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A landmark moment in our approach to skills – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

A landmark moment in our approach to skills - comment by CEO Craig Robertson

I’m super excited, in a nerdy sort of way.

In less than a week, I get to meet again my Skills Idol – Professor David Finegold. David is one of the keynote speakers at the Congress of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics that TDA is hosting in Melbourne from 8 to 10 October.

Professor Finegold has recently been appointed as President of Chatham University. His career has been dedicated to education reform and extensive research on education and skill-creation systems around the world. He graduated from Harvard in 1985, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received his doctorate in Politics in 1992.

Testament to David’s knowledge in this area is his contributing editorship of The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training (with others, including John Buchanan who is also speaking at the Congress). It’s essential reading for anyone serious about skills.

The handbook charts the dimensions of skills formation systems from across the globe. Most countries have different approaches to ‘skill settlements’ reflecting their history on the role of labour in social life and in production. However, “these settlements are rarely static”[1].
The human capital framework, which has been so powerful in policy rationales over recent decades, now fails to accommodate the large range of issues facing skills development and utilisation.

While skills has been seen as a great leveller in society, many commentators, including the great Piketty (2014, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century) claim we put too much reliance on skills and that more direct response to inequality is required. Many who usually would be immune from the inequality trap are at risk. The over-supply of graduates across the globe is forcing wages down for those workers expecting a high wage return from their education. And as commodification of thinking work allows more of it to shift to equally skilled workers in low wage economies, governments will be faced with more disaffected workers.

Finegold’s conclusion is chilling…

Arguably, the greatest change emerging is that affecting demand, especially the character (and not just the level) of labour required for productive activity. Perhaps top of this list is the likely disruption posed by technological change, as the integration of advances in artificial intelligence, sensors, robotics, and other fields have the potential to fully automate 60% or more of all jobs by 2030 …. At the same time that technology is eliminating many good jobs, it is also intensifying competition for those jobs that remain by facilitating the process of globalization.[2]

The book has answers though, and ones that are relevant to Australia, including recasting skills regimes. In response to the narrow vision of work-related skills training currently prevailing in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries, Leesa Wheelahan highlights the importance of redefining skills on the basis of Sen’s (1999) and Nussbaum’s (2000) notions of capability and argues for nurturing a modern notion of vocation and vocational streams. Finegold concludes that “Recasting skill regimes along these lines has the potential for providing both rewarding careers for individuals and adaptive capacity for organizations and sectors facing increasingly uncertain futures”[3].

Speaking of Skills Idol – I have an idea. Why don’t we run a TV show here in Australia where we ask the best of talent on skills to show us what they’ve got! I wonder who’d audition? Let me know if you would.  I’d love to hear from you, we need something to trigger some action here in Australia.

By the way, Leesa Wheelahan is also speaking at the Congress.


[1] The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training (Oxford Handbooks) (p. 5). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.
[2] Ibid (p. 10).
[3] ibid (p. 11).

TAFE NSW's Jon Black stands down

The Managing Director of TAFE NSW Jon Black, pictured, has stood down from the role after almost three years’ service.

The Assistant Minister for Skills Adam thanked Mr Black for his service to the VET sector and said he had been instrumental in leading the NSW government’s once-in-a-generation ‘One TAFE’ reforms.

“As Managing Director, Mr Black has overseen one of the largest public sector reforms in the country to position TAFE NSW as Australia’s leading public VET provider,” Mr Marshall said.

“On behalf of the NSW Government, I thank Mr Black for his dedicated service, and wish him every success in the future.”

Mr Black said: “It has been an honour to serve as the Managing Director of TAFE NSW, and to work with the wonderful teachers, students and staff of the country’s leading public VET provider and with the many industry partners.”

Dr Caralee McLiesh, a Deputy Secretary in NSW Treasury has been appointed Acting Managing Director.

Mary Faraone, Chair of TDA, congratulated Jon on the enormous change program he has lead across TAFE NSW.

