0 to 61 – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

0 to 61 – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

I had the privilege prior to Easter to visit two TAFE campuses in Victoria, both back into full swing for the new year.

The new building in Frankston as part of Chisholm Institute is testament to the importance of place in a community. Some 41 kilometres South of Melbourne as the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula, it could be easy to overlook the significance of the investment. A short walk from the train station within the city precinct, the campus brings vocational education for trades and services and signifies the importance of education and training to the community.

The flow of students into the campus and their passage to work or further post-school education is one measure of the value of the campus, but just one. We all too easily count enrolments and completions against subsidy rates as one measure of success – efficiency. It is often a struggle with measures beyond that – like economic value to industry in the region and the value of place for the community.

Steve Varty, CEO Chisholm Institute and Craig Robertson

The economic value can be employment outcomes and the capacity for the population to work locally. In terms of place, measuring the focal point of the campus for the local business community, including the Frankston city council is less direct. But evidence is there – because it is there – in place! Critically, the presence in the community – physically and through Chisholm staff – signals to families the importance and opportunity offered through post-school education and training. Far more than a website.

Value to the community is also tangible at SuniTAFE on the banks of the Murray in Mildura. Serving a thriving region – there’s a two-year wait for building houses – Suni sits as a key agent in that growth.

Central is its service to the agriculture industry expressed through its Smart Farm. No ordinary farm. Suni is bringing automation and digitisation to agribusiness, ranging from an integrated planting and harvesting system that can use the one piece of equipment for harvesting of fruits, almonds and olives to an agriculture robot that can manage full crop cycles from planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. (It is currently being guided over the farm to survey the full landscape from which it will then be self-guided and self-managed).

The SuniTAFE Agri Robot

Already local farmers are planning their future with a sense of confidence having seen the smart farm in operation. This is also difficult to measure in the standard metrics of VET, however the results are tangible for local industry and community members. The next challenge for Suni is to develop new accredited courses to support the roll-out of automation to the industry.

More mainstream has been the growth in the heavy auto trades. With its Swan Hill campus already known throughout the region for the quality of its heavy auto trades training, Suni took the bold step of setting up the same program in Mildura. The result? Zero to 61 apprentices in just twelve-months (without compromising numbers in Swan Hill)!

Left to right, Peter McLean, Will Sharpe and Geoff Dea at SuniTAFE, Mildura

There is lots of narrative in VET about improving the role industry plays, however, that is often a concern from the centre. Chisholm and Suni bring a local expression to industry engagement – the place where vocational education, industry and students come together. And it is developing industry with industry, empowered by contemporary skills.

The place of education and training through any TAFE campus is an expression of the commitment of governments to the place of education and training in our modern life. In the task Australia faces in building new industry and rebuilding those that have faltered through COVID, TAFE is the point of access for individuals, industry and for communities.

This is the dividend from TAFE – across Australia – for Australia.

Identical VET courses can vary in price by up to $10k, NSC report finds

The average price difference across Australia for the same VET qualification is more than $3,000, and can be as high as $10,000, according to the first report of the National Skills Commission on VET pricing.

The report represents the first national collection of information on VET subsidies, fees and prices, and is the initial step in the development of efficient prices for VET.

The report, VET average price benchmarks, looks at the differences in how jurisdictions set subsidies and prices, and focuses on the top 50 qualifications with the largest number of enrolments in 2018. It shows:

  • Substantial price variation, sometimes exceeding $10,000, within the same field of education or qualification level;
  • Within a level of education, the greatest variation at the Advanced Diploma level, where the difference between the fields with the lowest and highest averages is about $20,000;
  • Among high volume courses, relatively high variation across states and territories within qualifications such as Certificate III in Plumbing and Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology;
  • On average, 87% of the price covered by subsidies for apprenticeship/traineeship training compared to 76% for non-apprenticeships/traineeships.

The NSC is also collecting data from training providers to better understand cost structures. Both the cost survey and average price database will inform the NSC’s development of efficient prices for VET courses.

Don't miss skills commissioner Adam Boyton in the inaugural TAFETalks podcast

Don’t forget to register for the first of TDA’s new podcast series, TAFETalks.

It will feature National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton in conversation with TDA CEO Craig Robertson on the year ahead in VET, and the critical work being undertaken by the NSC on labour market and workforce analysis, and VET pricing and performance.

Date: Thursday 15 April
Time: 12:00 AEST (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)
Duration: 1 hour

The event is free but registration is essential. 

Register here

TAFEs ready to engage on international education strategy

TAFEs look forward to engaging in the development of the new International Education Strategy, announced last week by the Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge

The priorities for revamping international education were outlined by the minister in a speech at RMIT, accompanying the announcement of consultations.

TDA considers that enhancing the education and cultural experience of students coming to Australia must be forefront of rebuilding the international education sector, once travel is safe.

Minister Tudge emphasised the importance of expanding the delivery of VET and industry-led international education.

“We see this on a small scale with a number of Australian VET providers, particularly TAFEs, who are delivering bespoke training across the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“For example, William Angliss has delivered tailored hospitality training to employees for the Singapore Grand Prix and international hotel groups.

“Our competitors have been delivering this type of vocational education at a much larger scale. For instance, German VET colleges based in Vietnam and India train tens of thousands of students each year,” he said.

See the Minister’s speech

See details of the new International Education Strategy

See the consultation paper

Victoria launches new apprenticeship body

The Victorian government has established a new body, Apprenticeships Victoria (AV), to coordinate and oversee all aspects of the delivery of apprenticeships in the state.

