Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, one in five countries – home to billions of people living in poverty – were likely to see per capita incomes stagnate or decline in 2020.
– United Nations

As a 'dual-sector' tertiary institution, offering practical, vocational education as well as academic and research opportunities, VU exemplifies the concept of work-focused learning and development.

Our focus on career skills has seen us ranked by employers as the top university in Australia for employable graduates (QILT 2020).

In addition to supporting our community into work, we collaborate on strategic economic development in the west of Melbourne, and conduct world-class economic modelling and research to advise business and government policy.

8 Decent work and economic growth

Research, engagement & education 2020-21

Research with impact

The Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS)  provides computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling and analysis of the factors for sustainable economic growth, to support the evidence base for public policy and improve economic decision-making, both in Australia and internationally.

The CoPS team members published 17 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters addressing such topics as: impact on target countries of large country trade coercion policies; transport infrastructure investment; fiscal reform; modelling the economic impacts of pandemics; COVID-19 lockdown impacts; modelling global supply chains; energy and climate policy; climate change impacts and adaptation; assessing monetary policy regimes; modelling financial decoupling using a financial CGE model; and immigration reform.

In modelling the scenario of a financial decoupling of the United States and China, CoPS revealed in a tit-for-tat situation in which each country reduces its financial asset holding in the other country, China would receive the greatest benefit from redirecting resources to their domestic economy. Professor James Giesecke, Dr Nhi H. Tran, and Associate Professor Robert Waschik were awarded AJARE Best Paper Prize in 2021 for their 2020 article, Should Australia be concerned by Beijing's trade threats?, which explains that estimating based on the value of the trade is overly simplistic compared to the given export trade capacity to fund real consumption.

The Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) provides computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling and analysis of the factors for sustainable economic growth, to support the evidence base for public policy and improve economic decision-making, both in Australia and internationally.

The CoPS team published 21 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and engaged in public debate addressing issues of policy change, investment and economic growth which encompassed COVID-19 short-term impacts and longer-term implications of changes to economies, climate change and recovery from the Australian bushfires. For example, the CoPS researchers modelled The Effects of Financial Decoupling of the U.S. and China: Simulations with a Global Financial CGE Model and The economic effects of the U.S.-China trade war to understand the implications of a distancing between the two nations; and to advance the utility of economic models Creating a Disaggregated CGE Model for Trade Policy Analysis: GTAP-MVH and Developing a DSGE Consumption Function for a CGE Model.

The Mitchell Institute released a policy report Averting an Escalating Labour Market Crisis for Young People in Australia: A Proposed National Job Cadet Program supported by the national employer association Ai Group, arguing that Australia should extend apprenticeship schemes into new occupational area to provide greater employment opportunities for young people.

The Mitchell Institute investigated the Impact of Coronavirus on Apprentices and Trainees, warning that government funding was already at its lowest levels since 2011 and that youth unemployment will jump with an estimated drop of 130,000 or 30% in the number of apprenticeships and traineeships offered over two years.


Victoria University brings together government and businesses to develop economic strategy.

The West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) was established by Victoria University to bring together local Councils and businesses to develop an economic strategy for the region. WoMEDA meets regularly to discuss economic analysis provided by Victoria University, opportunities for economic advancement and to develop strategy. In its fifth landmark report, WoMEDA advances the booming area of Werribee, as a logical location to develop a new satellite city in Melbourne’s west.

Mitchell Institute research for the Federal Department for Education, Skills and Training (now the Department of Education) shows work experience while studying is associated with better labour outcomes at age 25. The Industry Experiences and Their Role in Education to Work Transitions  report was commissioned as part of the Review of University-Industry Collaboration in Teaching and Learning. While higher education is still associated with strong employment outcomes at age 25, apprentices and trainees are likely to earn more, have higher rates of full-time employment, and report higher levels of job satisfaction. There are increasing levels of part-time work among young people at age 25 and falling levels of wage growth over time.

Adjunct Professor Peter Dawkins of the Mitchell Institute and Professor Martin Bean delivered the Review of University-Industry Collaboration in Teaching and Learning, commissioned by the Federal Department for Education, Skills and Training (now the Department of Education). Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008, young people have experienced deteriorating labour market outcomes, and are increasingly trapped in under-employment and lower skilled occupations. The Review recommended seven short-term actions government, higher education providers and industry can take to promote greater collaboration across the sector

CoPS modelling and analysis work, software and training was provided to organisations across 36 countries, including Australian state and federal government agencies, finance ministries and central banks from around the world and international organisations like the UNDP and ILO. 

