Organisational type and purpose to be distinguished – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Organisational type and purpose to be distinguished – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), and their predecessor, the National Skills Commission have been working on a typology for vocational education and training (VET) providers. TDA is supportive of this typology as it will mean organisational type and different organisational purposes can be distinguished.

In a marketplace system for vocational education and training, where TAFEs and dual sector universities in number of organisations make up less than 1% of providers (although hundreds of thousands of students), being able to be grouped and recognised for our distinct role and purpose as public providers is essential.

A typology is defined by the Britannica Dictionary ( as “a system used for putting things into groups according to how they are similar”. In the proposed JSA typology, the 29 TDA members, made up of TAFEs and dual sector universities, will be a distinct group.

This will allow the TAFE business model to be distinguished from other training providers. Other training providers may be industry specialists with a specific scope of training products such as those delivering only in hairdressing and beauty, enterprise RTOs whose purpose is mainly upskilling of existing staff, or providers which only do one thing, such as first aid. This will allow better discussion about the nature of vocational education and training and its role in servicing skills demand as well as adult education, rather than the one size fits all model that we currently have.

Comparisons that suggest one part of the sector is bigger than another, and by implication therefore better, are not helpful. The public provider has a purpose that is different to these other RTO types. This does not mean there is not a place for other types of providers of varying size and purpose, where they deliver quality outcomes for students and employers.

As TAFE is rebuilt as central to the VET sector in every State and Territory, this distinction of purpose will strengthen how the sector operates. It will also allow for partnerships between TAFEs and other providers where it is sensible, industry / community appropriate, and student focused.

This changing environment that recognises the difference between providers is refreshing. The revised RTO standards are also being developed to allow for that flexibility. This will help the regulator to ensure quality outcomes are achieved, without applying the exact same lens to every single RTO.

This sort of nuanced approach to provider type and therefore purpose is well overdue.

Former top education official to lead NSW VET review

Dr Michele Bruniges, the former head of the Commonwealth Department of Education, will lead a three-member expert panel that will undertake a major review of VET in NSW.

The Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Tim Crakanthorp said the review would go beyond the 2020 Gonski Shergold Review of VET and develop robust recommendations to government following a decade of funding cuts.

“The review will determine the full impact of the cuts made to TAFE and establish a path forward to rebuilding TAFE,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

The other members of the panel are Professor Verity Firth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Social Justice and Inclusion at UTS and a former NSW Minister for Education and Training, and Jason Ardler, a Yuin man from the South Coast of NSW with two decades of experience in senior executive roles in the NSW public sector.

Dr Bruniges was most recently Secretary of Commonwealth Departments of Education, and also previously served as Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and Communities.

“As a former TAFE teacher I am looking forward to this important review,” Dr Bruniges said.

An interim report will be issued by the end of this year and a final report by mid-2024.

See more on the review and the Terms of Reference

Stories celebrate First Nations students and communities

TDA has curated a story collection, ‘First Nations Focus’, to recognise and celebrate the vital work that members nationwide do with First Nations students and communities to help them achieve their goals.

Australia’s First Nations people are renowned as story tellers. The power of story has been used for over 65,000 years to share culture and the challenges and triumphs experienced.

TDA members in every state and territory contributed to the First Nations Focus story collection. All the stories are owned by TAFEs and republished by TDA with their permission.

Continuing on from the previous weeks, we are looking at two inspirational stories this week that showcase the perseverance, determination and resilience of First Nations students in overcoming personal and societal barriers, and affirming the transformative power of vocational education and training. As we celebrate their achievements, we also recognise the instrumental role of TAFEs in supporting and nurturing their educational journeys.

Desirae Kilduff is Victoria’s Koorie Student of the Year

Desirae Kilduff, an Indigenous Program Manager with Maxima Group and Bendigo TAFE student, was named as Koorie Student of the Year at Victoria’s 2022 Training Awards.

Desirae started her career journey with a traineeship at a bank, leading her to her current role, where she helps facilitate training and career pathways for First Nations peoples.

Inspired by the bank’s Reconciliation Action Plan, she pursued qualifications at Bendigo TAFE in Human Resource Management and Leadership, and she now strives to promote the benefits of vocational education and training for Indigenous communities.

