Acknowledging a great contributor – combined comment from Craig Robertson and Jenny Dodd

Acknowledging a great contributor – combined comment from Craig Robertson and Jenny Dodd

Today I’m diverting from the regular comment about the sector to acknowledge a member of the sector. Today, Craig Robertson, the previous CEO of TDA and now CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority, joins me in thanking Ron Jackson, who finishes with TDA on Wednesday.

Let’s start with Craig’s words:

I’ll only stay for three months, he said.

Not overly heartening for a CEO facing the daunting task of transferring students to TAFEs from one of Australia’s largest private providers which had just closed.

I don’t know anything about VET, he adds.

Not all that endearing to an organisation trying to enlighten change in the sector.

I’m an economist, not an educationalist, he often says.

Not exactly encouraging for TAFEs given it has been idealised neo-liberalism at the heart of the quality concerns across the sector dragging the sector down.

Just over four years since joining TDA, Ron Jackson is leaving to join the Digital Skills Organisation on another adventure!

From my perspective, Ron has been anything but temporary, lacking understanding of VET or a raging rationalist! Over the journey we shared together at TDA we loved the hard yards in supporting students’ move to TAFEs, bringing new perspectives on the role of TAFEs or applying systems and economic thinking to advocacy.

The good journeys in life entail excitement about a new destination, mixed with a high degree of satisfaction with the path previously trod.

The destination offers hope of digital renewal in VET.

Ron, it’s a good journey and we wish you well. (Craig).

Ron, along with Craig I’d like to acknowledge your fabulous contribution. You joined TDA at a very difficult time and you, along with others in the secretariat, helped steer a positive outcome. Your commitment and amazing knowledge have all been very apparent over the many years I have known you.

As I continue to lead TDA as CEO next year, I will miss you, but I also know where you have gone and will come knocking if I need you! (Jenny).

On behalf of the TDA Board, TDA CEOs and Executive teams, the many TDA supported network members, and the TDA Secretariat – thank you, Ron Jackson. You have been a terrific leader within our broad team.

Student diversity the key to 10-year international education strategy

The development of a more diverse student cohort is a centrepiece of the new 10-year strategy for Australia’s $40 billion international education sector, released last week.

The Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030 outlines measures to help support the rapid return of international students when borders open on 1 December.

A key goal is a more sustainable sector, built upon greater diversity amongst the international student population in order to reduce financial risk and maximise the student experience.

The government will introduce new transparency measures around student diversity including a diversification index.

Education Minister Alan Tudge said the reliance on a high numbers of students from a small number of countries “presents significant financial risk to individual providers and to the sector more broadly.”

“The government will work with the sector, particularly public institutions, on strategies to encourage an optimal make-up of international student cohorts,” he said.

Another key objective of the strategy is to better align the courses studied with skill shortage areas.

The strategy also emphasises the need for increased in-country course provision, whereby Australian institutions could deliver courses in the region with differing product offerings.

“The United Kingdom is already well down this path with 58 per cent of its international students studying offshore, whereas only 20 per cent of Australia’s international students are studying offshore,” the strategy says.

Fee relief and visa extensions to kickstart international student recovery

The federal government has announced a series of regulatory fee relief measures and visa extensions, as part of its efforts to kick start the international education sector.

The key fee relief measures include::

  • $27.8 million in regulatory fee relief for the duration of 2022, including certain fees for Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registrations, and the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) Levy.
  • Extension of the current FEE-HELP loan fee exemption until 31 December 2022, benefiting around 30,000 undergraduate higher education students.
  • An additional $9.4 million to extend the Innovation Development Fund, delivering further short-term targeted support to private English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) providers.

The visa changes include:

  • Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement visa.
  • The government will increase the length of stay on the Temporary Graduate visa from two to three years for Masters by coursework graduates, matching that of Masters by research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two year Temporary Graduate visa.

The new visa settings will also extend existing measures for students and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a temporary graduate visa.

CIT wins international wind turbine safety training awards

The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) has won two prestigious international awards for training in wind turbine safety, announced at the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) Safety and Training Awards in Copenhagen last Thursday.

CIT was awarded Training Team of the Year in the Asia-Pacific Region, and Training Team of the Year – Globally (smaller training providers).

CIT was one of the first in Australia to offer training in wind turbine safety. The training was developed in collaboration with industry to teach the practical and technical skills needed in Australia and overseas.

The awards highlight CIT’s focus on developing and delivering GWO safety training at the highest standard.

Last chance to register for TAFE Talks apprenticeship webinar, Wednesday 1 December

There’s still time to register for this Wednesday’s TAFETalks webinar: Apprenticeships Part 2: ‘Supporting Students to Complete.

We are delighted that the Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, the Hon Luke Howarth, will join to formally open the conversation.

The webinar will focus on ways of better meeting the needs of youth, and addressing completion rates. It will feature:

  • Tiffany Blight, Executive Director of the National Careers Institute
  • Dianne Dayhew, CEO of the National Apprentice Employment Network
  • Ben Bardon, CEO of the National Australian Apprenticeships Association
  • Grant Dreher, CEO of TasTAFE (See article below on TasTAFE apprentice completion rates)

The webinar is on Wednesday 1 December at 2.00pm AEDT (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time).

Register here

A stylish cut designed to attract dozens of new apprentices

Jobs Victoria and Box Hill Institute, with their industry partners, have launched a program to provide apprenticeships to dozens of aspiring hairdressers and barbers.

Many hairdressers left the workforce during the pandemic and the industry is now facing a worker shortage.

The Certificate III in Barbering and Certificate III in Hairdressing will be available for 75 people to start an apprenticeship.

The program involves free training, mentoring, masterclasses and support at every level from Box Hill Institute.

“Through this partnership with Jobs Victoria, we’re so excited to give more Victorians the opportunity to find secure jobs, and continue earning while they learn,” Box Hill Institute CEO and Managing Director Vivienne King said.

The initiative was launched by the Minister for Employment Jaala Pulford at participating salon, Ohana Hairdressing.

“Victorians rushed out to the hairdressers when COVID restrictions eased and demand from new workers is now so high in this industry,” Ms Pulford said.

Program participant, Chiara Perrone; Ohana Hairdressing owner Olivia Zynevych; CEO & Managing Director of Box Hill Institute, Vivienne King; and (front) the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Jaala Pullford.

Analysis of apprenticeship issues – time for change

The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) has released a timely report on post-school apprenticeships and traineeships.

The report brings together existing research evidence to form a discussion on what could be considered enduring issues in the system around this important form of training. School-based apprenticeships and traineeship or those falling outside the formal contract of training model are excluded.

Five key issues were identified and examined, and up-to-date data was used to provide context and to illustrate these. The issues include: congestion (too many VET stakeholders) and harmonisation (lack of consistency across states and territories), completions, incentive payments and other supports to employers and apprentices/trainees, the interface between the apprentice/trainee and training providers, and the relevance of the current model of apprenticeship training.

See more.

Also, see the TDA website for new stories about apprenticeships and traineeships.

Register here for the next TAFETalks at 2pm Wednesday 1 December: Apprenticeships Part 2: Supporting students to complete.

WA government outlines $25m TAFE equipment spend

The West Australian government has announced details of its $25 million TAFE equipment upgrade that was unveiled ahead of the March state election.

Premier Mark McGowan and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery detailed how the initial stage of the four-year $25 million investment would be allocated.

  • South Regional TAFE will receive more than $1.1 million. The Collie campus will receive $670,000 to purchase a heavy vehicle simulator and automation training equipment.
  • More than $380,000 will go towards automation equipment for the Albany campus, including industrial process automation simulated plant and a programmable logic controller system.
  • A total of $300,000 will go to North Metropolitan TAFE for a common rail diesel trainer at its Midland campus and $593,000 for electromechanical training systems across the Balga, Clarkson and Midland campuses.
  • $1.4 million will go to South Metropolitan TAFE’s Carlisle campus to install large high-tech spray painting booths for panel beating.
  • $2 million will go to Central Regional TAFE’s Geraldton and Kalgoorlie campuses; for heavy plant equipment.
  • $178,000 will be allocated for nursing equipment at North Regional TAFE’s Pundulmurra campus and $1.4 million for hydrogen and renewable energy equipment at the Karratha campus.

Qld ombudsman recovers $1m from VET scammers and training colleges

Scammers and dodgy training providers have been targeted in a Queensland crackdown which has recovered more than $1 million handed over by students.

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said refunds and fee waivers have been issued to Queenslanders involved in VET following investigations by the Queensland Training Ombudsman (QTO).

“Since 2015, 2,036 complaints have been received, including training scams, false and misleading advertising and poor behaviour from Registered Training Organisations (RTOs),” Ms Farmer said.

“Almost 2,000 of these complaints were resolved, resulting in fee refunds and waivers worth more than $1 million.

