Industry Clusters could focus on improving learner completions – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Industry Clusters could focus on improving learner completions – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Once again, NCVER reported that for apprentices who started in 2017, completions have not increased (reported on later in this newsletter). There have been significant policy attempts to improve apprenticeship completions including incentivising employers, and more recently direct payment early in the apprenticeship to the apprentice.

As stated in an earlier TDA newsletter this year, the highest risk timeframe for apprentices to exit is early in the apprenticeship, so this latest policy change may have a positive impact. Time will tell.

Without focusing only on apprenticeships, it is worth asking ourselves what more can we do to support learners to finish their qualifications and who is responsible?

Many of our TAFE teachers know that often a very capable student will exit a course because they have secured a job. Sometimes that job might be in the industry area they were studying, at other times it may be in an entirely different job and industry.

Given TAFE students are generally in their late 20s or 30s, continuing to commit to study when so many other life demands get in the way can be a challenge. However, as the demand for higher level capabilities and skills continues, finishing VET qualifications will contribute to an individual’s ability to succeed in their career.

There is one group who may not have considered the impact of their decisions on learner completions. That group has been Industry Reference Committees (IRCs). When IRCs update a training package this can create a significant problem for enrolled students. It is most acute when there are new competencies that must now be undertaken. That means what the student signed up for, unless they can really focus on completing in the transition time, has changed. As TAFE students are adults that transition time is not always possible. Therefore, they often don’t complete.

TDA suggests that as the new Industry Clusters are formed, they could be required to think about the impact on learners. Industry Clusters are responsive to industry, but they must also be responsible for increasing learner attraction to their qualifications and industries. There are significant advantages to helping those who have already been attracted and enrolled for a qualification in that industry area to complete.

There is an old retail adage, “it is easier to retain a customer than get a new one”.  Therefore, Industry Clusters need to work with training providers to ensure that transitioning training packages impact enrolled students less than they currently do. To improve completions there are lots of parties who must contribute. Industry Clusters have a role. It is these small levels of attention, by all participants of the training system, that have the potential to make a difference.

Jobs and skills summit ideas to be implemented promptly

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says next month’s Jobs and Skills Summit will aim to reach general consensus on issues that can be progressed quickly including in the October Budget.

Invitations have been sent to approximately 100 participants including business, unions, government and community groups.

TDA is delighted to have received an invitation and looks forward to making a positive contribution to the summit.

Jenny Dodd welcomes input from TDA members to inform the policy priorities TDA takes to the Summit. Send input via email to or email to register to be part of an open consultation process on TEAMS on Monday 22 August between 12noon and 2pm AEST.

Speaking at Central Queensland University as part of the first pre-summit regional visit, Mr Chalmers said the intention is for the summit to arrive at concrete ideas that can be promptly implemented.

“Our expectation is that all the participants in the summit in Canberra, indeed, at all of the conversations we’re having around Australia, people come with ideas about what we could do better.

“And when there’s a general consensus, not unanimity, but a general consensus around those directions, then, of course, we’ll act on them.

“We will act on them immediately if we can, or in subsequent budgets or in the Employment White Paper,” he said.

The Treasurer has also signalled a significant boost to migration in the October budget to help fill urgent labour shortfalls, but assured that this will not be at the expense of developing local skills.

The summit will take place on September 1-2 in federal parliament’s Great Hall.

Victoria injects $24m to boost vocational workforce

The Victorian government will spend $24m as part of a program to enable teachers to re-train as vocational specialists, and tradies to upskill to become teachers.

The Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins announced the measures to boost the state’s vocational and applied learning workforce in preparation for the new VCE which will replace the VCAL from next year.

A key part of the new-look VCE is the VCE Vocational Major which will prepare students for apprenticeships, traineeships, further education and training, non-ATAR university pathways or the workforce.

“The reforms will mean Year 11 and 12 students across Victoria have better access to high-quality vocational and applied learning opportunities – whether they’re interested in pursuing a career in engineering, mental health, early childhood, automotive, hospitality, hair and beauty or dozens of other in-demand sectors,” Ms Hutchins said.

Time to register for TDA Convention 2022!


TDA is delighted that the Minister for Skills and Taining Brendan O’Connor will open the TDA Convention 2022 on Tuesday 15 November.

Delegates at the Convention will be informed and inspired by courageous stories and innovative practices. Presentations will highlight the power of collaboration with colleagues, community and industry. The TDA Convention will bring together different perspectives including from students, staff, employers, industry, community and government.

For further information on registration packages and inclusions, and to register for the event, please click here.

Sponsorship opportunities
The sponsorship prospectus is now available here. To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact

Stay up to date on convention news and program updates 
For updates on convention news and programming, please subscribe to the TDA Convention 2022 e-newsletter here.

TDA looks forward to welcoming its members, partners and supporters to Adelaide in November 2022 to be part of the conversation on Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.

Apprentice completion rates decline

The completion rate for individual apprentices and trainees who commenced in 2017 (the most recent data available) was 55.7%, down 1.2% on the previous year.

NCVER data shows that trade completion rates declined 3.0 percentage points to 54.0%, while non-trade completions were up 0.3 percentage points to 56.9%.

For trade apprenticeships and traineeships, the highest individual completion rates were in Engineering, ICT and Science Technicians at 61.9%. The lowest were Food Trades Workers at 43.4%.

For non-trade apprenticeships, the highest individual completion rates were for Professionals at 60.2%.

See more

Helen Smart commences as MD of North regional TAFE

Senior former government official, Helen Smart (pictured) has commenced as Managing Director of North Regional TAFE in Western Australia.

