26,000 more electricians needed for a net zero economy– comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

26,000 more electricians needed for a net zero economy– comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) Symposium on Tuesday and Wednesday last week had a very big agenda. Not only was their first report: Towards a National Jobs and Skills Roadmap released, so was their report on the workforce needed for a net zero economy: The Clean Energy Generation.

Both reports have some weighty suggestions and predictions. Participants in the symposium were extremely complimentary of JSA’s work.

Let’s turn firstly to The Clean Energy Generation: The workforce needs for a net zero economy. There is the startling prediction that a minimum of 26,000 more electricians are needed in the next seven years to service this fundamental change.

As TAFEs do the bulk of the training of electricians this has a big impact. Most TAFEs would say that demand to become an electrician is there – TAFEs have waiting lists of potential students. However, even with those waiting lists there will be insufficient new students to deliver the volume needed. Therefore, as the report states, the future lies in attracting demand from underrepresented groups such as women.

Nonetheless creating more demand will not solve the issues of supply. There are enormous limits to supply which include capacity of employers to take on additional apprentices, and TAFEs’ ability to find the workforce we need to train this volume of new electricians.

How then do we tackle this problem? That’s going to take a genuine tripartite pact between government, employers and unions. TAFEs need to be firmly part of the discussion along with the new Jobs and Skills Council, Powering Skills Organisation.

A range of reform measures currently underway in vocational education and training will be useful but insufficient. For example, the changes to the RTO standards will not remove known barriers sufficiently to ease the TAFE workforce issues. The introduction of new quotas through the Australian Skills Guarantee are unlikely to be enough to solve the employer problem.

If we don’t identify that the uniqueness of this problem requires unique solutions, we will continue to have a problem.

Let’s then turn briefly to the second of the JSA reports released last week, Towards a National Jobs and Skills Roadmap.

As expected JSA identifies that the greatest growth in the next ten years will be in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry. Also as expected, the report identifies, and this is consistent with findings on reaching the workforce needed for a net zero economy, that industries with significant gender imbalance are experiencing high levels of shortages.

The 14 points which make up the ‘Potential roadmap opportunities’ contain diverse and rich components. One example is ‘identifying VET qualifications, which if completed alongside higher education qualifications would enhance graduate employability’. It will be interesting to read in the JSA 2024 report about the progress against each of these opportunities.

Both reports are a good read, and they can be accessed here

Professor Peter Dawkins finishes up at Jobs and Skills Australia

The Acting Commissioner of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), Professor Peter Dawkins, formally wound up at the organisation on Friday after the end of his tenure, and leading JSA through its establishment phase.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said that under Professor Dawkins’ leadership, JSA has been established as a truly tripartite organisation, embedding stakeholder partnerships into its operations.

“This will be a lasting legacy for Professor Dawkins, and one that JSA will continue to build upon. I thank Peter for his commitment to getting Jobs and Skills Australia off to a great start, for his advice and leadership during this critical time,” Mr O’Connor said.

A new commissioner for JSA will be announced soon, following the conclusion of a selection process that is currently underway.

In the meantime, David Turvey, First Assistant Secretary of JSA, will be appointed as Acting Commissioner.

TDA was honoured to host Professor Dawkins on TAFE Talks in January in what was his first public appearance with JSA. We extend to Professor Dawkins our immense thanks for all his work in establishing JSA and the very best wishes for the future.

TDA welcomes its newest Corporate Affiliate, Learning Vault

TDA is excited to announce a partnership with Learning Vault, one of Australia’ leading providers of digital education and credentialing technologies and resources.

This partnership will see Learning Vault play a crucial role in supporting TDA by making knowledge accessible, portable, and applicable across a lifelong learner’s journey.

Learning Vault’s Co-founder and CEO Nicholas Robert Alderdice explains, “The rapid evolution of the workforce towards a highly mobile skills-based economy is a surging global mega trend. We believe that industry and educational institutions that put skills-based workforce planning in place early will be well positioned in the near future.”

