Language is important – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Language is important – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Throughout the University Accord Panel’s deliberations there have been numerous conversations about language. The Accord Panel is very aware that higher education and vocational education have developed their own nomenclature. For example, higher education uses student load, a term not used at all in vocational education. Vocational education uses competency, rarely used in higher education.

Language differences begin with the subtle distinction created by ‘higher’ versus ‘vocational’. This difference alone implies that one is greater than the other. This is an unnecessary distinction in a future that requires industry and learners to access and respect both parts of tertiary education.

In their book, Rethinking Tertiary Education, Peter Dawkins, Peter Hurley, Sarah Picher, Megan Lilly and Robert Pascoe call for a national skills taxonomy. They state and describe the benefits as follows: “This will create a common skills language for industry, higher education and VET. Industry can then use these rich skill descriptors to assist in recruiting and developing talent and workforce capabilities” (p226).

Jobs and Skills Australia has taken up this challenge and TDA understands they will be working on a such a skills taxonomy. This will be an important tool in the quest for a more harmonised tertiary education system. However, it is still a way off.

So, where do we begin. Putting a lens on emerging descriptors and the message they convey is one place. Here I refer specifically to ‘higher apprenticeships’. This term for apprenticeships that are at AQF 5, 6, 7 levels has come from overseas; it is being used in the United Kingdom.

Australia needs its own term, as the use of ‘higher’ has the potential to convey that other apprenticeships are lower. We need to be careful that we are not entrenching practices that most advocates of a harmonised tertiary education system don’t support.

It has been proposed that ‘degree’ apprenticeships might be an alternative term. While the Employment White Paper proposed degree apprenticeships at AQF7 to be delivered through TAFE Centres of Excellence, there have been in place for some time pilots of Diploma apprenticeships. Where do these AQF 5 apprenticeships therefore fit within this language?

Perhaps the solution might be to just use ‘apprenticeship’ as an all-encompassing term. If we then need to distinguish type of apprenticeship, given the employment relationship of an apprenticeship, could we use the industry to which it applies? For example, engineering apprenticeship, IT apprenticeship, construction apprenticeship, hairdressing apprenticeship. Apprenticeship therefore denotes an employer relationship as opposed to a level of study.

TDA calls on those doing the technical development work that will lead to TAFEs being able to offer apprenticeships at AQF 7 to think carefully about language. We need to continue our progress toward one tertiary education system that fosters parity of esteem and promotes numerous opportunities for learners that are unique and yet equally valued.

Holmesglen's Mary Faraone honoured for outstanding VET achievement

Mary Faraone, the Chief Executive of Holmesglen, and Chair of the TDA Board has received the Outstanding Achievement in the VET and Skills Sector Award at the Australian Training Awards. 

“In a career spanning more than 40 years, Ms Farone has been recognised for her outstanding leadership and lasting contribution to VET practice and skills development in Australia,” the award committee said.

Mary commenced as the Chief Executive of Holmesglen in October 2013, and is also a board member of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

“Under her leadership, (Holmesglen) institute has secured a reputation for innovation, financial sustainability, and industry collaboration. It also continues to deliver on its mission to provide quality education and training, support community diversity, inclusion and cohesion and engage with businesses to develop their workforces,” the judges said.

Receiving the award on Friday night, Mary remarked that she had worked in the Middle East many years ago, and “once sand gets in your passport it’s hard to leave”.

“VET is the same – we stay because we believe in what we do, and we make a difference to the lives of individuals. We need to talk VET up every opportunity we get. Students here tonight are a testament to that.”

TDA extends its congratulations to Mary for this fitting recognition on of her immense contribution to VET.

TAFE showcases its breadth of talent at Australian Training Awards

Friday night’s Australian Training Awards in Hobart saw TAFE institutes, teachers, students and industry partners named as some of the best and most innovative in the country.

TAFE Queensland was named the Large Training Provider of the Year, with more than 100,000 enrolled students and more than 450 qualifications delivered across more than 60 locations. TAFE Queensland was commended for its partnerships in emerging industries, including hydrogen and advanced composites manufacturing, and for the Australian Virtual Business College, that sees business qualifications delivered through virtual classrooms and interactive content.

