Imagine – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Imagine – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

It’s not too hard to conceive of the Plague of the Blood Moon. The Super Moon a warning. The Blood Moon brings fear.

You are right to say that modern communications and science makes this impossible today – although QAnon and anti-vaxxers is pause for thought.

I’m not sure what side I am on when it comes to the voodoo magic in the Government’s response to the Aged Care Royal Commission and its flow on to the VET sector.

Extra training places is a good thing, but just how are these being designed to respond to the findings of the Commission, which in short order found the workforce is underpaid and under-trained.

Let’s walk through the mountain of work underway to address the issues.

Following the release in June 2018 of A Matter of Care – Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy a report by the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce, Chaired by Professor John Pollaers, an Aged Services Industry Reference Committee was formed, with the first aim to develop a stand-alone and specialised qualification for entry level workers in the aged care sector[1].

The committee has since recommended ‘a single qualification with core Units of Competency common to both sectors and specialised elective streams for aged care and disability support for use by workers in the Aged Care and Disability Support sectors was more appropriate.’[2]

This April, progress on that single qualification was reported to the Australian Industry Skills Committee. The committee noted in its communique that the review is well underway, with considerable feedback provided on Draft 1 (of the qualification) which is still in the process of being analysed. Members also noted advice …. with respect to the interdependencies between this review and the Royal Commissions into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Health Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) is commencing work on qualification redesign. According to the skills reform website the redesign trial will focus on career pathways for the Personal Care Worker job family within the aged care sector. The trial will develop new forms of qualifications for personal care workers and evaluate these against existing qualifications.[3]

The key success factors the HSSO has identified are: vocational outcomes to recognise skill commonality; reducing duplication and complexity in training packages; flexibility and improving articulation and pathways.

On top of this the National Skills Commission has been tasked by the Prime Minister to undertake an in‑depth study on the factors affecting the supply and demand of care workers both in the near term and longer term to 2050. And, I’ve previously noted that the Fair Work Commission is considering a work value case for aged care workers.

Many fingers in the pie! Competing priorities! Ingredients in the magic cauldron?

There are many legends arising from the Blood Moon, most foreboding. The most uplifting comes from the Batammaliba people of Africa. They view the Blood Moon as a conflict between sun and moon – a conflict they must encourage to be resolved. They take it as a time for old feuds to be laid to rest, a practice that has remained until this day.

I’m not suggesting a feud when it comes to vocational education for Aged Care but there may be merit in taking some heed of the Batammaliba people. It’s not too hard to imagine.

In the meantime, providers get on with the job. This week we celebrate the fantastic work of TAFEs in preparing these workers. Take time to read the stories we have gathered. They will inspire you.

To do its part to respond to the royal commission the TAFE network has established the TAFE Aged Care Taskforce. The priority is to work across the TAFE network to share best practice and uphold quality and contemporary vocational education for aged care.

Photo courtesy of Earth.Awesome

[2] ibid

TAFE cyber security sleuths go head-to-head

Cyber security students from across different states have taken part in the inaugural TAFEcyber ‘Capture the Flag’ event.

The nine participating TAFEs interconnected their TCSOCs (Training Cyber Security Operation Centres) and demonstrated their ability to attack each other’s networks while diligently protecting their own.

The event comprises a series of challenges that vary in their degree of difficulty, requiring participants to exercise different skillsets. Students work together in finding vulnerabilities in the connecting TCSOCs while also patching the same vulnerably in their own.

TAFEcyber is an Australian based consortium focusing on the skilling of the fast-growing cyber security workforce through education and training. It was awarded funding through the AustCyber Projects Fund, and aims to support the development of Australia’s cyber security training capabilities.

The TAFEs that are part of the consortium and participated were TAFE Queensland, Box Hill Institute, Canberra Institute of Technology, South Metropolitan TAFE, North Metropolitan TAFE, TAFE SA, Victoria University, Chisolm Institute and Melbourne Polytechnic.

WorkED podcast: Skills and TAFE in a digital world with Craig Robertson

The digital world is transforming business, jobs and the skills required for learners across every industry.

With fast-paced change driven by continuous innovation and new technology, the TAFE and wider Vocational Education and Training (VET) industry is grappling with new ways to skill up flexible, contextualised and industry-ready talent.

