Breaking down the ‘rules’ – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Breaking down the ‘rules’ – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Australia has a first-class vocational education and training system. It is not broken, as some suggest, but it certainly needs a refresh. Can this be achieved in what has largely become a very rule driven vocational education system?

In his personal submission to the Universities Accord and as interviewed on ABC RN Breakfast last Thursday, Professor Brian Schmidt from ANU suggests higher education and vocational education (VET) are too “siloed away from each other”. Professor Schmidt states, VET is driven by global standards making it “too slow and ponderous to react”.

He went on to say we need a “more agile and sophisticated university and vocational education system” because “technology will permeate through culture in ways hard to know in advance”. As a response, institutions will need “more ability to steer their institutions where they want”.

Professor Schmidt suggests there will be a “big skills gap for the future with skills later in life important”. This will include institutions being able to create the “right programs with business” that contain both vocational education and higher education programs.

In TDA’s submission to the Universities Accord we also propose that better connections between higher education and vocational education are needed. TDA has suggested previously in this newsletter that we need a single tertiary education system.

TDA’s first recommendation is to “establish one tertiary education system where VET and higher education are equally funded and equally valued – remove use of ‘higher’ and ‘vocational’ education. Move to a single tertiary education policy direction that provides stable direction focusing on adults. Adults will need to acquire skills, knowledge, and additional accreditation throughout their working lives (about 50 years).”

TDA has an additional recommendation that is consistent with Professor Schmidt’s view. “Provide innovation funding to universities as part of their compacts that must contain TAFE partnerships and a focus on industry. These compacts would be long term and would encourage education solutions, such as the creation of dual qualifications with both TAFE and university components that meet specific industry needs.”

Professor Schmidt was asked by ABC RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas whether the Government has the appetite for these changes. Professor Schmidt pondered that question, suggesting there does seem to be interest in better linkages between higher education and vocational education.

TDA believes that unless the ‘rules’ that so tightly govern VET are relaxed none of this will be possible. TDA agrees with Professor Schmidt, that means giving institutions more control.

MYOB becomes TDA corporate affiliate

TDA is pleased to announce that leading business management platform, MYOB, has become its latest corporate affiliate.

As a corporate affiliate, MYOB has the opportunity to work with TAFEs to develop curriculum and training materials that incorporate real-world examples and scenarios, making training more relevant and engaging for students, and better aligned with the needs of industry.

Chief Executive of TDA, Jenny Dodd, said the partnership will help ensure that students are familiar with the digital tools and solutions used by businesses in the real world.

MYOB Education Manager, Tricia Andrews, said: “Collaborating more closely with TAFEs is a key objective for us, and being able to support their national body on their purpose is an exciting opportunity to both further engage TAFE educators and enhance education-industry collaboration.”

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JSA to deliver clean energy study by mid-year

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has outlined its approach to the Clean Energy Workforce Capacity Study – one of its first major projects since being established.

The initial terms of reference for the study indicate a broad scope of inquiry, but with a tight deadline. An interim report will be issued in May and a final report by July.

The study will include an overview of the current state of the clean energy workforce, including demographics, geography, composition, occupations, skill level, job mobility, numbers of employers, job vacancies, pay and working conditions, apprenticeship numbers, reliance on international specialists, and safety and licensing standards.

It will aim to identify demand and supply of clean energy roles over 10, 20 and 30 years.

A project steering group, comprising federal and state governments, industry bodies, employers, unions, universities, and training providers will review the terms of reference.

Dr Ross Digby from Holmesglen Institute in Victoria will represent all TAFEs on the steering committee. Additionally, JSA and TDA will facilitate a workshop with 15 TAFE experts on Wednesday 3 May to start the ball rolling into this capacity study.

TAFETalks: A Global Perspective: Understanding the European skills ecosystem and its implications for Australia

Join the next TAFETalks where TDA and guest speakers from the European Commission will discuss the use of skills ecosystems in the European Union (EU). Following the successful international panel at last November’s TDA Convention 2022, TAFETalks will explore the intricacies of the European skills ecosystem at a local level.

You will hear from European experts about their innovative approaches to EU VET policy objectives, specifically how they involve both employers and students.

To register, please click here

Foundation skills discussion paper released

The federal government has released a discussion paper that will form the basis of a landmark study into foundation skills.

