) Director Training Training and Employment Division Department of Business and Employment
Significant policy directions impacting on vocational education and training Improved access at the introductory levels Enable effective educational, labour market and social participation Introduction of national regulator Integrated across the tertiary education sector Introducing industry initiatives and direct funding to industry National Workforce Development Fund
Partnerships and co-investment
The Australian investment in a national broadband network Greater flexibility for people to access learning from home or wherever they are located. Better links between learners, training providers and employers Lifelong learning in the workplace
Australia’s Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategies 2000 - 2011
2000-2004 2005-2007 2008-2011 The emphasis: Capability building Client engagement Integration The strategy: Demonstrating and raising awareness of the potential of e-learning Engaging with clients from key policy target groups Embedding e-learning in training providers and businesses The focus: Building provider capability Strengthening the role of clients in shaping VET provision to meet their needs Capitalising on the infrastructure and knowledge created to date
The National Vocational Education and Training E-learning Strategy 2012 - 2015
VISION: 2012 - 2015 A globally competitive Australian training system underpinned by world-class e-learning infrastructure and capability.
Develop and utilise e-learning strategies to maximise the benefits of the national investment in broadband 1.1 NBN E-learning Programs Support workforce development in industry through innovative training solutions 2.1 Industry System Change Expand participation and access for individuals through targeted e-learning approaches 3.1 Partnerships for Participation 3.2 Access to Skills 3.3 Learner Pathways GOAL 1: NBN GOAL 2: WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 3: ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION