AI will impact TAFE educators; what do you need to know? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

AI will impact TAFE educators; what do you need to know? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

There are some moments at work which make you draw breath and think – this is a game changer! Last week was one of those weeks for me. No, it was not the latest in the constancy of VET reform that caused me to have that reaction. It was the discussions in the media, and with colleagues far and wide, about the impact of artificial intelligence on the work we do in TAFE.

Last week I read lots of thoughts on this development. Bill Gates in the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday (24th) said he “saw huge potential benefits for health and education”. Although Gates also said, “there will be a lot of angst about the fact that AI is targeting white-collar work”. Others have had doom and gloom predictions, in particular on the academic integrity side. And some universities have stated they are going to return to paper-based exams to manage this phenomenon.

No doubt many of you by now are across ChatGPT. What is it? Well, I asked ChatGPT itself the question, “If I was to describe ChatGPT to educators of vocational education and training what would I say” … this is what it produced for me in less than a minute:

“ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model that can generate human-like text. It can be used by teachers of vocational education and training to assist in creating engaging and interactive lessons and quizzes, provide instant feedback and answer to student’s questions and give support for research. It can also be used as a tool for automated assessments, and it can be integrated with different learning management systems. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used to generate resources such as worksheets, summaries, and other types of learning materials. It’s a tool that can be useful to save time, improve the quality of the learning experience and personize the education of students.”

It took me longer to copy that than it did for ChatGPT to generate the content.

At the start of the academic year, join TDA and our guests Claire Field and Suneeti Rekhari at our next TAFETalks on Wednesday 8 February to discuss ChatGPT along with other education technology developments. You can register in this newsletter.

But what of the risk if students submit their work using ChatGPT, I hear you say. How will I know it’s their work? So, who (where?) better to ask than ChatGPT itself – below is what I received.

“One way for teachers of vocational education and training to recognize student work that has been generated by ChatGPT is to look for patterns or inconsistencies in the language and style of the writing. Chat GPT’s generated text may lack the same level of nuance and complexity as work written by a human, an may have a more formulaic of repetitive structure.

Another way is to compare the student’s work with the original source material, if any, used to train the model. ChatGPT can generate text based on a given prompt or source text, and teachers may notice similarities in the wording or phrasing between the student’s work and the original source material.

Another way is to use plagiarism detection tools, these tools can compare the student’s work with a large database of text, and highlight any similarities between the student’s work and existing text.

It’s also important for teachers to set clear guidelines for using AI-generated text, and make sure students understand the limitation of such tools and the importance of originality in their work.

It’s important to note that AI-generated text may be useful as a learning aid, but it should not be used as a replacement  for original student work. Teachers should encourage students to use AI-generated text as a starting point for their own writing, as opposed to simply copying and pasting it into their work.”

I guess I failed that last bit – I’ve copied and pasted, but at least I attributed. This certainly is a potential game changer!

Jobs and Skills Australia's first big task – modelling an 'energy superpower' future

Australia has the potential to reap the benefits of a transition to net zero emissions and become a renewable energy superpower, with major employment gains, according to the Director of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) , Professor Peter Dawkins.

In his first major outline of JSA’s priorities, Professor Dawkins told last week’s TAFETalks webinar that the clean energy revolution is at the top of his, and the government’s, target initiatives.

“What we will be doing is looking at the jobs that will be needed for Australia to transition to net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Professor Dawkins revealed he has met with Professor Ross Garnaut, the author of the government’s 2007 climate change review, to discuss the implications of the government’s energy transition.

“That superpower scenario is one that we’ll be looking at, and it’s really an exciting future for Australia if we follow that scenario. There’ll be huge numbers of jobs created in places that people are quite pessimistic about at the moment.”

He cited areas of mining and downstream manufacturing as major beneficiaries and predicted that many of the new jobs could be in regional Australia.

“We don’t know what the future will hold, so we’ll be looking at a number of scenarios and modelling the skill needs under these different scenarios. TAFE will obviously be critical in meeting many of those skill needs,” he said.

Professor Dawkins said part of JSA’s role will be to take a “helicopter view of the national skill system”, across areas such as VET, higher education and migration.

“One of the advantages of Jobs and Skills Australia is that we’ve got we’ve got this ability to look at the way in which it all fits together.”

Professor Dawkins stressed the importance of embedding gender equity into the agency’s work, “not just as an add-on”.

“Were giving a lot of thought about how to do that because there are some serious gender equity issues in the training and skills system.”

Working with the ten new Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) is a key part of the agency’s function. This will entail JSA providing intelligence on skills needs in the context of the Australian Skills Classification, and to help the JSCs to drive change to training packages.

