Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Beyond our horizon

Monday, April 3 2017

With all that has been happening across the Australian Tertiary Education scene, I know many have been analysing the opportunities to deliver high quality services internationally.

Australia already has a proud reputation in international education, representing around $21B annually and our third largest export industry.
Therefore, I thought this week I would touch on just where might opportunities lie?

ACPET has been very active in the space, sending representatives to Indonesia, India and Mexico recently. More on that later.

The Global Demand for Skills Report, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, has now been released in an attempt to inform where to target International Skills Training (IST) Courses. IST is a government initiative to develop non-AQF courses for off-shore delivery by RTOs, under a licensing arrangement from government.

Without getting involved in a commentary on the IST model itself, I thought I might use the report to identify where KPMG sees international opportunities.

As always there are some limitations in the approach, however it did involve consultation, data analysis, and both a qualitative and quantitative approach to opportunities in a select group of countries from the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America.

So, what did they find?

Perhaps not a surprise in emerging economies, however a key finding is the growing need for up-skilling in services industries.
Industries that show multiple demand for up-skilling, in order of global need, include Transport and Logistics, Aged Care, Tourism, Child Care, Construction, Retail and Wholesale, Food and Beverage and Health services.

A comprehensive list indeed.

The report highlights key occupations within these industries that the training of unemployed or up-skilling of existing workers in emerging economies may help to advance. This of course is a key element to targeting industry based skilling strategies.

Perhaps the most valuable information in the report is the table below that triangulates the demand for skills in 20 countries, with 12 industry areas and Australia’s perceived strength in training for each industry.

Of the 12 industries included in the table, eight priority industries (mentioned above) are identified as repeatedly emerging as having a need for up-skilling. For these industries, specific occupations and skill levels are examined by the report in more detail – well worth a read.

I should add that particularly in Latin and Central America, opportunities still exist in the Mining, Oil and Gas industries.

To add some granularity to the notion of international opportunities, I had the chance in the last week to visit Mexico, to work with Austrade in identifying the real prospects for Australian providers in this powerful and growing economy.

Our project is designed to explore the suitability of models for such a new education market as Mexico. ACPET’s focus is on preparing valuable market entry information for members to encourage and support future collaboration between Australia and Mexico and to help members by providing a foundation for future business partnerships.

With the commentary happening in the US, and the commitment by the Mexican Government to diversify their trading base, opportunities are growing in education.

Some fun facts to attract your attention. Mexico is already rated highly in a number of key indices. For example, they are the third-highest nation in terms of skills and technical intensity in advanced manufacturing exports, the third lowest in terms of cost structures, the fourth largest exporter of light vehicles and the number one producer of LCD televisions and refrigerators. There are already more than 150 Australian companies in Mexico.

While there I attended the inaugural Australia Future Unlimited Education Pavilion, held on the grounds of the Australian Embassy, together with some of our high quality providers. It was an ideal start to understand the commitment of vocational and higher education providers.

However, the big game in town is the recent signing of the BHP-Billiton-PEMEX project. It is considered the biggest project in Mexico since 1939. BHP-Billiton won the bid to partner with the National Company PEMEX, to investigate and potentially develop the Trion Field in the Gulf of Mexico.

If the project goes through to production, it will be worth $11B US.

As one can imagine this type of project will produce considerable demand for skilled labour. I met with BHP-Billiton in regard to their early stages of workforce planning. The focus already is on the need to develop trade and technical skills for the project, together with the obvious demand for engineers and related occupations.

An iconic Australian brand like BHP-Billiton requires a serious reconsideration of how we approach the opportunity and engage with both industry and local providers. ACPET already has providers in Mexico and we will be working to clarify the opportunity and present an innovative solution to entering the market.

Mexico is looking for ‘local presence’ rather than just student exports, but the opportunity is certainly there. You can see ACPET’s project in Mexico is timely indeed.

However, this is not the only opportunity for technical training in Mexico. The country has significant needs in Agribusiness, Tourism and Hospitality, Mining, Renewable Energy, Health and Advanced Manufacturing.

This, combined with the many opportunities identified above tells me there are some real opportunities off-shore.

Of course, the key message is that it can only be those providers committed to offering the very best of standards who should consider entering these exciting, albeit challenging markets.

Reputation is everything.

Rod Camm


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