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Australia to provide more VET in Asia?

Australia should play a bigger role in helping Asian countries meet their skills gaps through vocational education and training (VET), Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans has said. At the Australia India Skills Conference in Perth last week, Evans said this could involve developing partnerships in areas such as “qualification recognition, a focus on standards, quality assurance and labour mobility”.

"Wherever you go now VET is very much on the agenda"

“Wherever you go now, in a government-to-government discussion, vocational education and training is very much on the agenda,” he said.

The minister said Australia had been slow to see the opportunities but that its Training and Further Education (TAFE) sector had a world-class reputation.

However, Evans predicted VET would be a key area of engagement between Australia and fast-growing Asian countries in years to come. India, which needs to up-skill 500 million people by 2022 was mentioned as a prime example.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans

“There’s an understanding that most of India’s training needs are going to have to be met in country and its going to have to establish training systems to allow that to happen,” he said.

ACPET, the peak body for VET in Australia, welcomed the minister’s comments, but said commitment to funding was still lacking.

“The minister’s comments reflect recommendations in the recent Knight Review of students visas that the Australian government should provide more financial support to Australian providers looking to operate offshore,” CEO Claire Field told The PIE News.

“There was no new funding for transnational education in the budget”

However, she said: “The Commonwealth government brings down its budget in May each year and there was no new funding for transnational education in the budget. We’re hopeful that some more funding might be possible in 2013,” she said.

ACPET is currently building a presence in China to support Australian VET providers looking to set up in the region.

The conference was run by Australia India Education Council which aims to foster innovation and collaboration in skills development between Australia and India by bringing together key players in the skills sectors of both countries.

Field said the event included a large delegation of business and education representatives from India and Australian public and private training providers, and that a number of MOUs were signed.

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