Game changing report for TAFE – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Game changing report for TAFE – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Dr Michele Bruniges and her colleagues the Hon. Professor Verity Firth and Jason Ardler are commended for producing a series of practical recommendations as part of the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) Review Interim Report that will ‘rebuild a strong and sustainable TAFE NSW’ and make it the ‘centre of the NSW vocational education system’.

For the last few years, TDA and its CEO and Managing Director members have been calling out the unique purpose and role of TAFE. While efficiency and sustainability must underpin how TAFEs operate, confusing TAFE’s purpose with the over 3500 other RTOs has led to the popular mantra TAFE is ‘just another RTO’. The NSW VET Review Interim Report (the Review) has articulately put a stop to that view.

The first recommendation of the Review is that the NSW Government should clarify TAFE NSW’s role and purpose through a Charter. That Charter should be underpinned by four principles. The first of those is that TAFE NSW must be able to become a ‘future-focused, strategic leader that meets the skills needs of NSW’. This will mean that some of the shackles of the current constraining VET infrastructure will need to be loosened for TAFE NSW to achieve that outcome.

The second principle is what really distinguishes TAFE, and that it is as a ‘provider of public good’. To have this written down and called out is welcome. Unlike other providers in the market of VET, regardless that most deliver quality outcomes for students, their purpose is not to be a ‘provider of public good’. Given TAFE (and most RTOs) are funded by taxpayers, a principle for TAFE NSW that it should be about ‘public good’ is welcomed.

This mention of TAFE and the link to public good is also explicit in the Universities Accord final report. In Chapter 6 the recommendations state: “That to achieve better alignment between higher education and vocational education and training and to allow TAFEs to be more responsive to student and industry needs, the Australian Government: explore pathways for selected TAFEs to become self-accrediting in VET at the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Level 5 and above in areas of national priority, starting with areas such as net zero emissions, care and digitisation.”

In this context the public good is Australia’s critical and emerging industries.

TDA and the more than 550 who have registered for TDA Convention 2024 in May in Sydney look forward to hearing more from the Hon. Steve Whan, Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education on Thursday morning about development of the TAFE NSW Charter. Thank you to the Minister for accepting our invitation to speak at this critical time of renewal for TAFE.

And for those attending we also are delighted that the talented member of the Review panel, the Hon. Professor Verity Firth will be a member of the affirmative for the great debate on Thursday afternoon about whether indeed “TAFE is at the heart”.

TDA Convention 2024 - Student success and improving completions

Be inspired at TDA Convention 2024 with a down-to-earth panel discussion on ‘Student Success and Improving Completions’. This session will bring together a lineup of award winners and TAFE leaders. Meet our teachers:

  • Holly Gudsell from North Metropolitan TAFE, WA, Australian Training Awards winner of Australian VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year 2023
  • Brendan Reid from Charles Darwin University, NT,  Australian Training Awards winner of the Excellence in Language, Literacy, and Numeracy Practice 2023
  • Peter Redfern Elliot from Canberra Institute of Technology, ACT,  ACT Winner of VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year 2023

Meet our TAFE Leaders:

  • Kerryn Meredith-Sotiris, Executive Director Education and Skills (South) TAFE NSW
  • Alyssa Forbes Nicolson, Dean, Faculty of Education and Foundation Studies, Holmesglen Institute, Victoria

For more information go to the TDA Convention 2024 website.

In this dynamic panel discussion, our experts will share:

  • Strategies for promoting student engagement, motivation, and persistence.
  • Effective approaches for enhancing learning outcomes and retention rates.
  • Ideas for addressing barriers to completion and supporting diverse student populations.
  • Insights into the challenges students face in completing their education and training programs.

– TDA Convention 2024 is now fully booked –

Fee-free TAFE surges in NSW

More students enrolled in fee-free TAFE in NSW last year than was initially forecast for the entire country, according to the latest figures.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said new figures show that 182,124 people in NSW enrolled in fee-free TAFE in 2023, easily surpassing the initial first-year target.

When rolled out in 2023, the target for fee-free TAFE across Australia was 180,000 students. Mr O’Connor said that, nationally, the numbers have effectively doubled.

Mr O’Connor said that in NSW, as at December, there had been 34,630 enrolments in the care sector, 9,651 in technology and digital, and 8,728 in construction.

He said that extra effort was going into improved data collection, “to make sure we are tracking, not only people enrolling but then completing and then getting a job in the sector that they’ve acquired the skill.”

An extra $414 in Commonwealth funding is being provided over 2024-26 to fund the delivery of a further 300,000 fee-free places.

Congratulations to the finalists of the TAFE Staff Recognition Awards

TDA congratulates all thirteen finalists of the 2024 TAFE Staff Recognition Awards. Their details can be found here.

TDA’s TAFE Staff Recognition Awards were inaugurated at TDA Convention 2022 to recognise and honour the achievements of TAFE staff across Australia. This year, TDA Board members reviewed over seventy remarkable nominations to select finalists across four categories: Heart of Leadership, Heart of Innovation using Technology, Heart of Student Success, and Heart of Inclusion and Empowerment.

