It’s been a big week to end a big year – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

It’s been a big week to end a big year – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

During the last week the details of the new Industry Clusters were released, the ALP launched its election policies that included free TAFE, and the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, and Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert highlighted funding for microcredentials, albeit to bring universities and industry together. It was a big week.

Let’s begin with the discussion of microcredentials. In Minister Robert’s 7 December 2021 media release, it states ‘Government will support higher education providers to continue to deliver short courses in 2022, and we’re supporting the development and piloting of innovative microcredentials’.

TAFEs have been in the market of delivering microcredentials for industry for a long time. Indeed, short courses have always been a key feature of TAFE’s product offer. Those short courses have been delivered across numerous industry areas. Over 50 per cent of short courses are in health-related areas such as CPR and first aid, followed by the construction industry’s white card. Sometimes the individual will fund their learning, but about half the time the employer pays for these skill sets. That shows they are industry focused.

So, we welcome the rising importance of microcredentials. It is a practical way to increase the skills of those in the workforce. TAFE is well positioned to be part of this funding in ‘innovative microcredentials’ and we have the runs on the board.

That is a good segue to the ALP election platform that also included a focus on micro-credentials. Again, TAFE welcomes a discussion on how we can support existing workers ‘to build on their accredited microcredential training’ (Anthony Albanese, Richard Marles and Tanya Plibersek, Australian Labor Party media release Sunday 5 December 2021).

Federal Labor has also highlighted additional investment in new ‘free’ TAFE places in industries with a skills shortage, 10,000 apprentices to train in new energy apprenticeships, and a $50million TAFE Technology Fund. Additional funded TAFE places are enthusiastically welcomed, as is the technology fund.

Additionally, during this big week the documentation to apply to become an Industry Cluster was released – with applications due in March. More on that in 2022.

We’re not just at the end of a big week in the world of skills and vocational education and training, but we’re at the end of a big year. A year that for all its challenges was marked by student and industry focused innovation from our TAFE workforce. Thank you all!

Enjoy your break – the TDA newsletter is having one too – this is the last newsletter for this year. We’ll be back on Monday 24 January 2022.

TAFE partners named for NSW applied technology institute

TAFE NSW will partner with Microsoft, the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University to pilot NSW’s first Institute of Applied Technology for Digital Technology.

Premier Dominic Perrottet last week announced the partnership for the IAT which is under construction as part of the $154 million Meadowbank Education Precinct.

“This innovative partnership will see students merge the knowledge gained through university study with the hands-on technical skills acquired through vocational education, all in the one model,” Mr Perrottet said.

The IAT will first focus on the three signature disciplines of big data, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence through micro skills and micro credentials, and will also deliver new ICT traineeships.

The Managing Director of Microsoft Australia and New Zealand Steven Worrall said the speed at which technology evolves requires an agile approach to education.

“We are proud to be working with TAFE NSW and university partners to build a new educational model and student experience that is by nature flexible, scalable, accessible, and promotes greater diversity of thought across the industry.”

The centre is due to open next August.


Victoria's Free TAFE gets $108m boost

The Victorian government has extended its Free TAFE initiative, with an extra $108 million to deliver extra courses across the state.

The additional funding represents a 25 per cent increase, taking the total investment to $530 million over two years.

Premier Daniel Andrews and the Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney announced the expansion last week at William Angliss TAFE, marking 100,000 sign-ups under the Free TAFE program since it was introduced in 2019.

Premier Andrews and Minister Tierney said the extra funding will help TAFEs continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic and provide the skills needed as Victoria recovers.

They also provided a breakdown of enrolments under Free TAFE – half are women, 45 per cent are from culturally diverse backgrounds, 43 per cent were unemployed and more than 40 per cent live with disability.

The most popular Free TAFE courses include Nursing, Accounting and Bookkeeping and Cyber Security. Enrolments in Early Childhood Education and Care courses more than doubled since they were added to the list last year.

Commonwealth and states aim to shorten apprenticeships

The federal government will embark on a pilot program with the NSW and South Australian governments to fast-track apprenticeships.

The Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert announced last week a series of workforce reforms including a pilot program to shorten the duration of apprenticeships.

“We will work to fast-track entry into the workforce through the apprenticeship and traineeship sector by investing $10.5 million over the next three years to work intensively with the New South Wales and South Australian governments to pilot novel approaches to accelerate qualification completion time,” Mr Robert said.

