Does competency have to be the only way VET is delivered? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Does competency have to be the only way VET is delivered? – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

In a competency system the standards that industry requires to be demonstrated are set out. That is, the outcomes are defined but not the process to get there. However, in a curriculum-based environment the learning outcomes are defined. That is, the process through which the learner undergoes capability development to achieve the outcomes is defined.

Why has vocational education and training in Australia decided that competency standards must be the only utility for determining outcomes? Why, could we not develop vocational education and training so that there can be a mix of qualifications built on competency standards and qualifications based on curriculum development?

Unfortunately, the use of competency standards exclusively has diminished innovation in learning methodology. As training package developers moved away from their brief, which was to define the standards for industry, and entered the brief of the RTO, which was to determine the learning process to achieve the standards, so we lost the possibility of creative, wholistic forms of learning.

Instead, we became overly concerned about compliance with the prescribed inputs. We lost sight that we could use the skills and capabilities of educators, who are from industry, to develop learning in creative ways that would still demonstrate the outcome required.

We also lost the true meaning of competency, which means that different people might take longer, need more instruction, require more support than others to achieve competency. We have bundled everyone together, be they those with ten years of experience compared with those just entering the workforce, and prescribed the same set of tasks they must all perform. We have failed to recognise experience and previous learning.

This is not to say that competency does not have a place. Of course, it does. Its key attribute of portability is fundamental to the Australian national vocational education and training system. But it may not be the only way.

At this time as we begin to explore options for new qualification design, we need to remove the constraints that just adhering to a competency system might be creating. We need to think how authentic learning that still delivers the outcomes needed by industry can be developed broadly.

TAFE community rallies behind flood victims

Over the last few weeks, Australians in many locations have been impacted by terrible floods. In some regions, TAFE facilities, staff and students have been affected, and TAFE campuses have served as evacuation centres.

The TDA Board and Secretariat extends its heartfelt wishes to all those who are dealing with this emergency, including members, staff, students, communities, and industry partners as they tackle the recovery from the floods.

Flood help available for training providers

VET Student Loans (VSL) providers that have been impacted by floods may be able to obtain assistance from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The department is inviting those affected to contact it if they have concerns about payment and data reporting deadlines.

The department may be able to assist in a number of ways, including providing additional time for submission of student data and payment information or payment of provider debts, helping to reconstruct lost or destroyed records, assisting in re-issuing any information required, adopting a pragmatic approach to identity, citizenship and residency requirements for students.

Those providers affected should contact Mr Zain Syed, A/g Director, VSL Program Operations & Payments by email: or telephone 02 6121 3587

Information for flood affected students is provided on the Information for VSL Students page.

Most students who leave school early turn to VET

Students who don’t complete Year 12 are very likely to re-engage with education via the VET system, with a significant number taking up an apprenticeship, according to new research from NCVER.

About 75% of the early school leavers who were surveyed re-engaged with some form of education. About 63% re-engaged via VET.

Of the early school leavers who re-engaged with some form of education, more than half (51%) entered into apprenticeships and traineeships. Other VET courses, not delivered as part of an apprenticeship or traineeship, made up 34% of all educational re-engagement.

“The VET sector has an important role to play in these policies, in that it provides the opportunity for early school leavers to continue learning and obtaining qualifications outside the school sector,” the study says.

“Apprenticeships and traineeships, in particular, offer an option for early school leavers to obtain a qualification while being employed, as well as a recognised pathway into employment.”

See VET as a re-engagement pathway for early school leavers

Poland to replace Russia as host of EuroSkills 2023

WorldSkills Poland has accepted a formal invitation from WorldSkills Europe to bid to host the EuroSkills Competition 2023, following the recent decision by WorldSkills Europe to relocate the event away from the Russian Federation.

The eighth biennial EuroSkills event was originally scheduled to take place in St Petersburg in August 2023.

“WorldSkills Europe wishes to express its sincere gratitude to WorldSkills Poland for its support and commitment to have Europe’s biggest vocational education and skills excellence event relocated to Poland,” WorldSkills Europe said in a statement.

“WorldSkills Europe has been overwhelmed by the immense show of support from all its members in finding an alternative location and offers to help the future new host of the event.”

TAFETalks: Register for international education forum, this Wednesday 16 March

TAFETalks: The future of international education in Australia: what opportunities for TAFEs?

Date: Wednesday 16 March at 2.00pm AEDT (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)

Description: Please join Janelle Chapman for a conversation on the future of international education in Australia and opportunities for TAFEs. Janelle is the Executive Director at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition, VET Expert member on the Council for International Education and President of the International Education Association of Australia.

Janelle will be joined by:

  • David Atkins, Assistant Secretary, Quality Branch, International Division, Department of Education, Skills and Employment
  • Helen Kronberger, Manager, International Education, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)
  • Andrew Williamson, Executive Director, International Education and Enterprise Solutions, Holmesglen Institute

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

AND for your diary…

TAFETalks: Imagining an Integrated VET and HE Future

Date: Wednesday 6 April at 2.00pm AEST

The new Industry Clusters will focus on both vocational education and training (VET), and higher education (HE) as they develop skills solutions for their workforces. We have been discussing combined VET and HE solutions for a long time. What will be different under these new industry cluster arrangements which come into effect in 2023?

