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International Workforce Literacy Review: Australia

Appendix A: Improvements to Australian Government-funded English-language training

Invitation to Stakeholder Forums

Background

Australian Government funded English language training has for many years been administered on the basis that there were distinct target groups—new arrivals and jobseekers. Clearly, in a climate of high employment and significant labour shortages in some sectors, this distinction no longer holds. We need to find ways to deliver English language training in more flexible, vocationally-focused, employment-friendly and accessible formats. Previous feedback from service providers, students and other stakeholders supports the need for a new approach.

Learning English is one of the first and most important steps that migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds can make towards successful settlement in Australia. English language is important because it gives new migrants access to more of the opportunities that are available to those living in Australia including study, rewarding employment, easier access to services and activities, as well as the personal social benefits that come from engaging with the Australian community more broadly.

Programmes

As noted above, the Australian Government funds a range of adult English language programmes, including the Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP), the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Programme (LLNP), Workplace English Language and Literacy Programme (WELL) and English as a Second Language—New Arrivals. These programmes are administered by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST).

Recent Interdepartmental Committee (IDC)

Some of the issues related to the provision of English language training and employment were canvassed in the recent IDC on Humanitarian Settlement, which resulted in the $209.2 million dollar package announced as part of the 2007-08 budget.

Current IDC

A new IDC has been established to consider options for better integrated, flexible, vocationally focused and employment-friendly English language training programmes to meet the diverse needs of clients. This IDC is chaired by DIAC and involves DEST, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of the Treasury, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Department of Human Services and Centrelink. The IDC will be presenting its recommendations to Government in the second half of 2007.

Seeking your Views

We are seeking your views on how the Australian Government can improve the delivery of English language training to best meet the needs of clients and employers. Your input will be taken into account in the formulation of policy options.

You are invited to participate in a stakeholder forum. We are interested in your views on:

  1. What is working well in the current programmes?
  2. What are the things that need to be addressed to improve the outcomes of the suite of the ELT programmes?
  3. We are particularly interested in English and employment:
    • How could the vocational focus of current programmes be improved?
    • How can simultaneous English language study and employment be encouraged / facilitated?