“Jon took to the task with great enthusiasm and professionalism. We hope he will still be able to contribute our network of TAFEs,” Mary said.

Congress registrations close at the end of today

With the delegates to the Congress of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics reaching toward 750, the registration window closes at the end of today.

Join TAFEs and Australian VET stakeholders in welcoming over 250 international delegates from over 20 countries to our great land.

There is still opportunity to register but it must be today.

Register here.

ACPET appoints a new CEO

Troy Williams (pictured) the CEO of the Australian Dental Industry Association, has been named as the incoming Chief Executive Officer of ACPET.

He replaces Rod Camm who announced his decision to stand down earlier this year.

ACPET Chair Bruce Callaghan, said Mr Williams is an experienced policy advocate with an established network of contacts across the political spectrum, who has a highly nuanced approach to evidence-based policy development.

“Mr Williams has a long career with membership-based organisations, where he has emphasised member engagement and collaborative partnerships,” he said.

He was also formerly CEO of group training organisation Skill360 and the Australian Institute of Building.

“It’s a great pleasure to have accepted this role, it is one that allows me to work towards reducing the artificial stratification that separates our schools, vocational providers and higher education providers,” he said.

TDA CEO Craig Robertson extended his congratulations to Troy and said he looked forward to continuing to work with ACPET on key areas of education reform.

TAFEs tipped to be winners from Indonesia-Australia trade agreement

Education and training institutes, including TAFEs, are likely to have a first mover advantage in accessing Indonesia under the recent free trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia, according to the country’s Investment Minister Mr Tom Lembong (pictured). 

During a visit to Australia, he revealed that Australia’s TAFEs and universities will be likely winners under the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).

In an interview with the Lowy Institute’s, The Interpreter, he said he did not expect that education and training would be a key part of Indonesia’s likely next bilateral-style trade agreement with the EU, meaning Australian players had a clear opportunity to access the market.

“There are more TAFE (from Australia) delegations coming into Jakarta these days than from any other country in the world,” he said.

See ‘Economic diplomacy: Indonesia, climate and Abe’

Western Australia's training awards put TAFE in the spotlight

TAFEs have secured a host of major prizes at the Western Australian Training Awards held in Perth on Friday night.

North Metropolitan TAFE was named Large Training Provider of the Year, and also picked up Vocational Student of the Year with Caitlan Noble, International Student of the Year with Ananda Paiva, and the Cultural Diversity Training Award for William Bol.

The Business Collaboration Award went to Central Regional TAFE for its Biodiversity Conservation Collaboration.

Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Megan Feaver, studying at South Metropolitan TAFE.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year was Soleil White, trained through Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and North Regional TAFE.

Indian dairy industry leaders learn from TAFE SA

During September, four delegates from Indian dairy company Parag Milk Foods completed a two-week tailored Dairy Enterprise Trainer Program with TAFE SA.

The four veterinarians who travelled to South Australia were representing Parag’s subsidiary, Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farm at Manchar in Western India. Bhagyalaxmi is India’s largest and most innovative private dairy farm, with a production capacity of 25,000 litres of milk per day.

The participants received classroom and hands-on training facilitated by TAFE SA lecturers at a number of dairy farms and training sites across the state. This included dairy visits to Langhorne Creek, Two Wells, Mount Gambier and Monteith.

The ‘train the trainer’ based program focused on innovative training techniques and competency based training methods, equipping participants with necessary skills and knowledge to train dairy farmers in India, with the overall aim of increasing milk production.

The program concluded with a farewell dinner hosted by TAFE SA’s Foundation Skills, Primary Industries, Animal & Laboratory Sciences business unit. TAFE SA Interim Chief Executive, Alex Reid, addressed the room and presented each delegate with a Certificate of Completion.

The successful training program has strengthened the partnership between TAFE SA and Parag, with future collaborative training options to be pursued.

