In the coming years, over half of all employment opportunities will require qualifications obtained through vocational education and training (VET). At the same time, the VET system needs to become more flexible to support the increasingly dynamic labour market. It must be flexible and support lifelong learning, which provides opportunities for people of all ages to gain additional qualifications or change careers. This will benefit the citizens of NSW as well as the businesses which need skilled workers to grow.

Draft recommendation 3.1: In the pandemic and after, help workers rebuild skills

By the 2020-21 Budget, develop a medium-term ‘earn or learn’ skills strategy that guides and supports skills transitions for workers displaced by COVID-19.

Draft recommendation 3.2: Build more pathways to the trades

Introduce two new and more flexible pathways to trades qualifications: one for HSC-holders (two years or less) and one for mature-aged workers (18 months or less).

  • ​Incentivise RTOs to develop more flexible modes of course delivery, including after-hours learning and short intensive periods of full-time study.
  • ​Establish a Training and Skills Recognition Centre to implement the new training pathways, starting in the construction sector.
  • ​Regulate to allow employment of unqualified juniors (those below 21 years of age) in a recognised trade vocation outside an apprenticeship, provided they have completed, or are enrolled in the relevant trades qualification.
  • ​Endorse a marketing campaign to raise the profile and awareness of new trades pathways.
Draft recommendation 3.3: Improve the Smart and Skilled program

Target Smart and Skilled funding more effectively by refining the NSW Skills List. Prioritise funding to courses that demonstrate value to industry, or represent skills shortage areas.

Draft recommendation 3.4: Encourage micro-credentials

Extend Smart and Skilled subsidies to targeted short courses and micro-credentials that provide discrete skills employers recognise and value.

  • ​Use economic and industry data to identify high value micro-credentials to fund.
  • ​Prioritise courses that have better evidence of employer trust and recognition, high quality assessment, and alignment with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
  • ​Use a risk-management approach to funding, with the capacity to quickly freeze or withdraw funding if problems are identified.

Support the development of voluntary systems of trust and recognition for micro credentials, for example alignment to AQF levels or the adoption of ‘credit points’ standards.

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