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Victorian Skills Plan 2022 launch - Craig Robertson, CEO

The release of the Victorian skills plan starts a journey toward future skills.

I ask you to consider the plan as a skills roadmap.

It is built off a restored VET system under this Government’s leadership.

It focusses on building a skills base to drive economic and social prosperity.

Jenny Macklin in her review into tertiary education in Victoria concluded that we need to plan for future skills – aligned to industry frontiers.

The VSA was formed to bring dedicated focus to future skills

Skills that keep our industries operating

Skills at the forefront of technology and innovation

Skills that lead to decent jobs

Skills that empower Victorians to contribute to our progressive society.

These aspirations also led to a new way of operating for TAFEs.

Collaboration not competition led by the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery.

A roadmap comes from surveying the land and conditions.

That is much the same with the skills plan.

Evidence has been drawn from more than 60 sources and enlivened through more than 150 consultations - industry, unions, education partners and learners.

We also release today a dashboard that forecasts the trends of more than 300 Victorian occupations to 2025. Data is discoverable by region, industry and occupation.

Over the next month summary reports of consultations will also be published

13 across Victoria’s industries

9 covering regional Victoria.

Consider these products as reference points on the skills roadmap.

Industry, employers and providers can use them to plan for skill responses.

It will come as little surprise that Victoria is short of workers.

It is the same world-wide.

There is a shortfall of 160,000 people available for work than anticipated prior to COVID. Yet the economy has rebounded.

Government investments and high household spending is triggering demand for 373,000 more jobs over the next three years. All industries expect employment growth.

Easy jobs may make us think skills do not matter.

Far from it. Higher order skills will power Victoria’s recovery

Businesses and industries are deploying technology in new ways

Tech businesses are growing

patient-centred care and med-tech is transforming health practice

Research and innovation is opening new markets and building new industries.

We have the unique opportunity to reposition education and training to support this growth.

Macklin and Firth Reviews in Tandem

The skills plan needs to be seen in tandem with the reforms in senior schooling.

The report by John Firth re-imagining vocational learning in schools was released around the same time as Jenny’s report.

I acknowledge the work of both Jenny and John in laying the groundwork for this plan.

Quality vocational learning in school can kickstart careers.

We should imagine school graduates brimming with contemporary vocational knowledge and skills, confident about their life’s journey.

It should launch them into higher learning and high skill jobs.

Our task in the post-secondary world is to make that a reality.

The Victorian Skills Plan Outlines Actions

This is a stepped process, however.

The plan outlines 11 actions that we view will build the skills base of Victoria.

They are not simply a list - they represent a series of planned interventions.

In the short-term:

we need to address teacher shortages

we need to bring employers together to genuinely tackle the shortage of work placements

more targeted courses need to be offered as rapid pathways to a job as there are still people wanting to work and

more re-skilling needs to be offered so workers can take up the tech enabled jobs.

Pathways of Reform

But other actions are pathways of reform

Mapping out future skills for school students so they can direct their vocational learning to good career options

Exploring new preparation for work courses for disadvantaged job seekers guaranteeing deeper literacy, digital and working skills.

Breaking through gender bias in our courses and in workplaces

Starting VET qualification reform targeting skills needed for the future and that lead to good job options

Building learning pathways so any Victorian can progress to higher learning, regardless of their starting point.

Innovating in skills delivery.

All students must graduate confident they are prepared for a range of jobs and have the tools to keep learning at work.

This is particularly so in regional Victoria. Broader courses are needed that prepare young people for the range of occupations in the region.

We should explore immersive learning not only for access for country students, but because it reflects emerging work practice.

We need good courses aimed at high level tech jobs.

Victorians also need to know they can progress through guaranteed pathways to higher learning. We need to do more to make credit and connections work.

Agreed descriptions of skills and knowledge can assist.

This is the purpose of the new Australian Qualifications Framework, endorsed by all Governments and we will trial its implementation.

Critical Skills

These reform destinations are not a whim.

The central message in all consultations was the critical need for new skills and a new way of learning.

