Microcredentials, yes, but higher education certificates that erode vocational diplomas, perhaps not – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Microcredentials, yes, but higher education certificates that erode vocational diplomas, perhaps not – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The role of tertiary education will be essential to the discussion at the Jobs and Skills Summit in early September. If productivity is to be improved and our quality of life sustained, then tertiary education will be part of the solution. With the demand by all industries to uplift workforce skills, new solutions must be found.

However, it will be essential that we get the policy settings right. There is much we must consider in this context. In the pursuit of one outcome, it is important there are not unintended consequences.

We know that the future of work requires people to hold higher level knowledge and skills. We also know that microcredentials are what industry and industry associations are increasingly stating should be part of the solution. There is no question that in an environment of full employment and increasing automation and technology, the demand is now dominantly for new skills for existing workers. Microcredentials can be used to uplift the skills of the existing workforce.

TAFEs are very supportive of the opportunities that microcredentials bring. TAFEs are increasingly building their own suite of microcredentials to support their industry partners. While TAFEs have predominantly been in the business of offering qualifications, short courses / skill sets (microcredentials by another name) have always been delivered where there was demand.

Universities on the other hand have not been funded for microcredentials. The university mandate has been for longer qualifications. That is not to say with the workforce pressures businesses face that that should not change. However, we need to be alert to the potential risks that might exist. The previous government settings saw increased funding of higher education certificates. These were not microcredentials nor were they aimed at industry uplifts of skills. These higher education certificates were ways of attracting students into a degree program. They were generally not built to meet the skills demands of industry. They were often marketed as alternatives to a vocational diploma.

If that policy is to be sustained, then there is a real risk that the value of the vocational diploma will diminish. VET diplomas have been developed by industry with the specific goal of enabling learners with skills for work at that higher level.

As the Jobs and Skills Summit explores all new tertiary education possibilities, including microcredentials, so it is beholden on policy makers to make sure that the solutions will improve productivity. Long term prosperity requires both investment in VET qualifications, including those at the higher levels of VET such as diplomas, and new solutions for re-skilling existing workers, such as microcredentials.

Industry cluster 'negotiations' set to commence

A key milestone on the path to the new Industry Clusters is due this month when shortlisted applicants will enter into a process of “negotiation and clarification”.

An update from the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) says that the detailed evaluation of applications submitted under Stage One is currently being finalised by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

The outcome of Stage One will be announced after finalising the evaluation, completing subsequent negotiations and awarding Stage One grant funding. A negotiation and clarification phase with shortlisted applicants will commence this month.

Stage Two of the process is expected to open from September. This will see newly established Industry Clusters invited to provide an operational and delivery strategy detailing how they will carry out the full range of functions.

Successful Stage Two applicants will then be invited to negotiate a second grant agreement that provides operational and activity funding. This is expected to be complete by late 2022.

The Industry Clusters are scheduled to be fully operational by 1 January 2023.

VET sector urged to step up in delivering tech skills

The VET sector is not delivering the students or the skills that will be needed for the big growth in IT jobs over the next decade, according to a report released last week.

The report, ‘Getting to 1.2 million jobs – Our roadmap to create a thriving Australian tech workforce’ was released by the Tech Council of Australia, the Digital Skills Organisation and the Digital Employment Forum and was launched by the Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic.

The report finds that Australia will need to employ an additional 653,000 tech workers in order to meet the need for a 1.2 million-strong tech workforce by 2030.

However, it says gaps in training products and poor outcomes from VET delivery are holding back progress.

“VET students in IT related courses report poor employment outcomes, with only 1 in 2 going on to get a better job once they’ve completed their study,” the report says.

“These poor outcomes, and lack of supply-response from the VET sector presents significant risk of inequality – as it precludes young Australians that do not wish to undertake university study from having an effective pathway into tech jobs.

“An ineffective VET pathway also makes it almost impossible to achieve the scale required,” the report says.

One of the recommendations is for a new Australian Digital Apprenticeship to help deliver more tech jobs.

TDA Convention 2022: Today is the last chance to submit your presentation!

For anyone who would like to present at the TDA Convention 2022, today is the deadline for submissions.

This is an opportunity for TDA member staff and key stakeholders of TAFE including community, university, industry and government partners to share their stories and experiences of courage, change and challenge. Please click here for more information and to download the presentation guidelines.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to collectively shape the future of TAFE and the tertiary education sector in Australia – submit your presentation now!

Delegates at the TDA Convention 2022 will be informed and inspired by courageous stories and innovative practices. Presentations will highlight the power of collaboration with colleagues, community and industry. The TDA Convention will bring together different perspectives including from students, staff, employers, industry, community and government.

For further information on registration packages and inclusions, and to register for the event, please click here.