Left to right; Sue James (TAFE SA), Andrew Egarr (TAFE SA), Aravind Balan (TAFE SA), Dr. Tejal Walunj (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Karren Raper (TAFE SA), Dr. Vinod Honalikar (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Dr. Amol Hande (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Brett Mahoney (Executive Director, TAFE SA), Dr. Harshal Musale (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms).

Left to right; Wayne Sims (TAFE SA), Alex Reid (Chief Executive, TAFE SA), Dr. Vinod Honalikar (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Sue James (TAFE SA), Andrew Egarr (TAFE SA), Karren Raper (TAFE SA), Brett Ancell (TAFE SA), Dr. Harshal Musale (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Dr. Tejal Walunj (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Dr. Amol Hande (Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farms), Aaron Rigano (TAFE SA).

South Australia gets a head start in naval shipbuilding

TAFE SA has become the first accredited training partner of the Naval Shipbuilding College in Australia, after the college endorsed the welding component of the Certificate III in Engineering Fabrication Trade.

Welding has been identified by the college as one of three skill areas of importance to the shipbuilding industry, along with pipefitting and marine engineering.

Education Minister John Gardner said TAFE SA was ready to play its part to ensure a skilled South Australian workforce is available to meet the increased demand.

TAFE SA’s state-of-the-art welding facility, at its Regency Campus, now boasts a ‘navalised’ welding rig that has been built through the endorsement process, which will also be used as a template by other training providers around the country for upskilling existing workers and apprentices.

“The endorsement of the Naval Shipbuilding College is a significant milestone that will increase student and industry confidence in TAFE SA,” Mr Gardner said.

TDA - AVETRA scholarship deadline extended

The deadline for submissions for the TDA/AVETRA Innovation Scholarship 2018 has been extended to October 15.

The scholarship aims to foster innovation in workforce development programs for enterprises. Recipients will investigate innovative ways to meet new and emerging skill needs through research projects undertaken in industry or community settings.

The research may be undertaken by a person or group of people working in a TAFE Institute in teaching or non-teaching roles. The scholarship will provide $4,000 towards the costs of research.

See more.

IBSA showcases manufacturing industry training reforms

The Skills Service Organisation, IBSA Manufacturing, has released a report outlining the activities it has taken, alongside  its Industry Reference Committees to implement training reforms.

The report, ‘Supporting Future-Focused, Fit for Purpose Training Product’ shows key reforms as identified by the COAG Industry and Skills Council. Reforms include:

  • The removal of a whole training package and six qualifications from the national register
  • Making more industry information through companion volumes for five training packages
  • Identifying new skills sets for four training packages

See more.

Scholarship provides a chance to live and work overseas

For over 60 years, the Australian Overseas Foundation (AOF) Awards have helped to increase professional knowledge and experience as well as develop leaderships skills – all of which are subsequently re-invested in Australia.

If you know of someone who has completed a Certificate III, is aged between 21 and 34 and is looking to live and work overseas, direct them to the AOF website where they can complete the online application.

Who knows – it could be the beginning of an incredible professional and personal journey!

See the AOF flyer.

VET knowledge bank has all the answers

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has developed a very useful resource – the VET Knowledge Bank – which contains essential information about the skills and training system.

It includes a History of VET, Landmark Documents, a Glossary of VET, and Policy Initiatives.

There is also Getting to know VET, which explains the system via a chart of the key components, including training products, provider peak bodies and VET regulators.

Diary Dates

2018 World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) World Congress (in conjunction with TDA National Conference)
8-10 October 2018
Melbourne Convention Centre
More information

China Annual Conference for International Education & Expo (CACIE) 
Beijing, China
18-21 October 2018
More information

New VET Research Perspectives
AVETRA (Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association)
26 October 2018
Canberra Institute of Technology, Canberra, ACT
More information

Taking the Lead: Building Community
Community Colleges Australia Annual Conference
13-15 November 2018
Sydney
More information

2018 Australian Training Awards
15 November 2018
International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Tickets can be purchased here.

Engineering Next-Generation Learning
IEEE TALE 2018
4 – 7 December 2018
Wollongong, NSW
More information 

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