Australia's Vocational Education and Training (VET) workforce has several shortcomings which need to be addressed, according to this report by the Productivity Commission.

A diverse range of public and private VET providers meets many of the expectations of students and significant segments of industry. However, some industry sectors, such as aged care, disability care and early childhood development, have expressed concerns about the skills of VET workers assessed as competent by some Registered Training Organisations.

The Commission identified a number of areas where the VET sector and its workforce could operate more effectively. These include being more responsive to the needs of Indigenous Australians, improving managerial and leadership skills and making greater use of informationand communications technologies.

The Commission's Deputy Chairman, Mike Woods, noted that 'the current capability gaps will be exacerbated by demands placed on the VET sector by future demographic, social, economic, and technological changes. One important reform is that all VET trainers and assessors shouldhave an educational qualification that is relevant to their role. The Commission is recommending improvements in the design, delivery and assessment of their main entry level qualification.'

Mr Woods added that 'a greater amount of well designed and targeted professional development is also needed. In particular, a number of VET trainers and assessors who have been in VET for many years need to refresh their industry skills.'

The report notes that existing industrial relations arrangements in TAFE make it difficult for individual institutions to respond flexibly to emerging demand pressures, such as in the resources sector and in human services. The Commission recommends that individual TAFEs be allowed to recruit, pay and manage their staff in ways that meet their particular business goals.

The report is the first in a suite of three Commission studies covering the workforces of VET, Early Childhood Development and Schools.

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