Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has produced this report for the NSW Department of Industry with the aim to ensure that the NSW Government can use the capacity of Western Sydney not-for-profit community education providers to support that region’s economic development priorities.
The 13 Western Sydney region not-for-profit community education providers deliver a wide range of vocational educational and training services to the region, from more than 120 locations. The providers bring strengths in business and work skills, early childhood, aged care, disability, community services, foundation skills and adult literacy/numeracy, English as a second language, information technology, management and leadership.
Greater recognition of the activities and capacity of community education providers by local, state and institutional stakeholders will enhance the ability of providers to work in economic development.
Community education providers deliver more effectively than TAFE and for-profit VET providers to hard-to-reach cohorts: people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, people with disabilities, older (age 45-plus) Australians and people from non-English speaking backgrounds. Western Sydney community providers are in a unique position to pick up many of the outreach services previously supplied by TAFE NSW, given proper funding.
The project has reinforced the possibilities ripe for exploration:
- The sector is ideally positioned to deliver a cohesive framework for connection, ongoing learning and skilling in Western Sydney.
- Investment in establishing a governance structure and shared systems for a regional network of not-for-profit community education providers would lift the sector capacity’s capacity, enabling active participation in economic development.
- Community providers are embedded and trusted providers in their respective communities, delivering skills and support where people live and work.
- While community providers in Western Sydney are effective, they continue to battle limited resources, especially given their willingness to expand and introduce new services to key equity groups.
- Collaborations with all layers of government and community stakeholders are crucial for broader success. The post-secondary policy focus on universities and TAFE has limited the ability of community providers to participate in collaborations with governments.