It’s a question of who pays – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

It's a question of who pays – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

One of the challenging questions facing vocational education and training has always been who pays for those who are already in the workforce to gain further skills.

There is little argument that those entering the workforce need tax supported opportunities to gain knowledge and capabilities for careers and for personal success. But what of those who already have jobs – should employers be tax-supported to develop their workforce?

Last week in this TDA newsletter I referred to two surveys showing that businesses plan to invest significantly in training their workforces during 2022. This investment from employers toward funding their people to acquire new skills is welcome. It is a key part of the puzzle that has not been there, in many cases, during the last couple of decades.

Often individuals who are working self-fund continuous learning for professional development or future promotion. This has always made sense. Sometimes the employer guides what knowledge and skills they want their workers to acquire and pays for them to do so. That is also a good model.

That leaves tax funded VET programs to be more readily available for those who really need that support. TAFEs know how many of our students need financial support to acquire skills and knowledge to get on the first rung of the employment ladder. This might be youth. It might, equally, be more mature people in their late twenties or thirties, with long working lives ahead, who for the first time aim to enter critical industries that are crying out for skilled workers.

It is terrific to think in 2022 we have returned to stronger employer investment in our VET system for people already employed. That will allow the limited tax supported training dollar to be spent where it is most needed.

Talks underway to improve VET student loan program

TDA members will be meeting today with officials from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on plans for a series of changes to the VET Student Loans (VSL) program.

The planned re-design is aimed at streamlining the VSL program, including making it easier and potentially less costly for training providers.

The department has considered input from providers in previous consultations and is now looking to build on that to implement what it says will be incremental improvement.

The VET Student Loans Redesign Consultation Paper provides an overview of the redesign approach and information about redesign activities. Submissions to the paper are open until 11 March 2022.

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Victoria starts consultations on reform of TAFE legislation

Victoria’s Department of Education and Training is starting consultations with the state’s TAFEs and dual sector universities on proposed changes to legislation governing the sector.

The proposed reform of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 will cover the role of the TAFE network, as distinct from individual TAFEs, and the likelihood of stronger powers for government to set the strategic direction.

It will also clarify government expectations regarding financial sustainability, oversight and accountability.

discussion paper on the proposed legislative reform has been released.

Submissions are open until 18 March.

A reminder about Industry Clusters, starting 1 January 2023

The federal government provided $292 million in the 2021-22 budget to establish a national network of Industry Clusters.

The clusters represent all industries and aim to bring a strong, strategic industry voice, drive collaboration, and improve the speed to market of qualifications to meet industry needs. The Industry Clusters will be operational by 1 January 2023, replacing the Skills Service Organisations and Industry Reference Committees.

Industry Clusters will be groups of aligned industries and will have a central role in addressing strategic workforce challenges and identifying skills needs. They will have a range of responsibilities and accountabilities, including working with TAFEs to ensure training meets employer needs.

TDA and many of our members are participating with several eligible applicants as they develop their bids (closing 31 March).

If you want to know more about becoming an industry cluster visit the DESE website. Or if you’re a TAFE and would like to hear more about the reforms contact Jenny Dodd on

Key projects supporting students with disability in VET

Three important projects are underway that are designed to assist VET providers who have students with disability.

The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) has been funded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to undertake the projects. Three projects will:

  • Develop resources to build RTO capability to support students with disability
  • Develop resources for course designers to support removing unnecessary barriers within training packages and accredited courses for students with disability
  • Review enrolment practices for students with disability

The projects are underway and updates will be available here.

TAFETalks: Register now for international education forum, 16 March


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:

  • David Atkins, Assistant Secretary, Quality Branch, International Division, Department of Education, Skills and Employment
  • Helen Kronberger, Manager, International Education, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)
  • Andrew Williamson, Executive Director, International Education and Enterprise Solutions, Holmesglen Institute

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

Microcredentials pilot to bolster international education

The federal government has promised $10 million for six new initiatives to support the international education sector.

The Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said the measures would enable the sector to reach new markets, pilot innovative new products, and align educational opportunities with Australia’s identified skills shortages.

It includes $1.3 million to pilot a set of VET microcredentials targeted at international students to meet identified skills gaps.

There will also be $4.25 million to deliver critical skills courses in partner countries, and $1.5 million to pilot innovative transnational education products in countries across South East Asia, Latin America, South Asia and North Asia.

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CDU helping Bhutan develop building & construction credentials

Australian experts continue to help Bhutan strengthen its TVET system, this time with a focus on the building and construction sector, through funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Between September 2021 and February this year, Charles Darwin University Team Leader in Engineering and Construction, Mark Fudge (pictured) has supported the Bhutanese Ministry of Labour and Human Resources in reviewing certificate level courses in carpentry and developing a new diploma level qualification in construction site supervision.

The collaboration also involved sharing Australia`s best practice in competency-based assessment and workplace-based delivery of building and construction training courses.

Bhutan`s building and construction sector has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, with the traditional workforce from neighbouring India unable to enter the country, leading to construction delays across the country.

The ADB-funded activities support the Bhutanese Government strengthen the development of domestic skills and address pressing youth unemployment issue by promoting collaboration between Bhutan and countries with a strong international reputation in TVET, such as Australia.

VET-in-schools to receive a revamp

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is hosting a series of roundtable sessions for industry and employers over the next two weeks on planned improvements to VET delivery for secondary students.

The one-and-a-half hour sessions will discuss how VET-in-schools can meet industry needs, how it should be delivered, how schools and industry can collaborate, and the National VET for Secondary Students Strategy.

The roundtables are for industry representatives and employers. A feedback form and future activity will be available for RTOs, schools and other stakeholders.

Register for the industry roundtables

See the Industry Feedback Form for completion by industry representatives and employers.

See the Other Stakeholders Feedback Form for any stakeholders with an interest in VET for secondary students including schools and training providers.

‘NoFrills’ 2022 to be online

The 31st National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’, previously planned to be held in Melbourne, will now be delivered as a fully online event.

This will enable more participants to attend and avoid the uncertainty around attendance sizes and interstate travel. The conference theme is ‘VET’s role in transforming the future’.

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Diary Dates

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
16-20 May 2022
More information

Disability Employment Australia Conference
31 May – 2 June 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

National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
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

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