Higher education integration will be possible only with more flexible courses – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Higher education integration will be possible only with more flexible courses – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

TDA has submitted into the survey on DEWR’s qualification reform model. TDA is also finalising its submission for the Universities Accord.

When considering both these reforms, products at AQF 4, 5 and 6 should support pathways to higher education. If integration between vocational and higher education is what we need, and it is, then we have the power to fix one of the main barriers– that is the construct of vocational education and training courses.

The Government proposed qualification reform new model won’t deliver the flexibility we need. To start with, it does not adequately distinguish between the capabilities and responsibilities of the three main players in the national training system.

Government is responsible for the national training system, employers are responsible for identifying what they need workers to be able to do now and, in the future, and educators are the ones who should determine how skills are developed and assessed. To achieve pathways between vocational and higher education, educators must be trusted for their knowledge and skills.

Without a clear distinction between the responsibility of the various players, the proposed model is unlikely to result in the flexibility and innovation now needed for Australia. The prescriptive products that exist now in vocational education and training are likely to be replicated in the new model.

While there is a case for high levels of prescription in some areas of vocational education, that same model for qualifications that lead to university pathways is not warranted. It is one of the barriers to integration.

TDA suggests the proposed qualification model fails to be sufficiently nuanced. It does not take account of the complexity of the AQF. A continuation of the one-size-fits-all approach applying to all VET qualifications is a mistake. While it makes sense to have specificity and prescriptiveness in training products for licensed trades, for other qualifications this approach is not ideal. Qualification design that will facilitate pathways to and from higher education must be enabled.

How can we achieve this much needed reform? I hark back to previous CEO pieces. We must trust quality providers such as TAFE to be able to build products for industry along with university partners.

We must also recognise the various skills of all the players in tertiary education. That is, we need to let education organisations drive learning and assessment. To achieve that TAFEs must be self-accrediting, just like universities.

AUKUS skills academy to deliver cutting edge training

A new skills academy to support the AUKUS nuclear submarine project will work across multiple sectors to attract talent and develop shipbuilding skills for long term projects.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor outlined details of the planned skills academy in an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph last week.

“The keystone of this strategy is a dedicated Skills and Training Academy, which will be a hub to attract, grow, develop, qualify and retain the shipbuilding workforce to meet current and future demand and provide opportunities for continuous development of the existing workforce,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said the academy “will support the entire shipbuilding workforce, providing hands-on trades training and classroom-based professional development, backed by cutting-edge technology and modern facilities.”

“Working in lockstep with state and territory governments, industry, unions, universities, education and training providers and the scientific and technical sectors, this Academy will be vital to attracting and maintaining the workforce to support and build the capabilities of Australia’s world-leading defence industry.”

The AUKUS project is expected to create around 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years.

Big shake-up likely for VET after NSW Labor election win

NSW is likely to see a wide-ranging review of the state’s VET system with a focus on TAFE, following Labor’s win in Saturday’s state election.

One of Labor’s key promises was a “comprehensive review of the vocational education system in NSW to determine the full impact of cuts and establish a path forward to rebuilding TAFE.”

Labor also guaranteed that a minimum 70% of the vocational education budget would go to TAFE.

With Tim Crakanthorp likely to become Minister for Skills and Training, Labor will also establish three TAFE Domestic Manufacturing Centres of Excellence to deliver traditional and advanced manufacturing skills in Western Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra.

It also committed to create a $25 million Hydrogen Centre of Excellence in partnership with the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre, and promised $94 million to recruit an additional 1000 apprentices and trainees across the NSW public sector by 2026.

JSA legislation enters the parliament

The federal government has introduced into parliament legislation to establish the permanent functions and governance for Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA).

The Jobs and Skills Australia Amendment Bill will establish a tripartite ministerial advisory board with representatives from state and territory governments, unions, employers and experts.

The legislation requires JSA to consult with the ministerial advisory board in the development of its work plan. JSA’s work plan must also invite public submissions.

Under the bill, the role of JSA Director is replaced by a JSA Commissioner, and there will be two JSA Deputy Commissioners selected through a merit-based selection process.

There is a requirement for a statutory review of JSA’s operations to commence within two years of its permanent establishment.

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TAFETalks: Closing the Digital Skills Gap: Industry insights and strategies for meeting Australia's growing job demand


Join TDA, the Digital Skills Organisation, Amazon Web Services and South Metropolitan TAFE to learn about the tech sector and how you can play a part in solving the Australia’s need for digital upskilling.

Despite the increase of tech jobs, companies are struggling to fill tech roles and Australia’s talent scarcity is among the worst in the world. More than 62% of HR and C-suite leaders admit the talent shortage is causing problems for their organisations.

Patrick Kidd, CEO of the Digital Skills Organisation, Melanie Botha, Head of Training and Certification for Amazon Web Services Australia & New Zealand and Julia Burns Executive Director of South Metropolitan TAFE WA, will highlight Australia’s need for digital skills and cloud training and discuss ways in which TAFE institutes can best prepare learners for the tech jobs of today, and the future.

