Workforce Productivity Improvements Need Alignment Of The Skills Training And Higher Education Systems

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia

Student-centred reforms to more closely align the skills training and higher education sectors are needed to ensure that the Australian workforce is resilient and able to adapt to change. That’s the view of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent skills training, higher education, and international education providers.

“We need an integrated tertiary education system in which the skills training and higher education sectors operate as one but retain their separate strengths and identities,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

According to ITECA, tertiary education reforms must be student-centric. They need to underpin lifelong learning, be focused on improving a diverse range of outcomes, and ensure alignment between the offerings of the tertiary education system and students’ knowledge, skills, and personal attributes.

“The conventional model of education and employment, where individuals complete their education early and follow a relatively unchanged career path, is now outdated in modern Australia. Instead, a new era of lifelong learning is taking root. This model isn’t just about personal or professional growth; it’s a necessity for driving workforce productivity and enhancing Australia’s global competitiveness,” Mr Williams said.

According to ITECA, an integrated tertiary education system is necessary to drive workforce productivity and enhance Australia’s global competitiveness.

“Australia’s workforce is undergoing transformation as we transition to a clean economy, respond to the increasing demand for human services due to an ageing population, and adapt to the rise of innovative technologies like artificial intelligence. The nation’s approach to workforce development must evolve to ensure individuals maintain meaningful employment. Lifelong learning is becoming the new norm,” Mr Williams said.

According to ITECA, there is reason for optimism as the Australian government is establishing the administrative infrastructure to create an integrated tertiary education system.

“A key recommendation from the Australian Universities Accord interim report is for the government to establish an Australian Tertiary Education Commission. Its task would be to provide the leadership and stewardship necessary to transform the tertiary education system to achieve a unified objective for both skills training and higher education,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA also believes that Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has the potential to play a key role.

“There is a real opportunity with JSA’s focus on improving workforce participation, productivity, wages, and equity. To achieve this, JSA is undertaking significant work with stakeholders, including employers and unions, but it’s the agency’s engagement with the skills training and higher education system where there are some important reforms to be considered,” Mr Williams said.

The need to integrate the tertiary education system is a significant policy advocacy priority for ITECA.

“Australia must develop an integrated tertiary education system to ensure that today’s workforce is adaptable and prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges. With the current reforms underway, achieving this goal may be within reach,” Mr Williams concluded.

/Public Release.