Sponsorship opportunities
The sponsorship prospectus is now available here. To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact tdaconvention@absoluteevents.com.au

Stay up to date on convention news and program updates 
For updates on convention news and programming, please subscribe to the TDA Convention 2022 e-newsletter here.

TDA looks forward to welcoming its members, partners and supporters to Adelaide in November 2022 to be part of the conversation on Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.

Academic cheating websites blocked

The higher education regulator, TEQSA, has used special protocols for the first time to block 40 of the most prolific academic cheating websites.

The websites blocked by TEQSA are visited about 450,000 times each month.

The new protocols were developed with internet service providers who are members of the Communications Alliance.

The Minister for Education Jason Clare said blocking these websites will seriously disrupt the operations of the criminals behind them.

The protocols streamline the process for blocking illegal academic cheating websites, better enabling TEQSA to enforce Australia’s anti-commercial academic cheating laws.

Latest career grants funding announced

Nine organisations will be provided some $2.4 million in funding to help young people into work, under the latest National Careers Institute (NCI) Partnership Grants program.

The fourth round of the program had a focus on helping young people with their education, training and employment decisions, the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said.

“Projects will be delivered by education, training, employment and careers organisations, community groups, Aboriginal corporations and local governments to help young people to improve career outcomes and create education and training pathways.”

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TAFETalks: General Capabilities / Employability Skills – key to lifelong learning

Date: Wednesday 31 August at 2.00pm AEST (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)

General capabilities, often referred to as employability skills are increasingly important. In the process of attaining a tertiary education qualification learners will acquire and demonstrate general capabilities. These general capabilities are fundamental for success as a lifelong learner, and they are demanded by industry as necessary for successful workforce participation. Lifelong learning has become essential as workplaces demand existing workers to continually uplift their skills.

Please join TDA and expert Sandra Milligan from the Assessment Research Centre for a discussion on current developments of general capability tertiary education frameworks and future possibilities. Following Sandra’s presentation, Megan Lilly from the Australian Industry Group will offer a perspective on their importance for industry. Jane Trewin of Box Hill Institute will conclude the session by providing examples of how one TAFE embeds them in their delivery and assessment.

Guest Speakers: 

  • Sandra Milligan, Director and Enterprise Professor, Assessment Research Centre University of Melbourne
  • Megan Lilly, Executive Director Australian Industry Group
  • Jane Trewin, Executive Director Educational Delivery, Box Hill Institute, Victoria

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

For further information, please visit here

Christine Robertson appointed Interim CEO at CIT

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) has appointed Christine Robertson, pictured, as Interim CEO while Leanne Cover is on leave.

Christine has over 20 years’ experience in the tertiary education and training sector, having served as Pro Vice-Chancellor at Charles Darwin University and Deputy Director of Vocational Education at RMIT.

New skills for assistance dog training

Increasing demand for trainers of assistance dogs has led to new national skills standards to cater to thousands of expected entrants to the industry.

The expansion of assistance dogs into fields covered by the NDIS and other health streams is expected to see more than 2,000 new entrants to the industry by 2024.

Over the past year, the animal care and management industry has contributed to a national project to update and develop units of competency and skill sets for trainers of assistance dogs. TAFE NSW was involved with this project, and TAFEs from around Australia were invited to provide feedback.

This has seen five units of competency and two skill sets updated. The new units have been included in the Certificate IV Animal Behaviour and Training, and as a result of the project work, a specialisation in assistance dog training was created.

The updated skill standards will equip the animal care and management industry with the expertise to facilitate rewarding relationships between assistance animals and their handlers.

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Apprentice hub to help document career journeys

The Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS) has introduced a new feature to help find and store information about Australian Apprenticeships.

The My Pathways Hub Account facilitates a custom user journey, whereby users can choose the information and resources they would like to save, allowing for quick and easy future access.

The hub is meant for use with students and job hunters to keep a record of their journey exploring different career pathways, so that favourite job and training options are in the one place.

It’s also possible to see how students are progressing to commencing an apprenticeship by tracking their quiz results over time.

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Diary Dates

10-11 Aug 2022
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ACER Research Conference 2022
Reimagining assessment
22-25 August 2022
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Victorian TAFE Association
State Conference
24-26 August 2022
Registrations open

National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
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TAFETalks: General capabilities / employability skills – key to lifelong learning
31 August 2022,
Register here

Community Colleges Australia National Conference
13-14 September 2022
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October 2022
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Australian International Education Conference 2022
18-21 October 2022
Gold Coast & Online
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2022 National VET Conference
Velg Training
3-4 November 2022
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
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TDA Convention 2022
Courage, Change and Challenge – the Future of TAFE
15-17 November 2022
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VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
VET Development Centre
17 & 18 November 2022 (Online)
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