Developing transferable skills is where taxpayers’ money should be spent – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Developing transferable skills is where taxpayers' money should be spent – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

One of the good things coming out of the current VET reforms is the focus on transferable skills. The proposed new guidelines for training package developers will lift qualifications so they meet occupational and skills standards. Inherent within that approach will be a focus on what someone needs to do in an occupation. That is, what are the skills standards of the occupation that the individual must demonstrate consistently. This should lead to the formation of capabilities that can be transferred across jobs within an occupation. What a breath of fresh air away from the current prescriptive job task focused Training Packages that lead just to one outcome.

TDA is all for that change – less prescription, more transferrable skills. That is, where we should be investing – investing in people to gain the knowledge and skills that can allow them to adapt and to demonstrate transferable skills.

However, TDA members are much less enthusiastic about the next part. At a recent consultation with the designers of the new training package guidelines and about 30 senior educators from TAFEs across the country, there was significant angst about the proposed Training Package Operating Framework. This angst was in the proposed Training and Assessment Requirements. As VET loves to adopt acronyms, this has quickly become the ‘TAR’.

I know this is very unorthodox, but TAR is defined as ‘a dark brown or black bituminous usually odorous viscous liquid’ (Merriam-Webster dictionary referenced on Friday 4 November 2022 Within our TAFE network, and I am being somewhat extreme here, but we are of the view that the current draft qualifications that contain TARs will end up cloaking training providers in such ‘viscous liquid’. That is TARs, which will specify mandatory requirements for training and assessment, have the potential to become the same highly prescriptive products that we have currently.

What we need is training products that really allow co-designed outcomes. We must ask  – how will the innovation that we know exists in vibrant local TAFE-employer partnerships, that are designed between qualified educators and industry be possible? How do we learn from successful systems overseas that foster partnerships between curriculum and learning design experts with employers in ways that are bespoke for them while still meeting the occupational standards?

So, a big tick from TDA for the current qualification reform piece that is driving occupational/skills standards and enabling the development of transferable skills. Thumbs down to TARs in their current proposed structure. Luckily, we’re still in the formative stage of these Training Package guidelines that our new Industry Clusters will work to. The positive is the openness through which consultation is occurring. A big tick to that too!

Countdown to TDA Convention 2022 – showcasing our TAFE students


In just over a week, TDA will be welcoming delegates to Adelaide from 15 – 17 November for the first TDA Convention in three years, under the theme of Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.

For TAFEs, students are at the centre of everything we do, which is why the student voice and student capabilities feature throughout the TDA Convention 2022 program.

The program includes a student panel of TAFE SA 2021 Honour Award Winners who will share their personal stories of courage. In breakout sessions there are workshops on championing the student voice and on supporting students in challenging times.

Importantly, the program also has a strong focus on respect, equality, and wellbeing as well as access, equity and pathways for students from disadvantaged cohorts.

The TDA Convention 2022 is also an opportunity to showcase student capabilities. Delegates will be treated to art displays, a contemporary dance performance, a photo booth for professional photos, live music and videos of individual student stories – all of which make us very proud and excited about the future of TAFE.

TDA is indebted to TAFE SA, the Host Partner, and the TDA Convention Advisory Committee for its support in facilitating the exceptional student engagement throughout the TDA Convention 2022. TDA would also like to thank and acknowledge all of the sponsors and exhibitors supporting the TDA Convention 2022.

TDA looks forward to welcoming its members, partners and supporters to Adelaide to be part of the conversation on Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.

The full TDA Convention 2022 program can be viewed online here.

Draft standards for RTOs emphasise results, not process

The long awaited draft revised RTO standards have been released with the aim of reducing complexity and administrative burden, while putting greater focus on the quality of training.

It follows an extensive period of consultation.

“We heard that key areas of concern with the current Standards were the prescriptiveness of some requirements, the use of unnecessarily complex language, and a general lack of clarity,” a consultation paper accompanying the draft says.

The revised draft has a stronger focus on the quality of training design and delivery, greater clarity around assessment, and clarity about what is expected of trainers and assessors in terms of professional development, and industry skills and knowledge.

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Chisholm Institute recognised for its role in Afghanistan crisis

The task of dealing with hundreds of traumatised local and newly-arrived people from Afghanistan has seen Chisholm Institute recognised with a Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence.

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban in late 2021 led to significant stress and anxiety in the large Afghan community in Southeast Melbourne, many of whom were students at Chisholm Institute’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

Following the collapse of the capital, many people leaving Afghanistan started arriving in Melbourne amid a strict COVID lockdown.

Chisholm’s AMEP teachers and staff went to extraordinary lengths to provide support to students. Teachers were able to identify individuals with critical needs, working closely with Chisholm’s broader Support Services teams. Hundreds of loan laptops were organised to enable students to learn online.

Chisholm teachers took on much more than teaching and educating students in the AMEP curriculum.

As Sharon Cox, Manager, Foundation College at Chisholm Institute said, the teachers “gave them a sense of hope for the future”.

“It was an honour to accept the award on behalf of my team because they do amazing work and it is greatly deserved”

The  awards were presented at Government House. Sharon Cox and Karen Eager from EM3 accepted on behalf of Chisholm AMEP students and staff.

