Let’s chase value  – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Let's chase value  – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

I suspect we are immune to sales techniques and attuned to value.

Special deals dominate our retail experience. Boxing Day sales have lost their edge and discounts are a permanent feature. Once price discounts fail, do you notice the move to promises of value that seem too good to be true – stronger, brighter, slimmer ….?

When sales plummet most rational businesses look at the access buyers have to shop, then the sales techniques. Price strategies are usually the first step but sooner rather than later questions start to be asked about the product. This past week this question was posed for VET in the form of the 2018 students and courses figures released by NCVER.

Looking at the most reliable measure, hours of training, the total for 2018 has not been as low since 2006, several years before the great opening up of training. Of more concern is the young people deserting training. In 1996, 55 per cent of the hours of training were by young people under 25 years of age but this has declined by 10 percentage points to 45 per cent in 2018. A reduction of 87 million hours of training – a loss of skills to the workforce. As I’ve indicated before, these declines need to be seen in the context of significant population growth, not decline.

This past week someone said to me that as long as VET has a sales culture, it will have a quality and integrity problem.

We’ve tried sales. After all, the rationale for contestable funding, including expanding VET FEE-HELP, was to increase access to VET.
Let’s see what sales techniques were used.

Free steak knives – we tried i-pads.

Two for one – well, actually we tried one for two – students being signed up for two qualifications and two loans under the impression it was just one.

Inducements – we do that for employers of apprentices and trainees, yet they’re not buying.

A job guarantee – research shows that only 34 per cent of courses lead to the job the training is aimed at.

Agents – they’ve been banned.

The Government is in-sourcing the sales task. They are proposing a government established Careers Institute and a government appointed Careers Ambassador.

What about value? It seems young people are the savviest of buyers. They are attuned to job prospects, and more so wage levels. In a climate of high jobs growth, they’ve chosen the job. They’ve made a value choice.

All sales textbooks are clear there must be value at the end of each transaction. I wonder how the Careers Ambassador will solve the value dilemma.

The question is when will there be a serious look at the product and its value to students.

Apprentice and trainee completions headed in the wrong direction

Completion rates for apprentices and trainees have shown a significant fall, according to the latest figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The 2018 completion rates for all apprentices and trainees (who commenced training in 2014) fell to 56.7%, down from 59.9% for those commencing in 2013.

Completion rates for individuals who commenced in trade occupations in 2014 were down 4.7 percentage points to 54.5%, while non-trade completions were down 2 percentage points to 57.7%.

Completion rates varied considerably by occupation. ICT professionals had the highest rate of completion (94.7%) while food trades workers had one of the lowest (41.2%).

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VET funding stagnates, new report shows

The VET sector has undergone funding volatility and stagnation to a degree not seen in any other education sector, a new report on education funding in Australia shows.

The report, Education Expenditure in Australia, from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) shows that total education expenditure has grown substantially since the beginning of the century, with funding in 2015 being 79 per cent more than the level in 2000, after adjusting for inflation.

However, it says that in the VET certificate sector between 2000 and 2015, total expenditure per student has been volatile, with almost no change over the period.

“These trends have largely been driven by volatility in government expenditure, with private expenditure being relatively stable in comparison,” the report says.

For bachelor degrees and above, total expenditure per student was stable between 2000 and 2012, before increasing between 2012 and 2015, largely driven by increases in private expenditure per student.

Annual expenditure on education (primary school and above) within institutions per student by level of education, 2000 to 2015 ($2015, constant prices)

TasTAFE’s registration renewed for seven years

TasTAFE is delighted to announce it has had its registration renewed by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) for the next seven years.

TasTAFE received notification on July 15 that its application for renewal as a registered training provider had been granted by ASQA.

TasTAFE’s registration expired on  December 31 last year, and was extended until the end of June 2019 while ASQA undertook a standard registration renewal audit earlier this year. The audit was extensive and covered many aspects of TasTAFE’s training and delivery across a number of qualifications.

