National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development by 3s0SZiA

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									Executive summary
National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Performance
report for 2009
The National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development is a key part of the Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) overarching agenda to boost productivity and workforce
participation. It identifies long term objectives of Australian governments to develop the skills
of the Australian people, including through a national training system which is responsive to
local needs and delivers high quality training outcomes. The agreement is signed by all
Australian governments and establishes the outcomes to be achieved and the performance
indicators and targets to track governments’ progress towards this objective.

The COAG Reform Council (the council) is responsible for publicly reporting on the
performance of governments against the objectives and outcomes of the agreement. The council
reports directly to COAG and is independent of individual governments.

This is the council’s second year report on the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce
Development. It focuses on reporting jurisdictional progress against the agreed objectives and
outcomes compared to the baseline data summarised in the 2008 performance report. In
assessing change over time, the council looks at progress achieved both within and across States
and Territories, and for particular groups where possible.

The council’s report on the National Education Agreement—released concurrently—is a
complementary report, presenting data for performance against outcomes for the school
education sector.

From this second year report, the council has identified two key points:

   First, the report covers a period when the effects of the economic downturn were being
    experienced in Australia. As detailed in the relevant chapters, employment outcomes for
    training graduates were worse in a majority of States and Territories in 2009 compared with
    2008, reflecting tightening employment markets and changes to some industry structures.
   Second, aspects of the performance reporting framework currently prevent the council from
    fully measuring progress towards achieving the outcomes of the agreement. For example,
    there are serious problems with the availability of robust data. There are no measures
    available for one outcome and only outdated data for another. The remaining two outcomes
    rely on sample surveys, for which there are problems with analysing change over time,
    particularly for smaller States and Territories. While acknowledging that many of these
    issues will require time and resources to address, the council emphasises that the value of
    future reports relies on improvements to the performance reporting framework to enable
    more meaningful reporting against outcomes.

These points are discussed in more detail below. The executive summary also provides an
overview of:

   the progress towards COAG’s agreed targets
   the council’s recommendations on ways to improve the performance reporting framework


National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009
       National Partnerships that relate to the objectives of the National Agreement for Skills and
        Workforce Development
       findings from a research project commissioned by the council to better understand
        variations in performance across States and Territories in the area of the transition of young
        people from school to further education, training or employment.


Key findings from the comparative analysis
There are four outcomes of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development
(Box 1).

Box 1              National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: outcomes

        The working age population has gaps in foundation skills levels reduced to enable
         effective educational, labour market and social participation.

        The working age population has the depth and breadth of skills and capabilities required
                   st
         for the 21 century labour market.

        The supply of skills provided by the national training system responds to meet changing
         labour market demand.

        Skills are used effectively to increase labour market efficiency, productivity, innovation
         and ensure increased utilisation of human capital.



Chapters 2 to 5 report performance information for each of these outcomes and the related
performance indicators. The following points summarise the key findings from this 2009 report
on performance. Statistically significant differences are denoted by the word ‘significant’.

There was a small improvement in the proportion of Australians without
minimum level qualifications
       Between 2008 and 2009 there was a small but significant improvement nationally in the
        proportion of 20 to 64 year olds without minimum level qualifications—from 48.1 per cent
        in 2008 to 47.1 per cent in 2009.
       The proportion without minimum level qualifications was similar in all States and
        Territories, except the ACT which had a significantly lower proportion of 20 to 64 year olds
        without minimum qualifications (36.6 per cent).

Graduates of vocational education and training had poorer employment
outcomes in 2009
       Nationally, a lower proportion of graduates of vocational education and training were
        employed after training in 2009—a small but significant decline from 80.7 per cent in 2008
        to 77.8 per cent in 2009.
       In addition, a lower proportion of graduates reported an improved employment status after
        training—again, a small but significant decline from 62.9 per cent in 2008 to 59.8 per cent
        in 2009.


                             National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009
    - There were significant declines in improved employment status after training between
      2008 and 2009 in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
      South Australia’s decline was particularly high at 9.3 percentage points.
   These results are likely to reflect the broader economic downturn in Australia during the
    2009 reporting year.


COAG’s agreed targets
COAG has set two ambitious targets related to the National Agreement for Skills and
Workforce Development.

Halve the proportion of Australians without qualifications at Certificate III level or
above by 2020
   In 2009, 47.1 per cent of Australians did not have qualifications at Certificate III level or
    above. Based on this figure, the 2020 target is 23.6 per cent.

Double the number of higher level (diploma and advanced diploma) qualification
completions by 2020
   Baseline data for 2009 are not yet available.
    - As an indication, in 2008, there were 48 091 higher level qualification completions in
      Australia. Based on this figure, the target would be to double this number to 96 182 by
      2020.

As 2009 is the baseline year for both targets, the council will commence measuring progress
towards the targets from next year’s report.

The agreement only establishes national targets. It is the council’s view that it is valuable to
have both national and jurisdictional targets and trajectories, where feasible, to allow
meaningful monitoring of progress over time. The identification of a target by COAG signals
the importance of the area and the importance of more closely tracking performance of States
and Territories year-on-year.

As 2009 is the baseline year from which the targets are calculated, high priority needs to be
given to finalising the targets and trajectories over the next year to enable the council to report
on progress in future performance reports. If jurisdictional targets are not available for next
year’s report, the council will develop indicative targets in consultation with the National Centre
for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) for its own use in measuring progress.


Recommendations to improve the performance reporting framework
The success of the reform of federal financial relations depends crucially upon a robust
performance reporting framework, including the development of sound performance indicators
and benchmarks as the basis for public reporting.

The COAG Reform Council has an important role in advising COAG on where changes might
be made to improve the performance reporting framework (COAG 2008, C-30). In this report,


National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009
the council has put forward two recommendations for improving the performance reporting
framework (Box 2 and Box 3).

The first recommendation notes the council’s two priorities for improvement—improvements to
the overall performance reporting framework under the National Agreement and to support
robust reporting of change over time. It also recommends actions to address these priorities.

The priorities reflect the shift in the council’s role in performance monitoring towards
measuring change over time. This shift has proved very challenging in this second year report
on the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, as much of the data on
which measurement of change depends is missing or precludes meaningful comparisons over
time and between States and Territories.

Box 2          Recommendation 1

 The COAG Reform Council recommends that COAG:

 a. notes the following two priorities for improvement to the performance reporting
    framework:

     -   improvements to the overall performance reporting framework under the National
         Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development

     -   improvements to support robust reporting of change over time.

 b. requests the Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment and the
    Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (where
    relevant) to progress the following actions which address these priorities:
     -   better linkage of the objectives and outcomes of the Agreement with progress
         measures and performance indicators

     -   the development of jurisdictional targets (and trajectories where feasible) for the
         COAG targets

     -   enhancements to the reporting of the ABS Survey of Education and Work

     -   the work underway to implement a unique student identifier across all education and
         training sectors.


The second recommendation addresses the council’s concern about the lack of clarity around
responsibilities for progressing recommendations from the council’s baseline report, and
consequently the lack of information about the pace and expected pace of reform. While
acknowledging the time and resources needed to address the recommendations, the council
notes that substantial data development is required to report progress against a number of
performance indicators and targets in 2011 and beyond.




                         National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009
Box 3            Recommendation 2

 The COAG Reform Council recommends that COAG requests the Ministerial Council on
 Federal Financial Relations to consider the council’s recommendations, as endorsed by
 COAG, and provide advice to COAG on a six-monthly basis on the progress of the council’s
 recommendations and prioritisation for data development across all National Agreements.




Reporting on National Partnerships
Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations, the council must report
on National Partnerships that support the objectives in National Agreements. In this report, the
council has introduced its approach to this task, and reported on the first year performance of
jurisdictions against the targets of the National Partnership Agreement on Productivity Places
Program (with the exception of Victoria which is not a signatory to this National Partnership).

The Productivity Places Program aims to reduce skills shortages and increase the productivity of
industry and enterprises through the delivery of 402 881 qualification commencements and
557 556 course enrolments in nationally-recognised qualifications to job seekers and existing
workers between 2009 and 2012. Delays in signing the National Partnership and associated
implementation plans have affected the ability of jurisdictions to meet their targets. In 2009 no
jurisdiction met its targets for either qualification commencements or course enrolments, with
the exception of Western Australia for course enrolments. It is noted that some jurisdictions’
reports are not comparable due to differences in reporting methodology.


Good practice and performance
The Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations also tasks the council with
highlighting examples of good practice and performance as part of its comparative analysis of
performance under each National Agreement. This task comprises two stages. The first stage is
an in-depth analysis of performance information to better understand variations in performance
across and/or within jurisdictions. For jurisdiction(s) with higher relative performance, the
second stage aims to identify good practice—that is, strategies or interventions that have helped
steer systems or service providers towards high-level outcomes.

For stage 1 for this report, the council selected the area of the transition of young people from
school to further education, training or employment. Professor Richard Sweet conducted an
analysis of the relationship between the key predictors of successful transitions (such as socio-
economic status and labour market opportunities) and the transition outcomes in jurisdictions
(such as Year 12 attainment and young people’s participation in post-school employment,
education or training). A difference in outcomes from what might be expected given a particular
set of predictors may indirectly reveal the additional impact of education and labour market
institutions—either positively or negatively.




National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009
On the basis of Professor Sweet’s analysis, Victoria emerges as a jurisdiction where young
people’s outcomes for education and labour market transitions are higher than would be
predicted by a range of socio-economic factors. In stage 2, the council will investigate
Victoria’s policies and programs related to this achievement and report the findings in its
performance report for 2010.




                         National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Report on Performance 2009

								
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