Learners need to be considered more in transition dates – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Learners need to be considered more in transition dates – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

“Do you have access to an RTO that won’t change your course one month out?” This was the question asked by one of the participants from Alice Springs on the ABC’s The Drum a few Friday evenings ago. Ellen Fanning led a discussion on skills and learning which included representatives from communities in central Australia.

This is another case of a person or group, who doesn’t understand it is not RTOs who change the course. RTOs get blamed for the disruption to learners because of this constancy of change. And yet, it is industry who put in new timelines that change the courses. It seems often these changes are made with minimal awareness of the impact on learners, especially learners who need additional support to move to completion.

So, what happens when these seemingly random end dates get imposed? For many learners it means considerable extra training to now complete the course in which they enrolled in good faith with a known completion date just a few months earlier.

As an example, take the recent changes to infection control. Tens of thousands of students would have been impacted if the date of 1 March had been sustained as the end date RTOs had been advised for everyone to transfer. That meant students who had enrolled only a few months ago in November would have had to undergo additional training from the purchase decision they had made just three months previously.  Thank you to the folk at DEWR who led the push for a more reasonable transition period of four months – allowing either the new or old infection control unit to be delivered until the end of June.

Consider university learning timeframes – they certainly don’t operate on changing individual units within courses just three months after the student enrolled. Nowhere else in tertiary education does a student begin a course, expect to finish within the reasonable time frame for completion, and find the course has changed.

The new Jobs and Skills Councils were onboarded last week in Canberra. TDA calls on them to be more consultative and not so dramatic in transition date changes. After all, it is unlikely that the sky will fall in if there are more reasonable transition periods.

Better still, RTOs need to be able to look after their enrolled students, within reasonable time periods, and not be demonised for something that is out of their control. TAFEs and quality RTOs should be able to control the transition dates for their enrolled students.

Profiling the JSCs – the Agribusiness Jobs and Skills Council

The TDA Newsletter is profiling each of the ten new Jobs and Skills Councils. This week, we look at Skills Insight.

Skills Impact is excited to be establishing a new organisation, Skills Insight, with the role of a Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) for a range of industries including those in the agribusiness supply chain. As one of ten JSCs, Skills Insight will be part of a national network of not-for-profit, industry-owned and led organisations, designed to provide leadership in addressing national skills and training needs.

Skills Insight’s coverage includes primary production, plants and animals, forestry and timber, textiles, clothing, footwear and furnishing, as well as emerging industries around natural resource security and environmental management. These industries are connected by a complex value chain that is crucial to Australia’s communities, ecosystems and prosperity.

When the skills of these industries are supported, everyone in Australia benefits.

Skills Insight will support the voice of industry in the Australian skills and VET systems. It will also work closely with registered training organisations (RTOs) including TAFEs, who play a vital role in developing a skilled and resilient national workforce.

As a JSC, Skills Insight will be working to examine all parts of the skills pipeline to analyse what is working and what is not, and to describe strategies and solutions on behalf of all stakeholders. This means our scope of work will be well beyond training package projects. It will also be highly collaborative, working with RTOs, unions, employers, other JSCs and Jobs and Skills Australia to provide strategic leadership and align efforts across industries. Drawing on its networks, Skills Insight will support industry, government and the VET sector to address system-wide barriers and add value across the economy and all education pathways.

Built on the base of Skills Impact’s people and values, our drive to improve industry skills and training delivery is the same. We are excited to be able to empower industry and all stakeholders to have a say in all stages of the system, from the development of national skills standards, through to training delivery and assessment.

We are keen to nurture new and existing relationships across the vocational education and training system, and to strengthen collaboration between industry and training providers, including TAFEs.

A website for Skills Insight will be available in the coming months.

Subscribe for updates from Skills Insight

Read more about Skills Insight

Oh, what a cluster!: Minister's shock at industry consultation process

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor has revealed his dismay at the process he inherited from the former government in the lead up to the establishment of new Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs).

In a frank address to an onboarding forum for the ten JSCs in Canberra last week, Mr O’Connor noted that when he assumed the role last May, the process was already well underway.

“And as the saying goes, I wouldn’t have started from here. We heard many unfavourable reflections on what were then known – possibly quite appropriately – as clusters. But that was where we started,” he said.

Now, the JSCs are a central part of the new skills architecture, the minister said.

“We have high hopes and high expectations for your work.

“JSCs should reflect their industries and the wider society, in the voices they amplify and who is actively involved in them.”

He emphasised that communication across JSCs, “something that has been lacking in previous iterations”, will be vital to a coherent training landscape.

“Each of you will have different experience and strengths and there is no need for each of you to reinvent the wheel.”

He said the JSCs will work “hand-in-glove” with Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) to combine the best data and analytical capability with intelligence and insights from the real economy.

“JSA has a whole of economy role, while you have a deeper knowledge and connection to your specific industry or industries.”

