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Social and economic prosperity

Education is the foundation of a skilled workforce and a creative community. Education not only prepares people for jobs, it creates confident and creative individuals who are active and informed citizens.

Children start to acquire fundamental skills early, including communication and social interaction skills in early childhood education and care and at home. Early childhood learning interventions prepare children for later academic and social success. Preschool is linked to higher achievement in schooling.1 Preschool and school education play a strong role in promoting equality of opportunity at an early age, particularly by targeting otherwise disadvantaged and vulnerable students and communities.

The opportunity to participate in the labour market can have a profound impact on an individual’s life experiences and prosperity. People with higher qualifications are more likely to be employed, more likely to earn more, and are better equipped to change jobs.2 Both vocational education and training (VET) and higher education offer pathways to individual advancement, qualifications and jobs.

Women’s participation in the labour market is also critical to driving economic prosperity. From July 2018, the Government’s support for child care will be better targeted to support low and middle income families who depend on child care to work, train or study, providing greater opportunity for omen to participate in the workforce. Foundational skills training and English language programs are also important to addressing disadvantage for adult learners, including migrants, and help drive an inclusive and prosperous society.

Australia’s world-class tertiary education, training and research are vital to ongoing prosperity. The international education sector is our largest services export and third-largest export industry overall. In 2016, the value of the industry was a record $22.4 billion and enrolments increased by 11 per cent. International education has been identified as one of five sectors that can drive the next wave of Australia’s economic growth and prosperity.

A key challenge will be continuing to drive the quality and outcomes from our tertiary and vocational education and research sectors to sustain Australia’s international competitiveness and attractiveness to international students. The Government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025 acknowledges the importance of this industry in driving Australia’s future economic growth, global engagement and social advancement. Under the leadership of Ministers and experts on the Council for International Education, the strategy will encourage Australia’s international education sector to grow sustainably, and be future focused, innovative and more globally engaged. The strategy is complemented by the Australian International Education 2025 Roadmap—a market development plan to support the international education sector’s sustained long-term growth.

Research training produces a highly qualified research workforce, drives research and innovation, and contributes substantially to growing knowledge.3 Our world-class research and infrastructure are the reason Australia has historically been at the forefront of global discoveries. The Government provides long-term operational funding certainty for cutting-edge, national research infrastructure to ensure research jobs stay in Australia and so Australia retains its world-class science and research capability.

Footnotes

  1. OECD (2016), ‘What are the benefits from early childhood education?’, Education Indicators in Focus, No. 42.
  2. OECD (2016), Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators.
  3. Australian Council of Learned Academies (2015), Review of Australia’s Research Training System.