Vocation education and training is an integral part of tertiary education that encompasses the provision of a range of activities that are focused towards the provision of accredited knowledge that is tailored towards acquisition of technical and job oriented skills. According to Clarke and Winch (2009 p.80) VET endeavor is to provide skills that will enable one to join a workforce or sharpen his skill in the chosen profession so as to enhance productivity. VET also equips individuals with skills that empower them to move to other careers while at the same time refreshing the ability of an individual who want to re-enter the workforce after an extended break. Establishment of dynamic and market driven VET programs is crucial in driving a countries economy to greater heights as it helps the state to keep pace with the overcharging market demands and technological advancements (Anja &Kraus 2006). These components are crucial in enhancing countries competitiveness on the international frontier.
Vocational Education and Training in Australia
Australia’s VET system prides itself for the great partnership between the state and the industry in designing structures that define the future of tertiary education. Gerhard and Jean (2010 p.25) notes that this partnership plays an integral part in developing specific knowledge and skills to workplace based on competence of Australia’s labor market.
Registered Technical administers vocational courses in Australia and Further Education learning institutions and accredited private colleges. The government, however, provides the oversight role in the manner in which vocation training activities are carried out. This is because the major funding of the program comes from the state. The Australian government also developed structures that help the policy makers to review regularly its VET policies so as to align it with the millennium development goals. Constant monitoring and evaluation of VET institutions and regulatory strategies has made the countries workforce more relevant a fact that has made Australia one of the strongest emerging markets in Asia (Karl & Rob 2010).
VET courses offered in Australia
The Australian government has a number of the VET program. To begin with, Kis (2011 p.42) reiterates that there are certificate courses that provide market driven training that enhances efficiency and engagement of the labor force. These courses teach specific knowledge and skills like teamwork, communication, literacy, and numeracy. The diploma programs, on the other hand, prepare learners for professional engagements, entrepreneurship, and industry. One needs a minimum of two years to complete the diploma program adequately. English as a communication language is also part of Australia’s VET owing to the diverse nature of the countries demographics.
Difference between higher education and VET in Australia
Primarily, Vocation education and training courses focus on the provision of job oriented and practical skills that helps provides labor in the industries. Higher education, on the other hand, prepares students for professional careers and provision of theory oriented knowledge. However, Guo and Lamb (2010 p.89) argue that VET in Australia is structured in a manner that individuals with diplomas can access higher education. In addition, students who pursue a bachelor’s degree program which is related to his vocation course can enjoy a two to three semester waiver a fact that has enhanced aces to higher education in Australia. The government has also set provisions that require graduates to undertake vocational courses so as to gain practical skills that will increase productivity in job places.
VET and research in Australia
Vocational education and training is a constitutional endeavor of the Australian government that guides the state in developing and maintaining a national strategy of VET based on research and innovations. The government established a National Centre for Vocation Education Research in 1981. The primary role of this institution is coordinating all research activities in the VET sector. The institution is also responsible for allocation of funds to various VET institutions and analysis of collected data which is crucial in informing the government and potential employers on the state of the VET sector and the necessary changes that should be put in place to make the sector more relevant (Elliott & Issler 2010).
The NCVER has trained highly qualified VET researchers who work hard to ensure that VET can yield greater participation of the labor force, especially for the marginalized groups. The institution motivates individuals to participate in VET by developing structures that encourage completion of various VET courses. Through research, NCVER can identify various challenges facing Vocational training and strategizing on how best to overcome the barriers.
Challenges that Australia face in implementation of VET
A tremendous growth in Australia’s economy has precipitated to shortages in both skilled and unskilled workforce. Many employers are experiencing difficulties in getting an adequate staff. This is because majority of Australians population is comprised of an aging population. The government has to develop initiatives that promote training and retraining of the elderly so as to make this subset of population productive thus reducing the need to import labor.
Globalization is another problem facing Australia’s VET sector. Since the country has integrated e-learning in VET, there is a challenge in keeping with the ever-changing pace in information communication and technology spheres. The government has to allocate adequate funding in ICT so as to maintain pace with other advanced states through investment in modern information infrastructure.
There is a problem in the manner in which VET is structured. For instance, diploma program takes a minimum of two years foe one to graduate. However, there has been a problem with the quality of graduates since the system is centered on time other than focusing on the practical competence of the graduate. The number of people undertaking has also dropped tremendously since some of them have to compete with degree holders for employment opportunities. This scenario tends to discourage people from enrolling in these programs. This has caused scarcity of labor in manufacturing industries hence reducing a country’s gross domestic product. There is need for the government to put in place legislations that protects individuals with middle-level qualification from stiff competition from their counterparts with higher academic qualifications. Employers should also develop structures that will motivate people with diploma qualifications through the establishment of policies which blocks out those job seekers who possess higher qualifications than stipulated minimum requirements (Velde 2009).
It is clear from the foregone discussion that Australia has the most progressive VET system that is centered on the partnership between the state and the private sector in enhancing training of the workforce. VET system is also lauded for its diverse and flexible nature that has promoted access to vocational training through the use of online platforms. The government has also invested a considerable amount of money in promotion of VET goals through investment in infrastructure and provision of financial incentives to both students and employers.
Despite the massive investment made by the state in provision of VET, there is need to redesign the programs so as to produce graduates with skills which are not only relevant to the market needs but also practical based rather than being time constrained. A systemic organization of Australia’s VET system will increase the countries competitive advantage on world market spheres.
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