“It is time to move towards competency-based qualifications ensuring we can move with the times and build our workforce as the economy evolves.”

See more 

RMIT and Essendon Football Club to deliver sports industry careers

Essendon Football Club and RMIT have joined forces to offer a new education program that will give students a pathway to a career in elite sport and business management.

The new dual Diploma of Business/Diploma of Leadership and Management will give students access to Essendon’s world-class, high-performance facilities and industry experts.

Students will also gain extensive and practical insights into the operations of an AFL club, across the men’s and women’s football programs.

Based at the NEC Hangar, students will complete the unique year-long program run by Essendon Education Academy (EEA), with a minimum of two guaranteed graduate roles at the Essendon Football Club following course completion.

RMIT’s College of Vocational Education Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Mish Eastman said the course will provide students with the skills and knowledge to operate or manage a business, while receiving the added bonus of a ‘sports lens’, to prepare them for work within the sporting arena.

“RMIT’s renewed partnership with Essendon Football Club highlights the value in providing tangible opportunities for students to learn, while offering a unique vocational course to the community,” she said.

Throughout the full-time program, participants will build a network and develop connections in the sport industry as they complete 100 hours of real-life work experience across Essendon’s various departments and partner network.

VET self-assurance project gets underway

The goal of self-assurance for training providers has moved a step closer, with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) commencing a project to come up with a workable model.

Under self-assurance, training providers would be responsible for assuring their own performance and compliance against standards.

ASQA says that as part of its regulatory reforms, it has initiated a four-year program of work to co-design a model for self-assurance with the sector.

ASQA has commissioned ORIMA Research to lead the co-design process and to develop a model with providers. The first round of focus groups and interviews will take place during January and February 2022. This will be followed by further consultation in April and May to test the model with providers.

See more

Bendigo Kangan Institute wins top multicultural award

Bendigo Kangan Institute’s support for culturally and linguistically diverse students has seen it awarded one of the top honours at the Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.

Bendigo Kangan Institute was named winner for the Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence in Education – Vocational Education and Training Accredited Education & Training.

CEO Sally Curtain said an all-encompassing Wrap Around support program for newly arrived migrants and a virtual campus community for international students are critical elements in supporting students.

The Wrap Around program brings specialist services like healthcare, legal and youth programs direct to students.

The program features partnerships with Services Australia, Arabic Welfare, Northern Community Legal Centre, Asthma Australia, Spectrum, Brotherhood of St Laurence and Foundation House, plus recent collaboration with Hume City Council and DPV Health to deliver COVID-19 and vaccine specific information sessions.

This year the program assisted 750 students who were predominantly newly arrived refugees from Iraq and Syria.

“It’s about reducing barriers to entry – the program acts as a one-stop-shop for students to access education and other essential services so they can focus on building a new future here in Australia,” Ms Curtain said.

Sally Curtain, CEO of Bendigo Kangan Institute; Ros Spence, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and Hemant Kokularupan, Bendigo Kangan Institute.

Ministers agree to extend undergraduate certificates to 2025

National education and skills ministers have agreed to extend the trial of Undergraduate Certificates to mid-2025.

Undergraduate Certificates are a new qualification under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) that were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide short courses designed to reskill and upskill the workforce.

The Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert welcomed the decision by state and territory government education and skills ministers to extend availability of the Undergraduate Certificate as an AQF qualification until 30 June 2025.

“The higher education sector has stepped up to the challenge to develop and deliver high-quality short courses to ensure we can get the economy back on track following the effects of the pandemic, and Australians should take advantage of these fantastic offerings in all areas of study,” Mr Robert said.

The Undergraduate Certificate will be reviewed in 2024 to support consideration of its ongoing value as an AQF qualification.

ASQA extends training package transition times

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has extended the transition periods for a range of qualifications across the water industry, horticulture, ICT, construction and maritime operations.

The extensions relate to the ICT, AHC, NWP, MAR and CPC training packages and see the transition times extended to 30 June 2022. See more.

Also, ASQA has approved shortened transition periods for TLILIC high risk work crane operator units.

TDA office closure and contact details

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: Academic integrity in VET and Higher Education
2 February 2022
Dr Helen Gniel, Director, Higher Education Integrity Unit, TEQSA & Sharon Waitzer, Director Engagement and Education, ASQA

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
15-17 March 2022
Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tasmania
More information

CCA Annual Conference: Rebuilding Community
5-6 April 2022
Marriott Hotel, Sydney
More information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2022 Skills Conference
15 June 2022
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
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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