It will be a point of contact for those undertaking apprenticeships and provide support, as well as links with employers and industry, particularly in public infrastructure works.

The state’s $33 million Big Build Apprenticeships will provide 1,500 openings a year for four years for apprentices and trainees on major projects.

A walk-in AV hub will open in the Melbourne CBD with staff to assist aspiring apprentices.

TasTAFE promised $100m in state election pledge

Ahead of the state election on May 1, the Tasmanian Liberal government has announced an additional $98.5 million for TasTAFE to fund 100 extra teachers, new infrastructure and increased access for rural and regional students.

The funding pledge, over four years, includes $45 million for critical facility and equipment upgrades, new buildings and new student accommodation. It includes:

  • In the North-West, $12 million for upgrades including new student accommodation at Burnie to house 25 rural and regional students, and Trade Training Simulation Centres at Burnie and Devonport.
  • In the North, $10 million for an expansion of the health hub at Alanvale.
  • In the South, $7 million to build a new student accommodation facility.

Labor opposition leader Rebecca White says Labor will increase the TAFE teaching workforce by nearly 20 per cent, support current TAFE teachers to spend time in the trades they teach and enhance regional delivery.

Queensland regional schools in autonomous technology training

More than 100 Year 10 students from schools across Queensland’s Isaac region have become the first cohort of school students to participate in a new training pathway in digital, and autonomous technologies.

Led by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and supported by CQUniversity Australia and TAFE Queensland as education partners, the training is part of a pilot program designed by the Queensland Future Skills Partnership to prepare for the emerging skills demands and employment opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.

The Vice Chancellor of CQUniversity Australia Professor Nick Klomp said the pilot is an exciting new training opportunity for Queensland and will play an important role in ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s resources industry.

TAFE Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mary Campbell said the pilot was designed in close consultation with industry in order to ensure students who participate learn the skills they need fulfil industry demand.

Students will undertake training over the coming months and will not only receive credits towards their Senior Certificate and a nationally recognised qualification, but also gain high level skills and experience to prepare them for the jobs of the future in Industry 4.0.

Year 10 students from Moranbah State High School have started training in autonomous technology at the Resource Centre of Excellence in Mackay.


Moranbah State High School student Kaylah Dowson and BHP Mitsubishi Alliance Asset President James Palmer at the launch of the Queensland Future Skills Partnership Pilot Program in Mackay

How one college defied the COVID downturn: latest edition of Dispatch

Going against the odds, one of Chile’s major professional institutes has shown how it was able to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and actually increase student enrolments at a time when others were struggling.

The story of Duoc UC and its remarkable strategy is in the latest issue of Dispatch, the newsletter of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

Duoc UC a college founded by the Catholic University of Chile in 1968 filled all vacancies three weeks before closing, including in areas decimated by the pandemic such as tourism and gastronomy.

Student voice symposium to showcase engagement and partnership 

Student Voice Australia is a national network of institutions, staff and students, committed to facilitating authentic student engagement through partnership in institutional decision-making and governance for learning, teaching and the student experience.

The 2nd National Student Voice Australia Symposium, held over two afternoon sessions in May, invites students and staff to come together to showcase achievements and share good practice in student engagement from across  Australian institutions.

The sessions will feature a combination of case studies, student panels, international keynote speakers and workshops.

Registrations are open

JVET online conference draws impressive speaker line-up

There will be an impressive array of speakers at the Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) online Keynotes Conference, Friday 9 July.

The free event will be available world-wide, with engaging topics and Q&A. Speakers and topics are:

  • From policy symbolism to evidence-based policymaking; VET research on the rise in the South, Professor, Joy Papier
  • Transforming TVET for Sustainable Futures: Challenges for theory, policy and practice?, Professor Leon Tickly
  • The End of Neo-Liberalism and the Future of TVET, Professor Hugh Lauder
  • Researching VET: looking back, moving forward, Professor Leesa Wheelahan, Professor Ann-Marie Bathmaker & Professor Kevin Orr.

See more and register here

Diary Dates

AVETRA Annual Conference 2021
Recover, rethink and rebuild: All eyes on VET
19 – 23 April, 2021 (Online)
More information

The Real Future of Work
Career Development Association of Australia
Three-part program, early April – early May
More information

CICan (Colleges & Institutes Canada) 2021 Connection Conference
April 26 – 28
More information

Year13 Expo
17 – 19 May 2021
More information

National Careers Week
Career Industry Council of Australia
17 – 23 May 2021
More information

Student Voice Australia Symposium 2021
25 & 27 May 2021
More information

Apprentice Employment Network, NSW & ACT
Skills Conference
16 June 2021
Dockside Darling  Harbour, Sydney
More information

30th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
Past informing the future
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
7 – 9 July 2021 (Online)
More information 

Journal of Vocational Education and Training
Vocational and Technical Education Keynotes Conference
9 July 2021 (online)
More information

TVET World eConference
International Vocational and Training Association
28 – 30 July 2021
More information

QLD Schools VET Conference
Velg Training
6 August 2021
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
17 – 19 August 2021
Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania
More information soon

National Skills Week
23 – 29 August 2021
More information

Worldskills Australia
25 – 29 August 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information

2021 National VET Conference
Velg Training
9 – 19 September 2021
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

Australian Training Awards
18 November 2021
Perth, Western Australia
More information