Releasing the paper, the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor described as “shocking” the fact that around one-in-five Australian adults lack basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

The foundation skills study will be undertaken by Jobs and Skills Australia, with three elements:

  • a survey to assess current literacy, numeracy and digital skills levels
  • a feasibility study into how best to assess the literacy, numeracy and digital literacy levels of First Nations Australians
  • analysis of Commonwealth administrative and other data to drill down into the results for priority groups.

The discussion paper is open for consultation. Submissions close next Monday.

Initial findings of the study are expected at the end of next year.

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

‘Limited time’ training package assurance function established in DEWR

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has established the independent training package assurance function which will have the task of assessing training package products developed by the Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs).

However, it is only an interim measure until a long term solution is found.

To ensure the independence of the assurance function, DEWR says it will be led by a non-statutory appointed Executive Director and kept separate from the area responsible for managing the JSCs.

Recruitment is underway to establish an experienced assurance team.

“These arrangements will be in place for a limited time, to allow time for the JSCs and Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) to become established before a decision is made on where to house the Assurance Function long-term,” DEWR says.

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NSW's top education official departs

NSW Premier Chris Minns has introduced changes to the senior ranks of the public service that will see a new Secretary of the Department of Education.

Mr Minns announced that Georgina Harrisson, Secretary of the Department of Education, will leave the public service.

Murat Dizdar, currently Deputy Secretary, School Performance, was appointed Acting Secretary with immediate effect, while the permanent role is advertised.

The changes also saw the departure of the head of Treasury, Paul Grimes, and the head of Transport, Rob Sharp.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet will also be dissolved as of 1 July and replaced by a Cabinet Office and a new separate Premier’s Department. The Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Michael Coutts-Trotter will act as head of Treasury until a replacement is made.

“We have a strong team of Ministers and I want them supported by excellent public service advice and high-quality Cabinet decision-making processes,” Mr Minns said.

See full details

TAFE micro-credentials initiative sets international  benchmark

The Victorian TAFE Association (VTA) recently launched the Victorian TAFE International Micro-credential Framework and an initial 30 micro-credentials.

With funding from the Victorian Government, VTA worked with Educonomy, a Melbourne based edtech consultancy, to develop the micro-credential framework, which includes instruction, templates and guidance on how to design and develop micro-credentials. On completion of the framework, an initial 30 micro-credentials were developed across eight disciplines by the participating Victorian TAFEs.

These high-quality products, aimed at an international audience, position Victoria as a world-class provider of online learning.

The Micro-credential Framework took out the Platinum Award for Best Learning Model – Future Learning at the 2022 LearnX Awards.

Educonomy will be presenting a session at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) in Montreal, sharing the success and initial outcomes of the framework.

Friends of international education show their support

A big  ‘thank you’ to the International Education Association of Australia for the excellent Parliamentary Friends of International Education launch at Parliament House in Canberra in March.

There were contributions from Education Minister Jason Clare, the Labor Member for Bruce, Julian Hill, and the Liberal Member for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie, on the importance of international education to Australia.

It was great to see the genuine bipartisan acknowledgement of this vitally important sector and the organisations that make it such a success.

Industry Boost – TAFE early childhood forum

Registrations are now open for the upcoming TAFE Early Childhood industry currency Forum in May. Don’t let your educators miss out on this unique opportunity to boost their industry currency!

Industry Expert Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia advocates for quality care, social justice and equity in all issues relating to the education and care of children from birth to eight years and publishes the Australian Journal of Early Childhood.

By attending this industry forum, early childhood educators can discuss upcoming changes in early childcare with Sam and boost their industry currency to improve student outcomes in an area with skills shortages.

The online forum will be on Friday 5 May from 2pm to 4.30pm AEST. Registration is $150 inc GST. Further details can be found at TAFE Industry Boost – VDC

All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.

See the flyer.

TEQSA helping to manage artificial intelligence

TEQSA has put together a range of resources to help higher education providers to address some of the challenges posed by artificial intelligence (AI).

The material addresses key issues such as academic integrity, assessment, incorporating AI in to classes, engaging with students about AI, international approaches, and understanding generative AI.

There is also good practice advice from other sources.

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Extended transition for finance, disability and ‘White Card’ qualifications

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has approved an extended transition period for CHC43115 Certificate IV in Disability for delivery to currently enrolled students only until 31 July 2024.

It has also approved an extended transition for CPCCWHS1001 Prepare to work safely in the construction industry (White Card) until 31 July 2023.

A number of qualifications in the Financial Services training package have been extended to 31 January 2024 for continuing students only.

The qualification CPP40516 Certificate IV in Strata Community Management has been extended to 23 March 2024 for currently enrolled students.

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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 Centre
More Information