Celebrating talent – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Celebrating talent – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

On Friday Christies sold a digital artwork Everydays: The First 5,000 Days and at $70m fetched more than physical works by better known artists. The sale positions the artist among the top three most valuable living artists.

In the age of the internet where it is so easy to copy material and so difficult to be satisfied about authenticity perhaps the buyer was a little crazy spending that amount on a product whose value could soon be whittled away.

The artwork comes with a non-fungible token, however, as a guarantee of its authenticity. Based on blockchain the token is an electronic identifier confirming the digital collectable is real by recording the details on a digital ledger.

Perhaps the biggest lesson out of this transaction is the democratising effect of digital art. No need to fight for access to arthouses for hanging pieces only to fail in getting recognition. There’s ready access to a much larger community on the internet to leverage value.

One of the biggest criticisms of workplaces is how talent and creativity are often quashed in favour of the process and culture of work production. It dictates a certain way of doing things, for good reason no doubt, but the fear of working outside of norms makes supervisors nervous and reluctant to take any risks.

No one is saying that we will all be working outside the routine of process and hierarchy, but the digital artwork has proven that real value rests in the innate capability of the artist, which the 22 million people who participated in auction can attest, not the work of art houses or the largesse of art agents.

Much of what we train for in VET is based on assumptions of working in place and in process. This provides enterprises with a degree of quality control, but at the same time feedback from employers says they want more initiative from workers.

This dilemma is most pronounced in the evidence to the Aged Care Royal Commission back in late 2019. In the face of questions about the seemingly poor skills of personal care workers through the Certificate III in Individual Support, witnesses were very clear to point out that it is indeed a Certificate III with tightly prescribed roles. The solution is not to load more process into the qualification or overlay with heavy supervision.

The more modern way of the workplace, even in aged-care, is person-centred drawn from capable and adaptable workers – or in the parlance of digital art – drawing on the innate talent of the digital artist.

This needs a revolution in the way we shape vocational education, however. Imagine the return from VET for industry if there’s an educational paradigm which develops technical skills that also lifts talent and capability. It can be achieved and is already in pockets, no doubt. A good education focused on building up those core personal attributes in conjunction with technical skills and knowledge.

Often referred to as 21st Century Skills it covers those important human elements such as effective communication, problem-solving and creativity which could be summed up as being an effective sole operator.

We will need to move aside the heavy prescription of tasks and make a way for a new order of capability.

Would it make a difference? Talent lives longer than a list of skills, so that must give some confidence to give it a go.

And we all have talent – sometimes we just need to uncover it.  Peter Shergold in his report on Post-secondary Pathways says much the same thing.  The report provides the vision:

The certificate of achievement with which students leave school should record and verify the full range of their knowledge and attributes, including academic and non-academic skills, to provide a more wide-ranging view of student achievement, and a more reliable measure of the whole person.

TAFE Qld snares $36m naval training project

TAFE Queensland has landed a multi-million dollar Department of Defence contract to provide training to Navy crews of the next generation Guardian-class patrol boats.

Under the initial five-year, $36 million contract, TAFE Queensland will deliver maritime training to people from the Pacific Islands who will crew 21 Guardian patrol boats provided by the Australian government under the Australian Defence Cooperation Program.

The training program is expected to generate 24 new jobs in the region in addition to the more than 400 direct industry ship sustainment jobs currently in Cairns.

TAFE Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mary Campbell said the contract is incredibly important as it will not only create local jobs, but also has the potential to better the lives of Pacific Islanders.

“The contract currently encompasses 19 training courses and the first students from the Pacific Islands are expected to begin training in Cairns in August 2021,” Ms Campbell said.

The Acting Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne said TAFE Queensland has already established important relationships with the Commonwealth and Pacific Island country governments, industries and communities.

“This, coupled with their established infrastructure in Australia and experience in delivering services in the Pacific, will enable TAFE Queensland to help achieve the outcomes of the Pacific Step-Up Program and the Pacific Maritime Security Program,” Senator Payne said.

The contract was decided in a competitive tender and was previously managed by the Australian Marine College in Tasmania.

Tasmania’s Minister for Advanced Manufacturing and Defence Industries Jeremy Rockliff said the decision was disappointing but that AMC was exploring new opportunities in fields such as autonomous vehicles and the design and delivery of digital solutions in maritime training markets.