Prior to commencing at North Regional TAFE, Helen worked for 12 years at the WA Department of Training and Workforce Development as Director, Training Infrastructure Management.

Helen’s career spans more than 30 years in the public sector, with extensive experience in senior management roles across the training and education sector.

Born in Wyndham, spending her early years in Kununurra, and later working for the Department of Health in Port Hedland, Helen has broad local knowledge of both the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia and a Graduate Diploma in Information and Library Science from Curtin University.

TDA extends its congratulations to Helen on her appointment.

TAFETalks: General Capabilities / Employability Skills – key to lifelong learning

Date: Wednesday 31 August at 2.00pm AEST (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)

General capabilities, often referred to as employability skills are increasingly important. In the process of attaining a tertiary education qualification learners will acquire and demonstrate general capabilities. These general capabilities are fundamental for success as a lifelong learner, and they are demanded by industry as necessary for successful workforce participation. Lifelong learning has become essential as workplaces demand existing workers to continually uplift their skills.

Please join TDA and expert Sandra Milligan from the Assessment Research Centre for a discussion on current developments of general capability tertiary education frameworks and future possibilities. Following Sandra’s presentation, Megan Lilly from the Australian Industry Group will offer a perspective on their importance for industry. Jane Trewin of Box Hill Institute will conclude the session by providing examples of how one TAFE embeds them in their delivery and assessment.

Guest Speakers: 

  • Sandra Milligan, Director and Enterprise Professor, Assessment Research Centre University of Melbourne
  • Megan Lilly, Executive Director Australian Industry Group
  • Jane Trewin, Executive Director Educational Delivery, Box Hill Institute, Victoria

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

For further information, please visit here

Hear how microcredentials are helping to revitalise industry

In a post pandemic world, professional development has been transformed with a focus on using digital tools to upskill and reskill.

As a result, micro-credentials have gained increasing prominence.

Attend Essential skills in post-pandemic work – the case for micro-credentials and hear from a panel of experts about the ins and outs of micro-credentials.

‘Call for papers’ to address challenges of VET teacher recruitment

The journal ‘Education + Training’ has issued a call for papers for a special edition on the issue of VET teacher recruitment.

“Across the globe we are facing a recruitment crisis in education with the number of people choosing to teach falling and those who do only staying for a few years,” the overview of the special edition says.

Topic areas include:

  • How the political landscape in VET operates across the globe and in varying countries/contexts
  • The ability to recruit and retain high calibre teachers and trainers
  • The need to support teachers and trainers in developing their teaching, learning and assessment capabilities for rapidly changing contexts in industry and in VET
  • Challenges in the status and rewards of teaching in VET

The deadline for submissions is 28 February 2023.

See more

Training providers to be surveyed on use of VET data

Australia’s 4,000-odd training providers are about to be surveyed by the Commonwealth on VET data and reporting as part of a move to a new streamlined system of data collection.

All Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in the VET sector will receive the survey.

The survey is specifically interested in the current AVETMISS 8 (Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard) and state or territory-specific reporting. The estimated time to complete survey is 15 mins.

The survey is part of the VET Data Streamlining program which aims to modernise the way student and training activity data is collected and managed.

Once implemented this will see a new VET Information Standard to replace AVETMISS 8, a new Student and Training Activity Reporting System (STARS) that can connect to Student Management Systems, and ‘anytime’ submission and more timely validation of data.

If any TAFEs want further information, please contact the TDA secretariat and we will put you in touch with the appropriate officials.

Forum to tackle manufacturing skills crisis


Join the livestream of IBSA’s Manufacturing Skills Forum on 17 August from 9.30am – 4.00pm.

The session is aimed at employers, business leaders and organisations and training providers with a key interest in manufacturing skills excellence and the strategies to enable a skilled workforce.

There is an impressive line-up of speakers from Australia and overseas. The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor will give the opening address.

TDA CEO Jenny Dodd will be part of a panel that will address skills system responses to the manufacturing sector’s labour challenge.

Register here

Job openings in PNG

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is seeking applications from qualified, highly experienced and motivated individuals for a number of roles in Papua New Guinea.

There is a role for a Senior Skills Manager, and three openings for Skills Advisers.

APTC is a centre for training excellence, providing Australian standard training qualifications and skills across the Pacific region.

APTC has country offices in Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The Regional Head Office is located in Suva, Fiji
Applications close 9:59pm PNG Time, Sunday, 28 August.

See more.

Reminder for vocational students to protect their intellectual property rights

IP Australia, the federal government agency that administers intellectual property (IP) rights, has issued a reminder to vocational students about the importance of IP.

“We know students studying areas like hairdressing, hospitality or horticulture often start their own business and are establishing a brand and identity,” IP Australia has warned.

“The protection of this brand and the underpinning intellectual property (which may be a brand, invention, design or new plant variety) is critical in ensuring the business can establish a competitive market profile, and have a legal route to defend itself against copycats.”

IP Australia has a range of tools and resources available to help small businesses navigate the IP system. More information is available at the Education and Resources page on  IP Australia’s website.

It’s also possible for RTOs to arrange an information session for students which will be run by the IP Australia team. Please contact IP Australia at

Diary Dates

IBSA Manufacturing Skills Forum
17 August 2022
More information

ACER Research Conference 2022
Reimagining assessment
22-25 August 2022
More information

Victorian TAFE Association
State Conference
24-26 August 2022
Registrations open

National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
More information

TAFETalks: General capabilities / employability skills – key to lifelong learning
31 August 2022,
Register here

Community Colleges Australia National Conference
13-14 September 2022
More information

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

TDA Convention 2022
Courage, Change and Challenge – the Future of TAFE
15-17 November 2022
More information

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