Our thoughts and prayers – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Our thoughts and prayers – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Welcome to the 2020 tertiary education year. I suspect many of us are returning with a different sense of priority after the calamities of our Australian summer – which is not yet over!

From all associated with TAFEs around Australia and those who read this newsletter our hearts and thoughts reach out to those families devastated by the bushfire fury, especially in the loss of loved ones. Rebuilding property razed by fire is one thing but restoring lives and families and nurturing our precious fauna and flora is another.

Our experience this summer tells us many things. The most direct are matters best left for the experts. The fires also show just how connected we are across the globe.

We’ve heard that international students are reconsidering their study in Australia. Dan Tehan is working with education leaders to message those students that we are indeed a safe destination. The extent of the global coverage has had many international friends of TAFE pass on their well wishes – from China to Canada, Spain to the US, England, Scotland and more.

And for another year we have celebrated the recent settlement of this great southern land. We seek to reconcile that arrival with the owners of the land – those who settled here thousands of years ago and nurtured it ever since.

Grabbing at everything, grasping nothing

Let’s look at the agenda for tertiary education in 2020 with climate change in the back of our mind.

The federal government has accepted all the recommendations from the review of the Australian Qualifications Framework, subject to Minister Cash getting the endorsement of state and territory ministers in respect of qualifications of the VET sector. Minister Tehan has accepted the bulk of the proposed changes to higher education provider categories and has asked the Higher Education Standards Panel to recommend implementation steps.

For VET, Skills Organisation pilots are kicking off in the first part of the year and the National Skills Commission is due for a formal start from July under the recommendations of Adam Boyton, the interim National Skills Commissioner.

Perhaps more importantly for VET, the Productivity Commission is due to release an initial paper on the directions of Commonwealth-state and territory joint action on VET. Submissions were received over the summer break and setting the interim report for end March seems targeted to help inform Budget decisions. The extent of alignment between governments will be reflected in the VET Roadmap which first ministers asked skills ministers to develop for return to COAG mid-year. The roadmap is a mystery at present although ministers have asked senior officials to consult stakeholders.

Quality remains the perennial issue in the sector. A quick-fire review of ASQA’s audit operations is underway and their legislation is subject to the first of what is expected to be several tweaks. If quality is still falling short, then Ministers’ aspiration for excellence needs a completely new approach.

The other area being explored through consultancies and research (by NCVER) is trainer professional development. A simple review on this issue after the sector bled for three years in implementing the new TAE units, which by the accounts I hear is simply cementing in a compliance mentality, risks more of the same.

VET Student Loans is also up for review by the Commonwealth in response to pushing from states and territories. The banking Royal Commission would be thrilled with the controls on the loan scheme but in the end hardly anyone is using it. Hospitals with no patients, loans with no borrowers may make for perfect public administration but fall short in serving Australians.

Oh, and the Council for International Education is refreshing their National Strategy.

Have you ever dreamt of being alone in the chocolate shop grasping at everything but grabbing nothing. Such is the lure of these initiatives and reviews. The promise of candy for the VET bourgeoisie and crumbs for the proletarians with the risk of nothing for both.

Let’s hope not and keep an eye out for progress, because we need it.

Bushfire rebuild will need huge skills upgrade, federal opposition says 

The federal opposition has called on the government to make skills training a top priority as part of the rebuilding effort needed following the catastrophic bushfires.

Shadow Minister for Education and Training Tanya Plibersek urged the government to ramp up the training effort in key areas needed to rebuild homes, farms and businesses.

“We’ve had, for years now, shortages of carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, people right across the building trades and this massive reconstruction effort will only worsen those shortages,” Ms Plibersek said.

Many of the regional communities where the rebuilding efforts will be concentrated are also areas of high youth unemployment, she said.

“This is an opportunity for the government to make sure that we train young Australians in those building trades to address the skills shortages that are only going to be made more acute by the massive rebuilding efforts we have,” Ms Plibersek said.

