Changes to foundation skills – what will this mean? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Changes to foundation skills – what will this mean? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Last Tuesday’s budget signalled significant reforms to foundation skills funding. These reforms were warmly welcomed by members of Minister O’Connor’s Foundation Skills Advisory Group. Many of the members of this group have been advocating for some time that these sorts of changes to foundation skills were needed.

During the next twelve months the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program will be revamped. The presentation by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) as part of the Minister’s brief stated: “The redesigned program delivers on those aspects of the Government’s commitment at the Jobs and Skills Summit to reinvigorate foundation skills programs to support workers and vulnerable Australians to gain secure employment choices that are fully within its control. The Government will negotiate the shared aspects of the commitment with states and territories through the new 5-year National Skills Agreement.” (DEWR budget briefing 11 May 2023).

From 1 July 2024 the SEE program will be delivered through two streams.

Stream 1 will focus on individuals. In this stream there will be broad national access to language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) training through an established network of providers contracted by the Commonwealth. All individuals over 15 years of age will eligible. Unlike the situation currently, they will not need to be a job seeker.

Stream 1 also introduces some new opportunities. One that TDA strongly supports is the focus on workers, including apprentices and their employers who may need tailored support. This can lend itself to strong TAFE partnerships with their employers. There will also be place-based project delivery for hard-to-reach cohorts.

Stream 2 is a new stream for First Nations people. This will be locally tailored, small-scale place-based grants to First Nations community organisations in partnership with providers to deliver whole of community LLND training.

A significant change in the new model is that participants will no longer have to undertake accredited training.

The details of these changes will be worked through during the next six months.

TAFEs have always been heavily involved in the delivery of foundation skills. Foundation skills will be an important part of TDA’s online event at the end of May – TAFE Opens Doors: A focused conversation on access and equity. Join Kirrily Loveday from TasTAFE and Jenny McCaffer CEO of Adult Learning Australia and a member of the Minister’s Foundation Skills Advisory Group, who will lead a discussion on “Foundations – a gateway for all”. This session will be from 2.45-3.45pm (AEST) on Wednesday 31 May via Zoom.

Review the full half day program and register here.

Budget outlines key priorities for VET sector

There were a few new items for the VET sector in last week’s federal Budget, as well as indications about the government’s future policy direction and priorities.

As was already known, the government is providing an additional $3.7 billion to the states and territories as part of negotiations over a new five year National Skills Agreement to commence from 1 January 2024. It includes a further 300,000 TAFE and VET fee-free places. See more.

There was $54 million allocated for a new model for delivering non-financial apprentice support to commence from July next year. See more.

There is some uncertainty about the future of the National Careers Institute which is to have its functions reviewed, and is being provided $5 million in funding for 2023-24 only.

As outlined in Jenny Dodd’s column above, there will be a revamp of foundation skills, with $436.4 million over 4 years for a redesigned Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program to enhance language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills. See more.

There was an $11 million extension of the Defence Industry Pathways Program (DIPP), a joint arrangement between the Commonwealth, South Metropolitan TAFE in WA, and Programmed, which delivers 12-month traineeships in the defence industry.

There is $8.6 million for the Australian Skills Guarantee which will set targets for apprentices, trainees and paid cadets working on government funded major infrastructure and ICT projects. See more.

A total of $3.9 million is going to establish a defence vocational skills taskforce to develop the workforce for a sovereign industrial base and for the AUKUS submarine program.

A sum of $42.2 million will be provided over four years to implement a new digital solution to administer the VET Student Loans program.

Two Skills Assessment Pilots that aim to provide onshore migrants with fast tracked skills assessments are to be adjusted. See more.

See Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor’s media release.

Just over two weeks to register for free online event, TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity

The countdown is on for the free upcoming event, ‘TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity’, on Wednesday 31 May from 12-5pm AEST.

One of the sessions to look out for is Stream 3A: Unlocking regional student potential through retention strategies and innovative technology. 

Luke Falzon from GOTAFE will discuss the identified barriers and present strategies to support students throughout their educational journey. He will also explore the subjective nature of defining ‘success’ and share key learnings that can improve student retention and literacy.

Glen Luttrell from D2L will showcase how technology, specifically Brightspace and Intelligent Agents, can help identify and support at-risk students while streamlining manual processes.

Another interesting session is Stream 1B: Designing Inclusive Teaching and Learning featuring speakers Jen Cousins and Trina Bianchini from TAFE SA.

The two will explore how to design meaningful and engaging learning environments that reduce barriers and promote equitable experiences for learners.

See the full program and register here.

TAFE Queensland Great Barrier Reef Marine College set for $16m expansion

The Queensland government has announced a $16 million expansion of the TAFE Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef International Marine College in Cairns.

TAFE Queensland and the college will partner with Maritime Safety Queensland to offer a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating) which has until now only been available in Tasmania, Newcastle and Perth.

The expansion will help TAFE Queensland to deliver new training opportunities and will include an additional 2,675m² for a new workshop, additional classrooms, staff facilities, and a boat shed.

Construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2024 and be completed in mid-2025.

TAFE Queensland was awarded an initial five-year, $36 million Pacific Marine Training Services contract by the Commonwealth Department of Defence in 2021.

Under the contract, TAFE Queensland will deliver specialised training to navy and police personnel from Pacific Island nations, who will crew 22 Guardian Patrol Boats as part of the Commonwealth Pacific Maritime Security Program.

