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Report: State of Vocational Education in Australia

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Introduction: Lessons from disruption The events of the past year have shaken the vocational education industry, both globally and in Australia. Faced with drastic and very sudden change – most notably an inability to teach students in person due to the COVID-19 virus – many have been forced to adapt and look at shoring up their future viability any way they can. Instructure conducted a landmark survey to dig deeper into how the sector has responded to the pandemic. We asked questions to gauge the impact of COVID upon vocational education businesses. This includes how they have changed their methods of interaction and learning to keep reaching students, and where they go from here. The result is the inaugural State of Vocational Education report, which was carried out across several countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia & New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines and India. We found that while there's been a profound impact upon vocational education, the current situation has also abounded in opportunity. For many institutions, COVID was a catalyst to move forward and embrace online learning technology. Many reported increased enrolments, with pandemic- related demand and virtual learning technology use driving this boost. Students have welcomed chances to study outside their immediate geographical area, and also embraced the extra time they have to learn while being in lockdown. Changes in the workforce are also a driver, with pandemic-related job losses, uncertainty and lifestyle evaluation prompting people to upskill or change careers entirely. The institutions which have captured these opportunities are the ones which have been fastest to adapt, making best use of existing technologies, or investing in new ones. The vocational education sector and skills-based training will be a vital part of Australia's economic recovery; from career pathways for young people and school leavers through to more mature workers looking to upskill or retrain. This has been signalled from many quarters, including a recent report 1 from the NSW Productivity Commission, and the Australian Job Outlook 2 , which named a number of in-demand industries that are reliant on vocational education. At the same time, the 2021/22 Federal Budget 3 marked an extra $500 million for the JobTrainer program, to be matched by states and territories. The budget also provided additional funding for apprenticeships through the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Program 4 . With most institutions saying the COVID-related changes are likely to stay, now's the time for the Australian vocational education sector to keep its foot on the gas, continuing to embrace changes made in the past year-and- a-half. This means maintaining and improving upon online learning, reaching more students and emerging from the pandemic stronger and more profitable than ever. We hope you find the State of Vocational Education in Australia Report interesting and useful. "Classes were postponed. We faced the prospect that we might lose the business. We had to transition to online learning." Admin from Australia who reported major Covid impact 2

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