Calling TAFEs to input into the national reform agenda – comment by Jenny Dodd

Calling TAFEs to input into the national reform agenda – comment by Jenny Dodd

One week into my interim role as CEO of TDA, I have participated in a lot of briefings and consultation discussions, mainly led by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE). Indeed, I thought I knew much of the agenda, but it seems I didn’t have the full grasp of everything that is happening. So, today for the benefit of all TAFEs, I thought I would summarise the main components, acknowledging that this does not fully encompass all that is on the agenda.

The three main parts of the national reform agenda include the Qualification reform, the Quality reform and industry engagement reform.
Let’s start with the Qualification reform. As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the TAFE CEO-Industry roundtable on Friday 27 August heard from the three Service Organisations regarding the pilots they are conducting in qualification design. To hear their presentations as well as the two Skills Service Organisations that were part of that industry engagement session, please read the next article and go to the link for the recording.

This is just part of the piece regarding qualification design. This week DESE has released a survey and times for a series of workshops on how new qualification design might work in practice (see the link in this newsletter below with a deadline of 20 September).

In terms of the second major reform, DESE has released a consultation draft of the proposed VET Workforce Quality Strategy. The development of the strategy occurred in the later part of last year and the first quarter of 2021. As per the DESE paper ‘Feedback from this consultation highlighted the importance of having high-quality trainers and assessors within RTOs …’ (page 3).

The four key themes raised in the consultations are summarised under the following headings: capability frameworks and professional standards, industry currency, professional development and support, and supporting learner cohorts. Feedback on the consultation draft of the proposed VET Workforce Quality Strategy is public and is due one week after the Qualification design feedback. You can use the link above to access the feedback spot.

The third part of the national reform concerns industry engagement. In my piece in the newsletter last week, we promised to share more of the presentations by the Service Organisations mentioned above. You will find a summary of their messages and the link to their presentations in the next part of this newsletter. They are an important part of the industry engagement and the qualification design review.

Additionally, in regards industry engagement, next week TDA will be briefed on the findings of the Transition Advisory Group (TAG) regarding recommended new industry engagement arrangements. You will have heard mention ‘Industry Clusters’, and this is part of the TAG proposal. The aim is to ensure that the design of training products has strong industry engagement. Next week we will outline these developments.

Finally, there are several other working groups, such as the Micro-credentials Working Group. We will focus in future newsletters on developments from these various working groups.

I encourage TAFEs to submit to the consultations or to contact the TDA Secretariat with perspectives that your TAFE would like represented.

It’s great Spring is here – for those of us in the Southern States and in lockdown the beautiful blue sky of last week makes all the difference. We hope all our students hang in there during this time. And we thank our workforces for continuing to deliver high quality training and assessment without always being able to access their training locations.

Connect and co-create – what industry organisations are saying

Over the next few weeks, we will share recordings from the recent virtual TAFE and Industry Roundtable held Friday 27 August 2021. These include an excellent, thought-provoking economic and social analysis by author and political commentator, George Megalogenis; inspiring TAFE case studies about partnering with industry and higher education providers; and insightful perspectives from Skills Organisations (SO) and Skills Service Organisations (SSO) on effective industry engagement.

This week’s recording focuses on what the SOs and SSOs said. Next week George’s recording will be available with a summary and we will conclude the following week with the four case studies of industry partnering with TAFEs.

The three SOs covering human services, digital technology, and mining, and two of the SSOs, Innovation Business Skills Australia (IBSA) and Australian Industry Standards, led a conversation about the criticality of industry engagement. They outlined their views about effective industry partnerships, priorities, challenges, and the role of TAFEs.

Common themes and messages include:

  • The need to better understand industry pain points and workforce demands and collaborate with employers and industry to address issues; important to demonstrate value to all employers be they small, medium or large;
  • Re-skilling and upskilling for employers are priorities; training needs to be flexible and agile to meet industry demand for skills;
  • Digital transformation is occurring in all industry sectors; need to focus on digital technology transition processes;
  • The need for a common language in training products and understanding digital skills pathways; opportunity to include digital capability in training products reviews;
  • Opportunities exist to better codify VET staff capabilities in digital technology;
  • The important of lifelong learning supports and opportunities;
  • Apprenticeships continue to be the bedrock of the skills system;
  • Mismatched qualifications still exist – need to work out how to use the TAFE and the VET systems more broadly; need flexible, stackable qualifications which include micro-credentials;
  • Better services needed before, during and after training to engender a culture of lifelong learning;
  • Need TAFEs for digital transformation and lifelong learning opportunities – leave no worker behind in the existing workforce;
  • TAFEs continue to have an important role to play in skills building but must be flexible, responsive and timely;
  • Align and collaborate with TAFEs – the TAFE sector is very important in digital upskilling.

Watch the video

Qualifications reform consultations open

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is inviting consultation on qualifications reform through a survey that is open until September 20.

The Qualifications Reform Survey seeks feedback on how new qualification design concepts might work in practice.

The department is also holding two webinars to discuss qualification design concepts and provide an opportunity to ask questions about the reform and the new approach to qualification design.

The webinar dates and registration details are at:

COVID saw apprentice 'suspensions' surge, but jobs saved

More than 9,000 apprentices had their training contracts suspended in the first six months of last year when the COVID pandemic first hit Australia, according to a new report by NCVER.

The report, ‘Apprentices and trainees 2020: impacts of COVID-19 on training activity’ shows that while suspensions skyrocketed in March, April and May, they did not translate into widespread job losses, as government support measures kicked in.