See Minister O’Connor’s address to the JSC Onboarding Forum

TAFETalks: Women’s Leadership in Times of Crisis


On International Women’s Day, join TAFE Directors Australia at TAFETalks to celebrate the leadership of women in vocational education and training.

Mish Eastman, from RMIT and Sally Curtain from Bendigo Kangan Institute (BKI) will lead a thought-provoking discussion on the impact of COVID-19. RMIT’s College of Vocational Education and BKI will come together to explore the ways in which they developed leadership through crisis.

RMIT will delve into how the pandemic led to the creation of an innovative learning ecosystem and changes in approach to delivering online and blended learning. Plus, hear about BKI’s unique program to transform its systems, people, and processes to better meet the training needs of students with a focus on student-centred innovation and digital enablement.

Additionally, TDA also welcomes Kit McMahon, National Co-convenor, Women in Adult Vocational Education (WAVE), who will speak about the lived experiences of women in the current VET system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by inequity.

To register for this event, please click here

JSA updates top occupations in shortage

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has produced a new quarterly update of the top 20 occupations in demand nationally.

JSA’s Labour Market Update for the December quarter shows shortages in areas including health care, digital, construction and engineering professionals, as well as traditional trades workers.

Occupations with the highest vacancy rates (that is, job vacancies as a proportion of employed people) are heavily concentrated around engineering and medical professions, mostly in regional areas.

The likelihood of filling advertised roles has improved in recent months, but remains worse than in previous years.

JSA has also undertaken preliminary analysis of the underlying drivers of skills shortage for the top 20 occupations in demand. It shows that seven of these occupations have a shortage that is primarily driven by a lack of people with the essential technical skills, reinforcing the importance of the domestic skills system to respond.

Charles Darwin University launches new TAFE division

Charles Darwin University (CDU) has formally launched a dedicated TAFE division – CDU TAFE – under Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Michael Hamilton.

CDU says the new structure will be more focused and streamlined and will better meet the needs of those in regional and remote communities. It will also provide new direct pathways from TAFE courses into higher education degrees.

CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Scott Bowman said the opportunities for vocational education have changed and have increased significantly so it’s critical that the university is set up to deliver and offer more opportunities to develop skills and training for Territorians.

NSW election campaign sees more promises

With the NSW election on March 25 approaching, both the Coalition government and the Labor opposition are rolling out critical education and skills commitments.

Last week, the government announced a new funding model for external delivery of VET in Years 11 and 12. Students will have 60-100% of their tuition fees covered, depending on the school’s level of socio-economic advantage.

Labor promised $43 million to establish three TAFE Domestic Manufacturing Centres of Excellence to deliver traditional and advanced manufacturing skills in Western Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra.

At yesterday’s Labor campaign launch, leader Chris Minns promised $94 million to recruit an additional 1,000 apprentices and trainees across the NSW public sector by 2026.

Australia-India agreement on recognition of qualifications

Australia and India have signed an agreement that will see students able to have their qualifications better recognised in both countries.

The Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications was signed by the Minister for Education Jason Clare and India’s Minister of Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi last week.

Ministers Clare and Pradhan will meet again later this year when they co-chair the Australia India Education and Skills Council meeting with the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor.

Pacific Island workers to receive subsidised training

The federal government has announced that subsidised training will be available for thousands of workers in Australia under the Pacific Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

Through an expanded range of eligible training courses, more Pacific workers will be able to undertake training towards formal qualifications.

The government will now fund up to half the cost of full qualifications, with  employers also contributing.

There are more than 35,000 PALM scheme workers filling workforce shortages in regional Australia, and sending earnings to the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

See more

VET Development Centre Industry Boost – TAFE Industry Currency Forums throughout 2023

The VET Development Centre (VDC) has partnered with TDA to deliver a national program of TAFE Industry Currency Forums in 2023.

The Industry Boost program provides a high-profile, best practice initiative, to stimulate industry currency for TAFE educators. Mapped to the VET Practitioner Capability Framework and ASQA standards, online forums will be hosted by an experienced AQTF auditor, discussing the industry currency requirements of educators.

Each online forum will include a presenter who is a leading Australian expert from the industry.  The forums will be held online from 2pm to 4.30pm AEST for the registration fee $150 incl GST. All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.

The 10 Industry Boost forums being delivered in 2023 will focus on: aged and disabled care, child care, dental assistant, electrician, nursing, multimedia specialists, network administrators, cyber security, veterinary nursing and youth work.

Registration links for the first three sessions can be found at CHILD CAREDENTAL ELECTRICAL.

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: Women’s Leadership in Times of Crisis
8 March 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

TAFETalks: Closing the Digital Skills Gap: Strategies for Meeting Australia’s Growing Job Demand
29 March 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
May to June 2023
More information: Child CareElectricalDental Assistant

AVETRA 2023 Conference
27-28 April 2023
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 World Congress
23-25 April 2023
Montréal, Canada
More information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
26 – 28 July 2023 – save the date
Mildura, Victoria

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023 – save the date
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

2023 VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023 – save the date
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information