Bendigo TAFE’s Indigenous Education Centre played a crucial role in supporting her throughout her studies, affirming the importance of community in fostering education and growth.

To read more about Desirae’s journey and achievements, click here.

Defence industry training program boosts job opportunities for women and Indigenous people

South Metropolitan TAFE (SM TAFE) in Western Australia, a recognised leader in defence industry training, has launched an innovative Defence Industry Pathway Program (DIPP).

The initiative targets under-represented groups in the workforce, including women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the proud graduates of this program is Angela Dann, a Wajarri Yamaji woman.

Angela balanced her responsibilities as a mother, carer, employee, and student to successfully complete her Certificate III in the Defence Pathway.

Despite the challenges she faced, her unwavering commitment led her to a rewarding career at BAE Systems Australia and earned her the title of SM TAFE Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.

For more information on Angela’s story and the Defence Industry Pathway Program, visit here.

ASQA warns of bogus VET qualifications

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has issued a warning about bogus or fraudulent VET qualifications that have come to light.

ASQA’s investigations have confirmed several bogus First Aid statements of attainment and Early Childhood Education and Care qualifications purportedly issued by Auskills Training, post March 2020.

However, ASQA has been advised by Auskills Training that it has not operated as an RTO since March 2020 and has not issued any qualifications since that time.

“ASQA considers that any statements of attainment or qualification purportedly issued by Auskills Training are bogus and will not be recognised as certification of VET training,” ASQA said in a statement.

Anyone aware of possible bogus qualification or statements of attainment should contact ASQA via email:

TAFETalks: Using immersive technologies to enhance learning, 9 August 2pm AEST

Join TDA’s TAFETalks webinar, where TAFE Queensland and TAFE NSW will demonstrate how they are integrating immersive technologies to achieve improved learning outcomes in high risk and high-cost training.

This session will explore how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can improve learner outcomes. Using examples from the construction industry, Lee Webster from TAFE Queensland and John O’Brien from TAFE NSW will show the effectiveness of VR in improving student outcomes in courses such as working at heights.

They will share how simulating real-life situations is effective at enabling learners to gain deep skills before entering the real environment. Tony Maguire from D2L will offer reflections and insights on leveraging Learning Management Systems to enhance the incorporation of immersive technologies in teaching and learning.

The collaboration between TAFE NSW and TAFE Queensland in immersive technologies has grown because of TDA’s Immersive Learning Network (TILN). TILN facilitates knowledge exchange among TAFEs, focusing on AR/VR and related technologies that have the potential to enhance TAFE’s educational delivery.

To register, please click here

Divergent views on the suitability of online VET

A new study from NCVER has identified some of the teaching practices and student support services vital to the delivery of online VET, including blended delivery.

NCVER used information from interviews with 37 registered training organisations (RTOs) to compile case studies across eight qualifications.

The report notes that “good training is good training, irrespective of the delivery mode”. It cites five common elements in good practice – simplicity, clarity and consistency; development of varied and engaging learning material; communication and engagement; flexibility; and proactive and personalised student support.

However, there were divergent views in two of the qualifications examined – the Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways (and foundation skills generally), and the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician.

“Most of the interviewed training providers had strong views that online delivery was not suitable for foundation skills training, although some conceded it could play a supporting role due to the digital skills required in many jobs,” NCVER said.

In relation to Certificate III in Electrotechnology, the report said online delivery, including blended delivery, can never replace the workshop and hands-on experience, but some training providers delivered the theoretical components online.

“One (provider) believed that online delivery was not suitable for hands-on trades under any circumstance, arguing that most of the learning should link theory to its practical application.”

See Effective teaching practices and student support services in online VET

DEWR sets the record straight on 'misleading' VET student numbers 

A federal parliamentary committee has received clarification from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations regarding “misleading statements” about the number of students studying with TAFE and private colleges.

The Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Employment, Education and Training, Lisa Chesters, earlier told DEWR officials, “We’ve had some – what could be – misleading statements about what’s really going on with the data, like who is studying VET. The ITECA stated that independent providers support about 87% of VET students, yet receive only 22% of VET funding,” Ms Chesters told DEWR officials.

