A lot to consider in the Accord Interim Report – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

A lot to consider in the Accord Interim Report – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Education Minister Jason Clare delivered the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report last Wednesday. TDA is very pleased that most of the TEN BIG IDEAS in our submission to the Accord panel are specifically on the table for consideration.

  • TDA’s contribution: One tertiary education system where VET and higher education are equally funded and equally valued.

The Interim Report states: “There is an opportunity to explore bringing together the tertiary education system as a coherent whole, rather than thinking of higher education and VET as two separate and siloed areas, and for new and evolving institutions to be shaped by the strongest features of both the higher education and VET sectors. These systems both provide essential skills and knowledge in their own right and the Review is exploring whether these systems should be equally valued in funding, regulatory and policy settings. In doing so, there are good examples of the benefits that are realised when institutions collaborate and can operate in both systems.” (page 108)

  • TDA’s contribution: Improvements to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)(to achieve the above).

The Interim Report states: The Review considers that reforms to the AQF (see Section 3.1) are also necessary to facilitate this collaboration.” (page 49)

  • TDA’s contribution: Place based compacts between universities and TAFEs that deliver outcomes for student cohorts in their local areas. This will help meet the Bradley targets for all student groups, including those from regional areas and for specific cohorts such as First Nations students.

The Interim Report states: “Extend visible, local access to tertiary education by creating further Regional University Centres (RUCs) and establish a similar concept for suburban/metropolitan locations.The Review believes similar place-based and community-led solutions – New Tertiary Study Hubs – could improve participation, retention and completion for students in outer metropolitan and peri-urban areas, especially those from low SES backgrounds. These Hubs should be based on the specific needs of each local community and have tailored wraparound support to help students succeed.” (page 28)

TDA pleads for take up of the name Tertiary Study Hubs rather than a name such as Regional University Centres if they are to be genuine places for TAFE students as well as university students. Language must be inclusive if it is all about students in TAFE and university being equally valued!

  • TDA’s contribution: Commonwealth supported places for students studying at TAFE.

The Interim Reports states: “One possibility could be to give more TAFEs (where they are registered higher education providers) access to CSPs. Less divergent funding arrangements would also help foster parity of esteem between the two sectors.” (page 64)

  • TDA’s contribution: Compacts that must contain TAFE partnerships and a focus on industry.

The Interim Report: The Review is exploring how industry and the higher education and VET sectors can establish parity of esteem and collaborate more effectively in the development of innovative course content.” (page 44)

  • TDA’s contribution: Develop a new relationship between VET, higher education and industry in nation building or priority areas such as defence, aged care, cybersecutiy and clean energy.

The Interim Report states: “We need to encourage innovative methods of course delivery, particularly in areas of national priority such as health care, clean energy and defence. Industry providers should be engaged in course design with VET and higher education providers to identify key learning requirements across both sectors.” (page 49)

  • TDA’s contribution: Give TAFE the capacity for self-accreditation of courses to facilitate student mobility and better qualification alignment between TAFE and universities.

The Interim Report states: ”Piloting self-accrediting for dual sector higher education providers, and selected TAFEs who meet minimum thresholds, in their VET operations.” (page 144)

TDA welcomes the strong focus of Minister Clare on providing disadvantaged students with access to higher education and supporting them to complete their qualifications. TAFEs as tertiary education institutions are logical partners of that aspirational goal. That has been recognised well in this Interim Report. TDA looks forward to continuing to contribute during the final five months of the Accord panel’s deliberations.

Read more about the Accord in the opinion piece by well known higher education commentator, Stephen Matchett, which is the end of today’s newsletter.

Government funded VET students decline

The number of students in government funded training fell 4.3% to 1.19 million in 2022, according to the latest figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

While the number of students enrolled in nationally recognised VET decreased by 5.1% over the year, those enrolled in non-nationally recognised training increased by 3.5%.

The largest decline in government funded training was in the ACT, down 9.6%, followed by Queensland (-7.8%), Western Australia (-6.4%), NSW (-3.3%), Victoria (-2.8%), NT (-2.5%) and Tasmania (-2.4%). South Australia was unchanged.

Despite the fall in the latest year, the number of government funded VET students has increased by 7.4% between 2018 and 2022.

The impact of attractive COVID-era apprentice incentive payments is reflected in an increase in the number of students in off-the-job training, up from 280,255 in 2020 to 368,180 in 2022.

See Government-funded students and courses 2022

TAFE Directors Australia enters educational partnership with Adobe

TAFE Directors Australia is excited to announce its new partnership with Adobe, the global leader in digital tools that promote creativity and digital fluency.