Marc Washbourne, ReadyTech CEO, sat down with TDA CEO, Craig Robertson, to talk about to his personal journey as part of the skills sector over 30 years, and his innate motivation to make a difference in the sector. In this WorkED podcast, Marc and Craig explore:

  • Why the skills sector needs to adapt to a digitised world;
  • The unique roles and differentiators of TAFE, private and global training providers;
  • How training for adaptable and localised skills – not specific jobs – will future-proof Australia in a digital economy; and
  • The challenge of delivering training for the ‘now’ versus preparing learners for the digital world.

Importantly, Craig discusses the ability of education to transform lives and the labour market, giving every individual the chance for success.

Listen now on Spotify, Apple podcast, or at ReadyTech

Kangan signs agreement to extend health services in Melbourne's north

Victoria’s Kangan Institute has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern Health which will leverage the capabilities of both organisations to support the future training needs and the health sector in the growing north of Melbourne.

The signing of the MOU took place at Kangan Institute’s Broadmeadows campus, where a new $60 million Health and Community Centre of Excellence will soon be built.

Northern Health is a major provider of acute, maternity, sub-acute and specialist services in Melbourne’s outer north.

Kangan Institute CEO Sally Curtain said the new alliance with Northern Health builds upon existing partnerships with DPV Health and comes at the most opportune time.

“Thanks to this funding, we are able to realise our vision to increase the provision of health training facilities in Broadmeadows and to enter into new and enduring partnerships with industry.

“Together with Northern Health we will ensure we are delivering the most pertinent courses in nursing, dental assisting, pathology collection, disability and early childhood in the right facilities.

“That might mean sharing our spaces or working on bespoke course content. Regardless, it will see us better serve this community’s current and future health needs and create pathways to meaningful new jobs,” Ms Curtain said.

Northern Health Executive Director of Partnerships and Chief Allied Health Officer Briana Baass said both organisations were committed to supporting all aspects of wellbeing in the community and would examine student placements, training programs and future planning for shared facilities.

Left to right; Frank McGuire, MP for Broadmeadows, Briana Baass, Sally Curtain, and Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney.

Latest industry training hub opens in WA

The federal government has opened the sixth of 10 planned Industry Training Hubs – the latest at Armadale, Western Australia.

The training hubs are part of a $50.6 million commitment to support Year 11 and 12 students in regions with high youth unemployment.

Each training hub is managed by a career facilitator who will build links between schools and local industry. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia has been awarded the contract for Armadale.

Five training hubs have commenced at Burnie, Townsville, Maryborough, Port Pirie and Shepparton, with additional hubs to be launched at Gosford, Grafton, Wanneroo, and Alice Springs.

Experts dissect the impact of privatisation and commercialisation of TVET

Four leading academics in the area of technical education and training (TVET) have engaged in a new podcast to address the question: TVET is the most commercialised and privatised of all the education sectors – what does this do to the student experience?

The podcast, organised by Education International features Gavin Moodie and Leesa Wheelahan from the University of Toronto, Canada; Stephanie Matseleng Allais from Wits University, South Africa; and John Buchanan from the University of Sydney Business School.

Gavin Moodie said impact of privatisation of TVET was to “degrade it consistently, whatever the form of privatisation and whatever the extent of privatisation”.

John Buchanan said one of the key problems with VET in countries such as Australia was the need for employers to “step up to the plate”.

“The fundamental problem in advanced countries like Australia is employers are walking away from training. They’re talking a lot more about training, they’re talking about more advanced skills, but when you look at the average hours of training, per year, that’s been in secular decline for about 30 years.”

Gavin Moodie noted that VET in many countries was broadly divided between those that follow an “employment logic” and those that follow an “education logic”.

Counties like Australia, United States, UK and Canada have mostly followed an education logic, he said, yet they have a policy goal of being more employer-led – something that hasn’t been achieved.

“All it has done is diverted attention away from the role TVET could serve, to trying to plug a hole in a role TVET can’t serve.

“If you want to have stronger relations between employers and TVET, you change the employers, (there’s) no need to change TVET.”

Leesa Wheelahan said the policy focus in a number of countries, including Australia, was “to screw qualifications down even tighter to more narrow conceptions of what the job should be”.

