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‘Closing the Gap’ goals not out of reach, but more work needs to be done

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

New approaches are being considered to achieve a higher rate of engagement from Indigenous Australians when it comes to skills training.

The 2024 Indigenous Skills Training Snapshot was recently published by the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA). It highlighted that registered training organisations (RTOs) support 78.3 per cent of all Indigenous students in skills training.

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, RTOs deliver nationally recognised training in the VET sector, designed and taught by industry experts. They provide practical knowledge and technical skills for hundreds of trade and industry roles.


RTOs are the only organisations in the Australian VET system authorised to:

  • Deliver and assess nationally recognised training.
  • Issue nationally recognised qualifications and statements of attainment.
  • Apply for government funding to provide VET services.

The statistics show the critical role that RTOs play when it comes to engaging Indigenous Australians in skills training. In 2021, 58 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 were fully engaged in employment, education, and training, which is an increase from 57.2 per cent in 2016.

The Closing the Gap objective is to increase this percentage of engagement between the same parameters to 67 per cent by 2031.

“Skills training is crucial for Indigenous Australians, fostering empowerment and community development. It bridges educational and employment gaps, enabling participation in the broader economy,” said Troy Williams, ITECA chief executive.

“Official statistics demonstrate that independent RTOs will play a critical role in achieving the Closing The Gap targets, as these institutions currently support 78.3 per cent of all Indigenous students in skills training,” Williams said.

RTOs support the majority of Indigenous students studying for higher-level qualifications, with 61.6 per cent enrolled in a diploma (or higher) qualification.

“The data highlights the benefits of governments creating a policy framework that recognises the synergy between quality independent RTOs and public providers,” Williams said.

That synergy is also happening between the RTOs and Indigenous students. The data shows that they have reported high fulfilment with the training quality at independent RTOs, achieving a 90.7 per cent satisfaction rate.

To reach the goals that the Closing the Gap initiative has, RTOs must continue to be the pillar in supporting and educating Indigenous Australians to engage in skills training. The satisfaction rate is clear evidence of that.



Training is the process of enhancing a worker's knowledge and abilities to do a certain profession. It aims to enhance trainees' work behaviour and performance on the job.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.