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Incoming TAFE Directors Australia chief executive Craig Robertson.

Push to include VET on innovation agenda

The incoming chief executive of TAFE Directors Australia says he will push to get vocational education included on the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Craig Robertson said workers will need to be reskilled as old industries perish, and that TAFEs will play a central role in doing this.

“A large majority of workers are trained in the vocational education and training area, at least equal to, if not more than, those people that are trained out of the higher education sector,” Robertson said.

“They are a powerful force for implementing … innovation in workplaces,” he continued. “I think it would be a lost opportunity if TAFEs don’t have an opportunity to assist the government in the innovation agenda.

“That also means that TAFEs, with their broad range of program offerings, their broad range of coverage of industry areas, are ideally placed to work with firms to implement innovative practices.”

In February, TDA’s outgoing chief executive Martin Riordan said he was gobsmacked that VET was not on the innovation agenda.

“Amazingly, vocational education … was completely left out of the National Innovation and Science Agenda,” Riordan said.

“It’s in stark contrast to many countries in the region. We’ve seen in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, China – all of our major trading partners – [pay much more] attention to skills than currently in Australia.”

In the government’s National Science Statement, delivered by Cabinet minister Arthur Sinodinos, vocational education was not explicitly mentioned.

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