This was misplaced, she said, because students often ended up not working in those jobs, and because it doesn’t offer the “broad underpinning conceptual knowledge” to be effective at work.

That view was supported by Stephanie Matseleng Allais: “We need vocational education that is conceptually structured and gives students access to bodies of knowledge, a conception of vocational education that is radically different from narrow training for specific tasks.”

The panellists were finally asked the question: “If TVET were an animal, what animal would it be?”

We won’t give it away, but the answers may surprise you, especially for Australia!

Listen here

Nominations open for Australian Training Awards

Nominations are open for the 2021 Australian Training Awards, the peak national awards of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector.

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

Nominations are now open for five direct entry categories of the 2021 Australian Training Awards:

  • 2021 Outstanding Achievement in the VET and Skills Sector Award
  • Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award
  • Australian Apprenticeships—Employer Award
  • School Pathways to VET Award
  • Small Employer of the Year Award

Nominations for these categories close June 30.

More information

New chair, board members for TAFE Queensland

The Queensland government has appointed three new members to the board off TAFE Queensland, including a new chair, Jane Seawright, a corporate and commercial lawyer and governance advisor.

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said Ms Seawright will bring a wealth of experience in business and law to the role.

“She is an excellent choice to lead TAFE Queensland forward over the next four years – and I look forward to working with her on the future of training in this state.”

The minister announced three other appointments to the board – Dr Valerie Cooms, Adjunct Professor at Griffith University and a highly experienced First Nations academic; Bron Davies, the Chief Auditor of Airservices Australia; and Peter Price, an experienced board director whose work has focussed on safety, strategy, risk management, technology and cyber-security.

National Careers Institute second round grant applications open

Applications have opened for the second round of the National Careers Institute’s Partnership Grants program.

Grants ranging from $20,000 to $525,000 will be available for a maximum of 18 months to organisations to deliver innovative career guidance services for people at all stages of their careers.

Funding is open to organisations such as employers, training providers, and schools and community organisations to work collaboratively to improve the quality of, and access to, locally based, personalised career guidance.

Applications for Round Two close 23 June 2021.

See more

Call for submissions on digital innovation in education

The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) and Shanghai Open University (SOU) have called for examples of best practice in digital transformation related to use of advanced ICT in education, including artificial intelligence.

The best practices are collected within the UNESCO IITE/SOU joint project on “Promoting ICT Capacity Building and Open Education in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies”.

The collection aims to improve understanding of the potential, benefits and limitations of AI and advanced IT among educators.

It is expected that innovative practices include new ways of working and transformative “out-of-the-box” thinking and actions, including the themes covered, the methodology employed and possible channels used to create change in education.

To take part in the Initiative, please fill in this form. For any questions, please contact

The deadline for submissions is 30 June, 2021.

Diary Dates

Australian Schools Women’s Leadership Summit
4 June 2021
More information

The Learning Country: Digital Transformation
Live interactive online
9 June 2021
11.00am-12.00pm AEST
More information

Apprentice Employment Network, NSW & ACT
Skills Conference
16 June 2021
Dockside Darling  Harbour, Sydney

Lessons from the pandemic: Re-engagement
WFCP- Postsecondary International Network Webinar
24 June 2021
6:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
More information

VET in Schools Forum
25 June 2021
Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College, Burwood, NSW
More information

30th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
Past informing the future
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
7 – 9 July 2021 (Online)
More information 

Journal of Vocational Education and Training
Vocational and Technical Education Keynotes Conference
9 July 2021 (online)
More information

TVET World eConference
International Vocational and Training Association
28 – 30 July 2021
More information

QLD Schools VET Conference
Velg Training
6 August 2021
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
17 – 19 August 2021
Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania
More information

National Skills Week
23 – 29 August 2021
More information

WorldSkills National Championships & Skills Show
25 – 29 August 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information

2021 National VET Conference
Velg Training
9 – 19 September 2021
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

Victorian TAFE Association
2021 State Conference
16 – 17 September 2021
William Angliss Institute. 555 La Trobe St Melbourne
Save the Date

Australian International Education Conference 2021
5 – 8 October 2021
Gold Coast & Online
More information

Australian Training Awards
18 November 2021
Perth, Western Australia
More information