A good spend – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

A good spend – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

A short column from me this week as I want you to take the time to reflect on the stories in the remainder of the newsletter.

In various ways they forecast fundamental change to vocational education.

Steffen Faurby, Managing Director of TAFE NSW highlights the new skilling needs arising from shifting business models triggered in part by COVID-19. Importantly, the new demand is for new multiskilled workers.

Western Australia has a rapid-fire review of skills needed beyond COVID-19 and is calling upon the expertise within TAFEs to provide the advice.

Tasmania is investing in a health training hub which will simulate health settings and Charles Darwin University is the mainstay of free on-line training for Northern Territorians. Research from Monash shows that TAFEs deliver value in higher education despite the unsupportive funding regime.

Yet, we wait with bated breath for the Productivity Commission to make its recommendations on VET in the context of Commonwealth –  State relations and we see the cost implications of COVID isolation on education institutions not able to access workplaces for compulsory parts of VET qualifications.

Stories or TAFE responses to COVID continue to be added to our website.

Some may feel that my columns are advertorials. Far from it. They are a testament to the fact that integrity and continuity of high quality and relevant tuition is protected through TAFEs.

If there’s a spare $60 billion floating around a good spend would be on TAFEs.

TAFE NSW seeing swift industry response to COVID-19    

TAFE NSW is working with industry partners to understand how COVID-19 is shifting business models and driving demand for new multiskilled workers for a post pandemic environment.

Managing Director Steffen Faurby says COVID-19 has underlined the need for new skilling needs in sectors as diverse as retail, tourism, events, manufacturing, IT, cybersecurity and health.

“TAFE NSW is already experiencing strong demand for skills in coding, and we’re fast-tracking a steady stream of graduates to fill jobs in web technology and software design,” Mr Faurby writes in the Daily Telegraph.

“Imagine the GP who has micro credentials in cyber security, the warehouse and logistics worker who is skilled in infection control, and the boutique owner who has know-how in website design and e-marketing.”

He said technology skills are now fundamental for frontline health staff who have migrated to telehealth.

“Screen-side etiquette, digital communication skills, medical administration, and managing patient information in an online environment will be critical to the future of Australia’s health care sector.”

In tourism and short-term home rentals there is a new perspective on training in cleaning protocols and hygiene control.

He believes that with the right training, remote working will also open up new opportunities for many who have been excluded from employment because they are housebound.

“As with all major disruptions, the training sector will have a vital role to play in reskilling Australians.”

TAFE degrees growing despite policy and funding uncertainty

TAFE institutes are providing bachelor degrees in a “national policy vacuum”, despite the important niche role they play in higher education, according to a new research project.

The report, Vocational Institutions, Undergraduate Degrees: Distinction or Inequality – Australian Research Council Discovery Project, examines the expansion of Australia’s higher education system through the growth of bachelor’s degrees in TAFE.

It finds that higher education (HE) offerings in TAFE:

  • Have grown in an organic way in response to local contexts and institutional strengths;
  • Attract specific cohorts of students, especially mature age and from non-English speaking background.;
  • Are characterised by distinctive learning environments for particular purposes, which are often different from the environment in universities;
  • Compete in a complex and precarious market and operate under different funding arrangements from universities.

It says TAFE institutes are providing bachelor degrees in spite of no systematic approach across the country and with little recognition in policy discussion.

The project was undertaken by Professor Susan Webb, Dr Elizabeth Knight, Dr Steven Hodge, Dr Shaun Rawolle, Professor Ann-Marie Bathmaker and Professor Trevor Gale.

Western Australia launches urgent VET review

The West Australian government has announced an urgent review of skills, training and workforce development in response to COVID-19.

Premier Mark McGowan said the review will engage with industry and business to identify training needs for the post-COVID recovery.

“Some sectors will offer growth especially the resources sector which will need key tradespeople such as plant and process operators, diesel mechanics and engineering trades.

“There will also be a continued emphasis on training in other sectors such as health, defence, transport and construction,” he said.

The review team will be led by Ms Anne Driscoll, Director General of the Department of Training and Workforce Development; Ms Michelle Hoad, Managing Director, North Metropolitan TAFE and Ms Terry Durant, Managing Director, South Metropolitan TAFE.

The review will report to the State Recovery Controller by June 30.