TDA Convention 2024 sponsors – ReadyTech (diamond), TechnologyOne (gold), and Aspire Education (gold) – along with the TDA Board Chair Mary Faraone and TDA CEO Jenny Dodd, are determining the gold, silver, and bronze winners. At this stage of the review process, it is proving to be a very difficult choice as all finalists are extraordinary.

The winners will be announced at the TDA Convention 2024 dinner on Wednesday 8 May at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. We look forward to celebrating with all members of the TAFE workforce and recognising the winners of the 2024 TAFE Staff Recognition Awards.


Winners TAFE Staff Recognition Award winners 2022


Apprentice recruitment not as difficult as for other positions, JSA finds

Employers are having less difficulty recruiting apprentices, compared with all other vacancies, according to the latest survey from Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA).

Overall, 46% of employers faced difficulty filling vacancies for apprentices, compared with the 55% for all vacancies over 2021 to 2023, JSA’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey shows.

However, the recruitment difficulty rate for apprentices varied by industry. Employers in the Manufacturing and Other Services industries had considerably more difficulty recruiting apprentices (55% and 51% respectively) compared with employers in the Construction industry (32%). However, the recruitment difficulty rate for apprentices was still below the ‘all vacancy average’ for each of these three industries.

Of the employers who said that recruiting an apprentice was difficult, almost half (46%) said that they had too few applicants, much higher than the 32% for all vacancies.

Some 16% of employers recruiting for apprentices found it difficult to attract applicants due to competition for candidates, compared with 12% for all employers.

A lack of industry training was another point of difficulty in the Manufacturing industry. Some 23% of employers in Manufacturing cited this as a reason, compared with 10% of employers recruiting for apprentices across all industries.

See Experiences of employers recruiting for apprentices, April 2024

$9k global footprint scholarships about to open to young learners

Applications will soon open for the Global Footprints Scholarships which provide the opportunity for young people to travel abroad and learn more about sustainability in their areas of interest.

The scholarships are available for young people in Agriculture, Horticulture and many Trades and provide $9000 to gain global work experience.

There are also professional coaching, networking opportunities and group workshops.

Applications open 1 May 2024.

See more

Federal budget could hit international students, AFR reports

The federal budget on May 14 could see a significant increase in visa application fees for international students, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review.

The report says the increase in non-refundable visa application fees could amount to hundreds of dollars but is unlikely to be as high as the $2500 advocated by the Grattan Institute earlier this year. Grattan suggested the additional revenue could be channelled into a rental assistance program.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, is quoted as saying that a big increase in the application fee would have a sobering effect on application numbers, which are already starting to falter.

‘‘We’d oppose anything above a CPI increase because it will make us globally uncompetitive,’’ Mr Honeywood said. ‘‘As the fee is non-refundable, it will be hugely inequitable for the large numbers of students who are having their visas rejected.’’

Universal Design for Learning symposium to showcase latest global trends

ADCET (the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training), in partnership with RMIT, is hosting an immersive day of learning, sharing, and exploring innovative Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices at a forum in June.

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Symposium 2024, ‘Cultivating Creativity, Connections & Confidence in the Australian Tertiary Education Sector’, will take place on June 12 at RMIT in Melbourne.

It will feature a keynote presentation from Dr Thomas J. Tobin, a renowned expert in the field of Universal Design for Learning. His presentation, ‘Scaling Up with Universal Design for Learning . . . and How to Get Colleagues to Join You’ will provide attendees with valuable insights and practical strategies.

See more

Time to nominate for Australian Training Awards

Nominations to the 2024 direct entry categories for the Australian Training Awards are now open.

The awards recognise and celebrate excellence and are an important mechanism for promoting the benefits of VET.

Winners from each state and territory training awards compete for a national award title. Direct entry is also available for some award categories.

The following categories are open for nomination:

Finalists from these categories will join State and Territory Training Award winners in competing for a national award title at the Australian Training Awards gala event later this year.

Nominations can be submitted at Australian Training Awards and close on Friday 31 May 2024.

Diary Dates

My eQuals Connect
A discussion about the future of digital credentialing (free event)
7 May 2024
Sybil Centre, University of Sydney
More information

TDA Convention 2024, ‘TAFE at the Heart’ – FULL
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2024 Skills Conference: Empowerment & Connection
12 June 2024
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Symposium 2024
Cultivating Creativity, Connections & Confidence in the Australian Tertiary Education Sector
12 June 2024
RMIT, Melbourne and online
More information

33rd National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ 
‘VET partnerships powering a dynamic workforce’
10-12 July 2024
North Metropolitan TAFE, Perth
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference ‘Skills for Life’
23-25 July 2024
Hilton Adelaide
Save the date

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
‘From Competence to Excellence – Strive to Inspire’
15-16 August 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Register here

National Skills Week 2024
‘It’s a Game Changer’
19-25 August 2024

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
More information

WFCP World Congress 2024
22-27 September 2024
St James, Jamaica, West Indies
More Information

AVETRA 2024 Conference
3-4 October 2024
University of Technology, Sydney
Save the date

Jobs and Skills Council Events

Go to individual JSC websites for event details.

Powering Skills Organisation
Insights Update, 3 May 2024

Energy Pathway Roadshow: Collaborating for a Sustainable Tomorrow – events in Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Bunbury, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Geelong and Brisbane.

State and Territory Roadshow 2024