Victoria’s clean economy ambitions on their own demands we look for new approaches.

Halving emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050 will depend heavily on technical and trade skills.

And we need sovereign skills to rebuild our industry base.

And with the rate of technology change, skilling needs to be part of life’s journey.

Working Together

Victoria’s success rests on leveraging the strength of education and training in Victoria.

There’s a strong base

More than 800,000 Victorians are enrolled in post school education today

Our year 12 graduates will be armed with new skills and capabilities.


This plan ratifies the central role of TAFEs in Victoria’s education eco-system. One aiming for excellence and lifting opportunity through vocational and higher education of equal esteem.

TAFEs are assets of the state and given the right settings can help Victoria meet the skills challenge.

Working Together

Jenny Macklin also said that more can be achieved if we work together.

TAFE and training providers each bring strengths.

We need to leverage the expertise of specialist and industry providers.

Skills First for 2023 will remain largely the same.

The dashboard provides rich data for all contracted providers to respond to the 2023 funded course list.

The proposed delivery of TAFEs in 2023 will be coordinated through the OTCD.

Expect More

More can be achieved, however

We can work with universities to bring new knowledge and practice to whole workforces

Learn Locals can outreach to bring more Victorians into education through to employment

The VSA can continue to reach deep into Victorian industry to uncover those skills that matter.

Thanks for Contributions

I need to thank the team at VSA who have worked hard in getting us to this point.

We have been assisted by our colleagues in OTCD and DET, our industry partners in Industry Advisory Groups and the Advisory Board has guided our work.

All credit belongs to them.

No doubt there will be disappointment, criticism even, in some aspects of the plan – of a perspective that has been overlooked or a position that has been put.

These are to be directed to me.

In the end the Government has set up the VSA for advice – and that is what it is.

But this is just the start and we need to continue to bring all players and perspectives together. Even those criticisms.

Working with Higher Education and Skills (HES) and OTCD

We will partner with Higher Education and Skills in the department to bring the plan to life.

We will work with the OTCD to elevate the TAFE network’s role to bring new skills to life.


Planning is long overdue in vocational education and training in Australia.

For too long we have relied on:

defining a qualification,

hoping it will get delivered,

wishing there will be a teacher and

praying they will have the expertise and enthusiasm to teach it.

It doesn’t do any of us any good to have qualifications sitting on the shelf because they can’t be taught.

Because they entail rote learning.

Or worse still, because students are not interested in enrolling.

Imagine the power of bringing all these perspectives together.

Defining skills PLUS guaranteeing a provider PLUS having teachers available PLUS teachers having the expertise.

But its more than this.

If we can collaborate wider disadvantaged learners can be supported into education and training and graduates of vocational education can progress more readily to higher education.

The urgency of our skills crisis means we need to overcome these age-old barriers.

Some give and take may be required but it is better than just wishing, hoping and praying.

Old dogmas need to be tested if they are still fit for purpose.

We need to ask how our vocational education system contributes to students’ progress through learning and how it contributes to our progressive society.

Jobs and Skills Australia

The plan commits to partner with the new Jobs and Skills Australia

As we seek more from working together here in Victoria we can achieve more working together nationally.

Reflecting upon the Macklin Review

Jenny told us that years of competing for students and narrow VET qualifications has left industry without the deep skills and held back opportunities for Victorians.

For too long vocational education in this country has been driven by an unhealthy focus on competition.

It has been founded on a culture of division.

Provider against provider

industry against providers

competency versus education

And dare I say, VET against Higher Education.

The promise of quality and innovation has not been realised.

In the end it is students who paid the price.

I trust that you take this plan as a signal that ends the culture of division.

We aim to be multipliers

a collaborative education and training system

Growing industry and businesses

Building inclusion

Regearing for a clean economy.


As with any plan there will be uncertainties and external forces may change directions but our aspirations are anchored in certain truths.

Skilled Victorians power the economy in ways we would never expect

Skilled Victorians provide a rich base for Victoria’s industry to flourish

Empowered Victorians give back to our society.

I ask you to join us on this skills journey.

Reviewed 19 September 2022