TAFE Gippsland secured Silver in Large Training Provider of the Year for its transformative approach to the region’s training needs across its 13 campuses, including a key role in the transition to renewables and clean energy. A partnership with paper manufacturer, Opal Australian Paper, has seen the development of the Certificate III in Bio Manufacturing to assist in the design and delivery of waste-to-energy management training.

The Gold in the Industry Collaboration category was awarded to the Women in Apprenticeships Victoria Electrical (WAVE) Project – Electrical Trades Union, Victorian Branch. WAVE is a collaboration between the Victorian Electrical Trades Union, Holmesglen Institute, Trades Hall Council, Australian Women in Solar Energy, and the Victorian Department of Education and Training to recruit, train and support women in electrical apprenticeships.

Silver in the Industry Collaboration category went to the National Energy Technician Training Scheme (NETTS) in Queensland, a collaboration between leading oil and gas businesses and training providers, Programmed Training Services, CQUniversity and the Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training at South Metropolitan TAFE. NETTS involves a standardised education and training program for people in Gladstone to join Shell’s QGC business, ConocoPhillips Australia, and Santos.

The Bronze award for Industry Collaboration went to the Defence Industry Pathways Program, a collaboration between South Metropolitan TAFE, the Department of Defence and employers to ensure a pipeline of skilled workers for the defence industry.

The VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award went to Holly Gudsell from North Metropolitan TAFE in Western Australia. Holly’s passion for Aboriginal education saw her introduce an innovative “mixed mode” course that has supported 10 Aboriginal students through the Certificate III and IV in Education Support—North Metropolitan TAFEs largest cohort of Aboriginal students to graduate from a single course.

The winner of the Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award was Brendan Reid from Charles Darwin University (CDU). Brendan has been CDU’s learner support coordinator since 2010. He works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who speak English as an additional language, and develops strategies to meet the requirements of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities.

Leela Subramaniam was the Runner-up for the Apprentice of the Year Award. Leela is doing a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at Victoria’s Chisholm Institute.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award went to Emma Brown, studying for a Diploma of Government at Canberra Institute of Technology.

Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino was the winner of the Australian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year. He is studying the Certificate II in Engineering with TAFE Queensland.

The Runner-up for the Australian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year was Molly Smith, enrolled in the Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at TAFE NSW.

The award for Vocational Student of the Year went to Jessica Addo, doing a Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education at TAFE Queensland.

The Large Employer of the Year is All Purpose Transport from Queensland, a privately-owned transport company that has seen 500 workers earn certificate III-level qualification or higher through TAFE Queensland.

The Small Employer of the Year was named as Beaufort and Skipton Health Service, a small rural hospital in Victoria, which has a partnership with Federation TAFE and Grampians Health Ballarat to develop a traineeship for Enrolled Nurses.

See all the winners and finalists


Australian Training Awards celebration: “200 years of VET experience” (from left) David Coltman, CEO TAFE SA; Grant Dreher, CEO TasTAFE; Mary Campbell, former CEO TAFE Queensland; Jenny Dodd, CEO TDA; and Mary Faraone, CEO Holmesglen. 

Skills ministers lay out priority issues for next 12 months

Commonwealth, state and territory skills and training ministers have examined skills needs for the transition to a net zero economy and laid out the key priorities for reform of VET over the coming year.

The Skills and Workforce Ministerial Council meeting in Hobart on Friday had a briefing on the work of the Net Zero Economy Agency from its Chair, Greg Combet.

“Mr Combet spoke about the vital role skills and training will play in supporting workers in emissions-intensive industries to access new opportunities in clean energy sectors,” the ministers said.

The meeting Communique says that key priorities for the coming year include: embedding the new model of stewardship to deliver national priorities; placing TAFE at the heart of the VET sector, building sector capability and establishing TAFE Centres of Excellence; delivery of key National Skills Agreement initiatives and reform of foundation skills; and First Nations engagement including Closing the Gap.

The group also discussed the success of Tasmania’s Regional Jobs Hub Network and how it might be adapted to other jurisdictions.

The Ministerial Council also released its priorities and indicative workplan for next year which includes:

  • A National Code of Good Practice for apprentices (scheduled for November)
  • TAFE Centres of Excellence implementation framework (March)
  • NCVER Strategic Plan (May)
  • VET Workforce Blueprint (March)

New data shows the real gains from VET learning

The scale of economic and social improvement to individuals from completing a VET course has been charted through the use of an innovative, new set of data from Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA).

