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ALI Inspectors Report on Training Down Under


Inspectors from the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) believe that Britain has lessons to learn from vocational and educational training in Australia.

ALI staff, together with colleagues from the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council, the Sector Skills Development Agency and Qualifications and Curriculums Authority, spent two weeks visiting training providers, colleges, federal and state government departments in Australia. The aim was to observe the methods used by the Australian vocational system in tackling the problems also experienced in England.

The inspection team noted that the Australian system had:

* A single minded approach from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institutes (the equivalent to General Further Education Colleges) to meeting the needs of employers and playing a leading role in developing a skilled workforce

* Centralised control over the TAFE institutes, in England GFECs became independent corporations in 1993. The Australian system seems to result in a genuinely collegiate approach to planning provision across the state

* A credit based qualification structure and a variety of work related education and training which encourages learners to progress according to their own personal and career needs

* A creative use of group training companies to meet the training needs of small and medium sized enterprises

Director of Inspection and author of the report, Denis McEnhill said that Australia also had a different approach to skills shortages.

“One of the things about Australia is the way that skills shortages and vocational training are front-page news – even cab drivers in Sydney seemed to have a view, and like cab drivers everywhere, a solution,"he said. "That is something that I would certainly like to see replicated in England."

McEnhill added that he did have some reservations: "Although we all felt that the Australian system had much to commend it we did have reservations about their approach to quality assurance. It tends to rely on whether or not systems adhere to a particular format rather than the learning outcomes. That said, the apprenticeship success rates in some occupational areas are at levels that we in England can only dream about.”


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