An education report by Fulbright Scholar, Mark Harris, has found significant gaps in workforce development of educational staff in Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and US higher education. The report, recently released by the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment, identified the impact of limited capacity and capability building of the educational workforce over the previous five years.

“Unless action is taken, the Australian VET system will fail to meet the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) National Agreement for skills and workforce development objective,” Mr Harris said.

With Australia struggling to meet both current and future workforce needs, Mark Harris has a vision for the future of the VET workforce. He believes a wide-ranging, planned and collaborative approach is required to ensure that the VET sector has the required quality and skills.

“Workforce development provides a framework for organisations, sectors and government to navigate and plan sector-wide development when the workforce is on a downward Baby Boomer spiral,” Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris’ research began at Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane to determine the scope of the ageing workforce challenge. “I studied retirement intentions of ageing faculty,” he said. “SBIT had no strategy to replace the loss of knowledge and expertise through the ageing, retiring workforce. It is critical to prepare teachers and students for new jobs in the recovering economy.”

Awarded the 2010 Australian-American Fulbright Professional Scholarship, Mr Harris worked in New York with leading academics, researchers and education administrators at host organisation, The State University of New York (SUNY), Oswego. He examined faculty workforce development in the SUNY Community College and Technology College system, across workforce planning, human resource management, and workforce capability development, and investigated how organisational culture impacts on workforce development strategy and practice.

Mr Harris’ report outlines priorities in workforce management, capacity and capability-building and cultural change to meet community and industry needs.

“It provides an excellent blueprint in leveraging new approaches and best practices for workforce development in creating a foundation for economic growth,” he said.

“Ensuring that workforce skills continue to meet evolving employer needs is central to strengthening the economy,” said Mr Harris. “We need to advance new and innovative partnerships between academia and industry and provide more workforce training resources to help teachers, trainers, students and employers advance critical skills.”

Mr Harris was recently invited to present his framework for developing the VET practitioner workforce at the International Vocational Education and Training Association (IVETA) Conference in St Louis.

Mark Harris, a former Senior Strategy Officer of DET Queensland, is the Director of Global Education & HR Consultancy Services, which partners with VET Sector institutions and colleges, educational professionals, students and business to promote VET professionals’ capabilities. To download an electronic copy of his Australian-American Fulbright research report, Benchmarking Workforce Development in Education Organisations – A view from abroad go to


For further information, contact Mark Harris 0400 553 478