Celebrating another year – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Celebrating another year – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

As we enter the last working week of 2023, I reflect on what a big year it has been. This year has delivered significant wins. Some of these are the new National Skills Agreement, the clean energy capacity study led by Jobs and Skills Australia, and the successful delivery of the first year of fee-free TAFE in every State and Territory.

As we move into 2024 there are many exciting initiatives and innovations to tackle such as getting the TAFE Centres of Excellence up and running, contributing to the ten-year foundation skills strategy, responding to directions resulting from the Universities Accord, and cementing TAFEs’ contributions as key stakeholders with our partners, the Jobs and Skills Councils.

And then, of course, there will be the introduction of new compliance requirements and qualification structures that will direct the attention of all TAFEs, such as the outcomes of the Qualification design committee, the RTO standards and ASQA’s new model that proposes to differentiate between high trust providers and others. We are all interested to see where these matters will land.

These big-ticket items focus a lot of the attention of the TDA secretariat. However, last week what really stimulated me was witnessing the amazing leadership coming from within TAFEs. Among other examples, it was the collaboration and commitment to excellence in learning and teaching in the development of learning design and building assets and resources together that TAFE NSW and TAFE Queensland shared during the final meeting of the TAFE Australia Product Network that really rocked my boat.

As TAFEs, education is core to what we do. Therefore, when great learning design is on display that is to be celebrated. When that learning has resulted from huge levels of collaboration and commitment by individuals from different organisations that is truly commendable. This bodes well for the success of TAFE Centres of Excellence and the national TAFE leadership network.

This is a good place to end 2023 – celebrating great learning design and commitment to exemplary and collaborative teaching. If you want to find out more, come to TDA Convention 2024 in Sydney on 8 and 9 May. The link to prepare a proposal to present is here.

TDA will be closed from the end of Friday until Tuesday 16 January. The first TDA newsletter will be Monday 29 January.

Thank you to all who read the TDA newsletter – have a restful and safe break.


Federal government sets higher standards for international students

The federal government has unveiled a series of measures to strengthen the integrity of the international education system, as part of the Migration Strategy released last week.

The initiatives include:

  • Strengthened integrity, quality, entry requirements and student support to target non-genuine providers
  • Increased English language requirements for international students
  • An enhanced student visa integrity unit in the Department of Home Affairs
  • Restrictions on Temporary Graduate visa holders transferring back to student visas while onshore

The migration strategy said some VET providers with lower fees and shorter duration courses are of particular concern because they create financial incentives for non-genuine study.

Education Minister Jason Clare warned on ABC Radio Sydney about “the shonks – the people that circle students, see them at railway stations, encourage them to switch from a uni degree to a VET course and then they never end up turning up to the VET course, and are really just working in the economy.”

“So, there are loopholes we need to fix that we’re fixing here, and we’ll see what the impact of those reforms are before we consider anything like a (student) cap,” he said.

TDA Convention 2024 – Exploring TAFE Centres of Excellence

The TDA Convention 2024TAFE at the Heart will be an early opportunity to explore the ‘turbo-charged’ nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence which were announced as part of the National Skills Agreement.

Convention delegates will hear from keynote speaker, Boudewijn Grievink, Program Manager Internationalisation for Wij zijn Katapult in the Netherlands on the success of the European Centres of Vocational Excellence (COVE). Katapult is involved in the development and expansion of these centres, such as the Platform of Vocational Excellence Water and the European Platform for Urban Greening, connecting education with businesses and society.

The session will continue with a panel bringing together the TAFE, university and industry partners involved in the TAFE Centres of Excellence to share their insights on how these centres will innovate the delivery of tertiary education, provide high quality and responsive skills training for critical and emerging industries and enable teaching and training excellence. Up to six TAFE Centres of Excellence will be turbocharged for rapid establishment in the areas of net zero, the care and support sector, and digital skills.

To join the conversation at the TDA Convention 2024, please register here. Early bird registrations are open until 23 February 2024.

You can also submit a proposal to present or facilitate a workshop on a range of topics which align to the overarching theme of TAFE at the Heart. The submission guidelines and portal can be accessed here. The call for proposals closes on 23 January 2024.

For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please contact TDA’s Sponsorship Manager Chad Murphy at ASN Events at chad.m@asnevents.net.au or on 03 8658 9530.

We look forward to welcoming you to Sydney in May 2024 for TAFE at the Heart!

Apprenticeship system slated for national review

Last week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) included plans for a comprehensive federal inquiry into the apprenticeship system.

The MYEFO, released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, committed $5.4 million over two years from 2023–24 to undertake what’s described as a “strategic review of Australian Apprenticeships, including the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives System.”

It says the review will be led by an experienced, eminent expert and will examine financial supports for apprentices, program settings, and will entail broad consultation to deepen the government’s understanding of the apprenticeships system.

43,000 extra fee-free TAFE places for Queensland

The federal and Queensland governments have announced an extra 43,400 fee-free TAFE places, starting in January.

