Full employment and its impact on skills development – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Full employment and its impact on skills development – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

As we have heard in the last week the unemployment rate is now at the lowest it has been for well over a decade.

What a vexed matter this can be for the training sector. As we approach full employment, so the demand for training and post school education can decline.

And yet we know that the changing nature of industry, and in particular the increasing number of jobs which require digital skills as well as complex communication and care skills, are increasing.

Therefore, it becomes an imperative that employers enable those who are entering the labour market to work with TAFEs to support their skills development, if we are to meet the demands of the future workforce.

Our challenge during 2022 will be to stimulate those in employment to acquire the complex skills they need for the work they are undertaking.

What this also means is that we must be quicker at recognising the skills our students already have so we can focus on the next level of skills required.

One of the opportunities that exists for workers is to undertake recognition of prior learning (RPL) as part of their acquisition of new skills and qualifications. The skills and knowledge workers possess can be recognised, enabling time and effort to be focussed on what still needs to learned, particularly as the nature of jobs change and more digital demands evolve.

RPL, as we know, is a form of assessment. It was widely used about a decade ago. However, as training package developers made the training products more prescriptive, it became quite unattractive for both students and RTOs.

TAFEs are responding to this challenge. Last week TAFEs across the country got together to examine how we can improve the end-to-end process of RPL. We also heard from one of the Skills Organisation pilots on their focus on RPL for existing workers in their sector.

However, we can’t do it alone. We need the buy-in of the other parts of the sector such as ASQA and the training package developers to think about their role as enablers, if we are to rapidly facilitate new skills acquisition for those who are already working in this full employment scenario.

From international student to CEO – Husnen Rupani's incredible journey

In 2004, an international student from India arrived in Australia with a dream of studying and pursuing a career in electrotechnology.

Husnen Rupani excelled at his study. After completing a VET course, he went on to do a Bachelor’s Degree. He taught at TAFEs.

He is now the CEO of Infinispark, a business that is transforming the delivery of electrotechnology training.

Infinispark is a TDA Corporate Affiliate We are delighted to profile this remarkable achievement.

Read the full interview with Husnen below in the newsletter.

Campaign aims to attract more recruits to human services

A new online learning platform has been launched to convince school leavers and young Australians to consider human services careers as part of a strategy to address the looming workforce shortfall.

More than 250,000 workers will be required over the next five years to meet the needs of the burgeoning human services sector.

The Positive Humanity campaign, launched by the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) in partnership with school leaver service Year13, examines the different career paths available and what is needed to work in the roles.

A recent survey by Year13 found the sector would need to fight perceptions of ‘hard work’ to attract school leavers into caring people-centered careers. More than 40 per cent of those surveyed said they were unlikely or wouldn’t consider a job in human services.

HSSO CEO Jodi Schmidt said too many young people assumed they won’t like the job.

“They often don’t understand the diversity of roles and type of work available and, that for individuals who enjoy working with people and having variety, it is very rewarding,” she said.

See more

Graduate celebration for Australia-Bhutan TVET reform project

Seventy-five Bhutanese TVET trainers, OHS officers, labour inspectors and government officials graduated last week from six ‘train-the-trainer’, OHS and competency assessment training programs.

Four train-the-trainer International Skills Training (IST) courses, one Occupational Health and Safety training course and one Competency Based Assessment training program have been delivered by TAFE Queensland and Melbourne Polytechnic and coordinated by TDA.

The program is part of the DFAT funded Australia-Bhutan TVET Sector Reform Project. The delivery took place virtually between June and November last year, despite a challenging context both in Australia and Bhutan.

Participants at last Thursday’s ceremony included Tashi Wangmo, Secretary of the Bhutanese Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, and Belinda Costin, First Secretary Economic Development at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, India.

Thursday’s ceremony was a way to celebrate the end of the capacity building component of the Australia-Bhutan TVET Sector Reform Project, with some curriculum development activities to be finalised in coming weeks.

Ms Tashi Wangmo, Secretary of the Bhutanese Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Australia-Bhutan TVET Sector Reform Project.

TAFETalks: Register now for this Wednesday 16 February

Registration for these events is free! If you cannot attend the event live, please register and we will send you the link to the recording.

