Nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The Communique by Skills Ministers on Friday 25 August outlined that the National Skills Agreement will establish TAFE Centres of Excellence. It is worth exploring a little more what these TAFE Centres of Excellence will be.

Firstly, TDA and its member TAFEs welcome this initiative from Skills Ministers. We believe this reflects the strength of the national TAFE network, in particular its leadership of skills development for priority industries.

TAFEs are already connecting through networks, for example TAFECyber network and the TAFE SA, with other partners, hydrogen group. Therefore, TAFE is well positioned to provide national responses to strategically important industries.

TAFE Centres of Excellence will, to quote the Communique, “support productivity in key sectors”. These key sectors are those that are “strategically important industries”. The national priority industries will include “supporting transformation to a net zero emissions economy, sustaining essential care and support services, ensuring Australia’s digital and technology capability and sovereign capability”.

These TAFE Centres of Excellence will have some common characteristics but also be unique.

The common characteristics will be that they are about partnerships and sharing practice. In the main they will be virtual entities, hubs, or networks. They will all have a focus on solutions where partners from industry and community, along with universities, can join with TAFEs from across the nation to problem solve. Sharing great teaching and learning practice will be core to their function. They will also all be TAFE led.

What will be unique about TAFE Centres of Excellence is they will be developed specifically for their context. The popular understanding of a Centre of Excellence tends to include a place or building. While that might be part of one of the TAFE Centres of Excellence, it will not be common to them all. It might also be that a TAFE Centre of Excellence has as its uniqueness the purchase and use of similar equipment.

These proposed national networks are recognition that TAFEs are owned by state and territory governments, are locally responsive, and increasingly work nationally. State and Territory government will have a strong stake in the TAFE Centres of Excellence, guiding and supporting the national collaboration and unique context.

TAFE Centres of Excellence will be a place for industries to connect with TAFEs nationally. This open-door national approach has not been easy previously. TAFE Centres of Excellence are a welcomed national policy direction.

TAFETalks: Creativity and digital fluency in the GenAI era

TDA invites you to join us for an engaging discussion with our corporate affiliate, Adobe, on the intersection of creativity, digital fluency and generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), from a pedagogical perspective.

The conversation will be led by Manuela Franceschini, Adobe Pedagogical Evangelist and Senior Strategic Development Manager for Higher Education.

Manuela will be joined by representatives from TAFE NSW who will discuss the need for upskilling to adapt to the GenAI era, particularly in the context of NSW’s Institute of Applied Technology – Digital; and the exposure of students to digital tools, including GenAI as a strategy for enhancing teaching and learning.

Jason Grant (Solutions Consultant, Adobe) will also demonstrate Adobe Firefly, the new GenAI from Adobe.

Please join us for an inspiring conversation at the cutting edge of creativity, technology and innovation!

To register, please click here

DEWR explains how it will work with JSCs on training products

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has outlined the approach it plans to take in performing its new independent assurance function when assessing changes to training packages submitted by Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs).

In a paper, Training Package Assurance – Approach to Assurance, DEWR says its streamlined, four-stage assessment will be transparent and accountable, and aims to be completed in three weeks.

DEWR’s assurance function will take place once JSCs have completed their consultation and submitted all materials, and will be the final step before endorsement by skills ministers.

DEWR says the assessment will ensure that training package submissions contain all required documentation, that there is broad consensus (or reasons why not), consistency with the Training Package Organising Framework (TPOF), and that consultation has taken account of the needs of vulnerable or minority cohorts.

For training products to be considered to have broad consensus, there must be agreement from the major industry stakeholders, all jurisdictions, regulators and all involved JSCs. Where consensus has not been reached, justification must be provided.

Where recurring compliance issues are identified in submissions, DEWR says the assurance body will “educate, engage and consult” with JSCs to improve the quality of the training product development process.

“This will assist JSCs to ensure that nationally endorsed training products are of a high quality and fit for purpose in meeting the skills needs of industry, enterprise, and individuals,” the paper says.

TAFE SA and defence giant build young shipbuilders’ skills

With three decades of experience in working successfully with the naval shipbuilding industry, TAFE SA is well positioned to lend its expertise in helping its industry partners drive recruitment and training opportunities.