See more

Signing the deal: (front) John Toohey, Assistant Secretary Specialist Ships, Department of Defence, and Mary Campbell, TAFE Queensland CEO. (Back) RADM Wendy Malcolm, Head Maritime Systems Division; Stephanie Barchetti, TAFE Queensland Project Manager Pacific Maritime Training Services program; Warren Entsch, Member for Leichhardt; Sue Bodell, Assistant Secretary Indo-Pacific Enhanced Engagement, and Tim Campbell, General Manager TAFE Queensland North Region.

TAFE promises realised following WA Labor's landslide election win

The TAFE sector in Western Australia is likely to be a winner following premier Mark McGowan’s resounding win in Saturday’s state election.

The premier has made TAFE and jobs creation a focus, with particular attention on building workforce capacity, including reducing reliance on interstate FIFO.

The McGowan government has reduced fees by up to 72 per cent for 180 priority qualifications and has committed to further VET initiatives during the election campaign, including:

  • $282 million to continue the TAFE fee freeze until 2025
  • $95 million for VET career support in schools
  • $32.4 million to employ 300 more apprentices and trainees
  • $29.8 million to create an additional 4,000 TAFE places for high school students
  • $25 million to invest in new equipment at TAFEs
  • $5.2 million to encourage businesses to employ 200 more mature age apprentices

A centerpiece of the government’s re-election campaign was the jobs plan, designed to create 125,000 new places.

“By rebuilding our TAFE and training sectors, we will ensure Western Australians are well placed to secure these new local jobs,” Mr McGowan said.

“I am very focused on reducing interstate FIFO and making sure these quality, high paying jobs go to Western Australians instead.

“We have worked with the resources sector to make sure the courses we are delivering are relevant and give Western Australians every opportunity to be employed on projects around the state.”

Hiring activity starting to improve: National Skills Commission

Employer hiring activity is edging higher as the economy emerges from the COVID-induced downturn, according to a new monthly report from the National Skills Commission.

The first Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey from the NSC shows that in February, 46 per cent of surveyed employers reported that they were recruiting or had recruited in the past month, a slight increase from the 45 per cent recorded in December.

Employers in NSW (50 per cent) were most likely to report that they were recruiting, compared with only 42 per cent in Victoria. The recruitment rate was better in regional areas (49 per cent) compared with capital cities (44 per cent).

Recruitment difficulty decreased slightly from 39 per cent in December to 38 per cent in February.

Employers in the construction industry were the most likely to expect to increase their staffing levels over the next three months (26 per cent).

SA appoints first skills commissioner

The South Australian government has announced the appointment of Ms Renee Hindmarsh as the state’s first Skills Commissioner.

Ms Hindmarsh has served as South Australia’s Training Advocate since February 2019 and was formerly the Executive Director of the Australian Technology Network of Universities.

The Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said Ms Hindmarsh will play an integral role in working with industry, particularly the state government’s eight Industry Skills Councils in which she will lead.

“She will also be South Australia’s direct link to the National Skills Commission and advocate on significant national reforms across the skills system,” Mr Pisoni said.

The outgoing chair of the Training and Skills Commission Michael Boyce will continue as a member.

VET sector leader, Sara Caplan, to retire from PwC

Sara Caplan, founder and CEO of PwC’s Skills for Australia has announced her retirement from PwC from the end of April.

As many of you will know, Sara has established herself as an expert in the VET sector in Australia since moving here from the UK in 2014. Whilst in the UK, as a partner with PwC, she led their education and skills consulting practice and was a leading member of the UK government’s skills taskforce. One notable achievement was that she invented the concept of higher apprenticeships which has now transformed the lives of over 70,000 people in the UK.

On moving to Australia, she quickly became established as a leading driver within, and strong supporter of the VET sector, and sits on the government’s VET stakeholder committee. Of particular note has been the exceptional work that Sara and her team have performed in helping the Australian government move quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the rapid development of skill sets and units to support people in changing jobs and upskilling to stay employed as the impact of the pandemic was felt across Australia.

On a broader front, Sara has supported a number of social enterprises and training organisations active in the skills area, has advised state and federal governments on careers, skills and employment and led a ‘Try, Test and Learn’ program for the DSS helping mature job seekers find work through an innovative approach to securing sustainable and rewarding employment.

Sara recently moved to the Sunshine Coast and is looking forward to spending more time exploring her new home state.