TAFETalksMicro-credentials: developing with and for industry

Date: Wednesday 16 February at 2.00pm AEDT (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)
Duration: 1.5 hours

Guest speakers:

  • Beverley Oliver, Emeritus Professor and Principal Consultant at EduBrief
  • Margot McNeil, Chief Product and Quality Officer, TAFE NSW
  • Suneeti Rektari, Director Product Operations and Performance, TAFE NSW
  • Joann Pyne, Chief Academic Officer, TAFE QLD
  • Tracey Singh, Director, Product Agency, TAFE QLD

Description: Micro-credentials are on everyone’s lips. Join renowned expert Beverley Oliver and representatives from TAFE Queensland and TAFE NSW to further your understanding of micro-credentials and how two leading TAFEs are working with industry to develop micro-credentials for their needs.
Register now as places are filling up fast!

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here.

For further information and upcoming TAFETalks events, please visit: https://tda.edu.au/events/tafe-talks/

AND for your diary…

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 representatives from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), Austrade and the TAFE sector.

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

Busy sisters to help female apprentices

The Office for Women in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is funding a mentoring pilot program that aims to encourage the uptake of women in non-traditional trades.

The BUSY Sisters mentoring program supports females in the first six months of their apprenticeship or traineeship.

All mentors are female, trade qualified and are able to support mentees to succeed in their chosen careers.

See the BUSY Sisters program flyer.

Rural and regional students eligible for VET scholarships

Round 6 of the Australian Government’s Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarship (RRES) Program is now open for eligible students commencing study in 2022.

Over 1000 scholarships, valued at up to $18,500, are available to eligible students from regional and remote Australia undertaking any course of study from Certificate IV to PhD. See the RRES flyer.

The RRES is one of several scholarship programs to support regional and remote undergraduate, postgraduate and VET students. See all the scholarship opportunities.

Call for speakers for international education conference

The Australian International Education Conference has issued a ‘Call for Proposals’ to speak at this year’s conference, a hybrid event on the Gold Coast and online, 18-21 October.

Themed ‘beyond borders’, the conference will explore how the international education sector, no longer restrained by travel or traditions, has evolved into a truly borderless community. It will address the immediate issues international students face, such as vaccination, travel risks, workplace rights and safety, as well as more deep-seated barriers related to inclusion, equity and access.

Jana Perera, Executive Director, Commercial Business at The Gordon and member of the IEAA Board, is on the AIEC Program Committee representing the VET sector at the AIEC. Jana is looking forward to seeing proposals for sessions that will showcase thought leadership and best practice in VET at this year’s AIEC.

The Call for Proposals closes 1 March at 5pm AEDT.

Please read the guidelines or watch the recording ‘Tips on how to submit a successful proposal at AIEC’.

Feel free to email any questions to Jana at aiec@idp.com.

A simple idea sparks a transformation in electrical training

Husnen Rupani came to Australia as an international student. He studied and taught at several TAFEs and is now helping to transform the delivery of electrical training. Husnen is the CEO of Infinispark. He has developed a range of portable training and assessment devices that are game-changers. Infinispark is a TDA Corporate Affiliate.

Husnen, how did you arrive in Australia at the start of this journey?

I came to Australia in 2004 as an international student from India and studied electrical/electronics at RMIT TAFE.

I completed that and continued to a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering at RMIT. While I was doing that, I got an opportunity to teach as well. I think I was 21 when I had my first class and I loved it so much, I thought that this is what I want as a career.

I worked as an electrical trainer at a number of TAFEs for about 12 years. I also worked in the industry for a bit because I wanted to get some industry experience, but the teaching kept pulling me back. I’ve continued teaching and only stopped recently because the business is growing and needs my full attention.

What gave you the idea of starting the business?

It started when I was an electrical trainer. The constant challenge was around finding the right equipment to conduct practical training. It was not that TAFEs couldn’t provide it, but the fact that there are so many electrical components involved in every subject – trainers had the challenge of finding the right equipment and components when they needed them.

There’s also the shortage of time you have as a trainer to prepare, deliver and assess students.

I have always had a passion for supporting our sector and the community. So, I thought that there’s obviously a need for some sort of solution. So, working nights and weekends we made a prototype, we put all the components together in one box, showed it to a TAFE and said ‘what do you think?’

And that’s when we got our first order. We asked the trainers for their feedback and we received some great suggestions that we implemented in subsequent iterations of the equipment.

Collaboration is one of our core company values. Working with trainers in TAFEs and through rigorous R&D, we managed to increase our product range from one prototype to now seven products.

Our purpose, at Infinispark, is to support high quality education. Thanks to our customers and their support, we’ve sold more than 540 units across Australia and even some overseas.

Tell us about the ‘box’

It’s called the Pracbox – the practical box which contains all the components necessary for every element of the electrical training.

