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Federal and state and territory governments across Australia are working to rebuild Australia's vocational education and training (VET) system.

Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Michaelia Cash, chaired the inaugural meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Skills Council earlier this month.

During the meeting, Commonwealth, state and territory skills ministers agreed on priorities to strengthen the VET system and to build a roadmap to deliver the shared vision agreed by leaders at COAG in August.

“We are working with the states and territories as we embark on our ambitious reform agenda, and today was a significant first step on that journey,” Minister Cash said.

The Federal Government has invested $525 million in the Delivering the skills for today and tomorrow package to ensure the sector can continue to build a skilled workforce for the jobs of today and the jobs of the future.

The Skills Council unanimously agreed that the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s engagement with the VET sector needed to include a more educative role and a stronger focus on delivering better training outcomes.

Moreover, the Skills Council will meet again later this year to progress the shared reform roadmap that will be presented to COAG in early 2020.

In the meantime, the Federal Government has established its Vocational Education and Training (VET) Stakeholder committee to help drive its significant agenda of reform.

Cash said the highly experienced committee was handpicked, to ensure the government was well informed.

She said the Committee will ensure that stakeholder views are understood, considered and included during the implementation of the $525 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

The government is committed to creating more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years. The Committee brings together representatives of business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and non-for-profit providers.

Members will meet monthly through to June 2023.

As part of the government's VET reforms the government last week announced changes to the agency responsible for regulating the VET sector, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

The reforms respond to key recommendations of the Braithwaite and Joyce Reviews, including expanding the scope of ASQA to adopt a more educative approach to lift quality in the delivery of VET.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons, said the government has set a strong direction for the future of VET.

“With appropriate regulatory reforms, we can deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities of Australia’s modern economy,” he said.

As the national regulator for Australia’s VET sector, ASQA regulates training providers to ensure they meet nationally approved quality standards.

“As part of these changes Mark Paterson AO, the Chief Commissioner of ASQA, has decided the proposed shift in direction for ASQA provides an appropriate time for him to step down and pass responsibility for managing the next phase of ASQA’s evolution to others,” the Minister said.

Paterson joined ASQA in January 2017. ASQA Commissioner Saxon Rice will act in the role of Chief Commissioner from October 7, 2019.

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