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Think tank calls for vocational review

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016

Australian education's "forgotten middle child" - vocational training - needs to be comprehensively reviewed to make sure it doesn't continue to be undermined and weakened.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia think tank says while vocational education delivered vital skills that industry needs, continued scandals and a disconnect with business had significantly weakened it.

On top of this, there is substantial uncertainty about future funding of the sector once an agreement between the Commonwealth and states runs out in mid-2017, CEDA says in a research report released on Monday.

"The scandals in recent years in the VET sector, despite only relating to a small number of operators, have done significant reputational damage and it is now vital that the sector is supported to rebuild," chief executive Stephen Martin said.

While there had been much focus on the sky-rocketing cost to taxpayers of VET student loans, it was just as concerning that enrolments in government-supported courses had drastically plummeted, he said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has indicated the government will soon release its plan to crack down on dodgy providers and limit the amount of debt students can accumulate.

But CEDA says more needs to be done.

The think tank recommends a comprehensive national review of the sector to examine its role in meeting the nation's skills needs that underpins negotiations for a new funding agreement.

It also suggests shifting from narrowly defined qualifications to teaching students a broader set of skills that would help them better adapt to a changing workforce.

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