GIER members were recently involved in the ‘Australasian Vocational Education and Training Research Association’ (AVETRA) annual conference, a hybrid event held over two days (28-29 April). GIER’s Deputy Director, Steven Hodge, was conference chair.

Built around the theme of ‘Are we there yet? Building a research community to shape VET’s future’, the conference reflected the reality that research in an educational sector like VET involves a whole ecosystem of actors. These include government departments, funding bodies, consultants, academic researchers and educators (who use the insights provided by research and undertake their own). The conference sought to open debate among these groups with a view to exploring the value of research for informing policy and practice.

Conference Chair: Dr Steven Hodge, GIER Deputy Director

Steven Hodge from GIER says:

“Equity and diversity were recurrent topics across the presentations. The first panel, run by the Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE) group, asked panellists how to make equity a fundamental concern of VET policy. At present ‘industry’ is the dominant focus in policy – which makes sense – but where is the emphasis on learners? Given that the VET student cohort is the most diverse of any sector in Australia, it is important to balance industry with a focus on learners.”

Numerous other presentations addressed related topics.

Equity Panel: WAVE members (clockwise from top left) Linda Simon (WAVE Convenor), Annie Carney (Box Hill TAFE), Jane Newton (Jobs Queensland) and Shuyan Ho (VU)

The conference featured five keynotes including Professor Ly Tran (Deakin International Student expert), Michael Brennan (Productivity Commission Chair), Craig Robertson (Victorian Skills Authority CEO), Dr Selena Chan (NZ VET specialist and former Griffith HDR) and Professor Gerald Burke (Monash). GIER members Professors Stephen Billett and Sarojni Choy featured in the program, along with former Griffith HDR Dr Deniese Cox and current Griffith HDR student Peter Robinson.

Community Colleges Australia CEO, Don Perlgut, during his presentation, ‘Inequality in Australia: What can vocational education and training do to address it?’

See more about the AVETRA conference here.