It shows that completing a VET course has the potential to change lives for the better, with the percentage of graduates employed after completing a VET course at 82.7%.

The percentage of female students employed was 82.3%, however employment rates were lower for First Nations students (76.3%) and students with disability (61.7%).

The courses with the highest rates of improvement in employment outcomes include Certificate III in Individual Support, Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and Certificate III in Education Support.

The percentage of students that commenced further study in VET after completing a VET course was 15.7%, while the progression to higher education was 6.7%.

The report tracks VET student outcomes for the top 100 courses – 98 of which resulted in higher incomes after training.

The innovative approach is the result of using the VET National Data Asset (VNDA) – produced from a collaboration between JSA, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The VDNA is derived from administrative data and can produce more granular data than through survey results such as NCVER’s Student Outcomes Survey (SOS).

While the report is regarded as a “preliminary” piece of work, JSA has big plans for use of VNDA in other areas of VET.

TAFE Queensland Gold Coast campus a leader in sustainability

TAFE Queensland’s Robina campus on the Gold Coast (pictured) has been recognised by the Green Gown Awards Australasia 2023, with a Highly Commended in the Next Generation Learning and Skills category.

The award recognises outstanding contributions to sustainability within the education sector and underlines the campus’s unwavering commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

TAFE Queensland Gold Coast General Manager, Karen Dickinson expressed her gratitude and highlighted the importance of this recognition.

“It’s an honour to be recognised globally as a leader driving positive change and fostering a sustainable future for all. This achievement motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries and finding innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly practices within the education sector,” said Ms Dickinson.

The Green Gown Awards recognised 12 universities and one TAFE – celebrating 11 winners and eight highly commended across 10 award categories. TAFE Queensland’s Robina campus was the only TAFE among the finalists.

TAFE Queensland faced competition from top universities, including fellow Queensland institution QUT which took out the win for their Masters of Sustainable Energy program for the second year running.

Sustainability has been woven into every element of Robina Campus’s, resulting in flexible spaces and cutting-edge facilities that are powered by state-of-the-art technology.

Commonwealth Supported Places remove barriers to higher education pathways

As we continue to share our case studies on how TAFEs are creating pathways for students between vocational education and training and higher education, this week’s story discusses how Commonwealth Supported Places would support more students from under-represented groups into higher education pathways.

TAFE has long been an attractive pathway to higher education for many under-represented groups including First Nations people, mature-aged, people with a disability, and English as a second language cohorts. This is largely due to the applied nature of higher education delivery, close links with employers, real-world industry experience, smaller class sizes, and the availability of additional learning support.

Many of these under-represented groups that enter higher education pathways have faced educational, social, and cultural barriers that have hindered their options for direct entry into higher education programs. This highlights the importance of having the availability of equitable funding options within these pathways.

Read the full story here.

Russian student at TAFE NSW receives top international award

Maksim Veselovskii, a student from Russia studying at TAFE NSW, has been awarded the NSW International Student of the Year in the VET category.

Maksim is committed to promoting culinary sustainability. He volunteers for the Sydney City Farm community gardens to foster green initiatives and community sustainability, and CleanUp Australia, where he preserves his neighbourhood.

He works as chef de partie at the Royal Sydney Golf Club, where he promotes sustainability through constant green initiatives and sustainable practices such as limiting food wastage.

David Riordan, the CEO of the Public Education Foundation, and a former CEO of TAFE NSW, was awarded the NSW International Education Engagement Award for Outstanding contribution to the International Education Sector.

See all the award winners

Alice Springs forum tackles care workforce challenges

Industry leaders, unions, educators and students have gathered in Alice Springs as part of a regional and remote forum hosted by HumanAbility, the Jobs and Skills Council covering health, aged, disability, children’s education and care industries.

The day-long forum featured keynote speakers and panel discussions, and saw discussion on HumanAbility’s initial report on the state of the workforce – ‘Shortfalls and Skill Gaps’: Navigating Workforce Pressures in the Care and Support Sectors.

HumanAbility continues its engagement with a second forum this week – this time in Canberra.

Image: From left, Karren Raper, TAFE SA with Emma King and Jennie Courtney from HumanAbility.

Diary Dates

Empowered Women in Trades
Gala and Awards 2024
23 February 2024
The Trust, Melbourne
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8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
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VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
15-16 August 2024
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