Competency achievement through co-design – comment by Jenny Dodd

Competency achievement through co-design – comment by Jenny Dodd

Last Wednesday TAFETalks was very pleased to hear from Dr Gavin Lind, from Australian Minerals and Energy Skills Alliance Limited and Michelle Hoad Managing Director, North Metropolitan TAFE Western Australia. Our focus in the webinar was on innovation in apprenticeships. There is a section in this newsletter with more details on their excellent presentations.

For my comment today I want to draw out Gavin’s points about acceleration. As Gavin said, ‘in a competency based environment, people learn and absorb content at different rates.’ TAFE educators know that no two students are the same. Adult learners come with diverse backgrounds and experience, and operate in very different work contexts. This means for one individual compared to another they may require quite different amounts of time and practice to achieve competence.

When we think back to the start of the introduction of competency, it is worth re-reading an excellent paper by Hugh Guthrie of NCVER who wrote ‘At the core of the reform agenda was the desire to move away from a time-served approach to one based on the attainment of agreed competency standards. It was also about giving industry more say and was the first major step on the path to today’s ‘industry-led’ VET system’ (Guthrie, 2009, p8).

However, as we have discussed in previous newsletters, more and more of what has happened through training packages is increased rigidity through prescription of tasks and less focus on outcomes. Therefore, there have been reduced opportunities to recognise the level of an individual’s capabilities and how long and how much they may need to attain competency.

The current qualification reform process encourages co-design. Gavin provided a very useful demonstration of how this would work in practice. He stated industry needed to achieve faster outcomes to meet their requirements for qualified staff. This will be achieved ‘through design, not compression’ while always focusing on ‘consistency of quality in outcome’.

Revisiting what is meant by competence and competency-based training (see Guthrie’s paper) is very useful. When a design focus is employed and the right partnerships are brought together, both the individual student and employers will gain.

TAFE's brightest shine on the national stage

TAFE Institutes, teachers and students racked up some impressive titles at the Australian Training Awards online event last Thursday.

The Large Training Provider of the Year went to Victoria’s William Angliss Institute, ahead of finalists, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the NT and TAFE Queensland.

Canberra Institute of Technology was awarded Industry Collaboration Award for its Renewable Energy Industry Collaboration.

The Apprentice of the Year Award saw an incredible array of talent from across the country. The winner was Savanne Canobie, who completed her Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician at Charles Darwin University. It’s the first time the Apprentice of the Year Award has gone to the NT.


The Trainee of the Year Award went to TAFE NSW student, Megan Cox, who is completing a Certificate IV in Information Technology and is employed by PwC as part of its Higher Apprenticeship Program.




In the Vocational Student of the Year Award, TAFE students secured the top spots. The winner was Samantha Daly, pictured left, from Swinburne University of Technology, and the Runner-up was Zoe Tucker from South Metropolitan TAFE in WA.



TAFE teachers were well represented across the awards. The Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award was presented to Dean Champ from Victoria’s Box Hill Institute. For the last three years, Dean has worked at Box Hill’s Disability Enterprises team which partners with a range of disability enterprises to provide employment preparation training.




Five TAFE teachers were finalists for the VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award. The Runner-up was Maryke Gray from Western Australia’s Central Regional TAFE.  Maryke delivers Conservation and Land Management, Horticulture and Aboriginal Ranger Programs, from Certificate I to Diploma.


Congratulations to all these outstanding representatives who have scaled great heights in a most challenging year.

See all the winners and finalists.

Industry experts to tackle apprentice completions at next TAFE Talks webinar

The Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, the Hon Luke Howarth, will formally open next week’s TAFETalks webinar on apprenticeship support and completions.

TAFETalks: Apprenticeships Part 2: ‘Supporting Students to Complete’, is the second of a two-part series on apprenticeships. It will focus on ways of better meeting the needs of youth, and addressing completion rates. It will feature:

  • Tiffany Blight, Executive Director of the National Careers Institute
  • Dianne Dayhew, CEO of the National Apprentice Employment Network
  • Ben Bardon, CEO of the National Australian Apprenticeships Association
  • Grant Dreher, CEO of TasTAFE (See article below on TasTAFE apprentice completion rates)

The webinar is on Wednesday 1 December at 2.00pm AEDT (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time).

Register here

Faster apprenticeships won't risk quality, mining industry says

A pilot plan to reduce the time taken for apprenticeships in the mining industry will not come at the cost of quality learning, the head of the Mining Skills Organisation Pilot (MSOP), Dr Gavin Lind has assured.

Dr Lind told last week’s TAFETalks on innovative apprenticeships that the MSOP is looking at ways of completing diesel fitting apprentices in less than four years, without compromising quality.

“In some of our discussions around apprenticeships, people have the idea that when we talk about achieving a given outcome in a shorter period of time, that we are compressing things and either leaving parts of the trade out or skimming over them without that opportunity to practice the skill and knowledge. This is not our approach.”

