We are a new agency established to bring an expert view on skills needs across Victoria. We will clearly articulate priorities to government for skills delivery based on data analysis and insights which are tested and validated through extensive engagement and collaboration.
In recommending the establishment of the Victorian Skills Authority (VSA) the Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy Review, conducted by the Hon. Jenny Macklin and released in February 2021, recognised the long term and wide-ranging impacts of a more targeted and effective skills system.
The VSA will also provide advice on skill priorities to inform vocational and applied learning for senior secondary students. Following the review into Vocational and Applied Learning in Senior Secondary schooling, led by John Firth and released in November 2020, the Victorian Government is targeting vocational learning in school to areas of critical importance to Victoria and with the highest job prospects.
The Macklin and Firth reviews identify the need for government to work collaboratively with industry, communities and individuals to identify the skills needs critical to Victoria’s future.
Technological progress, new business models, pursuit of net zero emissions and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are changing every aspect of Victorians’ lives, including education, workplaces and expectations of work.
Unanticipated and unprecedented change requires us to adapt quickly, to think and do things differently, and to be responsive.
These changes impact the education and skills Victorians need for jobs and life.
The government’s economic agenda is driving growth in critical and emerging industries which require a skilled workforce if they are to prosper.
The VSA recognises these shifts and that Victoria is well placed to respond to these changes. Victoria is committed to the education state and has a skilled workforce which has adapted to economic disruption in the past. New senior secondary pathways and qualifications will encourage a new generation of young people into higher order roles which require well developed skills and capabilities.
This form of vocational education stands as an equal, even preferred destination for secondary school students.
Through skills, the VSA will help Victorians to take advantage of these new opportunities, better prepare for jobs of the future and support industry and social partners to have access to a skilled workforce.
The Macklin review identified that competition and self-interest in the vocational education and training sector often compromised the broader outcomes expected of the sector. Some training focused too heavily in areas that did not support Victoria’s priorities. The VSA and the Advisory Board will set a new benchmark for vocational education set against public interest expectations and underpinned by integrity across the system. The VSA Integrity Framework sets out how the VSA and the Advisory Board will operate to ensure impartiality and that the advice to the government is balanced and serves the common good.
Planning for future skills and enhanced outcomes needs a new approach built on collaboration.
A future skills focus includes forecasting the occupations key to successful future workforces and identifying the critical skills needed for those occupations and for work and life more generally. Skills which are transferable across jobs and those which give individuals the understanding and tools to adapt and learn over the longer term are also critical in contemporary societies.
Skills range from general to specific, covering foundation skills such as literacy and numeracy and increasingly digital skills that underpin all aspects of life and work, to technical skills determined by levels of knowledge and expertise. Advanced skills are difficult to achieve without well-developed general skills and deep knowledge. Technology-driven transformations in many aspects of work and life mean that skills to use, operate or build digitised tools and systems are also critical for the future.
A deep understanding of these domains of skills, including new skills required in industry, is central to the VSA’s mission. Bringing contemporary education practice to the sector and considering the perspective of students and their aspirations are keys to successful outcomes and central to the VSA’s work.
Success in identifying and planning for future skills is built on collaboration. The many aspects which lead to success in skills for the future need to be brought together. Future skills are identified through deep engagement and analysis with industry, employers and educators.
Lifting participation in education and training and improving outcomes such as employment, improved job performance or further education and training all require joint commitment and action, with a focus on the student.
The VSA has established a stakeholder engagement and collaboration approach to ensure all perspectives are considered and to bring all players together. The Macklin review also identified skills labs as the process for co-design to plan for the future.
The work of the VSA is directed to improve the skills base in Victoria to assist employers to access skilled workers or to grow enterprises. A high skills base in turn leads to skilled employment for more Victorians.
To meet this challenge we must work collaboratively to ensure that everyone has fair and affordable access to skills development.
The priority in the VSA’s planned approach to inclusion is to lift participation in post school education and training, including through structured support and guidance available through Skills and Jobs Centres and the Victorian Skills Gateway. Its focus is ensuring all vulnerable, disengaged and disadvantaged Victorians have a voice in shaping the skilling they need to secure a good job with opportunities to pursue a long-term career.
Inclusion extends to how the VSA operates. The VSA reaches out to prospective students and groups representing those who face barriers to participation to identify strategies to draw more students into education and training.
Our aim is to consider skills from all angles, including that of students and prospective students. These views help shape skilling solutions to fulfil the aspiration of the student. This includes identifying and addressing gender barriers in education and training and working with industry to create welcoming and supportive workplaces.
The Government has appointed an Advisory Board to guide the work of the VSA and provide advice to the Minister for Training and Skills and the Minister for Higher Education. Through the Advisory Board, the VSA brings together people from different sectors, regions, subject matter expertise and lived experiences. This diversity ensures it provides rich and contemporary advice about skills.
The Advisory Board has a separate workplan to inform its advice to the Minister and the VSA.
The VSA’s priority areas, aligned to the key actions articulated in the Victorian Skills Plan, contribute to 5 strategic objectives:
- provide a forward view on skills requirements
- enable increased participation in training that leads to good jobs and career pathways
- lift quality and performance
- develop innovative solutions to skills design and delivery
- create connections and impact
- our strategic plan outlines how we will work over the next 3 years to bring these objectives to life.