NCVER 24th No Frills 6 to 8 July 2015
NCVER No Frills was held from 6 to 8 July 2015 at the University of Western Sydney. As always, the opportunity to engage with new research and reports of innovative practices was stimulating for me. I expect many of you also attended. What was the highlight for you? The three streams of the Conference: Youth, Pathways, Skills, elicited some new research findings in each of these areas.
The presentations showcased contemporary research as well as innovative solutions to some of the wicked problems in VET. The full research cycle includes dissemination of findings. This conference was a wonderful opportunity for that to happen.
The first keynote speaker on Day One was Professor Peter Shergold AC (due to Canberra’s fog keeping the Assistant Minister firmly on the ground). Professor Shergold’s vision of a truly unified tertiary education system was invigorating. I believe many of us in the audience endorsed his comments regarding the need for one system for data collection and regulation, as well as for other important outcomes. The focus of this keynote being on big data and big opportunities emphasised the new era of access to data and ethics issues which it will raise. As he said many people including governments, public servants and others must embrace Bradley’s 2008 report. There were a number of presentations on this theme of pathways.
Minister Simon Birmingham gave an interesting address. The very obvious concern of youth unemployment which he commented on reminded me of earlier days when he referred to labour market programs. Of particular interest was his reference to the non-linear pathways of youth into skills and education. He referred to the ambition in VET to provide data once and use it many times. I believe the Unique Student Identifier (USI) and Total VET Activity (TVA) systems will provide enormous data to review our training and education system. Undoubtedly many researchers will be engaging with the data. Minister Birmingham’s address also identified considerable concerns with the VET Fee Help (VHF) system. Of course we have seen changes to the VFH system to address some of these concerns. Research into the uses which were being made of this system has helped identify ways to address the issues. No doubt, the TVA will provide more data to inform needed amendments. Will you be one of the researchers engaging with the data?Day Two’s keynote address was by Nicholas Wyman. Nicholas is CEO of the Institute of Workplace Skills and Innovation in Australian, amongst many other roles domestically and internationally. The focus of this keynote was on how we could improve in regard to people (especially young people) having the right skills for the demands of business. Nicholas shared considerable details of his personal journey in post-compulsory education. This was a great example of the ‘non-linear pathways’ referred to by Professional Shergold. There is no doubt a rich field of research to be undertaken in Nicholas’ plea for employers and vocational education providers to identify emerging occupations in our changing society and provide for these needs. The presentations in both the Youth and Skills streams of the Conference offered more new findings and ideas on these importance issues. Video recordings of the keynote presentations can now be found on the NCVER Past Events site. All presentations and papers will shortly be available on the VOCED Plus site.Please provide your thoughts on the Conference by Replying to this post below.