“And of course we monitor the success that students have had from existing qualifications – and where there are problems – that will also feed into them.

“So, I think we are expected to be a key adviser of the Jobs and Skills Councils, and I suspect, to review what’s coming out of them and to try and make sure the whole thing works.”

Professor Dawkins observed the trend toward greater work integrated learning that has been a consequence of the tight labour market.

“Now that were close to full employment and labour is scarce, employers are hiring school leavers into jobs that previously they were hiring experienced workers into. That forces them effectively into a cadetship-type role because they have to learn on-the-job.”

Another of JSA’s priorities will be on foundation skills, with the agency to undertake a major study in 2024.

Profiling the Jobs and Skills Councils – the Finance, Technology and Business JSC

The TDA Newsletter is profiling each of the ten new Jobs and Skills Councils. This week, we look at the Finance, Technology and Business JSC.

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) has been selected to enter Stage 1 of the process to become a Jobs and Skills Council and, if selected, will build on the experience gained as a skills pilot to take on this role.

DSO are mindful of the scope of this Council, the challenges this will bring as well as the opportunities to work with industry and training providers to drive the improvements which they know are now possible. The name of the organisation will change to reflect the expanded scope and new people will be welcomed to the team who will have the experience across the sector to help us. We also have a strategic partnership in place with PwC Skills for Australia who have many years of experience as a Skills Service Organisation (SSO) with responsibility for the Finance, Technology and Business sectors.

The first body of work which we will focus on is the generation of the workforce and skills assessment for the sectors. This is the foundational assessment, developed in collaboration with Industry, training providers and Governments, which will guide on the key gaps to be addressed and will inform the decisions taken by the Government about which activities they will invest in. This plan must reflect your needs, and to capture your views we will build on the established TAFE/DSO working group which has been successfully operating over the last couple of years.

Finance, Business and Technology (FBT) impact all parts of the Australian economy, and the modern workforce need skills across all of these areas, albeit at different levels of proficiency. This is reflected in VET enrolments; in 2021 approximately 17% of these were for Finance, Technology and Business qualifications. In DSO’s work as a Jobs and Skills Council, they are acutely aware of the responsibility to collaborate effectively and specifically to engage across industry to ensure we understand their needs. A key part of the work will be how to  engage with the other Jobs and Skills Councils.

We are also mindful as to how quickly things are changing with the march of technology and the impact this will have for how people are trained. Common to all sectors are the need for people with greater digital skills, as well as cyber awareness. Artificial intelligence will provide new opportunities for everyone to work in different ways. We know that regulation and compliance will continue to be a point of focus for the financial sector. All businesses will need people who can be great programme managers. These changes will impact every industry.

The core DSO team you will work with includes the following professionals. The CEO, Patrick Kidd OBE OAM (pictured), who brings substantial experience in training, stakeholder management and digital transformation following a 30-year career in the Army. The Director, Operations and Delivery, Alison Wall, who has over 20 years’ experience working in the VET sector,  gaining experience across roles in RTOs and state and national government agencies. The Director, Growth and Engagement, Ross Raeburn, leveraging 20 plus years’ experience in leading digital marketing agencies, focused on developing  intelligent and influential engagement. The Director, Strategy and Planning, Dr. Geethani Nair, who has 25 years’ experience within the Australian VET sector across technology training, ICT management, VET leadership and education.

From this point we are keen to continue to build closer relationships with TAFEs as well as the other registered providers to provide advice and inform our thinking. Please register as a Collaborator to receive information. You can also visit here for more information.

Posthumous Australia Day honour for Peter Noonan

The late Emeritus Professor Peter Noonan has been awarded an Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours.

The renowned academic, author and architect of much of the modern VET system, who died last April, was made a Member (AM) in the Order of Australia for significant service to education in a range of roles.

Also awarded an AM was higher education specialist, Dr Don Markwell for significant service to education.

Dr Bob Morgan, a highly respected Aboriginal educator and researcher who has been a longstanding member of Hunter Institute of TAFE’s Community Advisory Board was made an Officer (AO).

Deborah Beck, a historian, writer and artist who taught Fine Arts for many years at TAFE NSW was awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia

Also awarded an OAM was Patricia Ellis, a longstanding coordinator and teacher in the Aboriginal units at Moruya and Bega campuses of TAFE NSW.

Sarah Newton, a former Senior Manager at Chisholm Institute of TAFE was also awarded an OAM.

TAFETalks: The Future of Learning: ChatGPT, Edtech, and the Impact on Academic Integrity

Join TDA for an exciting TAFETalks webinar on ‘The Future of Learning: ChatGPT, Edtech, and the Impact on Academic Integrity.’ Learn about ChatGPT, a large language model developed by OpenAI, its capabilities, potential future developments, and its incorporation in education.

