Making VET qualifications more responsive: lessons from overseas

Media release

29 September 2020

International approaches to rationalising vocational education and training (VET) qualifications could also produce benefits in Australia, potentially making the VET system simpler to navigate and qualifications more responsive to industry needs.

The report Rationalising VET qualifications: selected international approaches adds international evidence to recent research that proposes reorganising Australian VET qualifications into occupational or vocational clusters will provide extra benefits, including more career mobility for learners and more workers for industry in times of demand.

NCVER Managing Director Simon Walker said that internationally, many qualification structures have been changed to include sets of core capabilities, such as language, literacy and numeracy, technical skills relevant to related clusters of occupations, and further specialisation through optional units.

“This approach has not only significantly reduced the number of VET qualifications in many countries, it allows them to be broader, more flexible, and more responsive to the changing needs of learners and industry,” Mr Walker said.

2016 NCVER analysis shows that of the 1600 qualifications currently in use in Australia, around 85 per cent of enrolments were in 200 qualifications only, and that 336 qualifications had zero enrolments in 2015.

This new report examines international examples from countries that rationalised their VET qualifications so they could respond more effectively to emerging skill needs and highlights a series of considerations for the Australian VET system.

“Units of competency, or ‘modules’, are used internationally to provide skills specific to an occupation and to allow a quick response to emerging skill or regional needs,” Mr Walker said.

“With a reduced number of qualifications in the VET system, these units of competency, skill sets and other forms of micro-credentials will become increasingly important.”

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About NCVER: we are the main provider of research, statistics and data on Australia’s VET sector. Our services help promote better understanding of VET and assist policy-makers, practitioners, industry, training providers, and students to make informed decisions.

This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, with funding provided through the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.