“Are we really comparing apples with apples here?” she asked.

DEWR Deputy Secretary of Skills and Training, Anna Faithful, told the committee, “When you’re comparing the total number of students, as you highlighted, that number that has been quoted, 87% of students, is really looking at a subset of the activity.

“When you look at government funded activity, in 2021 independent RTOs accounted for around 39.6% of the activity and received 22% of government VET funding,” Ms Faithful said.

“The share of activity reflected by the independent RTOs is predominantly short, high-volume training, such as first aid or responsible service of alcohol, on an exclusively fee-for-service basis,” she said.

“For TAFEs, nine-in-ten students undertake a program of study, compared with one-in-ten doing subject-only training. A further eight-in-ten students at TAFE are government funded, compared with two-in-ten who are fee-for-service.”

Ms Faithful said this was “significantly higher than independent training providers, where four-in-ten students undertake a program of study”.

On VET completion rates, Ms Chester said, “It’s quite easy to complete an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol). It takes a very long time and is quite hard to complete an electrical trade apprenticeship. If you’re an independent peak body saying, ‘We have greater completion rates,’ we’re not really comparing apples with apples.”

In relation to disadvantaged students, Ms Faithful said that 8% of students at TAFE identify as having a disability, compared with only 3% at independent RTOs; 6% of students at TAFE identified as Indigenous, compared with 3% at independent RTOs; and 20% of students at TAFE belonged to the most disadvantaged cohorts, compared with 16% at independent RTOs.

Farewell and 'thank you', Mary Campbell!

One of the TAFE’s icons, Mary Campbell, CEO of TAFE Queensland, steps down at the end of the month, bringing an end to her 36-year career at TAFE.

Mary’s contribution to the VET sector, TAFE, and the Board of TDA has been immense. She has held a host of senior executive positions at TAFE Queensland and built extraordinary relationships with industry, communities and international partners.

And, of course Mary has made an invaluable contributing to numerous committees and inquiries over the decades. Her Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Training Awards in 2020 was fitting recognition of this service.

TDA extends its enormous gratitude to Mary for her contribution and wishes her the very best on her retirement.

New head of VET at Swinburne

Swinburne University of Technology has appointed Madelyn Bolch as its new Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Vocational Education, after acting in the role since March.

A respected educational leader, Ms Bolch has a long and distinguished career in the vocational education sector, which she began at Swinburne more than 30 years ago.

Ms Bolch also held teaching, manager, Director and Dean roles at Chisholm, South West TAFE and Victoria University before returning to Swinburne in 2021.

TDA extends its congratulations to Madelyn on her appointment.

JSA releases findings on First Nations employment

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has released two reports relating to First Nations employment and educational outcomes – the First Nations Workforce Analysis, and findings from a survey of Employers’ experiences of First Nations job applicants.

The First Nations Workforce Analysis finds that while gaps still exist for the community in employment and education, particularly in remote areas, a number of positive trends are emerging.

In the five years to 2022, the number of First Nations People working as Contract, Program and Project Administrators increased by 42% nationally. Other occupations which saw strong First Nations growth included Welfare Support Workers (33%), Aged and Disabled Carers (31%) and Child Carers (22%).

Findings from the Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (from some 1,000 employers each month) found that First Nations applicants have a 70% success rate when applying for jobs and 93% of businesses who hired a First Nations applicant said the person had adjusted well in the workplace.

Apprenticeships Victoria appoints CEO

James Montgomery, the CEO of AFL SportsReady, has been appointed as the new Executive Director of Apprenticeships Victoria.

Mr Montgomery fills the role vacated by Cameron Baker who was recently appointed as South Australia’s new Skills Commissioner.

Before commencing with AFL SportsReady Mr Montgomery was the Director, Community Sport and Recreation for the Victorian Government from 2008.

Diary Dates

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
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Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
TAFECreates 23
26 – 28 July 2023
Mildura, Victoria
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National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
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VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
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WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
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Victorian Training Awards
18 August 2023
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National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
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NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
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Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
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Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
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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
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Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
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