Australia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration on quality assurance, and will work to develop a further agreement to boost vocational education and training (VET) skills collaboration.

Speaking from Huawei’s Research and Development facility in Beijing Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said the agreement signed between the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the China Education Association for International Exchange, was an important step forward in the Australia-China VET relationship.

“This agreement will strengthen the skills and VET relationship with China, one of Australia’s most important education partners,” Senator Birmingham said.

“In 2013, more than 35,000 people enrolled with Australian VET providers in China, which represents 72 per cent of total offshore enrolment numbers.

“Over 30 million students undertake formal VET in China, where the State Council has set the goal of increasing total VET student numbers to 38.3 million by 2020 to ensure a highly skilled workforce to support productivity and growth.”

“Australia and China have much to gain from greater collaboration, as the quality of training on offer is central to meeting the needs of industry, supporting graduate employment outcomes, and raising the status of VET in both countries.”

Senator Birmingham said his visit to Huawei was an opportunity to discuss the company’s approach to technology development and improving the capability of its staff and partners.

“Huawei is a truly global company, with cutting edge technology and a commitment to upskilling its current and future workforce,” Senator Birmingham said.

“A demonstration of this commitment is a $30 million training centre in Sydney to train Australians on the latest technology, including students studying higher education or VET as part of its Seeds for the Future initiative.”

Senator Birmingham is wrapping up his visit to China, where he held productive discussions with his counterparts on the VET challenges facing both countries. During the visit the Minister discussed quality assurance, including expressing his intention for the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to conduct audits in China in the coming months.

While in China Senator Birmingham opened a strategic VET policy dialogue in Beijing to share knowledge and best practice; convened an industry and skills roundtable in Shanghai with senior industry representatives; and visited a long-standing education and training partnership involving Box Hill Institute of TAFE and the Shanghai Pharmaceutical School.

“The skills and VET sector is undergoing remarkable reform in China, as in Australia, to ensure that training will effectively deliver the skills required by industry,” Senator Birmingham said.

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