Image, from left, Victorian Minister for Education the Hon Natalie Hutchins; Sharon Cox; and the Governor of Victoria, the Hon Linda Dessau.

Training colleges targeted in sex trafficking probe

Fourteen Australian training colleges catering to overseas students have been identified by investigators looking into trafficking of women from Asia to Australia for the illegal sex trade, according to a Nine Media investigation

The investigation, Trafficked, says the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission was involved in identifying the suspect colleges, sparked by a probe into a nationwide criminal network linked to a Melbourne brothel.

The colleges helped more than 190 South Korean females enter Australia to work in the sex industry, according to the investigation.

Law enforcement officers said the role of Australian-based overseas student education providers in helping crime syndicates had been a persistent problem for border security officials.

“The providers help foreign nationals obtain student visas despite knowing they don’t intend to study and instead join what experts have called an ‘underclass’ of exploited foreign workers,” the article says.

“None of the 14 Australian colleges identified as corrupt have faced criminal sanction and most remain open,” it says.

In a statement, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) said education providers delivering to overseas students are responsible for ensuring their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.

VET student loan improvements on the way

The federal government is considering a number of changes to the VET Student Loans (VSL) program aimed at simplifying and streamlining the system.

It represents the third of four stages in the improvement process which began in 2021.

A consultation paper has set out a series of proposed changes. These cover areas including provider financial performance, related party transactions, reduced reporting for providers, entry requirements for students, and a proposal to relax the ban on providers using social media to promote VSL to students.

Submissions to the consultation paper, including issues and questions, are encouraged by 18 November 2022, but more time can be requested if needed.

Professor Peter Coaldrake honoured with AFR Lifetime Achievement Award

The Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award for Lifetime Achievement has gone to Emeritus Professor Peter Coaldrake, the Chief Commissioner of TEQSA and former Vice-Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology.

Among his many achievements, Professor Coaldrake headed the 2019 Review of the Higher Education Provider Category Standards.

TDA extends its congratulations to Professor Coaldrake on this award.

One of three judges of the AFR Higher Education Awards was Martin Riordan, former TDA CEO and Research Fellow at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. He is encouraging TAFEs engaged in higher education to consider nominating for these awards in the future.

“These awards have widened their categories to include ‘Community Engagement’, ‘Teaching & Learning Excellence’ and ‘Industry Engagement’. These are all areas where TAFEs could showcase their considerable achievement in higher education,” he said.

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TAFE Gold Coast showcases next generation fashion talent


Emerging fashion design students had the chance to connect with industry professionals at the inaugural ‘Rise to the Runway’ fashion design awards at TAFE Queensland Robina campus on the Gold Coast.

Rise to the Runway is a social enterprise, founded by TAFE Gold Coast event student, Summer Brown.

“We want to showcase our native talent, launch indigenous designers, encourage inclusivity by introducing gender-fluid designs, excite with the innovation of wearable art, and explore the new world of tech-integrated fashion,” Summer said.

The plan is for Rise to the Runway to become an annual event that will showcase the area on the international fashion scene.

TAFE Gold Coast event students were involved in running the night, as well as raising money for those who have been impacted by domestic violence.

First sod turned on WA's new TAFE campus

Construction has commenced on Western Australia’s newest TAFE campus in the Armadale town centre.

Premier Mark McGowan and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery turned the first sod last week of the new purpose-built, multi-level South Metropolitan TAFE Armadale training centre.

The $39 million facility will deliver training across a range of areas, including childcare, community services, business, education support and general education.

WFCP symposium to focus on sustainable development

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) is inviting registrations for International Symposium: TVET and its Contribution to Sustainable Development.

It will take place on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th of November, from 10:00am to 1:00pm (GMT-3) and will be broadcast live through and on the INACAP YouTube channel.

Register here

AATIS to continue until the end of 2023

The Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS) will extend its operations to the end of 2023.

AATIS information sessions will bring up-to-date information and practical resources frequently used by organisations and staff working in the apprenticeship sector.

AATIS has announced that a round of in-person information sessions will soon be scheduled and more information on AATIS’ upcoming activities will be published shortly on the AAPathways website.

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Tech expo to kickstart digital career journey


The tech industry and the Digital Skills Organisation have joined forces to launch the Tech Expo – a platform that showcases the endless career opportunities in tech.

It brings a wealth of bespoke content, and highlights the accessibility and pathway into tech and digital jobs.

See the Tech Expo

Diary Dates

October 2022
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics International Symposium
TVET and its Contribution to Sustainable Development
9-10 November 2022 (from 10:00 to 1:00 p.m. (GMT-3)
Broadcast live
More information

TDA Convention 2022
Courage, Change and Challenge – the Future of TAFE
15-17 November 2022
More information

VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
VET Development Centre
17 & 18 November 2022 (Online)
More information

OctoberVET 2022 Ballarat: Inclusivity and the future of VET
23 November 2022
FedUni SMB Campus, 136 Albert St, Ballarat
More information

TEQSA Conference
23-24 November 2022
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins (and online)
More information

AVETRA 2023 Conference
27-28 April 2023
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 World Congress
23-25 April 2023
Montréal, Canada

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information