Continuing the integration story – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Continuing the integration story – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

NCVER’s recent research by Steven Hodge and Elizabeth Knight, The best of both worlds? Integrating VET and higher education, provides very useful reflection about integrating VET and higher education. It comes at a time when the Industry Cluster information for preparation of EOIs has now been released. As part of their remit, industry clusters will need to consider how to embrace higher education as well as VET in their end-to-end workforce solutions.

Hodge and Knight identify the characteristics of sustainability of ‘higher integration models’. They conclude that ‘higher integration models can be difficult and expensive to develop. Not only that they also appear challenging to sustain’.

Over the last 15 years many attempts have been undertaken to develop collaboration between the sectors. There have been some States and Territories higher apprenticeships projects which have combined VET with higher education. In these examples there was significant demand on the students to straddle both systems and two providers, requiring sophisticated student capabilities.

TAFE Centres of Excellence also tend to have a focus on partnerships with industry and collaboration with higher education. The building and maintaining of these Centres of Excellence usually have extensive additional resources attached, allowing for a concentration on developing better integrated models.

That requirement for high levels of additional resources was noted as one of the conditions for success between the Canberra Institute of Technology and the University of Canberra in their collaboration. Between 2005 and 2008 many States and Territories received structural adjustment funding to develop collaborations between higher education and VET. The two ACT providers were successful in their bid for this funding and a report of their collaboration was published in the paper Beyond Articulation: A sustainable Model of Collaboration. That report supports the findings of Hodge and Knight that success requires additional resource investment.

As Hodge and Knight state, there is currently ‘renewed interest in better aligning VET and higher education’. As Industry Clusters prepare their responses to the EOIs they would be wise to review models from the past. It is possible that the conditions that exist now will make integration more successful and sustainable. For example, do micro-credentials provide new opportunities? However, it would be a mistake to think that this is simple.

TAFE is well positioned to bring learnings from the past into these discussions of possible innovation in the future. We encourage those conversations.

More than 465,000 free TAFE places promised in Labor's first big election pledge

The federal opposition has promised 465,000 free TAFE places over the next four years as part of a national plan that aims to rebuild local manufacturing and address skills shortages.

At Labor’s first major election rally in Sydney’s inner-west yesterday, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese committed $621 million to the Free TAFE initiative, including $50 million for a TAFE Technology Fund.

The free TAFE places will be in areas of identified skills shortage and will include 45,000 new places.

Mr Albanese said a Labor government would work with the states and territories to deliver Free TAFE and prioritise courses in areas of skills shortage and future demand.

“Free TAFE will help rebuild industries hit hardest by the pandemic, like hospitality and tourism, as well as meet current and future needs in the care economy, including jobs like child care, aged care, disability care, nursing and community services,” Mr Albanese said.

The TAFE Technology Fund will provide new and upgraded IT facilities, workshops, laboratories and tele-health simulators.

The Free TAFE promise is part of Labor’s $1.2 billion Future Made in Australia Skills Plan which includes a $100 million investment in 10,000 New Energy Apprenticeships and a $10 million New Energy Skills Program.

See the Free TAFE fact sheet

NSW skills minister announces interim TAFE MD

The NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee has announced Stephen Brady, pictured, as the interim Managing Director of TAFE NSW.

Mr Brady is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the NSW Department of Customer Service and will start in the new role next Monday.

He replaces Steffen Faurby who leaves the role after nearly two years heading the organisation.

“I would like to thank Steffen for managing important transformation during his time at TAFE NSW, including overseeing the One TAFE reforms to create a more student-centric organisation as well as rolling out significant technology upgrades to connect more people to quality training,” Mr Lee said.

Mr Brady has served in several senior executive roles in the public sector including overseeing economic services agencies at NSW Treasury and working with industry as Acting Small Business Commissioner.

The TDA Board, and TDA CEO and secretariat acknowledge and thank Steffen for his significant contribution to the Board and commitment to the work we do as TAFE across Australia. We wish Steffen well in his next endeavours.

TAFE NSW’s Chief Information Officer, David Backley, will act as Managing Director until Mr Brady joins.

Applications open to run new industry clusters

The federal government has opened applications to operate new Industry Clusters which will be the centrepiece of a restructured VET system.

A total of $292 million has been allocated to fund the new arrangements which will replace the 67 Industry Reference Committees and six Skills Service Organisations, and commence operations by the start of 2023.

“I encourage all industry leaders with an interest in the future of our VET sector to work with your aligned industry sectors to develop an application,” the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert said.

The Industry Clusters will be established through a two-stage grant process. The first stage, which is now open, will involve an open competitive process seeking proposals to establish and operate an Industry Cluster.

The second stage, which will open mid-2022, will involve a closed non-competitive process to enable the newly established clusters to put forward detailed proposals to deliver on their functions.