CoPS made theoretical and practical contributions to policy-oriented large-scale economic modelling through:

  • advancing the representation of the economic characteristics of pandemics within the detailed economy-wide framework
  • demonstrating how financial assets and liabilities can be integrated into a global real-side economic model and evaluated the costs and benefits of financial and trade decoupling between the U.S. and China
  • making improvements to the speed and function of GEMPACK software, used by thousands of analysts in the discipline of policy modelling around the world
  • demonstrating how details of Australia’s indirect and property tax systems can be represented in a CGE framework
  • developing global modelling tools encompassing income distribution, household disaggregation, and inking with ecological, biophysical or agricultural models. 

CoPS research directly contributed to public policy formulation in Australia with:

  • CoPS tax modelling used for the NSW Budget 2020/21 Consultation Paper on tax reform.
  • CoPS’ work on the economics of Tasmania’s zero emissions policy was quoted in Tasmanian Government media releases and by the Tasmanian Premier in support of the State Government’s new climate policy targets.
  • The tabling in Victorian parliament of Victoria’s Infrastructure Strategy 2021 – 2051 for which CoPS provided the integrated transport and land use modelling to inform the development of Victoria’s infrastructure.

CoPS implemented a series of modelling innovations across their regional and global models to provide further insights and more detailed analysis of the likely economic impacts and interlinkages between factors of policy changes and social and environmental events. For example, Covid-19 modelling for the U.S. and Australia led to further refinements for dynamic quarterly periodicity; excess capacity; risk aversion behavior; modelling economic restrictions; supply chain and labour supply disruptions; and working from home. In addition, CoPS developed their economic modelling software, with a beta test of GEMPACK for use in the Centre and an upgrade for CHINAGEM-Energy, for energy models in China, and held a modelling course at the University of International Business and Economics.

The innovative Victorian Land Use and Transport Integration (VLUTI) model shows how land use and transport infrastructure can directly influence each other, and how infrastructure investment could change the distribution of population and employment across the state of Victoria. The VLUTI model, was used to inform the development of the state of Victoria’s Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy .

The West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) was established by Victoria University to bring together local Councils and businesses to develop an economic strategy for the region. WoMEDA meets regularly to discuss economic analysis provided by Victoria University and opportunities for economic advancement. WoMEDA released Investing in a New Hospital for Melton, which outlines the importance of a hospital to the region.

In 2020, the Centre of Policy Studies' (CoPS) work with policy agencies, including capability development through training in CGE modelling using GEMPACK software developed for the purpose, saw the team engage with 160 public, education, finance and international organisations across 35 countries, including the IMF and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. CoPS research directly contributed to policy and public funding development for Australia, the USA, China and Mongolia.

The School for the Visitor Economy with funding from the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, undertook Project Jigsaw to develop an integrated data platform to inform tourism investment and planning. After a successful proof of concept phase, a further $1m in funding was obtained to develop and implement the platform VisScope. Its development involved extensive engagement with the Victorian Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions.

Dr Joanne Pyke from the School of the Visitor Economy participated on the Victoria Tourism Industry Council Visitor Economy Recovery Taskforce to support the tourism, hospitality and events industries through the pandemic and build sustainable industry foundations post-pandemic.


We are committed to providing our students with work-relevant experience to improve career outcomes.

The Master of Tourism, Hospitality and Events Management focuses on ‘Green Growth’ and sustainability and how these themes benefit businesses in the sector and local communities, featuring units like 'Green growth transformation of destinations'.

The Associate Degree in Hospitality and Hotel Management offers units focused on green enterprise management.  The course is part of VU's School for the Visitor Economy - a new cross-university school providing qualified graduates to Victoria's rapidly expanding tourism and hospitality sectors.

Careers Services offers students many opportunities to develop professional skills including:

  • work-based practice hours
  • placements with respected organisations that partner with VU
  • hands-on learning in creative studios and high-tech labs.

Building for the Footscray Hospital is underway, creating jobs and opportunities for VU students.

Sustainability on campus

VU Polytechnic’s Skills and Jobs Centre in Footscray connects job seekers with the skills development, job-seeking support and employment opportunities in the region, including the Footscray Hospital big build.