Why all education matters to us

| December 18, 2014

Federal ministers, policy makers, CEOs and academics recently gathered to discuss the current state and future of Australian education. James Guthrie summarises what happened at this year’s GAP summit.

I doubt that many of us would argue against the importance of education for Australia’s economic growth and wellbeing. While much of my life has been spent in the higher education sector, I am also acutely aware of the importance of early childhood education, as well as primary and secondary education.

The critical role all of these stages of education play in our national success were underlined at the recent Global Access Partners (GAP) National Economic Review, an annual summit designed to lead the debate on issues critical to Australia’s future. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand is a GAP partner and sponsor of the GAP National Economic Review, which focused in 2014 on education.

Federal ministers, policy makers, CEOs and academics gathered to discuss the current state of education and future directions. Clearly, education is an important export market for Australia, worth over $15 billion every year; critically, improvements in education and training from preschool to postgraduate levels have the potential to significantly impact economic growth, social cohesion and personal outcomes.

The summit’s recommendations include that:

  • childcare must be reframed as early years’ education and investment made to improve its quality, access and cost;
  • the integration of education, health and family support services can improve social outcomes in areas of high deprivation and special needs;
  • school principals should be given more authority to select their own staff, run their own affairs and drive positive learning cultures in their schools;
  • student teachers should have more rigorous field preparation in disadvantaged schools to reduce attrition rates at the start of their careers.
  • standards of mathematics and written English must be improved and enrolments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics encouraged in high school and university to ensure graduates have the skills needed in modern growth industries;
  • coding, as well as the use of computers, should be encouraged at schools from an early age;
  • professional development should be encouraged for all workers, given today’s rapid obsolescence of skills
  • cooperation between the business and university sector must be extended to generate a range of mutual benefits and the practical benefits of research should inform the awarding of grants to a greater extent;
  • entrepreneurial skills should be taught alongside professional qualifications to encourage start-ups and a more commercial mindset.
  • training that builds character, instils work ethic and emphasises teamwork as well as individual technical skills could benefit young Australians;
  • consideration of the Commonwealth’s role in education should be included in the forthcoming review of Australia’s constitutional arrangements.

These recommendations show a depth of understanding of the future challenges facing us. As an educator, I’m excited to be at the forefront of these challenging discussions. Also, GAP continues to work in this space and I relish being part of the debate.

For more information visit www.globalaccesspartners.org/think-tanks/growth-summit

This article was first published on the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s blog and is republished with the permission of the author.



Prof. James Guthrie

Prof. James Guthrie FCA is Head of Academic Relations at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and distinguished Professor of Accounting, Department of Accounting & Corporate Governance, Macquarie University. Joint founding editor of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal constently ranked in the top 10 in the world. Current fractional professor at Macquarie and Bologna universities. James has published 180 articles and 45 chapters in books. He has over 18,000 citations to his work as measured by Goggle Scholar. In the international arena on this topic area, Professor Guthrie has been actively involved with the OECD, European and wider academic communities. From advisory work for the OECD dating back to 1998.