Learning Vault has created an interoperable skills ecosystem connecting education to employment, by developing its product pillars,  Education Vault, Credential Vault and soon to be launched Talent Vault.

For almost a decade Learning Vault was pioneering the digital education content space, partnering with educational institutions to extend their internal capabilities to develop accredited and micro credential digital content. Now they are leading the global standard in credentialing compliance and are the only complete end-to-end credentialing solution in Australia and the UK.

We are very excited to make Learning Vault’s content and credentialling solution available to our members and together commence a campaign towards a dynamic skills-based economy.

See more about Learning Vault

PM meets TasTAFE nursing students

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited TasTAFE’s Clarence campus in Hobart last week ahead of a meeting of federal Cabinet. The PM met TasTAFE CEO Grant Dreher and spoke with nursing students, accompanied by Julie Collins, the Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business, and Member for Franklin.

Register for TDA's online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system, 18 October 2023

Registrations are open for TDA’s free online conference, Linkages: One tertiary education system, which will explore the policy and practice of better alignment between higher education and vocational education and training.

The online conference will take place from 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm AEDT on Wednesday 18 October and features a range of high profile speakers from vocational education and training, higher education, government and industry.

Some of our high profile speakers include the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training who be providing an opening address at the conference. The Hon Jenny Macklin, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne and Panel Member Australian Universities Accord will be discussing the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.

Members of the 2019 AQF Review, Professor Sally Kift, President of Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows and Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Victoria University, and Megan Lilly, Executive Director, Centre for Education and Training, AiGroup will be speaking on the proposed changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) reform.

TAFETalks: Engage to Excel: Personalised student engagement strategies 15 November 2pm-3pm AEDT

TDA invites you to join us for an engaging discussion with TAFE Queensland and TechnologyOne on making learning enjoyable, discovering practical ways to support struggling students and enhance the experience of international students.

Peter Nikoletatos will discuss student engagement strategies, focusing on leveraging gamification, interactive content, and peer collaboration to tailor engagement to individual learning styles.

Emma Rice and Jo Ward will provide insights into the academically ‘At Risk’ system at TAFE Queensland, focusing on identifying struggling students and implementing appropriate intervention strategies.

Marty Lock will highlight strategies to improve engagement among international students, offering actionable approaches to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment.

To register click here

Nixon review exposes private training colleges engaged in visa rorts

The review into the exploitation of Australia’s visa system has identified serious malpractice by a small number of private training colleges, in collusion with education agents.

The review, conducted by former Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon, found that “non-genuine providers are colluding with disreputable agents to facilitate student visas, and then funnelling students into criminal activities.”

The report recommends a series of measures aimed at high-risk private VET providers, including extending money laundering reforms, targeted compliance operations, data matching across Commonwealth agencies, and the possibility of removing CRICOS eligibility for low level private VET courses.

The federal government’s response to the Nixon Review includes funding of $38 million to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to establish a VET Integrity Unit that will work alongside the Department of Home Affairs, the AFP and other Commonwealth and state law enforcement agencies.

ASQA has also established a confidential VET tip-off line, where whistleblowers can report deceptive, unethical or illegal activities.

There will be a prohibition on agent commissions on student transfers between providers, while providers will get greater access to agent performance data such as student completion and visa rejection rates.

“We need to get rid of the bottom feeders, the dodgy providers who are not there for the genuine purpose of educating and training people, the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor told the National Press Club.

“If we need to take more action, we will be prepared to legislate to stop this rorting going on and exploiting our students, domestic or overseas.”

Apprentice targets for major projects outlined in draft guidelines

Firms engaged on major government funded construction projects will need to have at least 12% of women apprentices by 2030, and higher targets on flagship projects, under draft guidelines for the Australian Skills Guarantee, released last week.

The Skills Guarantee Working Draft sets a national target for one-in-ten workers on major government projects to be an apprentice or ICT cadet, commencing next July.

The target for women apprentices will commence at 6% next July, rising to 12% by 2030. There is also a trade-specific target for women, starting at 4% and rising to 10% by 2030. For flagship projects, there will be higher targets.