“The spikes in contract suspensions are not surprising, given business closures during lockdowns and other disruptions to work-based learning,” NCVER said. “The scale of the increase is stark, however.”

The number of suspensions is typically stable at less than 500 a month, but climbed to a staggering 9,150 from March to May last year.

“The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had (and still has) the potential to cause large-scale job losses among apprentices and trainees,” NCVER said. “However, this is not reflected in the data to date.”

Instead, fewer contracts were cancelled in 2020 compared with 2019, largely as a result of the JobKeeper and Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy programs.

As would be expected, apprentice commencements also dropped between March and May last year, but then then staged a recovery in June, before surging in October with the introduction of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy (the red line in the diagram below).

ASQA's corporate plan reflects new approach to regulation

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has released its latest corporate plan, which reflects feedback from a wide range of stakeholders.

The Corporate Plan 2021-22 sets out ASQA’s strategic direction over the next four years and is based on six key “strategic deliverables” – designed to encourage accountability, transparency, mutual respect and continuous improvement, within a risk-based and proportionate approach to regulation.

CEO Saxon Rice, in her message says ASQA is conscious of the impact of COVID-19 and its ongoing effects on the sector, particularly on methods of training delivery, access to work placements and delivery to international students.

“As an agency, both internally and in support of the sector, we have enhanced our engagement and responded with resilience, flexibility, agility, transparency of information and improved understanding of risk,” Ms Rice said.

The plan outlines ASQA’s shift in its regulatory stance “away from input and compliance controls to a focus on self-assurance and excellence in training outcomes, enabled by improved engagement with all stakeholders and expanded use of education as a regulatory tool.”

Careers NSW seeking feedback and industry volunteers

Careers NSW is inviting feedback on the shape of its emerging careers advisory service in the state, and is also looking for industry volunteers to provide a key part of the service.

Careers NSW was a recommendation of the Gonski-Shergold review in the state, and will provide career guidance to all NSW residents at any stage in their career.

In order to better understand the critical elements of the service, Careers NSW is seeking views through this website. It is keen to know what elements of a career advisory service would be essential to the success of the program.

Careers NSW is also looking for industry volunteers who can provide a few hours a month to speak to clients about their experiences and the skills and capabilities needed to succeed in their industry.

More information about the volunteer roles including an application form and contact information are available here.

VDC Teaching & Learning Conference 18 & 19 November 2021

The VET Development Centre (VDC) continues its 15-year tradition of providing one of Australia’s leading Teaching and Learning Conferences for VET practitioners from public, private and community providers. This year’s virtual event will once again be an engaging and professionally enriching experience.

This is an exciting opportunity, no matter where you are located, to join the 2021 VDC Virtual Teaching & Learning Conference online which will explore the theme of Creativity, Connectivity, Productivity.

The 2021 Conference program consists of highly interactive virtual professional learning sessions as well as high-profile keynote presentations examining how Creativity, Connectivity, Productivity influence the teaching workspace and engagement with students in the VET sector.

Register now to attend

Work starts on Broome TAFE's $11m skills centre

Construction has started on a new specialist tourism, hospitality, hair and beauty training centre at North Regional TAFE’s Broome campus in Western Australia’s Kimberley.

The $11.6 million Hospitality and Student Services Centre will include a new centre to upskill workers for the region’s hospitality and tourism industries, and an industry-standard salon to provide simulated training for students.

Designed locally by Engawa Architects, the buildings will be linked by an outdoor meeting place, and will include a training restaurant and alfresco café, providing a welcome boost to hospitality and tourism training.

Construction will be carried out by local Broome building company H&M Tracey and completion is expected next July.

Regional skills summits take off in WA

Western Australia has kicked off the first in a series of regional skills summits that will take place across the state.

The first of the skills summits was in Bunbury in the state’s south-west, with more than 40 business leaders, peak bodies, unions, government agencies and training representatives attending.

Another nine regional skills summits are planned, and follow the Perth Skills Summit in July.

The government says the regional summits will help inform decisions about training and investment needs.

Diary Dates

2021 National VET Conference
Velg Training
9 – 19 September 2021
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

Victorian TAFE Association
2021 State Conference: ‘Connecting the Dots’
16 – 17 September 2021 (virtual)
More information

National Symposium on the Student Experience
University of Melbourne
17 September 2021
More information

Human Services Workforce Forum Adelaide
22 September 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Employers / Service Providers – 1:30pm (Online event)

Human Services Workforce Forum Adelaide
23 September 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Training Organisations – 1.30pm (Online)

Human Services Workforce Forum NT
27 September 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Training Organisations – 9.30am
Employers / Service Providers – 1.30pm

Australian International Education Conference 2021
5 – 8 October 2021
Gold Coast & Online
More information

Human Services Workforce Forum Melbourne
7 October 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Employers – 9.30am
Training Organisations – 1.30pm

Human Services Workforce Forum Sydney
14 October 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Employers / Service Providers – 9.30am
Training Organisations – 1.30pm

Human Services Workforce Forum Canberra
26 October 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Employers / Service Providers – 1.30pm (Online event)

Human Services Workforce Forum Canberra
27 October 2021
Register your interest in attending this event via the below links:
Training Organisations – 1.30pm (Online event)

Australian Training Awards
18 November 2021
Perth, Western Australia
More information
2021 VDC Virtual Teaching & Learning Conference
VET Development Centre
18 – 19 November 2021 (Online)
More information

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