TDA recognises the important role that Adobe plays in the field of education by enhancing student outcomes and facilitating learning experiences through the utilisation of Adobe Creative Cloud for Education The partnership will see Adobe play a vital role in supporting TAFEs to  foster students’ digital skills and employability skills by equipping them with the necessary tools to thrive in today’s digital landscape.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report, employers are now seeking employees with creative thinking capabilities, and self-efficacy skills like resilience, agility, and curiosity that help them to adapt to disrupted workplaces. By leveraging Adobe’s suite of tools and resources, students and educators can develop their critical thinking and collaboration skills which they can integrate into non-core and non-creative disciplines. This will assist students in navigating the rapidly changing digital world.

Queensland leads the way in new energy apprenticeships

Queensland is leading the way in the uptake of the federal government’s new energy apprenticeships, with the state accounting for a quarter of all sign-ups.

A total of 1,142 new energy apprentices have signed up since January, with 287 or 25 per cent from Queensland.

The initiative is a key Labor election commitment and offers $10,000 each for 10,000 new energy apprentices to assist with cost of living.

The top five occupations for these apprenticeships across the country are Electricians, Electronics and Telecommunications Trades Workers, Automotive Electricians and Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers, and Plumbers.

“The New Energy Apprenticeships Support Payment is designed to encourage apprentices to choose a career in the clean energy sector, support them through it, and help them complete their training to go on and have successful careers,” the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said.

TAFETalks: Using immersive technologies to enhance learning 9 August 2pm AEST

Join TDA’s TAFETalks webinar, where TAFE Queensland and TAFE NSW will demonstrate how they are integrating immersive technologies to achieve improved learning outcomes, in high risk and high-cost training. This session will explore how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can improve learner outcomes, using examples from the construction industry.

Lee Webster from TAFE Queensland and John O’Brien from TAFE NSW will show the effectiveness of VR in improving student outcomes in courses such as working at heights. They will share how simulating real-life situations is effective at enabling learners to gain deep skills before entering the real environment. Tony Maguire from D2L will offer reflections and insights on leveraging Learning Management Systems to enhance the incorporation of immersive technologies in teaching and learning.

The collaboration between TAFE NSW and TAFE Queensland in immersive technologies has grown because of TDA’s Immersive Learning Network (TILN). TILN facilitates knowledge exchange among TAFEs, focusing on AR/VR and related technologies that have the potential to enhance TAFE’s educational delivery.

To register, please click here

Expert committee to steer VET qualifications reform

A new tripartite committee, led by industry, is being established to progress the task of national VET qualifications reform.

The idea for a dedicated group to oversee the reform process was agreed at the Skills and Workforce Ministerial Council meeting in June.

By the end of this year, the tripartite Qualification Reform Design Group will draft new rules for the development of units of competency and qualifications, reflecting the differing needs of industry.

This will be the first step of a multi-year program of work to deliver on the Skills Ministers’ reform ambition. Members of the Design Group will be appointed by the Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor.

The newly-established Jobs and Skills Councils will also have a key role in qualifications reform by providing industry advice to the Design Group to inform the development of new training package development rules.

The process of qualifications reform is designed to simplify and modernise the VET system, which currently has around 1,200 qualifications, 1,600 skill sets, 15,000 units of competency and 670 accredited short courses and qualifications.

See more

Webinar – Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What will it mean for bookkeepers, accountants and the industry?

Will generative AI take over bookkeeping and accounting jobs? Will it be a useful tool? Will it change customer expectations? What about the data?

There is much talk about AI making some jobs – or even entire professions – obsolete. The accounting industry is not immune from technology disruption, so TDA’s Corporate Affiliate MYOB has assembled an expert panel on the subject to break down what you need to know.

Date: Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Time: 9.30am AEST / 11.30am NZST
Duration: 60 minutes
Register here

After a generation of being undervalued and underfunded, it is time for TAFE to shine – comment by Stephen Matchett

TAFE, not training in general. The interim report from the Universities Accord team is specific about the importance of the public systems to the nation-building tertiary education model they propose.

For the Albanese Government “TAFE” and “training” are political synonyms.

There are reasons for this. TAFE has always been an engine of social mobility, a reality obscured by the expansion of universities. And the VET FEE HELP disgrace has unfairly ruined the reputation of the private training industry for years to come.

To create a new national tertiary education system, the government does not only want TAFE to participate – it wants public training to be a foundation.

The Accord team agrees,

“Australia’s skills needs will only be met if the higher education system, and an expanded VET system, with TAFE at its core, work together within a more integrated system to deliver the flexible, transferable skills people want and need,” Professor O’Kane and colleagues write.

Granted their ambitions appear quixotic.