We have named them according to the subjects, so for example, for DC circuits, it’s the DC Pracbox, for AC circuits, the AC Pracbox, and so on. Also, there is the Control Circuit Pracbox, the Motor Faults Pracbox and the Electromag Pracbox.

We also have another line of equipment we call Faultboards that have all the components on a large panel where you can introduce electrical faults. Currently we have one item in that line, the Installation Testing Faultboard, which is used in the later stages of electrical apprenticeships.

What’s unique about this as a training tool?

The biggest differentiator is the compliance. In the electrotechnology training industry, we’ve got a very precise training package that tells exactly what students must be assessed on.

We took the training package, looked at the range statements/conditions and the performance requirements, and then chose our components based on that and made our first prototype.

The trainers have given us a lot of suggestions as to what they would like and we have built on that.

So, when a trainer looks at our equipment, they invariably say: “This is exactly what I teach. It’s such a simple idea, but I’ve never seen it before.”

That’s the main differentiating element – since the equipment is designed around the training package, it will always align the learning element to the practical element.

As an example, our DC Pracbox covers 100% of the practical elements of the Unit UEENEEE104A, which is now replaced by UEECD0044 and UEECD0046.

What does it mean for trainers and learners?

It’s important for TAFEs and RTOs to have high trainer productivity and learner engagement.

All of our equipment is designed to be portable. We go as far as saying that you can do the practical element absolutely anywhere power is available. You can do it in a classroom, in a workshop, in a meeting room, even at home.

We’ve got examples of people taking the equipment home and doing all their practicals there.

It’s great for trainer productivity because trainers can now set up equipment anywhere, at any time. It’s plug-and-play. You don’t need any special computer software or hardware.  So, that cuts down the preparation time substantially.

The learners love to see the theory aspects translating seamlessly into practical with our equipment.

What is changing in the way that electrical training at TAFE is delivered?

In the past there’s been a model, especially in electrical training, where classrooms were dedicated to certain subjects. All the equipment was fixed and bulky.

Almost all TAFEs are moving away from that model to more flexible classrooms and open space workshops. It means that the trainers, the TAFEs and the students require the flexibility to do their learning anywhere.

And, that’s where our equipment flourishes because it promotes the idea that you can do practical anywhere.

How has COVID impacted training delivery?

A lot of learning has now gone online and the whiteboard style of learning has gone away.

But, in my experience, it may have happened a bit too quickly. Where previously the trainers did a bit of ‘chalk-and-talk’ style teaching, they’ve now switched largely to training online.

However, I think there is still a huge need for chalk-and-talk, especially in trades and electrical areas. The main reason is that electricity is just such an obscure topic – it’s a bit like black magic!

I used to tell my students: ‘Electricity – you can’t see it. You can’t hear it. And, by the time you feel it, it may be too late.’ It sounds funny, but it’s deadly serious.

Chalk-and-talk helps humanise the topic. The trainers’ experience can be articulated easily. They can have good Q&A sessions, scenarios and discussions, which are quite difficult to achieve in a purely online setting.

It’s one of the key differences between virtual learning and remote learning.

Remote learning is where the trainer says ‘Just learn these topics and get back to me if you have any questions.’

Virtual learning is where you’re creating a classroom virtually. You’re still doing your chalk-and-talk, you’re still engaging with the students, and you’re still asking them questions and explaining things as if they’re sitting in the classroom.

I think there is a huge need to continue that, rather than going completely online, especially for trades and electrical.

What’s next for Infinispark?

One new area is in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for electricians. In Victoria there’s a requirement being introduced for electricians to participate in CPD before their license renewal. That would entail an eight-hour training session at a TAFE or college.

We have developed an innovative product called Installation Testing Faultboard so the TAFEs and colleges are prepared when that change comes.

We are also developing the next box – a Transformer Pracbox. We’re still putting together some designs on how that might look.

Another fantastic product we are working on is the Electrical Trainer Currency Platform, which will support the trainers to do their professional development that’s required by the TAFEs, RTOs and regulatory authorities like ASQA.

We are also constantly upgrading our products based on customer feedback. Most recently we upgraded the Electromag Pracbox and DC Pracbox and are currently working on the new version of the AC Pracbox.

You can contact Husnen on 1300 15 22 99, or email Husnen at hus@infinispark.com.au

See more at Infinispark

Diary Dates

TAFETalksMicro-credentials: developing with and for industry
16 February 2022
Beverley Oliver,  Emeritus Professor and Principal Consultant at EduBrief

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

VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
19-20 May 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

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

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