Calls to make our National Skills System Equitable in the forthcoming Employment White Paper

Calls to make our National Skills System Equitable in the forthcoming Employment White Paper

WAVE is calling on the Australian Government to put equity at the heart of our vocational and adult education system.

In its response to the Government’s consultation for the Employment White Paper WAVE has advocated for amendments to the Terms of Reference to ensure that the reality of gender inequity in our labour market and skills system is considered.

“Our national skills system reinforces the factors leading to our gender segregated workforce and therefore contributes to the barriers that women face to learn and earn” said Ms Kit McMahon, National Co-Convenor of WAVE. “There is a close relationship between the economy and labour markets and our systems charged with skilling Australians are opaque.”

“Skills, VET and the national policy system that supports it should not be positioned as an afterthought in this review into our nation’s employment and productivity” said Therese Nolan National Co-Convenor of WAVE. “It needs to be central to the White Paper process and as so, open to the structural and systemic changes required for it to be fit for purpose now and into the future.”

WAVE joins with key voices in industry, research institutes and think tanks, the community sector and TAFE in calling for root and branch reform of the VET and adult education systems. “The current VET system is neither equitable nor suitable for C21 Australia” said Kit McMahon “The current system does not work for women. Rather, it reflects, reinforces and reproduces Australia’s deeply gender segregated labour force - horizontally and vertically.”

“Despite individual efforts by governments and other stakeholders, it has failed to contribute to gender equity and the reduction in the gender pay gap” said Therese Nolan. “We need this White Paper process to not tinker with a status quo – this will not meet anyone’s needs”

WAVE is calling for a high level review of the VET and Adult Education systems, similar to that proposed for Higher Education that puts equity at its heart, rather than adding it as an afterthought. Further, the national organisation for women in vocational and adult education is asking that:

I. The objectives, scope and themes of the White Paper reflect the need for an intersectional gender lens to be applied the enablers of participation in our workforce through our skills, secondary schooling and adult education systems; and the policy, systems and settings that retain skills in our labour market through reskilling/upskilling and other education and training.

II. The Australian Government drive the creation of Gender Equity in our VET and Adult Education System by ensuring that within its systems, programs, services, and policies:
• Are built on principles of equity and human rights
• Seek to disrupt and disband the reproduction of gender stereotypes across national systems and structures that undermine the productivity of our labour market and utilisation of skills
• Incorporate co-design and place-based methodologies
• The capacity of skills, workforce development and adult education sectors and system is developed to be more inclusive, sustainable, productive, flexible and aligned to our community needs and emerging economic, environmental & socio-cultural challenges
• Create safer and more equitable adult and vocational education system that delivers for all students, communities and industry
• Establish and commit to lifewide and lifelong learning pathways through an overarching lifelong learning framework
• Commit to develop our national adult language, literacy and numeracy capability
• Use gender disaggregated data to plan for and forecast labour and skills needs and, measure effectiveness of the student’s journey and outcome
• Are designed and implemented through gender impact assessment process
• The inequitable nature of the vocational and adult education workforce is addressed

Key Contact:
Kit McMahon WAVE National Co-Convenor
Therese Nolan WAVE National Co-Convenor

The full submission to the Australian Government’s Consultation on the Employment White Paper from WAVE (Terms of Reference) can be found here.

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