The initial guidance from the departmental Transition Advisory Group outlined plans for 11 Industry Clusters.

Applications for the first stage close 31 March 2022.

See the Stage 1 Industry Clusters grant opportunity

TAFE Qld joins industry to develop NDIS microcredential

TAFE Queensland has joined with industry partners to develop a new microcredential for workers delivering support services to participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The NDIS Workforce Fundamentals Micro-credential was funded by the Queensland Government and developed by WorkAbility Qld and TAFE Queensland. It was launched in Cairns on Friday, coinciding with the International Day of People with Disability.

The training has been co-designed with extensive consultation with NDIS providers, industry experts and people with a lived experience of disability.

Participants will gain a greater understanding of the NDIS and related frameworks, along with valuable skills in how to respond to ethical and legal breaches; how to recognise signs of abuse and neglect; and how to maintain professional boundaries.

TAFE Queensland CEO Mary Campbell said she was delighted to join with WorkAbility Qld to offer industry a modern learning solution to address skills gaps and help train expanding workforces.

“The course is delivered flexibly, meaning students can complete it at their own pace, at any online location such as home computer, tablet or mobile device,” Ms Campbell said.

The micro-credential is available online at, is fully funded with the support of the Queensland Government and Workability Qld, takes around 1-2 hours to complete and participants will receive an industry recognised digital badge on completion, awarded by TAFE Queensland and Workability Qld.

ARC disability Services CEO Ben Keast and TAFE Queensland Chief Academic Officer Joann Pyne

Online program recognises there's no such thing as the 'average' learner

A new e-learning program has been released on the principles and practices of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in tertiary education.

The free online program has been developed by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program and the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training.

UDL is a learning design approach that recognises there is no “average” learner, and that learners come with a wide variety of prior experiences, abilities, preferences and needs.

The program aims to increase understanding of designing, developing, and implementing UDL into teaching practice.

The course is free. There are four modules in the program which can be worked through at your own pace and do not need to be completed in one sitting. You can log out and log back in at any time. It should be possible to complete all four modules in approximately 90 minutes.

See more

If you are interested in accessing the SCORM files for your institution please register your interest. This will enable the integration of the eLearning directly into Learning Management Systems.

Record $153m fine for private college will never be paid

The Federal Court has imposed a record $153 million penalty on the Australian Institute of Professional Education (AIPE) after it was found guilty of a series of breaches linked to the former VET FEE-HELP scheme.

The court found that AIPE engaged in unconscionable, misleading or deceptive conduct, when enrolling students into its online diploma courses between 2013 and 2015.

“AIPE enrolled consumers, many of whom had limited reading and writing skills or could not use a computer, into online courses they were unlikely to ever be able to complete, but which left them with large lifetime debts,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

The college received more than $210 million from the Commonwealth for approximately 16,000 enrolments under the VET FEE-HELP scheme.

The $153 million penalty is the largest ever imposed under Australian Consumer Law.

However, AIPE was placed into liquidation after the ACCC commenced proceedings, meaning the penalty will never be paid.

Mr Sims said the penalties imposed, nevertheless, set an important benchmark for future cases and will serve to deter similar behaviour by others.

Call for abstracts for ‘No Frills’ 2022 conference

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is inviting abstract submissions for the 31st National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills.’

The conference will be hosted in-person on 6-8 July 2022 in Melbourne, with the theme VET’s role in transforming the future.

Presentations that discuss how VET not only adapts but anticipates and activates change in response to Australia’s shifting future skill demands are invited.

Submission is open to all parts of the VET sector – including industry, government, practitioners, peak bodies, and researchers.

More information

Empowering Indigenous women with deeper partnerships

TAFEs have a commitment to closing the education and employment gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. TDA’s corporate affiliate, Angus Knight is partnering with Real Futures, an Indigenous employment and training specialist.

Real Futures is embedded in communities in Darwin, NSW Mid North Coast, regional Western Australia and metro Sydney. The majority Aboriginal owned, controlled and managed company aims to skill and empower First Nations people to gain meaningful work and to become community role models.

One of its standout pre-employment programs is based in Western Sydney and is the UN Women’s 2nd Chance Program. The program has the backing of UN Women and BHP Foundation and presents exciting opportunities for collaboration with TAFE to tailor courses for Indigenous women. Read more about the Real Futures Women’s Business Second Chance Hub.

Diary Dates

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
NCVER webinar: From industry expert to educator
8 December 2021
Dr Darryl Dymock and Dr Mark Tyler, Griffith University
Mr Ian Curry, AMWU
Ms Michelle Circelli, NCVER

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

CCA Annual Conference: Rebuilding Community
5-6 April 2022
Marriott Hotel, Sydney
More information

31st National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
6-8 July 2022, Melbourne
Call for abstracts open now!
More information