“We can’t do that work unless we’ve got the tradies to do it. So this had to be a top priority for the government.”

TDA Convention 2020 date and location announced

TDA is delighted to invite all readers to attend this year’s TDA Convention 2020 which will be held at The Westin Perth, Western Australia from Wednesday 12 to Friday 14 August.

Following on from the success of the 2019 convention (with the theme of The Power of TAFE), the 2020 convention will offer a new level of networking and learning opportunities.

The Convention will coincide with the WorldSkills Australia National Championships being held at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre from 13 – 15 August.

Registrations will open in February and there will be upcoming announcements regarding presenters, speaker proposals, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities.

Save the date and stay tuned!

Steffen Faurby appointed MD of TAFE NSW

Shortly before Christmas, the NSW government announced the appointment of Steffen Faurby as the new Managing Director of TAFE NSW, a role he commenced on January 13.

Steffen was formerly the CEO of the State Transit Authority of NSW and prior to that the CEO of Harbour City Ferries.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Faurby noted that TAFE NSW has a proud history and is of huge importance to local industries and economies.

“I am especially impressed by the range of courses on offer, particularly what is available in regional NSW. I’m focused on how we can enhance this during my tenure so we can best meet the needs of more remote parts of the state.”

The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee thanked TAFE NSW acting managing director Kerry Penton for her leadership of the organisation over the past five months. She will return to the role of acting chief delivery officer.

TAFE NSW was previously headed by Dr Caralee McLiesh who was appointed Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury last September.

TDA extends its congratulations to Steffen on his appointment and its appreciation to Kerry for her commitment to TAFE and her support of TDA.

UNESCO adopts key higher education convention

The UNESCO General Conference has adopted the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education – a landmark step that aims to improve student mobility and access to higher education across regions and continents.

It is the first global treaty in higher education, elevating the importance of qualifications recognition as a key part of global education standards.

Australia has played a key role in the development of the global convention, and the adoption is a tangible outcome of the government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025.

The global convention is expected to take effect shortly, once the minimum number of signatories has been reached.

The Department of Education will take steps for Australia to ratify the convention, opening the way for increased global mobility for students, graduates, academics, researchers and education providers.

TDA announces new head of international education

TDA is pleased to advise that Ms Ewa Filipiak (pictured) has been appointed as its Director of International Engagement, replacing Jen Bahen who is heading off to become Counsellor-Designate, Education and Research at Australia’s embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Ewa brings an impressive background in international education and training, having previously been International Research Support Coordinator at Deakin University and, prior to that, Manager of International Projects at Gippsland TAFE.

TDA CEO Craig Robertson has thanked Jen for her tremendous contribution to TAFE’s international engagement during her time with TDA and congratulates Ewa on her appointment.

Members can reach Ewa at: efilipiak@tda.edu.au

Hollywood icon slams film industry's portrayal of skilled trades

Renowned American actor, director, producer and recent member of the White House Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, John Ratzenberger, has blamed Hollywood stereotypes and the media for much of the stigma around the skilled trades.

“Whenever you see a tradesman in the movie or TV show, they’re usually depicted as being stupid or dishonest. So why would a child want to have those jobs?” he asks.

Ratzenberger co-created the TV show Cheers in which he plays Cliff Clavin, a role which earned him two Emmy nominations, while he also plays voice roles in the Toy Story and The Incredibles franchises.

In the latest American Association of Community Colleges Journal, he urges educators and parents to “wake up and understand” that their job is to prepare the children in their care for a viable future.

“Not every child wants to or should get a bachelor’s degree in a major that will have very little application to real life. How many young adults do we all know that with a four-year degree or higher that are working as baristas while struggling to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans?”

He says the entertainment and media industries could eliminate the stigma overnight if they started to “honor tradespeople the way they honor football players, Hollywood actors and politicians”.

There’s not a single industry in the US that hasn’t been affected by this skills gap, he said.

“Now it’s time to fund the programming, build the educational opportunities and create training programs that can sustain the needs of society.”

