December 2017

As a business that’s been operating for over 20 years, and as a Registered Training Organisation, Wisdom Learning understands the value of the Vocational Education Sector to Australia. Vocational training offers huge potential to our economy and we’ve seen first-hand the difference it can make to our clients’ business bottom line: more highly qualified employees become more engaged, higher performing and more loyal employees. So businesses investing in skills development have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, as well as increasing profitability.

This makes the current shortfall in qualified and skilled employees across Australia all the more perplexing. A recent ABC 7.30 Report story sheds some light on the situation. In the report, CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, suggested the Vocational Education sector is running down as a result of underfunding. According to Ms Westacott, it will take billions of dollars to put the necessary infrastructure back into the sector to rectify the current shortfall of qualified and skilled employees.

Current predictions are that half of all new jobs will be in the vocational sector: in construction, health care and hospitality. So why aren’t we investing more in this sector? Arguably there is a bias towards university education as a preferred pathway to transition from high school to employment.

We’d never suggest that our university sector should be neglected, but we know that university isn’t for everyone, and the university sector is not necessarily focused on producing the job-capable workers our economy needs. Recent data highlights that a university qualification is not a guarantee of employment. By contrast, Business Council of Australia (BCA) data from 2016 shows 90% of trade apprentices find work on completion of their qualification. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows similarly impressive results from its 2017 survey. So if we’re looking for training and education that’s focused on increasing employment, increasing productivity and increasing Australia’s global competitive advantage, then investment in the vocational sector is definitely justified.