“This may help work towards a critical mass of women on site to help shift cultures on individual projects, and act as exemplars across the sector,” the paper says.

All the targets will be calculated using labour hours (including time spent on off-site training), not headcount.

While the Skills Guarantee applies to major Commonwealth procurements in construction and ICT worth $10 million and above, the government says it will be working with states and territories to apply it to the National Housing Accord and the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Submissions on the draft guidelines are due by October 20.

See the draft guidelines

TAFE at the Heart

Mental Health Day - Tuesday October 10

TAFE Queensland partnership with TIACS opens the conversation on mental health

To highlight the importance of World Mental Health Day, tomorrow (Tuesday, 10 October) TDA would like to share a story about TIACS, a not-for-profit social purpose organisation that provides free mental health counselling support for tradies, truckies, rural, and blue collar workers across Australia.

TIACS, which stands for This is a Conversation Starter, was started by two tradies, Ed and Dan, whose open approach to mental health is having a positive impact across the blue collar community.

See more about TAFE Queensland and TIACS 

Understanding mental health in the student population

We are also including a recording of “Mental illness in the student population and the impacts for educators”.

In the video, Brandon Taylor, Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Manager at TAFE Queensland reviews the trends and data from Mission Australia Youth Surveys and reflects on some key elements of the latest report from The Black Dog Institute – “Turning the tide on depression”.

Brandon also reflects on what this means for educators and practitioners and our personal values and purpose.

This presentation was part of the TAFE Opens Doors event hosted by TDA on 31 May.

Watch the video

Skills shortages grow but wages stay flat

A total of 36% of occupations were in national shortage in 2023, about five percentage points higher than in 2022, according to Jobs and Skills Australia’s 2023 Skills Priority List, released last week.

At the major occupation level, shortages were most pronounced among Technician and Trades Workers with 50% of these occupations in shortage.

Professionals were close behind, with 48% of these occupations in shortage. There were also shortages among Community and Personal Service Workers (24%), Machinery Operators and Drivers (34%) and Labourers (36%).

“The tight labour market conditions and trends are manifesting as skills shortages as employers contend with constrained levels of candidates that are suitable to fill job openings,” the report says.

JSA notes that only around 1% of employers lifted wages to attract suitably skilled workers.

“The results are consistent with research undertaken by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which show limited evidence that firms raised wages in response to firm-wide or job-level skill shortages, at least in the short-term,” JSA said.

Visa system gives international students 'false hope', report finds

The generous work and study rights that Australia offers to international students are giving false hope to thousands of graduates who will never gain permanent residency, according to a report from the Grattan Institute.

The report, Graduates in limbo: International student visa pathways after graduation, shows that many international graduates stay in Australia on temporary visas once they graduate, but struggle to pursue their chosen careers.

It says only half secure full-time employment, most work in low-skilled jobs, and half earn less than $53,300 a year.

One-in-three graduates return to further study, mostly in cheaper vocational courses, to prolong their stay in Australia.

“Encouraging so many international graduates to stay and struggle in Australia is in no one’s interests,” says report lead author and Grattan Institute Economic Policy Program Director Brendan Coates.

“It erodes public trust in our migration program. It hurts the long-term prospects of those graduates who do stay permanently.”

Diary Dates

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

Careers for Net Zero Fair 2023
26 October 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

OctoberVET 2023
October 2023
On-line and face-to-face
See all events

TDA online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system
18 October 2023, 1 pm AEDT
See more and register here

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
‘The Full Circle of Wellbeing’
27 October 2023
12:30pm – 1:30pm AEDT
Repeat: 3:30pm – 4:30pm AEDT

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information

TAFETalks: Engage to Excel: Personalised student engagement strategies
15 November 2023
Register here

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information

Empowered Women in Trades
Gala and Awards 2024
23 February 2024
The Trust, Melbourne
More information

TDA Convention 2024, ‘TAFE at the Heart’ – Save the date!
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
More information