PM’s education invitation signals priority of skills & economic development underlying TDA-CEAIE relationship

Last week’s visit to China by the Prime Minister and incoming Tertiary Education and Skills Minster, Dr Craig Emerson, created strong signals about Australia’s focus on China across not merely trade, but education.

Prime Minister Gillard’s address at the Education Dinner last Tuesday evening in Beijing, signalled out skills as a key issue underlying the China relationship, and outlined how economic development was linked to the technical and vocational education relationship.

It was wonderful to witness the acceptance by so many of China’s educational leaders, and so many friends who have played their own individual and organisational role in the Australia-China education story. This was certainly testament that the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations has been matched across many aspects of education and skills, science and research.

TDA was proud to be invited by the Office of the Prime Minister. I was delighted to attend, along with Paul Ryan, representing Adrian Marron, CEO of the Canberra Institute of Technology and long-term Board member of TDA, to take part with our long-term partners, the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE).

The advanced engagement, enormous curriculum support and joint work with some 45,000 China students now enrolled annually shows an amazing achievement between Australia and China partner colleges and polytechnics. This really is a unique diplomatic statement, and shows the joint determination to invest in China’s economic and social development.

The Australia-China relationship for TAFE, technical colleges and polytechnics has rested on high level professional respect and friendship; far more purposeful than goals of financial returns.

The dividend has been not only respect across our TVET systems, but more so evidence of curriculum development, a new sense that industry-led training is “here to stay,” and the next steps will be to develop student engagement between our systems. Stay tuned!

The Australian education story for media has concentrated on healthy increases in Chinese students choosing Australia for university courses. The Chaney Review of Education flagged that, in fact, really exciting opportunities rested on vocational education.

On behalf of the TDA National Board, I would like to thank our CEAIE partners, along with senior representatives of the Ministry of Education, for their ongoing support for TDA under our continued MoU Agreements. It was also a great honour as CEO of TDA to attend such an official dinner, hosted by the Australian Prime Minister in Beijing.

Prime Minister Gillard boasted that the Government’s new AsiaBound Scholarships may attract 1,000 students to China.  TDA will be seeking to maximise the opportunities for TAFE students in Australia to study abroad, and choose China, in 2013-14.  This would be a great signal of the next 40 years, during which we hope to further our relationship with the China technical and vocational system.

L-R: Professor Lu Hong, Director of International, Chongqing College of Electrical Engineering, Martin Riordan, CEO of TDA, Dr Wenqi Niu, Vice President, National Academy of Education Administration, and agency colleague.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Dr Lu Hong, Director of International, Chongqing College of Electrical Engineering


Martin Riordan

CEO, TAFE Directors Australia



Leave a Comment April 15, 2013

Launching philanthropy for TAFE and skills

Congratulations to those corporate partners and TAFE Institutes who took part in the launch of the TDA National Scholarships Foundation in Sydney on Friday evening.

There was great vigour in this new level of support for students, and we were encouraged by the depth of support across industry for the establishment of a National Scholarships Foundation.

Mick Young Scholarships, which has supported some 3,000 disadvantaged students, will have a new and wider platform under this new national TAFE Foundation, which will surely be to everyone’s benefit.

Years of official reviews have identified student poverty as a key challenge still facing Australia; Professor Kwong Lee Dow’s review of Student Allowances last year, the recent inquiries by the Productivity Commission, Universities Australia, Peter Kell’s report for the AEU, all pointed to student welfare as a key issue. So it was a great opportunity to lead the establishment of this National Foundation to assist student welfare — one of six areas identified in our three year TDA Strategic Plan 2010-12, which has just been completed.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan MP, described it as a night showing great Australian values.  We appreciated Federal Cabinet Ministers Tanya Plibersek and Peter Garrett speaking, and Senator Conroy, Mark Butler and so many MPs and Senators attending.

Leaders from all sides of Macquarie Street NSW government supported the Foundation, with a personal story and address from the NSW Governor, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, and NSW Premier the Hon Barry O’Farrell wrote to wish the TDA Launch evening a success.  NSW Deputy Opposition Leader the Hon Linda Burney MP, also attended.

The testimonial provided by James Makuei, a refugee from war-torn Sudan, was a heart breaker for me. James described his Mick Young Scholarship as a saviour which created the chance to study in a TAFE Institute under the new Transport and Logistics ISC sector scholarships. He also described Mick and Mary Young as his father and mother in a new country.

The new TDA National Scholarships Foundation plans to continue Mick Young Scholarships for disadvantaged students, while also looking to opportunities for merit awards across industry sector areas, and other special awards in future years.

Scholarships present a real chance for TAFE Institutes to distinguish their range of services and support, so much part of a student’s enrolment across our network of 61 public provider (TAFE) Institutes.

I know on behalf of our Board and the Chair of the Foundation, Nicholas Hunt, I would like to thank the TDA team which supported Friday’s launch, Pam Caven overseeing arrangements, Janine Young for her special efforts coordinating the launch event, Liz Dale as Executive Officer for her support, Tom Neal managed the auction online arrangements, Jane Yeaman of Tulips Event Management, Brian Wexham of Skills One, and Foresight Communications.

A special thanks to our Principal Sponsor, Virgin Australia, and all of our other sponsors, including Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council, Sutherland District Trade Union Club, Pascal Press, AV Partners, Boverih, Lion, the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Lucio’s Italian Restaurant, the Daily Telegraph, Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, and Rockford Wines.

Further thanks to our table sponsors: TAFE NSW, Northern Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW – Western Institute, Transport & Logistics Industry Skills Council, Plenary Group, Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council, Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council, Service Skills Australia, News Ltd, Allens, Foresight Communications, Watpac Construction, HLB Mann Judd, SkillsOne Television, Janine Young, Telstra, Sutherland District Trade Union Club, ProLearn, and Austcover.

Past years have seen great expansion of philanthropy for the school and university sectors. With governance changing for TAFE across so many jurisdictions, the time is right for this brave initiative.

Friday’s launch was a great start for the Foundation, and recognition of Mick Young Scholarships, showing confidence that these will grow to become a cornerstone of the TAFE and skills landscape in Australia, supporting students.

Martin Riordan, CEO, TAFE Directors Australia.


Leave a Comment March 4, 2013

Welcome to the TDA Blog

Welcome to the TDA Blog,

Through our BLOG, we will canvass important issues for the VET and TAFE sector and feature the opinions of TDA and our members.

We welcome your comments and contributions. To make a comment on an article, please scroll down below each article.

To make a contribution to the Blog, please contact

Martin Riordan


Leave a Comment January 29, 2012

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