They dream a seemingly impossible dream (a universal post school learning entitlement), which requires fighting once unbeatable foes (the entrenched influence of old and rich universities) and running where the brave dare not go (into Treasury with a huge funding proposal).

Most of the 70 proposals in their discussion paper, released last week, are admirable in ambition and originality – even the banal are bold. Many of them will upset powerful people. Research lobbies, all but ignored in the paper, were complaining within hours of the its release.

And then there is paying for it. The Accord proposes a “universal learning entitlement” and although the report specifies university places for all eligible students is “a priority element” it is hard to see how a lesser or no, entitlement for studying at TAFE fits the Accord ambition for “an aligned tertiary education system, including encouraging parity of esteem” between VET and HE.

Whatever students and industry (floated in the Accord) pay for the entitlement, in terms of TAFE it would surely involve a cost to the states, in terms of how federal funding for their systems is allocated.

And yet the Accord has a better chance of succeeding than pragmatic politics should allow. There are three reasons why.

One is Education Minister Jason Clare and his Jobs and Skills colleague Brendan O’Connor, are manifestly game to have a go at national reform more ambitious than John Dawkins’ creation of the unified HE system, bolder than Julia Gillard, who backed Denise Bradley’s demand driven model for undergraduate education.

The second is tertiary education will transform over the next 20 years – and if systems do not do it for themselves then digital providers will – in ways which are way disruptive and unfair. Ministers and mandarins, university deans and college directors may not like it – but they can’t ignore change already underway as giant corporations (think Apple, Cisco, Microsoft) create their own courses.

Plus the times are right for governments to lead national reform in ways not seen since the creation of welfare states – the pandemic has made that possible. Australians willingly accepted state enforced lockdowns and now the national government is  getting involved in industry planning and funding in the national interest.  As Ben Chifley worked to ensure Australian independence from manufactured imports, so Anthony Albanese wants us to have our own vaccine and green energy capacity.

And this sense of securing sovereignty extends to skills – it resonates with the electorate, and makes it possible for the Commonwealth to propose big-picture reform for economy growing, job-generating skills. That Mr Clare did not announce last week an end to the discriminatory cost borne by humanities, law and business students makes the point. People worry about not finding a plumber or a TAFE graduate cyber security tech.

Which is the context for the Accord team’s breathtaking in ambition proposal – access to lifelong learning via a single post-compulsory system.

“The tertiary sector must adapt to facilitate growth in lifelong learning. Higher education will need to provide multiple entry and exit points that allow people to develop skills and build to recognised credentials or qualifications in a modular, more ‘stackable’ way. This could encompass a wide range of qualification types across the tertiary sector.”

Note “higher education” and “the tertiary sector” appear as elements of the one whole. And lest anyone miss it, the paper, states in passing, Commonwealth Supported Places would be extended to TAFE, “in areas of crucial skill need.”

The Accord report proposes a tertiary education commission (TEC) to help it happen. This would be a much bigger deal for universities than TAFEs, what with it determining their individual funding. But a TEC could still bring a national policy focus to training.

“The Tertiary Education Commission could establish buy-in to the Accord’s reforms among the many different types of institutions and diverse stakeholders, leveraging the collective resources of the sector to drive better outcomes. The Tertiary Education Commission would also need to work closely with, among others, state education and training departments, JSA, TEQSA, ASQA, professional accreditation and industry bodies, and various funding bodies and government departments,” the Accord assumes.

That is if states agree. WA and Victoria don’t accept in-state regulation by the Australian Skills Quality Authority – which raises the question whether they, or any other state government, for their own parochial purposes would accept the authority of a far wider-ranging national agency.

‘Twas ever thus in our federal system –  a similarly bold training reform scheme in the ‘90s faced university recalcitrance, state-rights hostility and industry ambivalence.

And yet this time could be different. For public education and training providers to stay competitive they will need to know how to change and change again.

A national tertiary system that encourages cooperation, accepts competition and embraces parity of esteem between the old sectors is the best way it will work.

The question is how to pay for it.

Stephen Matchett is a writer for hire on tertiary education. Read him at the Future Campus site.

Diary Dates

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
TAFECreates 23
26 – 28 July 2023
Mildura, Victoria
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What AI means for the accounting industry
2 August 2023, 9.30am AEST
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TAFETalks: Using immersive technologies to enhance learning
9 August 2023, 2pm AEST
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National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
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VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
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WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
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Victorian Training Awards
18 August 2023
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National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
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NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
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Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
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Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
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TDA online conference – Linkages: one tertiary education sector
18 October 2023, 1 pm AEDT
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VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
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Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
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TDA Convention 2024
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
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