The key to faster completions will be through “design, not compression” Dr Lind said.

“We are seeking to work with our partners, industry RTOs and other stakeholders to take a program or qualification fundamentally apart and then reassemble it in a way that allows different connections to be made between discrete packages of learning to achieve a faster outcome.”

“We must find ways of modernising apprenticeships and continuing to make that a valued pathway. But we need to do this with respect to the present system and the over 250 years of history that underpins the apprenticeship system,” Dr Lind said.

Michelle Hoad, the Managing Director of North Metropolitan TAFE in Western Australia spoke about innovate approaches the organisation has taken to apprenticeships across diverse sectors.

As part of the Perth METRONET rail project, North Metropolitan TAFE has worked with engineering firm Alstom to help develop a traineeship program that includes infrastructure skillsets, paid employment, and credit toward an Alstom apprenticeship.

An industry partnership with BHP and CQ University involves accelerated apprenticeships for mechanical fitters and maintenance trainees.

In the mortar trades (bricklayers, plasterers, concreters, tilers), the TAFE has introduced “drop in classes” where students can flexibly schedule their off-the-job learning to fit employers’ needs.

“Essentially on a rainy day or if there’s not work on instead of structured block release, employers can send their apprentices in on days when they don’t actually have work for them,” Ms Hoad said.

“So, it’s kind of maximising the efficiency and the outcomes that you can get for apprentices during what would be a natural employer downtime period.”

TasTAFE leads the way in apprentice completions

Tasmania has the highest apprenticeship completion rates in Australia at 55.9 per cent, compared to a national average of 48.3 per cent.*

Training around 60 per cent of Tasmania’s apprentices overall, and all of the state’s apprentices in some trades, Tasmania’s public training provider, TasTAFE, has an integral role in contributing to these completion rates.

TasTAFE CEO, Grant Dreher will share insights into how TasTAFE contributes to Tasmania’s apprentice completion rates at the second TAFETalks Apprenticeships webinar – ‘Supporting Students to Complete’, on 1 December.

Mr Dreher credits direct relationships with employers and high levels of student support as some of the reasons why more Tasmanian apprentices complete than in any other state.

“As a small state we are lucky to have direct relationships with employers and industry bodies. There’s an immediacy to the relationship which can be lost in bigger organisations, and it means that any issues are picked up really quickly.

“We also have strong support for all our students, including apprentices, with student counsellors, disability liaison officers, literacy and numeracy support and drop-in study support sessions.”

Mr Dreher said that while Tasmania may have the highest completion rates of all states, there was still much more work to do in this space and TasTAFE was looking at ways to improve completion rates.

“This includes a pilot program trialling centralised trades apprenticeship orientations led by our general education and vocational preparation teachers. It includes a campus tour, general information about TasTAFE, how to use the online learning system and a literacy and numeracy assessment to ensure apprentices are supported right from the beginning of their time at TasTAFE.”

“We have also introduced new learning support tutor roles. These are people with industry backgrounds who assist teachers and students in practical workshops sessions. One of their briefs is to keep an eye on anything that the apprentices may be struggling with or need extra help. They provide another layer of support for the teacher and for the apprentice.”

“TasTAFE is also exploring ways to support women in trades during training by connecting them to existing support networks and providing opportunities for them to connect with each other,” Mr Dreher said.

*Source: NCVER contract completion figures released July 2021.

Hear more from Grant at the next TAFETalks on Wednesday 1 December. Register here.

Trade apprenticeships at record level

Trade apprenticeships have hit the highest level on record – 217,400 in July, the highest since records began in 1963.

The figures were released by the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, based on new departmental data.

Total apprenticeships (trade and non-trade) stood at 347,266 in June 2021, up from 268,215 the previous year.

The surge comes on the back of the $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements 50 per cent employer wage subsidy, which has now been followed up with the Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program which provides a 10 per cent wage subsidy in the second year and 5 per cent in the third.

$2m health hub set for Kangan Institute

More than 900 aspiring health care workers will soon start training at Kangan Institute’s new state-of-the-art health hub in Essendon.

Plans to develop $2 million facility were announced at the Essendon campus by the Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney.

Kangan Institute Chief Executive Sally Curtain said the new health hub and an alliance with Moonee Valley City Council will enable the TAFE to deliver modern and relevant, outcomes-driven training.

“It’s fantastic to see this significant investment in our Essendon Health Hub which means more students can study nursing, pathology, mental health, allied health, aged care and disability. Kangan Institute is well set up to meet the growing skills demand in these critical sectors,” Ms Curtain said.

Key elements of the new facility include Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) accredited health simulation spaces and industry-standard equipment.

The unveling of the Kangan Institute health hub in Essendon.

Holmesglen ranked #1 Australia-wide for customer experience

Holmesglen Institute has been named the country’s top performer for customer service in a new industry ranking.

The CSBA 2021 SenseCX benchmarking placed Holmesglen in the top spot, among  194 major Australian companies across eight industry sectors.

