From union inspired to industry led: How Australian Labour's training reform experiment turned sour

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Industrial Relations, 2006, 48 (4), pp. 491 - 505
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Australian labour set out on a grand attempt to restructure vocational education and training in the 1980s and 1990s. The reforms were intended to go beyond the scope of previous worker education by aiming at complete systemic change by linking skill development to wages through the award system. This article locates labour's training reform in the wider program of economic modernization. It argues that unions provided the inspiration for the new system but by the early 1990s had lost the initiative as enterprise bargaining was introduced and as employer associations and state education bureaucracies re-asserted control and established a new training market. That training reform's original expectations were not delivered demands closer attention and analysis. Learning the lessons of this experiment is an essential step for labour in developing a positive agenda for workers' education in the future.
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