It’s my pleasure to be here for the 2017 Indonesian Australia Business Week.
Looking around the room I can see representatives from government, industry and the
skills training sector from Australia and Indonesia. It’s a fantastic forum for
us to consider the future of Australia-Indonesia collaboration on vocational
education and training.
It comes at a time when Australia and Indonesia are seeking to reinvigorate our
relationship, as evidenced by President Widodo’s recent visit to Australia.
I have been struck by some of the changes here in Jakarta since I last visited in 2014.
As you all know, Australia and Indonesia share a strong and dynamic education relationship, encompassing schools, vocational education and training, higher education, and research.
We have a range of partnership arrangements and delivery models. But there has been
a major change and it’s one that is naturally close to my heart.
Last year Australia was fortunate to welcome thousands of Indonesian students – more
than 8,500 enrolments from Indonesian students in vocational education and
training in Australia.
This is up from roughly 3,700 in 2002. That’s a remarkable increase that reflects
the growing demand for skills from Indonesia and speaks to the fantastic success story of our relationship.
Of course, vocational education and training is only one of the sectors which Indonesian students study in Australia. There were a total of almost 20,000 enrolments from Indonesian students across all sectors in Australia last year.
This is a huge vote of confidence and commitment from Indonesian students. They’re coming to Australia seeking internationally relevant skills and qualifications, high quality education and training, and an excellent student experience.
That’s no small order. And it’s a commitment that I personally, and Australia as a whole, takes very seriously.
We welcome Indonesian students into our communities and institutions and support them during their stay with us. Our goal is to provide students with the opportunity to strengthen their employment opportunities through world-class skills training.
And the benefits flow both ways – these enrolments allow Australian students to broaden their own horizons by making lasting personal connections with Indonesian students.
Indonesia is the most popular destination for Australian students under the Australian Government New Colombo Plan. This program aims to increase student mobility to the Asia-Pacific region and is supporting more than 1,100 students to study in Indonesia this year.
The New Colombo Plan is also complemented by the Australia Awards – Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships for study experiences, and Mobility Grants – shorter term exchanges which are
particularly suited to vocational students.
From 2015 to 2017, more than 200 Australian VET students will have had a study experience in Indonesia through the Australian Government’s Endeavour Mobility funding.
While the results are promising in this area, I think we can do more to drive, and support, greater numbers of Australians to come to Indonesia as part of their studies.
This matters because those ongoing, personal connections foster greater mutual understanding between our two countries, which in turn supports our strong and dynamic relationship.
Strengthening the link between training and the workplace is one of my key priorities.
I continue to explore the role that apprenticeships can play in meeting the contemporary skills needs of Australia.
Industry is at the very heart of that.
High quality, competency based training, linked to the needs of industry, gives our people the best chance to obtain meaningful employment and broaden the range of opportunities available to them.
So it’s good for people, and it’s good for the economy.
When governments work closely with industry and with high quality training providers, our businesses can tap into the skills they need to support jobs and growth.
Of course technological change is impacting the way we design and deliver education. I’m pleased to say that Australia is well placed to meet the changing needs of industry in this respect.
Our flexible, modular, competency-based system, along with our high quality providers and our experience in industry-led training, hold us in good stead to meet the demands of the future.
Australia is in a fortunate position, through international education and training, to contribute to the depth of global skills and knowledge.
To support the international engagement of our education and training sector, the Australian Government launched the National Strategy for International Education last year.
It outlines how Australia can build on its strengths, and how to more effectively engage with our key partners, like Indonesia, around the world.
We are also very interested in understanding how to best support our friends and partners in the region to achieve their goals in skills, education and training. Greater prosperity within our region benefits everyone.
Yesterday I met with my counterparts Minister Hanif, Minister
of Manpower, Minister Nasir, Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, and
we discussed the Australia-Indonesia skills relationship.
I was struck by the huge interest within Indonesia on the role of skills training to support human capital development.
This was underscored by President Widodo’s instruction last year to revitalise vocational schools to improve the quality and competitiveness of Indonesian human resources.
This direction drives a whole-of-government focus on improving the quality of teaching and outcomes in vocational education and training high schools, and more practical engagement with local employers and industry.
And it’s a vision that Australia shares.
Our mutual priority to position industry and citizens so they are well-equipped to pursue
opportunities in our increasingly global economy is a strong platform for Australia-Indonesia
Our two countries are negotiating the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which seeks to support greater economic links, trade and investment.
I am excited that trade in services – particularly vocational education and training, will be a key component of this Agreement.
This is a great time for our two countries.
I am looking forward to the opportunities ahead. supporting the growing education and training relationship with Indonesia, and supporting stronger connections between industry, institutions, and – importantly – our people.