We’ll also discuss affordability issues, privacy concerns, and the impact on the workforce and skills development with a focus on the role of Jobs and Skills Councils. Plus, find out how AI is being used for personalised learning and assessment in vocational education and training, with a sneak peek of the latest advancements in AR/VR technology.

To register for this event, please click here

Report identifies what's different about VET in regional areas

The first major report by Jobs and Skills Australia has examined the characteristics of VET in regional, rural and remote areas, including the type of industries, qualifications and the issue of completion rates.

The report, Vocational education and training in regional, rural and remote Australia, was commenced by the former National Skills Commission, and completed by JSA.

It says that training in the regions is driven to a large extent by local industries with higher enrolments in agricultural and engineering-related training.

VET students in regional and remote areas are more likely to undertake lower-level qualifications than those in major cities. In particular, students in remote areas a more likely to undertake qualifications at the Certificate II and below level (32% of enrolments compared to 24% for all Australia).

The report identifies several challenges related to regional and remote VET delivery, including lower average enrolments in any given qualification, potentially large travel distances, fewer training providers in the market and, consequently, a larger reliance on a smaller number of registered training organisations (RTOs).

It also finds that students in regional and remote areas generally have lower completion rates. While completion rates for inner and outer regional areas are similar, lower completion rates are observed for remote and very remote areas.

Good practice framework to support VET in the regions

Last week we reported on a new report prepared by Outpost Consulting on the support available to students in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas.

The report found that many training providers are doing an “excellent job” of proactively supporting and including RRR students.

However, it noted that services are patchy across the diverse range of providers in the tertiary sector, and many are looking for new ideas and approaches to bolster their offerings.

One of the particularly valuable elements of the study is the Good Practice Framework, designed to support knowledge sharing within and between providers. It also includes examples of practice and resources that will aid improvement.

Inaugural VDC sustainability fellowship for VET practitioners

The VET Development Centre (VDC) is delighted to announce the launch of the VDC Sustainability Fellowship for VET Practitioners.

Working in partnership with the International Specialised Skills Institute (ISS Institute), VDC is funding the VDC International Sustainability Fellowship (travel) and the VDC International Sustainability Fellowship (desktop). The Fellowship program focuses on developing opportunities within the VET sector to support sustainable practices and innovation to generate long term social and environmental benefits.

The travel fellowship involves travelling abroad to research new skills and best practice in areas such as clean and alternative energy, upcycling, recycling, innovative technologies and sustainable processes and procedures, then disseminate the findings to the Australian VET sector upon return.

The desktop fellowship provides the opportunity for VET practitioners to learn international best practice without travel. The ideal candidate has a strong research agenda that can be conducted online and/or within Australia.

Applications are open to VET practitioners who are employed within a national Registered Training Organisation, including TAFEs and private RTOs and are Australian permanent residents or citizens over the age of 18, living in any state or territory in Australia.

Applications close 31 March 2023. Follow the travel or desktop links or visit for further information.

Australia signs international higher education treaty

Australia has ratified the new UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education, a treaty that aims to improve international opportunities for institutions and students.

Australia’s involvement will ensure that students who study with Australian education institutions will have their qualifications recognised in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner around the world.

Signature of the Global Convention is an outcome under the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said being part of the global convention will boost international recognition of Australia’s world-class, vocational education and training graduates.

The Minister for Education Jason Clare said the 1.4 million students who study at Australian universities each year can have greater confidence that their Australian qualification, whether undertaken onshore, offshore or online, will be recognised in other countries.

See more

DEWR webinars to explain qualifications reform

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is hosting two public webinars on Reforming the VET Qualifications.

The Australian, state and territory governments are working together to develop a new model for VET training products. The reforms are to ensure that training products are relevant to labour market needs.

The webinars on February 15 and 16  will provide information about the proposed reforms to the model. It will also help people respond to the online Proposed Qualification Model Survey.

The webinars provide the opportunity to have your questions about the proposed reforms answered.

See more

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: The Future of Learning: ChatGPT, Edtech, and the Impact on Academic Integrity
8 February 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education
Eroding the Social Role of Vocational Education in Australia
10 February, 2023, 8:00 – 9:30 AM AEST (QLD)
More information

Universities Australia Conference 2023
22-23 February 2023
National Convention Centre, Canberra
More information

TAFETalks: Women’s Leadership in Times of Crisis
8 March 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

AVETRA 2023 Conference
27-28 April 2023
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 World Congress
23-25 April 2023
Montréal, Canada
More information

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

2023 VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
17-18 August 2023 – save the date

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast
More Information