Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) – The review announced in the 2017-18 Budget

The Australian Government announced the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Review in the 2017-18 Budget. The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australia. As such, it affects education providers, industry and students. The AQF is agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Both the COAG Education Council and the COAG Industry and Skills Council will need to consider and agree to any changes to the AQF recommended by this Review.

The AQF is widely used

People who develop, issue and accredit qualifications are the main users of the AQF. Other users are professional bodies, industry, unions, licensing authorities and governments. The AQF can assist students, particularly international students, by showing the relationship between qualification types in Australia, which may help with study choices.
Many pieces of legislation refer to the AQF in diverse areas such as migration, international education, civil aviation, childcare, defence, disability care, family law, finance, patents, social security, tax, telecommunications, trademarks and workplace relations, as well as education (See Figure 1). Around 20 industrial awards refer to the AQF and around 90 industrial awards refer to AQF qualifications.
The Panel is aware that changes to the AQF may have far-reaching impacts, including for industrial awards, migration rules and Australia’s international education sector. Diagram 1 indicates the AQF’s reach.

The nature of work is changing

Technology, demographic shifts, and globalisation are changing the way we work. Changes in the way we work will affect the skills and knowledge that graduates need and the ways that providers deliver education, which in turn need to be reflected in the AQF.
Technological change is leading to fewer manual and routine jobs, driving growth in professional and technical fields and a move from physical skills to interpersonal, creative and decision-making skills.

The AQF should recognise new skills and learning methods

As knowledge and skill requirements shift due to the changing nature of work, learners will not only need to master different content but also access different learning opportunities.
As noted above, there is more demand for professional and technical skills and interpersonal and creative skills. This paper refers to them as enterprise and social skills. Enterprise and social skills are not specific to any job role. They include skills to deal with technology and data and skills to work with people and cope with change. It is essential that all young people and adults returning to study are given opportunities to acquire the skills and capabilities required for the future workforce.
Because workplace change may require more reskilling or upskilling, people want faster, cheaper, self- directed and on-demand learning. Employers prefer shorter, sharper education and training, but to supplement, not replace, a full qualification like a Certificate III or a Bachelor degree.

4. Areas for possible change

4.1 A wider range of credentials could be included in the AQF

Possible approaches
 Include shorter form credentials in the AQF.
 Use the existing criteria for adding a qualification type to the AQF, possibly adapted for shorter form study, to determine whether shorter form credential types should be added to the AQF.
 Align shorter form credential types to AQF levels by assigning them across a number of applicable AQF levels.
 Determine what groupings of shorter form credentials are required, and create them as credential types in the AQF.
 To help to aggregate shorter form credentials into qualifications, create a shorter form credential type that is defined by its link to a qualification type.

4.2 The treatment of enterprise and social skills could be clarified in the AQF

Possible approaches
 Specify that social and enterprise skills in AQF qualifications should be able to be: o taught in the context of the qualification’s core content
o acquired through the process of teaching and learning
o assessed and reported in ways that are fair, valid and reliable.
 Expand the list of enterprise and social skills included in the AQF and provide guidance or advice about delivering them through various qualifications (but do not include these skills as a taxonomy).

4.3 AQF taxonomies and levels

Possible approach
 Use AQF levels only to describe knowledge and skills and their application, and provide a description of each qualification type that is linked to levels.
 Review the application of knowledge and skills domain of the AQF taxonomy and how it should be applied across the AQF levels.
 Revise descriptors to simplify them and ensure clear distinctions between levels.

4.4 Senior secondary school certificates

Possible approach
 Revise the SSCE descriptor to recognise that the knowledge and skills acquired in the SSCE can be at a broad range of AQF levels and result in multiple pathways.

4.5 Volume of Learning

Possible approaches
 To continue to provide guidance on the breadth and depth of a qualification, change the volume of learning unit of measurement from years to hours.
 To provide a common baseline for volume of learning, base the number of hours for a qualification type on the needs of a new learner.
 To help facilitate pathways between levels and qualifications, develop an hours-based credit point system in the AQF that may be voluntarily referenced by providers.
 To provide a common baseline for credit points, base the number of points for a qualification type on the needs of a new learner.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Discussion Paper: Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework | Department of Education and Training – Document library, Australian Government

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