She said the current political landscape was a “hodgepodge” of disconnected ideas.
Labor entered the election campaign promising 20,000 new university places, 45,000 new free TAFE places, 10,000 new apprenticeships in the ‘new energy’ sector and that 70% of Commonwealth funding for vocational education would go to at public TAFEs.
However, he also has two national funding deals looming, one for schools and one for skills, both of which could be an opportunity to relaunch the dialogue on ambitions and targets.
The research and innovation sectors are particularly cursed with ad hoc policy and funding measures spread across multiple departments and budget lines without a holistic view, says Roy Green, special adviser on innovation at the University of Technology Sydney.
Since 2013, investment in research and development as a percentage of GDP has fallen below the OECD average. It is currently 1.79%. However, Labor has promised to raise R&D up to 3% by 2030.
“The research and innovation system is drifting, to say the least,” Professor Green said.
“The only possible thread that connects productivity growth, wage stagnation, energy transition and an outdated industrial structure is innovation and research.”
Labor needs to address lack of economic complexity, manufacturing trade deficit, insufficient research funding and lack of coherence in R&System D.
Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, said she had received a positive response from the teal independents ahead of the election and was confident they understood the issues affecting the sector, including the need to cancel the Job Ready Graduates funding program.
“We are certainly encouraged [the teals] absolutely ‘get’ the impact the Job Ready Graduates program has had on universities and students. They are listening and are committed to meeting with us,” Ms. Thomson said.
David Lloyd, vice-chancellor of the University of South Australia, said he hoped there would be a rebalancing of policy towards blue sky research.
“We also need a real conversation about what is a sustainable funding base, what is the right balance of international students, and how do we make sure we have a properly funded research landscape so that R&D is happening in the industry,” Prof Lloyd said.
“I hope to see a new emphasis on education, especially in the early years. Early childhood teachers are one of the lowest paid professions and it is the most fundamental element in creating a high quality education system.
Pasi Sahlberg, professor of education at Southern Cross University, said the Labor Party did not need to reinvent the wheel in school policy, but needed to give due consideration to two existing elements – the examination Gonski’s original on School Funding and Alice Springs Education. Declaration, signed by all Ministers of Education in 2019, which stresses the importance of meeting the needs of every learner.
Professor Sahlberg said the issue of teacher supply was an immediate concern.
“In New South Wales there are nearly 2,500 open teaching positions in state schools that they cannot fill. The solution is not to import teachers from abroad. This is a systemic and chronic ploy that demands much more from this government than previous ones have attempted,” he said.
Labor said it would recruit high-achieving graduates into the teaching staff by offering an annual stipend of $12,000 to up to 5,000 students. It will come with an additional $2,000 for students who choose to work in rural and regional areas.
Former Vice-Chancellor Steven Schwartz said Labor was leading the board for a bold education policy.
“Looking back, it seems to me that the most transformative education policies have all come from Labour. The Dawkins reforms, especially income-contingent loans for university fees, spurred massive growth in the education sector superior,” Professor Schwartz said.
“Julia Gillard’s policies resulted in NAPLAN, the National Curriculum, Teach for Australia and the MySchool website. Labor has been light on politics during the campaign but, based on past performance, we should buckle our seat belts. It will probably be an exciting race.
Vocational education consultant Claire Field said Labor had indicated it would press ahead with ongoing reforms following a review of the sector by New Zealand’s former education minister , Steven Joyce.
The new labor agency, Jobs and Skills Australia, which will replace the National Skills Commission, will strengthen workforce planning by bringing together employers, unions and the training sector, she said.