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OECD Economic Surveys: Australia 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Australia 2008

This 2008 edition of OECD's periodic review of Australia's economy focuses on key challenges including raising the labour supply, enhancing educational performance, enhancing the functioning of product and labour markets, and improving water management.

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Enhancing educational performance

The Australian education system fares well in international comparison with regards to PISA test scores and the higher education system attracts an increasing number of foreign students. Vocational education and training (VET) is an important part of the post-secondary education system, equipping individuals with the skills to enter or re-enter the labour force and offering a pathway to further education. However, a number of challenges need to be addressed. Reducing complexity and fragmentation and tackling issues of under-supply and under-representation of children from disadvantaged groups in the early childhood education and care system is of major importance, given the beneficial impact of early education on outcomes later in life. A key challenge for the school sector is to reduce the achievement gaps of the lowest performing students, while improving overall literacy and numeracy outcomes. Greater autonomy at the school level and improvements in teaching quality would help in this regard. Enhancing the capacity of the VET system to address skill shortages is another key priority. The low rate of completion of training courses is an additional policy issue facing the sector. Finally, moving towards a less rigid policy framework for higher education would enhance flexibility and diversity, making the system more responsive to labour market needs and globalisation challenges. The promotion of a high-quality education system that responds swiftly to changing skill needs is a top priority of the new government. The “Education Revolution”, backed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), pursues reforms across all sectors of the education system, an important objective being the closing of the gap for the indigenous population.

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