Employability skills and vocational education and training policy in Australia

an analysis of employer association agendas

Peter Sheldon, Louise Thornthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Employer associations currently urge further change to Australia's publicly funded vocational education and training (VET) system. An important, new focus is 'employability skills' - employers' preferences regarding employee values, attitudes, personality and other personal qualities. Critical technical skill shortages do exist, in both traditional and emerging sectors, and others loom. In part, these flow from employers' own strategies, in particular their declining commitment to employment security and employee training. The paper examines employer associations' agendas for national policy regarding VET structure and funding and explains why associations have recently intensified their efforts in this area. We find particularly unpersuasive employer associations' urgings that the VET system create employees who embody their particular understandings of 'employability skills'. In adopting the concept of employability skills, associations have signalled a further decline in employers' responsibility for VET while expecting to retain the dominant influence over its content, delivery and assessment through publicly funded schemes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-425
Number of pages22
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Human Resources
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • employers
  • skills
  • vocational education policy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Employability skills and vocational education and training policy in Australia: an analysis of employer association agendas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this