TasTAFE is the largest vocational training organisation in Tasmania and trains around 23,000 students, including 4500 apprentices.

TasTAFE is responding to ASQA regarding adequate staffing for delivery of the Certificate III in Electrotechnology and will be providing additional information for reconsideration of the decision.

Wodonga TAFE appoints new CEO

The chair of the Wodonga Institute of TAFE Allison Jenvey has announced the appointment of Phil Paterson, pictured, as its new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director.

Phil has extensive senior management experience as the Chief Finance Officer and Board Secretary of the institute since January 2016. Prior to that he was with Mars Incorporated for 13 years in a variety of global commercial and leadership roles.

He replaces the former CEO Mark Dixon who stepped down in March to take on a new role as CEO at the City of Wodonga.

Phil is a Certified Practicing Accountant and holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Jenvey said the board received significant interest in the position from across Victoria and that that Phil’s appointment was recognition of the talent in its own ranks.

“Our TAFE has an excellent reputation and a strong positive culture, and we look forward to this continuing under Phil’s leadership,” Ms Jenvey said.

TDA extends its congratulations to Phil on his appointment.

TAFE NSW awards celebrate Indigenous achievement

Sixteen TAFE NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, teachers and partnerships have been recognised at the annual TAFE NSW Gili Awards.

The awards which celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal students, as well as the accomplishments of TAFE NSW employees and programs were presented by the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Dr Geoffrey Lee.

TAFE NSW Team Leader Aboriginal Education and Training Unit, Merv Donovan said the winners had shown hard work, dedication and commitment to transforming their lives and the lives of others through vocational education and training for Aboriginal people.

Ashleigh Knight, received the prestigious Gili Award for her outstanding contributions in supporting Aboriginal participation and achievement.

NECA emPOWER Aboriginal Apprentice Readiness Program received the Industry Partnership Award and Youth Engagement Award, while Wiradjuri Language accepted the Community Engagement Award for their exceptional commitment to the community.

A number of TAFE NSW staff including Elsie Gordon, Natalie Wilcock, Rebecca Murphy and Bridget Thomas were also recognised for their commitment and dedication to the vocational education and training outcomes of Aboriginal students.

The 15 awards were presented in 12 categories at the event. See the full list of award winners.

Swinburne launches leadership index

Swinburne University of Technology has launched a new index that measures public perceptions and expectations of leadership.

The publicly-available Australian Leadership Index is based on the largest ever survey of leadership and reveals Australians’ views on leadership in the public, private, government and not-for-profit sectors.

Swinburne researcher Dr Sam Wilson said the project has uncovered fascinating insights into the publics’ perceptions of leadership across all four sectors, with many sectors falling well-below Australians’ expectations.

“Perhaps the most dispiriting and striking finding is that the institutions that are supposed to be the custodians of the greater good – federal, state and local governments – are seen as showing no leadership in this space,” Dr Wilson said.

“By contrast, the institutions with which we have regular contact in the public sector – schools, hospitals and police services – are seen as showing much more leadership for the greater good.”

Religious institutions were among the worst performers in terms of leadership for the greater good, while charities such as The Salvation Army and the Red Cross rated highly.

Each quarter, the research team surveys a representative sample of 1,000 people across Australia and a full year’s worth of data is now available on the Australian Leadership Index portal.

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Diary Dates

National Apprentice Employment Network
Beyond 2020, NAEC Conference 2019
31 July – 2 August 2019
Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast
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QLD School VET Conference
Velg Training
9 August 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
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VTA 2019 State Conference
15 – 16 August 2019
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
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National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
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National Skills Week
26 August – 1 September 2019
Locations around Australia
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TAFE Directors Australia 2019 Convention
‘The Power of TAFE’
3 – 5 September 2019
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2019 National VET Conference
Velg Training
12 &13 September 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
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Community Colleges Australia 2019 Annual Conference
18-20 November 2019
The Stamford Plaza Hotel, Brisbane
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Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
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Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group
5th Annual Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education
9-10 December 2019
Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga Campus
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