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Home > News > August 2005 > 30-Aug-2005

ALI reports on vocational training in Australia

The Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) has published a report on vocational and educational training in Australia.

Seven ALI staff, accompanied by colleagues from the DfES, the LSC the SSDA and QCA, spent two weeks in Australia visiting training providers, colleges, federal and state government departments and other organisations in 4 states.

Although the inspection team found many similarities between the vocational systems used in England and Australia, the team reports that they found some real differences, particularly in political structures, the power of the trade unions and the coherence of the qualifications structure.

Notable differences identified by the inspection team were:

* A single minded approach from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institutes (the equivalent to General Further Education Colleges) to meeting the needs of employers and playing a leading role in developing a skilled workforce

* Centralised control over the TAFE institutes, in England GFECs became independent corporations in 1993. The Australian system seems to result in a genuinely collegiate approach to planning provision across the state

* A credit based qualification structure and a variety of work related education and training which encourages learners to progress according to their own personal and career needs

* A creative use of group training companies to meet the training needs of small and medium sized enterprises

Director of Inspection and author of the report, Denis McEnhill said: "One of the things about Australia is the way that skills shortages and vocational training are front-page news – even cab drivers in Sydney seemed to have a view, and like cab drivers everywhere, a solution. That is something that I would certainly like to see replicated in England.

"However, although we all felt that the Australian system had much to commend it we did have reservations about their approach to quality assurance. It tends to rely on whether or not systems adhere to a particular format rather than the learning outcomes. That said, the apprenticeship success rates in some occupational areas are at levels that we in England can only dream about."

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