Of the 392 complaints received in 2020-21, key issues included poor communication and enrolment disputes with RTOs, short duration of courses, issuing licences following the completion of a qualification and appropriate supervision for apprentices.

ACCC won't oppose Turnitin acquisition of Ouriginal

The ACCC has decided that it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Ouriginal by Turnitin.

The ACCC was initially concerned that the proposed acquisition would remove a significant and innovative competitor to Turnitin in the supply of anti-plagiarism software, in particular for higher education institutions.

However, the ACCC’s investigation found that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of anti-plagiarism software to Australian higher education customers.

“Turnitin is the dominant anti-plagiarism software provider in Australia,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“This is due largely to its superior technology and large database of previously submitted student papers and academic journals that are used to check submitted works for plagiarism.”

“Ouriginal, on the other hand, has a minimal presence in Australia with few customers and no Australian-based employees, and is not a significant competitive constraint on Turnitin,” Mr Ridgeway said.

Derek Scott appointed chair of ACARA

Derek Scott, the principal of the Melbourne private school, Haileybury, has been appointed chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

The Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said that Mr Scott brings significant professional expertise from his decades as a leader in the education sector, with a strong understanding of what affects teaching quality and student outcomes.

Mr Scott replaces Belinda Robinson as chair. He was appointed to the board of ACARA in January. He was a member of the Expert Panel of the Australian Government’s Quality Initial Teacher Education Review earlier this year.

The ‘why’ of TDA’s new partner, the Angus Knight Group

The Angus Knight Group is one of TDA’s new Corporate Affiliate partners, aligning with TAFEs’ mission to empower all Australians to thrive in employment, education and beyond, irrespective of their background.

Last month, Angus Knight ticked the 30-year milestone. Over that time, they have worked closely in communities, both metro and remote, to support over 1 million people into skills and jobs.

“From Day One, we’ve been passionate about working with communities and creating career pathways because we know it has the power to transform people’s lives. That’s our ‘Why’,” says eponymous founder, Duncan Angus.

The Angus Knight Group of 11 businesses offers services on behalf of the Australian Government, delivering more than 500 unique training, education, employment, and community development programs focussing on support for the long-term unemployed, people living with a disability, First Nations Australians, young, and mature-aged people.

Its largest employment service is Jobfind, a company in constant innovation mode to create new and connected pathways into skills and jobs for the most disadvantaged job seekers.

Partnering with employers and organisations like TDA empowers Jobfind to set bold goals. For example, Jobfind leads a consortium of 18 partners to tackle youth unemployment with the bold goal of placing 5000 young people into meaningful work for which TDA, on behalf of its member TAFEs, is a key consortium partner.

Watch the video on Jobfind’s website to learn more about their ‘Why’.

MD roles on offer at two WA TAFEs

Senior leadership positions are currently being advertised for two of Western Australia’s TAFE institutes.

A Managing Director role is available for Central Regional TAFE, which has campuses in Exmouth, Geraldton, Northam and Kalgoorlie. See more.

A Managing Director position is also available at North Regional TAFE, which is headquartered in Broome and has campuses at locations across the Kimberley and Pilbara. See more.

Applications for both positions close Monday 13 December.

Executive leadership roles available in the Pacific

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is seeking applications for two executive leadership roles in the Pacific region:

  • Executive Country Director PNG
  • Country Director, Vanuatu & Nauru

APTC is Australia’s flagship Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) investment in the Pacific. It has country offices in Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The Regional Head Office is located in Suva, Fiji.

APTC is managed by TAFE Queensland on behalf of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Applications close 11:59pm Fiji Time, Thursday, 2 December 2021

See more

Diary Dates

Applied Research in VET:  An International Perspective
World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Applied Research and Innovation Affinity Group
30 November 2021, 4.00 pm AEDT
Register here

TAFETalksApprenticeships Part 2: Supporting students to complete
TAFE Directors Australia
1 December 2021, 2.00 pm AEDT

Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group Annual Conference
‘People, place and time: developing the adaptive VET teacher’.
8 December 2021, 2-6 pm (Online)
More information

TAFETalks: Academic integrity in VET and Higher Education
2 February 2022
Dr Helen Gniel, Director, Higher Education Integrity Unit, TEQSA & Sharon Waitzer, Director Engagement and Education, ASQA

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
15-17 March 2022
Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania
More information

No Frills 2022
31st National VET Research Conference
6-8 July 2022
Save the date