Mining and automotive JSC unveils its team

The new Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) for the mining and automotive sectors, Mining and Automotive Skills Alliance (MASA), formally launched last week.

The organisation will have its headquarters in Melbourne, and offices in Perth and Brisbane.

CEO Dr Gavin Lind provided details of the body’s board members and executive team, headed by Chair Nicky Firth.

MASA began in 2020 as the Mining Skills Organisation Pilot and evolved into the Australian Minerals and Energy Skills Alliance (AUSMESA).

MASA will be responsible for the following training packages:

  • RII Resources and Infrastructure Industry (mining)
  • AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair (service & repair)
  • AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair (retail qualifications only)
  • AUM Automotive Manufacturing

Readers are invited to get involved by visiting MASA’s Website, exploring the benefits of free Membership, following on LinkedIn and Facebook, or Subscribing to the newsletter.

Chisholm Institute joins Victorian government in manufacturing jobs placement

Chisholm Institute is partnering with the Victorian government to help recruit, train and place at least 100 jobseekers at manufacturing workplaces across Melbourne’s southeast.

Through the Jobs Victoria Engineering Project, Chisholm plays a key role in matching applicants with potential employers. Once placed, Chisholm provides training and career support through dedicated mentoring and specific training including optional accredited training.

Through this ‘earn-and-learn’ project, recruits are paid, while also gaining hands-on engineering skills and training.

Chisholm Institute Chief Commercial Officer Damien Van Eyk said the project comes at a time of strong growth in the manufacturing industry which is resulting in a significant skills gap.

“The Jobs Victoria Engineering Project highlights the opportunities for job seekers to build real-world experience in fabrication and mechanical engineering, while also receiving hands-on training and on-going support,” he said.

Time to enter for the Australian Training Awards!

Nominations are now open for the 2023 Australian Training Awards.

The awards are the peak national awards showcasing best practice in vocational education and training (VET).

A total of 16 awards categories will be presented – eight categories are individual achievements and eight for businesses and registered training organisations.

Winners from all categories will be announced at the gala event on 17 November 2023 in Hobart, Tasmania.

Nominations close at 11:59pm on 31 May 2023.

See more

Photography competition to showcase life on TAFE campus

The Australian Education Union is holding a national photography competition for TAFE students to show what life on campus is like in 2023.

Entrants are invited to send a picture (or pictures) that depict life at TAFE in 2023 and be part of telling a powerful visual story about the life-changing role of Australia’s world-class TAFE system.

Entries close June 9.

See more about the Life on Campus photography competition.

HSSO launches work placement video platform 

The Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) has launched a new work placement video platform, which provides RTOs, students and employers free access to a series of resources that help those undertaking the Certificate III in Individual Support during their mandatory work placements.

The videos, accessed via mobile devices, help users understand what they should and shouldn’t be doing during placement, what host organisations expect, and individualised plans, policies and procedures.

Each video covers one or more key concepts from the Certificate III in Individual Support.

To register for the platform, please submit an expression of interest to the HSSO which can be found here.

For more information about the resources, please click here. 

Upcoming TAFE industry currency forums 


Don’t miss out on the VET Development Centre’s Industry Boost program, in partnership with TAFE Directors Australia.

Join us for the VET Electrical Industry Forum on 2 June and learn from industry experts Gideon Perrott, CEO of NECA Education & Careers, and Chris Stark, Head of Strategy & Commercialisation, about the current and future needs of electrical contractors, as well as career opportunities that can be achieved through short courses.

Mapped to the VET Practitioner Capability Framework and ASQA standards, this forum will also discuss industry currency requirements for educators and prepare you to better equip your VET students for the future of work in the electrical industry. Register now.


Registrations are open for the upcoming TAFE Dental Assistant industry currency forum.

The industry expert for the Dental Assistant forum Jill Ford, is President of the Dental Assistants Professional Association. Jill completed her TAE qualification and delivered Certificate III in Dental Assisting after developing an interest in education.

The association works to find pathways to encourage Dental Assistants to pursue their careers both in and out of the clinical dental practice with continuing professional development. Jill has been managing a dental traineeship program in TAFE for the past seven years and looks forward to discussing current industry practice and delivery of programs with TAFE educators.

The online forum will be held on Friday 16 June from 2pm to 4.30pm AEST for the registration fee $150 inc GST. Further details can be found at TAFE Industry Boost – VDC. All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.  Register Now!

Chance to bid to host the WFCP world congress

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) is accepting bids to host its 12th World Congress in 2025/26.

The congress program includes high powered plenary sessions with leading practitioners in the field of  TVET, break-out sessions for sharing of best practices, the meeting of the Federation’s Affinity Groups, a residential program for young students and a Leadership Summit for leaders from across the globe.

Proposals will be accepted from member organisations or institutions and are due 31 August 2023.

See more

Have a say in redesigning the national training register!

The National Training Register Enhancement Project is improving the infrastructure and technology that underpins Improvements to the National Training Register will support the VET sector into the future.

To understand how the planned changes will impact VET system stakeholders, the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is conducting change impact research.

You can provide your thoughts on the National Training Register Enhancement Project and the potential impacts of change through this short survey.

The survey will be open until May 22.

Diary Dates

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

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

TAFETalks: Innovations in Clean Energy
21 June, 2 pm AEST
Register here

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
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

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

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information