Issue 10
Monday, 07 December 2020
Charles Darwin University
Research Fellow Dr Don Zoellner
Research Fellow Dr Don Zoellner

VET marketisation produces 'mixed bag'

Charles Darwin University Fellow Dr Don Zoellner says the marketisation of VET in Australia has produced a “mixed bag” of results, which had worked well for some but not for others.

“It’s the $64 million question,” Dr Zoellner said to an international audience during a World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics webinar that sought to stimulate discussion on the effectiveness of marketising vocational education.

“You will get some who will say that the market has failed in Australia and you’ll get others who say that it has worked well and that we should expand it,” Dr Zoellner said.

“The reality is that there are thousands of private providers who have been in the market for a long time, including numerous for-profit organisations, which suggests the market is working in some locations and occupations.

The webinar featured guest speakers from Chile, the UK and Australia who had been asked to describe the vocational system in their countries and share views on the effectiveness of the marketised approach.

“The system in Australia has become more efficient, and we have seen a decrease in the cost per hour of instruction, but on the other hand, the system is also shrinking with more students choosing to enrol in universities.”

Dr Zoellner said that the single VET market idea had received policy support from both major political parties in all states and territories for the past 30 years.

“Policy has attempted to simplify multiple markets into a single market, which has reduced debate to a ‘for the market’ or ‘against the market’ binary. In my view, we would be better served by a ‘both-and’ analysis rather than the ‘either-or’ borne out of the binary policy construction.”

Dr Zoellner said that marketising VET had worked well for some segments, but it depended on where one stood.

“The data shows a substantial reduction of training provided in regional and remote settings, and outcomes for disadvantaged groups have yet to approach those achieved in the wider population.”

He said that the webinar had received some 150 registrations from 14 countries.

Click here for a recording of the presentation: W: