The life cycle of markets: what does the data tell us about VET?
Don Zoellner, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs, NT
As the Commonwealth, States and Territories sit down to negotiate the new National Skills Agreement one of the key questions facing them is what training to fund? For thirty years governments have pursued reforms to create a VET market where competition would drive innovation and performance. Is the market still what’s needed now?
Don Zoellner is one of Australia’s leading VET thinkers. In his latest research he has taken the large data sets held by corporate and VET regulators to explore the life cycles of the VET markets in WA, SA, Tasmania, the ACT and the NT. In an attempt to move beyond the well-worn shibboleth of markets = neoliberalism = bad, it is argued that the introduction of markets has been an example of successful policy implementation, but that these markets are now reaching the end of their natural life cycle. Perversely, the major rationale for creating markets – increasing choice – is no longer being provided in these mature markets.
Since a market-based approach was introduced, TAFE Institutes have lost market share, not-for-profit and social enterprise providers have been forced out of most government-created markets, while a significant number of long-standing for-profit providers continue to trade successfully, albeit in the face of more difficult market conditions. Rather than relying totally upon open markets, the data indicates which portions of the very large VET field respond well to competition and those that do not. Alternative economic theories offer more efficient and effective ways to replace markets that have reached the end of their life cycle; these include system optimisation and public value creation.
Hear more about Don’s research findings and what they mean for the future of VET funding in this important AVETRA webinar.