Sara is delighted that PwC’s Skills for Australia is being left in safe hands, with Ian Persechino taking on the role of CEO.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside organisations such as TDA, fellow SSOs and innovators across all levels of government to help enhance the Australian VET sector,  that continues to be envied around the world,” Sara said.

“I’m delighted to be leaving the excellent PwC team in such good hands with Ian taking the lead and look forward to continuing to engage with leaders across the VET sector in areas where my passion for the sector can add value.”

How to engage trades learners in a virtual class

Every course in every TAFE was affected by the pandemic and restrictions, and there was no choice but to resort to remote learning.

Theoretical or academic courses might not have the same problems as most of the TAFE courses did. One of the main reasons people are attracted to TAFEs is because of the hands-on learning, and that was perhaps the most affected aspect of training when shifting to remote learning.

One question to ask here is, “can we use this crisis to change the remote learning that lacks hands-on into virtual learning that engages learners and continues to provide the same level of training pre-COVID?”

To get a better understanding of the actual experience of industry with virtual learning we asked one of our Corporate Affiliates, Infinispark, what lessons it has from virtual learning for those in the trades, in this case for the electrotechnology industry. What worked? What didn’t work, and what improvements could make it better?

It is worth taking a few minutes to read what the trade learners really think about virtual training in the field of electrotechnology – what learners liked about the virtual class and what learners disliked, and how the virtual class may be improved, based on experiences by Infinispark in induction motors and AC theory subjects.

See How to Engage Trades Learners in a Virtual Class

The latest federal government VET reform consultations

There are currently five government VET reform quality surveys available which are closing  next Monday.

It is also possible to participate in either an online workshop or webinar to have your say on quality reforms in the VET sector. These workshops and webinar explore the features of high-quality training delivery and providers, the effectiveness of the current Standards for RTOs, and ways to support the VET workforce for high-quality delivery.

Due to popular demand, additional workshops and an alternative format webinar have been organised.

Click this link to register

Dates/times available:
Tuesday 23rd March – 10.00 am – 11.30 am AEDT
Tuesday 23rd March – 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm AEDT
Thursday 25th March 10.00 am – 11.30 am AEDT
Thursday 25th March 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm AEDT
Friday 26th March 10.00 am – 11.30 am AEDT

Quality reform workshops (standards) – new dates released!

Click this link to register

Friday 12th March 2021, 10.00 am – 12.00 pm AEDT
Friday 12th March 2021, 1.00 pm – 3.00 pm AEDT

Date: Tue 16th March 2021, 1:00pm – 2:30pm AEDT
Register here: Quality Reform Webinar

For more information on skills reform visit www.skillsreform.gov.au

AATIS launches partners program

The Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship Information Service (AATIS) has launched a Partnership Program to enhance connections with stakeholders in the apprenticeships space and provide them with priority access to their resources and services.

Some key benefits of becoming an AATIS partner include a custom starter pack (if selected during registration), exclusive access to partner events, exclusive access to the partners’ virtual networking hub, pre-release access to new resources and media releases, and collaborative opportunities for research, webinars, and projects.

This is an opportunity to engage with partners early on projects and also allows for cross-promotion of relevant apprenticeships content.

To join, participants can register their interest by completing the AATIS Partners Program registration form and nominating the individuals who will participate on behalf of the organisation.

For more information, or to join the AATIS Partnership Program, you can visit the AAPathways website here.

Diary Dates

AVETRA Annual Conference 2021
Recover, rethink and rebuild: All eyes on VET
19 – 23 April, 2021 (Online)
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VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
19 March 2021 (Online)
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The Real Future of Work
Career Development Association of Australia
Three-part program, early April – early May
More information

CICan (Colleges & Institutes Canada) 2021 Connection Conference
April 26-28
More information

Year13 Expo
17 – 19 May 2021
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National Careers Week
Career Industry Council of Australia
17 – 23 May 2021
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Apprentice Employment Network, NSW & ACT
Skills Conference
16 June 2021
Dockside Darling  Harbour, Sydney
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30th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
Past informing the future
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
7 – 9 July 2021 (Online)
More information 

Journal of Vocational Education and Training
9 July 2021 (online)
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TVET World eConference
International Vocational and Training Association
28 – 30 July 2021
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QLD Schools VET Conference
Velg Training
6 August 2021
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
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National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
17 – 19 August 2021
Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania
More information soon

National Skills Week
23 – 29 August 2021
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Worldskills Australia
25 – 29 August 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information

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