Please join TDA CEO, Jenny Dodd for a panel discussion with three leaders of industry about how they think VET and HE integration might be different from 2023 onwards.

Guest speakers include:

  • Jodi Schmidt, CEO of the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO)
  • Paul Walsh, CEO at Australian Industry Standards (AIS)
  • Phil Clarke, General Manager, Industry Engagement from Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA)

Registration: To register for this event, please click here

TAFE to deliver skills for Queensland's emerging industries

TAFE is set to play a central role in a Queensland government initiative to address skills shortages in strategically important industries

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer announced the new VET Emerging Industries initiative at Friday’s Queensland Workforce Summit.

It involves $15 million to develop flexible industry strategies for the agribusiness, energy, manufacturing, and screen and digital sectors.

The $15 million comprises:

  • $5 million Manufacturing Strategy, consisting of a Manufacturing Skills Fund and TAFE Manufacturing Strategy
  • $4 million Energy Strategy, consisting of an Electric Vehicle Skills Fund; a Hydrogen Skills Fund and a TAFE Renewable Energy Strategy
  • $5 million Agribusiness Strategy, consisting of an Agriculture Skills Fund; a TAFE Agricultural, Rural and Regional Strategy; and a Beef Processing Skills Fund, and a
  • $1 million TAFE Screen and Digital Strategy.

“These are priority industries which will require new training and skills and have been identified as potentially providing Queenslanders with future employment opportunities,” Ms Farmer said.

Working groups will recommend strategies, which could include a mixture of accredited training, skill sets, micro-credentials and workforce development.

See more

Final stage for approval of water allocation and entitlement skills

Final draft units and skill sets to assist farmers and irrigators to work with Australia’s various water markets are open for validation and comment.

The project will develop national skills standards to support farmers and those with water entitlements to correctly engage with water trading processes, including the purchase and selling of water, navigating carry over water or continuous accounting options, and how to procure, receive and monitor water.

The Skills Service Organisation, Skills Impact, has posted the updated units on its project page. The process is open for validation and comment until March 22.

Share your research in AVETRA’s 'Research Today' magazine

AVETRA, Australasia’s only national, independent association of researchers in VET, is inviting contributions for the next edition of its Research Today magazine.

Research Today is released twice a year with publication usually in April and October. Previous editions can be seen here.

AVETRA recognises that there is an enormous body of research – often not called “research” – being done by VET practitioners. This may include innovation support for industry and community stakeholders, industry-themed or VET-themed inquiry, or the scholarship of teaching and learning that leads to innovation in delivery and assessment within VET.

Articles should be of around 1000-1500 words and on topics of interest to AVETRA members and the wider VET community.

Articles on VET practitioner-led and applied research are especially welcome. They should include the aims of the research, how information was collected, and key findings. Contributions are due by Friday 25 March.

Please contact Andrew Williamson: or phone 0400 403 755 for more information

VET talk to highlight the power of entrepreneurial innovation

UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for TVET and BIBB (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany) are pleased to invite you to the second BILT Learning Lab on 24 March 2022 from 10.30 am – 11.30 am Central European Summer Time (8.30 pm – 9.30 pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

BILT Learning Labs are interactive online sessions presenting an ‘Innovation and Learning Practice. The purpose of the learning lab is to present how a TVET challenge has been addressed and to share insight and experience.

The topic of this second Learning Lab is: ‘The Gearbox Makerspace and Product Development: Unlocking the potential of innovative entrepreneurial activities’, which will feature Gearbox Director and founder, Mr Kamau Gachigi.

During a virtual panel discussion, Mr Gachigi will be joined by Mr George Makateto, Director of Industries, Engineering and Construction Industries at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives in Kenya and two successful entrepreneurs, Ms Nzambi Matee and Mr Nicholus Kimali. They will share their experience on how Gearbox fosters entrepreneurial culture and employment opportunities in Kenya.

See more

Diary Dates

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

TAFETalks: The future of international education in Australia: what opportunities for TAFEs?
16 March 2022

CCA National ACE Summit
5 April 2022
More information

TAFETalks: Imagining an Integrated VET and HE Future
6 April 2022
More information

AVETRA 2022 Conference
Are we there yet? Building a research community to share VET’s future
28-29 April 2022
More information

VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
16-20 May 2022
More information

Disability Employment Australia Conference
31 May – 2 June 2022
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics
2022 World Congress 

15-17 June 2022
Donostia-San Sebastian (Spain)
More information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2022 Skills Conference
15 June 2022
Dockside Darling Harbour, 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

National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
More information

WorldSkills Shanghai 2022
12-17 October 2022
More information

Australian International Education Conference 2022
18-21 October 2022
Gold Coast & Online
More information

2022 National VET Conference
Velg Training
3-4 November 2022
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

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