Bridge to Opportunity: TAFE as Key Partners in Innovation Systems

Project Contact

Leo Goedegebuure
T: +61 3 8344 0619

Project Details

Australia has long recognised the need to innovate, and the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) continues this tradition, heralding the way for significant changes in our innovation system. However, the NISA has some significant limitations. Although it recognises the internationally well-established concept and practice of innovation ecosystems, it essentially fails to recognise the role of higher vocational education in these systems.

National governments in Canada and the Netherlands have recognised the need to involve higher vocational education institutions in innovation systems, partly as a means of engaging the capacity of these institutions (and their staff and students), and partly as a mechanism to involve small and medium sized enterprises.

In the Australian context, traditional TAFE Institutes have in recent years developed capacity in the delivery of niche and targeted higher education, particularly at the Bachelor degree level. A different situation exists for Dual Sector Universities who for much longer have been bridging both the vocational and higher education domains, and who also have a much stronger history of basic and applied research compared to TAFE.  In the last two years, several major TAFE Institutions in several jurisdictions have supported the development of an applied research capacity. It is this combination of higher vocational skills and applied research with SMEs where TAFE Institutes, and Dual Sector Universities through their TAFE programs, can make an invaluable contribution to Australia’s innovation system.

LH Martin Institute wishes to acknowledge the support of TAFE Directors Australia in commissioning this report based on the findings of the LHMI 2017 Study Mission to the Netherlands and Milan.


Professor Leo Goedegebuure and Associate Professor Ruth Schubert


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