TAFE campuses to benefit from Victoria's cash injection

Schools and TAFEs in Victoria will benefit from a state-wide construction blitz aimed at creating thousands of jobs as part of the COVID recovery program.

The package includes $438 million to build ten new schools, $389 million to deliver 57 upgrades and modernisation projects, and a $55 million for TAFE campus upgrades.

“It is more important than ever that we invest in our TAFEs so that Victorians can continue to get the best training in state-of-the-art facilities for the jobs that they need,” the  Minister for Skills and Training Gayle Tierney said.

There is also $28 million for local governments and not-for-profit organisations to deliver extended kindergarten programs.

Read more

Landmark PC report to land in June

The Productivity Commission has advised that its re-scheduled interim report on Australia’s skills system will be released in the first week of June.

The Review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development will now be released on June 5.

Following the release, the commission will seek further information and feedback by July 17, with a final report to be provided to the government in November.

New health training hub for TasTAFE

The Tasmanian government has unveiled a $1.4 million redevelopment of nursing, aged care and disability training at TasTAFE’s Clarence campus in Hobart.

The Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff said the new facilities will be modelled on real hospital wards and aged care facilities, and aligned with the latest industry standards, transforming an entire block of the campus into a health training hub.

“This means TasTAFE students will be learning in facilities which are virtually identical to those they will come across on future work placements and ultimately their careers,” he said.

COVID hits Queensland schools, universities and TAFE: Auditor-General

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to have a significant financial impact on some Queensland schools, universities and TAFE, according the Queensland Audit Office.

Its report, Education: 2018–19 results of financial audits, describes the likely revenue impact caused by shutdowns, the loss of international students, and the shift to online teaching and training.

It says TAFE Queensland is likely to be “significantly impacted”, as the practical nature of training means that many courses cannot be easily transitioned to online or flexible delivery, while many courses have mandatory vocational placement requirements.

The report says most of the state’s universities have been “extensively adversely affected” by COVID-19 and that they have taken immediate action to reduce operating expenses, reassess capital projects, and review course offerings.

Free VET short courses on offer in Northern Territory

The Northern Territory government is funding dozens or free short courses to help foster practical skills in response to COVID-19.

The courses are in areas including customer service, leadership, specialised trade skills in electrical and renewable energy, and inclusive practices in early childhood education.

The courses are free but a small administration and resource fee may apply to some courses. They are open to territorians who meet the training organisation’s eligibility criteria.

Places are limited which means people need to act quickly.

See more

Register now for #NoFrills2020

NCVER is taking the 29th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ ONLINE for the first time.

With a comprehensive range of live and pre-recorded content, including keynote speakers, focus sessions and over 30 presentations, #NoFrills2020 will immerse you in the future of VET.

Attendees will have access to all of this quality content, plus all the networking opportunities you’d usually expect from a ‘No Frills’ conference, for one low price.

It’s all happening from 7-10 July 2020, so REGISTER NOW.


Last week’s newsletter referred to closure of some RTOs, however, these were closures announced by ASQA in January this year.

Diary Dates

AVETRA 2020 Researcher Development Series
Webinars designed for early career, emerging and practitioner researchers
June 2020 – March 2021
More information

Velg Training & MRWED
22-26 June 2020
More Information

National Manufacturing Summit 2020 (cancelled)
Manufacturing a Sustainable Future
6 & 7 July 2020
Gold Coast, Queensland
More information

‘No Frills’ 2020, 29th National VET Research Conference Online
National Centre for Vocational Education Research
7 – 10 July 2020
More information

TAFE Directors Australia Convention 2020 (cancelled)
12 – 14 August 2020
Westin Hotel, Perth
More information

Worldskills Australia (re-scheduled to April-May 2021)
12 – 15 August 2020
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information

National Skills Week
24 – 30 August 2020
Various locations
More information 

2020 National VET Conference (postponed)
Velg Training
17 – 18 September 2020
Gold Coast Convention and Exhitbiton Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland
More Information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (cancelled)
2020 World Congress

14 – 16 October 2020
Donostia – San Sebastian, Spain
More information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
Annual 2020 Skills Conference
5 November 2020
More information

VDC 2020 Teaching & Learning Conference
19 & 20 November 2020
RACV Torquay Resort, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Registrations Open

Australian Training Awards
20 November 2020
More information

Worldskills Australia
28 April – 2 May 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information