SenseCX is a quality assurance framework that measures the quality of customer interactions with organisations, based on three factors – success, ease and sentiment.

Holmesglen had already reached number one in the education sector in CSBA’s quarterly benchmarking, and was subsequently named #1 in CX by ATEM (the Association for Tertiary Education Management), competing against all universities and TAFEs.

The latest win is a testament to Holmesglen’s Connect Team which has transformed the way prospective students engage with the organisation.

Connect Team Manager Titus Peter explains here how Holmesglen tackled critical issues to put students first and assist them through to enrolment.

Allow VET teachers to 'try before they buy', report says

The possibility of ‘bite size’ opportunities for aspiring VET practitioners to experience the role before committing, is one of the options put forward to attract more teachers and trainers from industry.

The paper from NCVER says one way of addressing both currency of skills and workforce development could be through more flexible ‘boundary crossing’ for VET practitioners between the classroom and the workplace.

The study, ‘Attracting industry experts to become VET practitioners: a journey, not a destination’ was prepared by Mark Tyler and Darryl Dymock from Griffith University.

It notes how VET practitioners describe their careers as an ongoing journey, involving continuing practice and updating of skills to maintain the dual professionalism required to train, assess and respond to changing industry needs.

The report notes that VET, generally, cannot compete with the wages earned in industry, and raises the idea of targeted incentives to attract industry experts.

The Certificate IV TAE was considered by some RTO and VET practitioners as “not fit for purpose”, with too much emphasis on processes and procedures, and not enough on teaching and learning.

“Educationally, the Certificate IV TAE provided an insurmountable challenge to some and, conversely, represented almost an insult to highly trained and respected industry experts,” it says.

See ‘Attracting industry experts to become VET practitioners: a journey, not a destination’

Carina Robinson's journey from care worker to industry leader

Carina Robinson, the Program Lead at the Aged Care Centre of Excellence with TAFE NSW, is one of the many education and training experts showing TAFE leadership with industry partners. Not only is Carina a well-respected leader of TAFE, she is also held in high regard by industry peers. 

Carina led the establishment of the national TAFE Aged Care Taskforce, in collaboration with TDA. As the inaugural Chair, Carina is helping to create new mechanisms to better leverage the expertise of TAFE aged care educationalists working in the VET system.

Carina is also a NextGen Ambassador with the aged care peak body, Leading Age Services Australia. Her career story recently featured in Aged Care Insite. It’s a journey that has seen her grow from humble beginnings as a young care worker, into teaching, business transformation and strategic leadership roles.

Carina is a strong advocate for lifelong learning and is passionate about the difference education and training can make. She draws a direct link between the quality of the vocationally qualified workforce and better care outcomes for older Australians.

Beyond technical aged care skills, Carina sees the need for workforce opportunities in a range of enterprise skilling areas including business acumen –  skills that may be gained through industry and TAFEs working together to benefit industry and its workforce.

Join an international discussion on applied VET research

Four TAFE institutes – Box Hill Institute, Holmesglen, TAFE SA and South West TAFE – will feature in an international discussion on applied research in the VET sector.

The webinar is being hosted by the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Applied Research and Innovation Affinity Group.

VET institutions will discuss approaches to applied research, including activities, collaborations, fields of study, knowledge transfer, methodologies, nomenclature, outcomes, resources, student learning, and technology adoption.

Applied Research in VET: An International Perspective
November 30, 2022, 4.00pm AEDT
Register here

Executive leadership roles available in the Pacific

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is seeking applications for a number of executive leadership roles in the Pacific region.

The APTC is seeking applications from qualified, highly experienced and motivated individuals for the role of:

  • Executive Country Director PNG
  • Regional Operations Director, Fiji
  • Country Director, Vanuatu & Nauru

As Australia’s flagship Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) investment in the Pacific, APTC works collaboratively with TVET stakeholders to achieve training delivery outcomes and reforms to Pacific TVET systems.

APTC has country offices in Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The Regional Head Office is located in Suva, Fiji. APTC is managed by TAFE Queensland on behalf of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Applications close 11:59pm Fiji Time, Thursday, 2 December 2021

See more

Diary Dates

OctoberVET Ballarat 2021
Beyond COVID
25 November 2021, 11.00-12.30, online

Applied Research in VET:  An International Perspective
World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Applied Research and Innovation Affinity Group
30 November 2021, 4.00 pm AEDT
Register here

TAFETalksApprenticeships Part 2: Supporting students to complete
TAFE Directors Australia
1 December 2021, 2.00 pm AEDT

Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group Annual Conference
‘People, place and time: developing the adaptive VET teacher’.
8 December 2021, 2-6 pm (Online)
More information

TAFETalks: Academic integrity in VET and Higher Education
2 February 2022
Dr Helen Gniel, Director, Higher Education Integrity Unit, TEQSA & Sharon Waitzer, Director Engagement and Education, ASQA

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

No Frills 2022
31st National VET Research Conference
6-8 July 2022
Save the date