The measure is supported by almost $85 million in federal funding and comes on top of more than 65,000 fee-free enrolments at TAFE Queensland and CQUniversity this year.

The new Queensland Premier, Steven Miles said fee-free TAFE would save thousands of dollars for Queenslanders entering training.

“I encourage any person considering further skilling, especially the Class of 2023, to check out which courses are free in 2024 and enrol today,” he said.

As at September, the main areas for enrolments in Queensland’s fee-free TAFE have been in the Care sector (9000 enrolments), Construction (5200), Manufacturing (3700), and more than 26,000 in other priority skills areas.

Image: L-R: TAFE Queensland SkillsTech General Manager Stephen Gates, Minister Brendan O’Connor, Apprentice Locksmiths Mason Doyle and Martin Hume, Minister Di Farmer and TAFE Queensland SkillsTech Director of Client Services and Apprenticeship Management Sharon Mohr at TAFE Queensland’s Eagle Farm campus.

See more

TAFE NSW's SongHubs Collaboration with APRA AMCOS


The art of collaboration in both music and education is evident in the recent SongHubs songwriting camp run by TAFE NSW in partnership with the Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS).

The program saw graduates in a professional setting, engaging in collaborative songwriting alongside established music professionals. Emphasising teamwork and real-world industry exposure, SongHubs highlighted the value of such experiences for aspiring artists.

With APRA AMCOS’ support, eight students applied their TAFE NSW learning, mentored by experienced musicians during an intensive four-day workshop. This collaboration, lauded by Steve Bull from TAFE NSW, emphasised its pivotal role in preparing students for creative careers. Matt Cannings, representing APRA AMCOS, stressed the significance of industry involvement in education, fostering networks and connections for emerging talents.

This partnership aims to bridge education and industry strengths, potentially expanding future SongHubs and innovative collaborations.

Read more 

Kristie O’Brien appointed CEO of GOTAFE

The Board of GOTAFE has announced the appointment of Kristie O’Brien, pictured, as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Ms O’Brien, who joined GOTAFE in May last year as Executive Director Education, will assume the role of CEO immediately.

“Kristie’s appointment as CEO is a testament to her exceptional leadership skills and deep understanding of the vocational education landscape,” said Candy Broad, Board Chair of GOTAFE.

“Her commitment to excellence and innovation in education makes her the ideal leader to steer GOTAFE into its next era of delivering exceptional vocational education and training to our communities across the North East.”

TDA extends its warm congratulations to Kristie on her appointment.

Nominations are open for TAFE Staff Recognition Awards

The TAFE Staff Recognition Awards recognise and honour the achievements of TAFE staff across Australia. TDA inaugurated its first TAFE Staff Recognition Awards at the TDA Convention 2022 in Adelaide (pictured above). The second TAFE Staff Recognition Awards will be held on the evening of 8 May 2024 at Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney as part of the TDA Convention 2024.

The nomination forms are easy to complete with just two criteria, so please bookmark them before logging off for the year. Come back in the New Year and nominate yourself or your high achieving staff members and colleagues. There are four categories, and the finalists will be tiered into gold, silver and bronze winners. Nominations close 1 March 2024.

1. Heart of Leadership
The ‘Heart of Leadership Award’ recognises individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills that have proven to grow team capability, collaboration, and innovation that have resulted in successful outcomes. Please click here to submit online application.

2. Heart of Innovation using technology
The ‘Heart of Innovation Award’ recognises individuals or teams who have developed and implemented examples of innovation through system change, projects, problem-solving, and analytic thought to deliver improved outcomes. Given the nature of the sponsors there will be a focus on use of technology as part of the innovation. Please click here to submit online application.

3. Heart of Inclusion and Empowerment
The ‘Heart of Inclusion Award’ recognises an individual or team that has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion, access, positive change, and equity whilst empowering others to achieve through shared values and leading by positive example. Please click here to submit online application.

4. Heart of Student Success
The ‘Heart of Student Success’ Award recognises individuals or teams who have achieved great outcomes that have positively influenced students’ lives and in doing so, exemplify TAFE and its values. This could be through support services, program delivery, projects, or community-focused initiatives. Please click here to submit online application.

Learning Vault launches ‘Pathways’, enabling TAFEs to plan and create interconnected learning journeys

‘Pathways’ is set to redefine how students and teachers will be able to plan skills progression towards a set goal. TAFEs are now able to create and assign interconnected credential journeys.

This feature allows recipients to visualise their skills progression in real time, tracking their growth from their initial micro courses to their ultimate achievement—a journey that is composed of stacked credentials.

We invite you to explore ‘Pathways’ and witness first-hand how it can elevate your teaching processes. Get in touch today and find out more here.

Diary Dates

Empowered Women in Trades
Gala and Awards 2024
23 February 2024
The Trust, Melbourne
More information

TDA Convention 2024, ‘TAFE at the Heart’ – Register now!
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Call for presenters open now
Early bird registrations

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
15-16 August 2024
Save the date

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
More information

The TDA newsletter returns on Monday 29 January.