Working together with defence and security company, BAE Systems Australia (BAESA), a new, innovative program – the Shipbuilding Readiness Program – was developed to equip young people with the skills needed to work in shipbuilding.

This program was brought about in 2019, when the Hunter Class Frigate Program was in its infancy and the workforce was still growing and preparing to begin prototyping work. There was limited opportunity in the shipyard to offer traditional apprenticeships, so TAFE SA and BAESA worked collaboratively to develop alternative options to engage young people.

The Shipbuilding Readiness Program allows school-based trainees and apprentices the flexibility to achieve engineering qualifications by learning at school, at TAFE SA and onsite at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.

Read more

Image taken at TAFE SA facility.

Register for TDA's online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system, 18 October 2023

Registrations are open for TDA’s free online conference, Linkages: One tertiary education system, which will explore the policy and practice of better alignment between higher education and vocational education and training.

The online conference will take place from 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm AEDT on Wednesday 18 October and features a range of high profile speakers from vocational education and training, higher education, government and industry.

Some of our high profile speakers include the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training who be providing an opening address at the conference. The Hon Jenny Macklin, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne and Panel Member Australian Universities Accord will be discussing the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.

Members of the 2019 AQF Review, Professor Sally Kift, President of Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows and Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Victoria University, and Megan Lilly, Executive Director, Centre for Education and Training, AiGroup will be speaking on the proposed changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) reform.

View the full program and register here

VET completion rates edge higher

The qualification completion rates for VET students have risen, according to the latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The qualification completion rate for students who commenced training in 2018 rose to 47.6% – 1.5 percentage points higher than completion rates for students who commenced their training in 2017.

The highest completion rate by level of education was for diplomas and higher qualifications (56.7%), followed by certificate IV (51.8%) and certificate III (47.5%).

Between 2019 and 2022, the pass rate for subjects undertaken in training package qualifications gradually decreased from 84% to 81%. NCVER says this could be due to the rise in online course delivery observed during the pandemic, which is known to be associated with higher rates of subject withdrawals.

See VET qualification completion rates 2022

‘It’s never too late to learn’. Adult Learners Week, 1-8 September

It is estimated that around 44% of Australians don’t have the literacy skills needed to successfully navigate everyday life.

The President of Adult Learning Australia, Kathleen Priestly says, “People with low literacy and numeracy skills can struggle with essential tasks that the rest of us take for granted and they are also likely to feel high levels of shame and powerlessness, which can lead to social isolation.”

Adult Learners Week, which runs from 1–8 September is a UNESCO initiative supported in Australia by the Commonwealth Government and run each year by Adult Learning Australia, the national peak body for adult and community education.

This year’s theme — It’s Never Too Late to Learn — is a reminder that returning to learning at any age and stage can make a profound difference to one’s life.

“We are encouraging people who might have given up on learning for any reason at all to have another go, no matter their background, previous education level and age,” Ms Priestly said.

“The rewards can be profound.”

See more

ASQA's corporate plan identifies areas of 'significant risk'

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has published its Corporate Plan 2023-24, which sets out its strategic direction for the next four years.

Chief Executive Officer, Saxon Rice said that the Corporate Plan outlines ASQA’s purpose and sets a refreshed direction for how ASQA will collaborate to build its own and the VET sector’s capability.

“Our forward program of work and regulatory risk priorities continue to reflect the complex changes experienced across our business operating environments, and changes impacting the system and providers over the past few years,” the plan says.

The corporate plan includes eight areas that ASQA identifies as posing the most significant risks:

  • Student Work Placement
  • Academic Integrity
  • Online Delivery
  • Shortened Course Duration
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
  • Workforce Capability
  • Governance through change
  • International student delivery.

“We are committed to continuously improve including through the implementation of a new Service Charter and improved service standards, as well as ongoing implementation of an agency-wide approach to enhance our data and intelligence capability, to inform and prioritise our regulatory activities and resources,” Ms Rice said.

See the ASQA Corporate Plan 2023-24

Diary dates

SAVE THE DATE – TDA Convention 2024 – 8 and 9 May, Sydney – details coming soon!


TAFETalks: Creativity and digital fluency in the GenAI era
13 September 2023
Register here

NSW Training Awards
15 September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
More information

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

TDA online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system
18 October 2023, 1 pm AEDT
See more and register here

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

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information

TDA Convention 2024
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Save the date