To register for this event, please click here

South Australia unveils $14m skills package

The South Australian government has announced a $14 million package to address the state’s skills crisis.

The package includes:

  • $8.9 million for skill shortage grants in priority areas including defence, commercial cookery, brick and block, concreting and saw technology, as well as specific grants to get more women into trades.
  • $2 million for new skills centre hubs in regional areas to connect learners, industry and training providers.
  • $2.3 million for learner support grants for organisations, training providers, industry and unions to develop new ways of providing wellbeing and learning supports.

The Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer said, “We are committed to ensuring that our high-quality training system has a strong focus on training completions and is in tune with the changing skill needs of our economy to adapt quickly to respond to new opportunities – such as with the AUKUS agreement.”

TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity


This virtual event will focus on the important themes of access, inclusion and equity in TAFE. It is aimed at educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders interested in improving TAFE education and creating opportunities.

The event will be hosted on Zoom and will take place on 31 May 2023 from 12pm to 5pm AEST. It free for all participants. Sessions have been designed for both educators and staff.

TAFE Opens Doors will feature a rich program with a variety of speakers and presentation types, including the opening keynote panel on TAFEs and First Nations Peoples. This panel will be delivered by Professor Peter Radoll, DVC of Victoria University, and Leanne Bell, Faculty Manager of TAFE Queensland and Reconciliation Action Plan Chair.

Click here for more information or register now to be a part of the discussion

Three things vital to a new national skills agreement

In the midst of a national skills crisis and a debate about the role of universities, the VET sector is not getting the attention it warrants, according to an article in The Conversation.

Two academics, Pi-Shen Seet, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Edith Cowan University and Janice Jones, Associate Professor, College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University, argue that the focus on VET should be much greater, given that the National Skills Agreement is being developed this year.

They say that the five-year National Skills Agreement needs to focus on three key areas – retaining more apprentices, making training more flexible, and encouraging more vocational-uni collaboration.

They say apprenticeships are rigid and seem to depend on duration rather than competence, while it is difficult for employers to meet skills shortages by upgrading employees while they are still on the job.

“With both the Universities Accord and the National Skills Agreement being developed, this year can be the catalyst for the vocational and university sectors to collaborate more and for governments to make changes to keep more apprentices in training and make it easier for them to keep training,” they say.

Strong employment outcomes for apprentices, NCVER finds

The proportion of apprentices and trainees employed after training remained high in 2022, according to the latest report from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Apprentice and trainee outcomes 2022 shows that 94.9% of apprentices and trainees who completed their training in a trade occupation were employed after training, similar to 2021. Of these, 67.7% were with the same employer as their apprenticeship or traineeship.

For those who completed training in non-trade occupations, 89.3% were employed after training, up 1.7 percentage points from 2021, of which 70.9% were with the same employer as their apprenticeship or traineeship.

New for the 2022 report are outcomes of apprentices and trainees who did not complete their training, showing about 84% of non-completers, from both trade and non-trade occupations, were employed after leaving their training.

The report also highlights the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on apprentices and trainees, with 15.0% of trade completers and 17.8% of non-trade completers having their on-the-job training delayed. Off-the-job training also took longer than intended for 32.2% of trade completers and 22.2% of non-trade completers because of the pandemic.

See Apprentice and trainee outcomes 2022

VET Development Centre Industry Boost – TAFE Industry Currency Forums throughout 2023


The VET Development Centre (VDC) has partnered with TDA to deliver a national program of TAFE Industry Currency Forums in 2023.

The Industry Boost program provides a high-profile, best practice initiative to stimulate industry currency for TAFE educators. Mapped to the VET Practitioner Capability Framework and ASQA standards, online forums will be hosted by an experienced AQTF auditor, discussing the industry currency requirements of educators.

For more information about the TAFE Industry Currency Forums please click here.

Registration links for the first three sessions can be found at CHILD CAREDENTAL ELECTRICAL

Invitation to ESOS reform webinar

The Department of Education is hosting a webinar for international education providers on proposed reforms to the ESOS legislative framework.

The webinar will seek stakeholder feedback on proposed reforms in the areas of online delivery and care of younger overseas students.

See the discussion guide setting out some of the details of these reforms.

Attendees can choose to register for a webinar in one of two time slots:

2pm (AEDT) Thursday 30 March or 2pm (AEDT) Friday 31 March

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: Closing the Digital Skills Gap: Strategies for Meeting Australia’s Growing Job Demand
29 March 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
May to June 2023
More information: Child CareElectricalDental Assistant

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
More information

TAFE Opens Doors: a focused discussion on access and equity
VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
31 May 2023 Online 12 – 5pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

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

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
26 – 28 July 2023 – save the date
Mildura, Victoria

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023 – save the date
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

VDC National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023 – save the date
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information