Alignment of thinking – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Alignment of thinking – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

During last week the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training held public inquiries into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training (VET). TDA made a submission and a presentation. The TDA submission can be downloaded from the TDA website.

In previous newsletters I have written about TDA’s perspective that Australia needs one tertiary education sector. Tertiary education needs to be distinguished from secondary education. In the submission we stated, “Any information or advice provided to students should be presented in the context of their options within secondary or tertiary education and not a choice between VET and higher education. One pathway should not preclude another. This will be achieved through commitment to a tertiary education sector”.

In preparing to present at the inquiry I read several other submissions. It was interesting to reflect how many other submitters held a similar view. For example, the Business Council of Australia wrote, “as part of building a culture of lifelong learning, we must create a genuinely joined up and interoperable post-secondary system that will expand learning and career options available to Australians and provide more choice and control in the skills and education pathways they take.” While the Australian Industry Group’s (AiG) Centre for Education and Training submission reminded those conducting the inquiry that AiG has been a “vocal proponent of a tertiary education sector that establishes both vocational education and training, and higher education on a more sure and even footing”.

The Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) submission contained some interesting data. For example, “34.5% of employed persons across all occupations had a VET qualification as their highest education level. … VET qualified workers are found across all broad occupational groups. They are more prominent in the Technicians and Trades Workers and the Community and Personal Service Workers occupations, but it is important to recognise that VET-qualified workers account for more than 30% of those employed in all broad occupational groups except Sales Workers and Professionals”.

JSA went on to state that “holding at least one VET qualification is becoming more common in the labour force”. This information is important to the argument for a more joined up tertiary education sector. If there are growing numbers of adults with at least one VET qualification, then connections between higher education and VET need to be enabled. We also know that at least 20% of students enrolled in VET already hold a bachelor degree.

These inquiries are pivotal to progressing thinking about how to improve opportunities for adults to learn throughout their working lives. TDA was pleased to provide a perspective, and is also pleased that that perspective is consistent with the thinking of key industry groups.

Have a safe Easter, reader – the TDA newsletter will be having a break next week – we look forward to being back with you on Monday 17 April.

Apprentice numbers dip from recent peak 

The number of apprentices and trainees ‘in-training’ fell from their near-decade high in the final months of last year, according to the NCVER.

There were 402 245 apprentices and trainees in-training as at the September quarter 2022, an increase of 49,515 from the previous year, but down 25,505 from the June quarter when it hit 427,750, the highest since March 2013.

There was a fall of more than 46,000 in commencements in the September quarter to 29,420.

Cancellations have also been climbing steadily, reaching almost 33,000 in the September quarter, up from a low of 15,000 in the June quarter 2020.

Apprentices and trainees ‘in-training’, Australia
Source: NCVER

Encouraging signs of women entering new energy apprenticeships

More women are enrolling in the federal government’s new energy apprenticeship scheme in its first few months, according to evidence to the committee inquiring into perceptions of VET.

Clare Sharp, Acting Deputy Secretary, Skills and Training Group with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations told the inquiry that there is an ongoing challenge in both attracting women to the trades and getting them to stay.

“These are problems that a lot of these construction trades in particular have not cracked,” Ms Sharp said.

“Electrical is doing better than other trades, which is to say that its female cohort is not sitting below five per cent of all of its employees. It’s now above that, but it’s still very low.

“In relation to clean energy, we’re now rolling out the new energy apprenticeships. So far – and this is three months in – we’ve got eight-and-a-half per cent take-up by women,” she said.

“It’s low, but it is slightly higher than the rest of the construction industry. We are tracking that really carefully in this first rollout to see what else we need to do to increase it.”

TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity

This virtual event will focus on the important themes of access, inclusion and equity in TAFE. It is aimed at educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders interested in improving TAFE education and creating opportunities.

The event will be hosted on Zoom and will take place on 31 May 2023 from 12pm to 5pm AEST. It free for all participants. Sessions have been designed for both educators and staff.

TAFE Opens Doors will feature a rich program with a variety of speakers and presentation types, including the opening keynote panel on TAFEs and First Nations Peoples. This panel will be delivered by Professor Peter Radoll, DVC of Victoria University, and Leanne Bell, Faculty Manager of TAFE Queensland and Reconciliation Action Plan Chair.

Click here for more information or register now to be a part of the discussion

WA's $5.4m METRONET training centre open

Western Australia’s $5.4 million METRONET Trade Training Centre has been completed and is welcoming students.

The training centre, at North Metropolitan TAFE’s Midland campus, was built to support training for jobs in the rail industry. The first group of electrical rail signalling trainees are now using the facility.

Developed in consultation with industry, the facility includes rail signalling workshops, a dual-track level crossing, a maintenance track and crossover, and a signalling equipment room to enable hands-on training.

Cloud Skills for TAFE by Amazon Web Services

Don’t miss the three-part series by AWS Australia to learn more about cloud technology upskilling and careers in Australia, building upon TDA’s TAFETalks on “Closing the Digital Skills Gap”

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Australia is hosting a three-part webinar series, Cloud Skills for TAFE, to help TAFE educators, tech leaders, and students upskill and explore cloud technology careers in Australia. Part 1 covers how to incorporate AWS Academy in your curriculum with examples from across Australia. Part 2 provides free on-demand resources for continued cloud learning. Part 3 offers practical advice and success stories from former TAFE students who now work at AWS. Register via the provided form to attend.

To register please complete this form. For more information, please click the link. If you have questions, you can reach the AWS team at

Federal government reviewing apprentice support network

The question of whether the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) is delivering value for money is currently being evaluated by the federal government.

The Acting Deputy Secretary, Skills and Training Group at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Clare Sharp, told the House of Representatives inquiry into VET, “We are doing quite a significant look at that at the moment.”

“At the Jobs and Skills Summit, the government announced that it wanted to review the way the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network was running,” Ms Sharp said.

“We issued a consultation paper on that in November. We got lots of submissions and lots of roundtables. We’re now looking at the model we go forward with.

“It’s due to be recontracted, so there’s a real opportunity to look at whether it is delivering bang for buck and what changes would be best if you were going to make some.”

VET Development Centre Industry Boost – TAFE Industry Currency Forums throughout 2023


The VET Development Centre (VDC) has partnered with TDA to deliver a national program of TAFE Industry Currency Forums in 2023.

The Industry Boost program provides a high-profile, best practice initiative to stimulate industry currency for TAFE educators. Mapped to the VET Practitioner Capability Framework and ASQA standards, online forums will be hosted by an experienced AQTF auditor, discussing the industry currency requirements of educators.

For more information about the TAFE Industry Currency Forums please click here.

Registration links for the first three sessions can be found at EARLY CHILDHOOD, DENTAL ELECTRICAL

Diary Dates

VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
May to June 2023
More information: Child Care, Electrical, Dental Assistant

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

TAFE Opens Doors: a focused discussion on access and equity
VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
31 May 2023 Online 12 – 5pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
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

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
26 – 28 July 2023 – save the date
Mildura, Victoria

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023 – save the date
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

VDC National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023 – save the date
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

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

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition C