Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham will visit China and Korea from 13 to 18 July to advance Australia’s strong international education ties with both countries.

Senator Birmingham said in 2013 more than 35,000 people enrolled with Australian vocational education and training (VET) providers in China, which represents 72 per cent of total offshore enrolment numbers. Education-related travel services is one Australia’s top exports to South Korea, generating more than $759 million in trade in 2014.

“Both onshore and overseas Australian vocational education and training providers are helping countries in our region to upskill their workforces, creating mutual benefits in terms of economic growth, labour mobility and relationships between Australia and the region,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Australia’s VET system is recognised around the world for its high quality, industry-linked skills outcomes and will be a central component of our International Education Strategy.

“Our recent signing of free-trade-agreements with China and South Korea further opens up opportunities for even stronger ties between our economies, including in high quality education and training services.

“International education is Australia’s largest services export and drives at least 130,000 full-time equivalent jobs around Australia.

“We aim to build on the already strong education and training partnerships that Australia has with China and South Korea, and elevate the status of VET in the bilateral relationships.”

While in China Senator Birmingham will co-host the Australia-China VET Strategy Policy Dialogue in Beijing to share knowledge and best practice. He will also meet with China’s Vice Minister for Education Ms Lu Xin, Chinese government leaders, Australian and Chinese industry representatives and visit students and teachers at joint partnerships between Australian and Chinese training providers.

He will also visit global information and communications technology provider, Huawei, to discuss technology development and workforce capability issues.

“A significant proportion of offshore training by Australian providers is delivered in China, and the Australian Government is committed to ensuring the highest standards of training quality, whether it's delivered in Adelaide or Beijing,” Senator Birmingham said.

Australian and Chinese training regulators, the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the China Education Association for International Exchange, will be engaged in discussions to strengthen collaboration on quality assurance.

Senator Birmingham said that VET would also be a focus of his visit to South Korea, with bilateral meetings to be held with South Korean Vice-Minister for Employment and Labor, Dr Koh Young-Sun, and the Vice Minister for Education, Dr Gim Chaechun.

He will also meet with Korean and Australian VET representatives at Korea Polytechnic in Cheonan, and a visit the staff and students at the Seoul Robotics Meister (High) School.

“As the first Australian Education Minister to visit Korea since 1997, I am looking forward to meeting with key ministerial counterparts, senior representatives from government, industry and the training sector, including Australian stakeholders operating in Korea.

“For Australia’s all-important VET sector which produces high quality industry relevant expertise, engaging internationally with countries such as China and South Korea helps ensure our training systems can continue to deliver the skills for global business—in Australia and throughout the world,” Senator Birmingham said.

Senator Birmingham’s media contact: Caitlin Keage 0427 729 987