Monday, 20 June 2016 16:36

VET policies should focus on skills shortages

Students waiting at Blacktown train station. Students waiting at Blacktown train station.

Media release, 20 June, 2016

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called for Australia’s leaders to focus on addressing skills shortages when proposing changes to the vocational education sector.

WSROC President Cllr Tony Hadchiti said our vocational education sector needs urgent attention, but the focus of this attention should be on ensuring that courses servicing areas of skills shortage such as construction, hospitality and aged care are affordable, accessible and well integrated with real workplace experience.

“VET courses produce the essential industries that keep our economy turning and our cities growing. If we can’t encourage more young people into these careers, employers in the public and private sector will increasingly have to source workers from interstate or overseas,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Some local councils in Western Sydney are already facing this situation due to a lack of local workers in some fields,” he said.

Blacktown City Council recently found itself needing to fill a skills shortage by engaging ‘fly-in fly-out’ surveyors from interstate for construction work in the city.

“In the past, this would have been an unthinkable scenario”, said Blacktown Councillor Edmond Atalla.

The WSROC President said “The government should be working its hardest to attract students into areas of skill shortage, as well as supporting businesses to take on new apprentices and trainees.”

“First and foremost we need to have a change in thinking; to reassess the value we place on apprenticeships and traineeships,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Our society would come to a standstill without builders, plumbers and health care workers. This needs to be recognised and celebrated,” he said.

“Secondly, we need to strengthen the pathways from our high schools into vocational training so that the process is affordable, and as straightforward as possible for young people to navigate. 

“Looking at more purpose-directed education rather than education for education’s-sake will encourage school students to think more critically about where they are headed once they graduate,” he said.

“Thirdly, we need to reduce the number of dropouts by ensuring young people have both thefinancial and pastoral support they need whilst in training,” said Cllr Hadchiti. 

“We should be providing as much support as possible to ensure they go on to become qualified in their chosen field. To ensure that if they leave their apprenticeship or traineeship it is on their own terms, and not because of financial pressures or family stress,” he said. 

“Australia relies on a successful vocational education system, and we must ensure it is working as well as it can to support students from enrolment to employment,” said Cllr Hadchiti. 


Media contact: Kelly-Anne Gee, 02 9671 4333 (ext. 118), 0425 871 868 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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