Increasing the sources of innovation in Australia

Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda recognises that innovation and science are critical for Australia to deliver new sources of growth, maintain high-wage jobs and seize the next wave of economic prosperity. We know that innovation is about new and existing businesses creating new products, processes and business models. It is also about creating cultures that back good ideas and learn from taking risks and making mistakes.

A new report and developmental framework promise to bring to employers:

  • new research and problem-solving partnerships, sometimes with inexpensive student engagement;
  • mechanisms to allow for risk taking and experimentation that suit the business in terms of cost and timeframes;
  • opportunities for recruitment of a greater diversity of talent; and
  • ways to bring new ideas into business operations and commercial endeavours.

The source for this additional innovation-building activity is the vocational education and training (VET) sector. While the higher education sector is most strongly associated with innovation capability through research and development programs, and innovation is the core business for key R&D agencies such as CSIRO and CRCs, more drivers are needed to push the Agenda in Australia.

The VET sector has not traditionally been involved but new work is paving the way for this sector to play a larger role through applied research. VET applied research, which focuses on solving real-world problems both in industry and in VET practice, can create new knowledge as well as encourage the use of existing knowledge in new and creative ways.

Independently of the new report and developmental framework, the House of Representatives’ recent Inquiry into innovation and creativity: workforce for the new economyrecommended expanding the National Innovation and Science Agenda to include the VET sector, and strengthening connections between VET and SMEs by adopting elements of the Canadian Applied Research and Innovation Services model.

Represented by the three publications listed below, the new work was produced by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) with funding provided by the Australian Department of Education and Training.

The three publications are available at

  • VET applied research: driving VET’s role in the innovation system
  • Explaining the VET applied research developmental framework
  • Developing VET applied research: steps towards enhancing VET’S role in the innovation system.

The business sector can feel supported by, and can look for opportunities to connect with VET providers on this new source of innovation.




Anne Younger

Anne joined Ai Group 11 years ago as an economist and is currently our General Manager, Education and Training. She is responsible for policy development and major projects addressing members’ education and training issues. Anne previously managed Ai Group's national team of Enterprise Connect Business Advisers charged with helping SMEs to improve productivity. Holding a Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management) and a Bachelor of Economics, Anne worked for over 25 years in the VET sector in policy, research, training and quality management roles before joining Ai Group. She is a Board member of Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA).


Image sourced from Flickr cc: Simon Yeo

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