This morning the minister has noted seven key areas of reform identified in the ACT’s education and training sector which will result in a more diverse and meaningful curriculum for at least 15,000 secondary students in ACT public schools. These reforms will provide important opportunities for our students to explore within their secondary education by studying in VET subjects.

Out of the seven key areas of reform I would like to highlight two in particular. The first is that of ensuring that students have workplace learning opportunities. Work placements are an important aspect of practical learning for students. Work placements allow students to apply theory learnt at school in the workplace environment, an action often lacking in many mainstream school subjects. Placements also equip students with sound skills that can be applied in future jobs and careers. I certainly support the minister’s promise to improve business collaboration with education providers.

The second area of reform is that of improving the interaction of education providers to maximise the use of public training infrastructure. Efficiency and collaboration are key to providing unique and worthwhile experiences for students. I support the announcement of the Education and Training Directorate to work closely with CIT to investigate strategies that will reduce cost, broaden subject offerings and maximise access to shared facilities.

I will talk briefly about the national partnership agreement on skills reform. The reforms found from the review of vocational education and training in ACT public schools— future directions—complement many of the national reform agreements already in practice in the territory. By improving our delivery of VET education in ACT public secondary schools we are ensuring that many students can benefit from our national agreements. One such agreement is that of the national partnership agreement on skills reform, a significant reform in our education sector. The national agreement is complemented by the ACT skills needs list and the skilled capital initiative. These initiatives combined are strengthening the quality, access and transparency provided in our great territory.

The reforms noted today will enable students to have access to vocational education and training that is right for them. It is our duty as a government to support all students and assist them in achieving their aspirations for their future. These reforms are so important because they provide students with opportunities that they can directly transfer into further study or employment after leaving school. I am sure that the majority of the vocational education and training community agree that young people deserve to have opportunities to engage in learning and experiences that will build their pathways post their school experience. The reforms outlined by the minister will ensure that those students who choose to undertake VET subjects will have quality education and important interactions with the community and with industry.

As the minister has described, there is a solid plan to build on the many successes in our territory’s VET sector. At the ACT Training Excellence Awards earlier this month the successes of the sector were on display. At the ceremony the territory’s apprentices, trainees, students, teachers, trainers, RTOs, group training organisations and employers were recognised for their commitment and achievements. These positive stories, especially from students, about their vocational education and training experiences show how far the sector has progressed.

The seven key areas of reform outlined in the future directions review will continue to support the high quality delivery of vocational education and training to our students.

We owe it to our students who choose to undertake VET courses to provide them with superior, integrated educational experiences so that they can progress into their post-school lives with practical skills. I believe that these reforms will assist students to do so.