Jennifer Westacott

Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia
'A New Plan for a Skilled Australia'
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
Arrive from 11.30am, lunch 12 noon, speaker 12.30 concludes 1.30pm
Canberra - 16 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600

Registrations for this event are now closed. Please contact reception for further details.

Australia’s mass education system has been one of the greatest bipartisan achievements of the last 40 years. Through successive reforms at both the commonwealth and state level, the education system has grown to support students, employers, communities and the economy more broadly.

However, decades of cumulative reform by different governments has meant  we do not have a firm, national vision about the purpose of the education system and what it should achieve. This will become increasingly evident as the economy and labour market are disrupted by artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, the ageing population and globalisation.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott will address the future of Australia’s mass education system, with a focus on vocational training and skills. What does it need to deliver in this age of disruption, and how can this be achieved?

Ms Westacott joined the Business Council in 2011, having previously occupied senior leadership positions in the public and private sectors. She has served as Victoria’s Director of Housing and Secretary of Education, and headed the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources. She was a partner at KPMG, and since 2013 has been a non-executive director of Wesfarmers and chair of the Mental Health Council of Australia.

The education system has been pivotal in Ms Westacott’s life. She grew up in public housing in Gosford, NSW, and was the first in her family to attend university.

Ms Westacott is Adjunct Professor at the City Research Futures Centre at the University of NSW, her alma mater, and was a Chevening Scholar at the London School of Economics. Earlier this year, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UNSW.