Free VET teaching tools to support students with disability

There are two free e-learning training programs that are now available to assist VET educators in supporting students with disability.

The programs have been developed by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program and Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training.

The first of the programs is specifically designed for all staff who work in the VET sector and focuses on promoting awareness about the rights of students with disability, the needs and requirements of students, and responsibilities of RTOs.

The second program is for VET educators and focuses on promoting a range of practices such as universal design for learning and reasonable adjustments to support students with disability.

Both programs consist of three modules which must be completed in successive order. The e-learning is self-paced and does not need to be completed in one sitting. Program 1 should take an average of 45–60 minutes to complete, and Program 2 should take an average of 90 minutes.

The training is free and available at: www.disabilityawareness.com.au

For more information please contact: Darlene McLennan, NDCO / ADCET, C/- University of Tasmania,
Mobile: 0419 154 368
Email: darlene.mclennan@utas.edu.au

First release tickets to Year13’s Youth Engagement Summit finish this week

YES2020 ticket prices go up on January 31, so be sure to secure your place now.

As a special offer for all TDA members, please use promo code TDA2020 to enjoy a 10% discount to the conference.

Hear from keynote presenters Sarah Tang (Freelancer.com Enterprise) and Ty Hayes (former Curtin University) as well as expert panellists from a range of industries. Plus, be the first to gain access to Year13’s much awaited After The ATAR III research paper.

Click here more information on the panellists.

See the latest issue of WFCP's Dispatch

The latest issue of Dispatch from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics contains a host of issues from across the world of TVET:

  • Wilson Conciani from Brazil’s National Council of Institutions of the Federal Network of Vocational, Scientific and Technological Education (CONIF) discusses the teaching model that sees more than 30% of students involved in applied research projects in areas including intelligent energy systems, coffee production, automotive and manufacturing
  • Find out how to apply for the coveted WFCP Awards of Excellence (end February deadline)
  • See new research about low-wage “cyborg jobs”
  • Review recent changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework from TDA CEO and WFCP Chair Craig Robertson
  • Hear from Denise Amyot, President of Colleges and Institutes Canada on the growing relevance of lifelong learning.

To keep up to date, subscribe here to Dispatch.

AUSkey termination in March will impact training providers

There is an important reminder for all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that AUSkey is being decommissioned in March 2020 and replaced with a whole of government digital identity service – myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM).

All RTOs will be affected. If you connect to the USI Registry via the Organisation Portal or have a Student Management System (SMS), the current AUSkey will not function after the end of March 2020.

The Unique Student Identifier website has provided a comprehensive guide to the changes to AUSkey including the steps to be taken by RTOs and Student Management System users.

Consultations start on mining industry skills pilot

The Minerals Council of Australia is holding a series of workshops in readiness for its new pilot Skills Organisation that will test new ways of developing and delivering skills needed for the mining industry.

TDA is pleased to be invited to take part in the consultation process, along with other key stakeholders, ahead of a planned start to the pilot in March.

Mining is the third sector nominated by the government for a Skills Organisation pilot and follows the Budget announcement regarding pilots in human services and digital technologies.

Discussion paper was published last September to address how Skills Organisations could drive improvements to the VET system.

Have your say on the design of the new digital careers platform

The new National Careers Institute is in the process of developing a digital platform to deliver the most up to date careers information.

Currently, online information about careers and pathways is provided across a myriad of websites published by a range of organisations including governments, industry associations, businesses, education providers and training providers.

Anyone searching for career pathways, employment outcomes, qualifications or salary guides, may gain varied results across these sites.

The institute has commenced co-designing the digital platform by undertaking targeted research with career advisors, influencers, employers and career seekers – and it is seeking feedback.

You can have your say by taking part in the ‘Career Journey Survey’ on the Institute’s e-Hub.

Call for abstracts – ‘No Frills’ VET research conference

The call for abstracts to present at the 29th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ in July 2020 is now open.

NoFrills 2020 will be held in Perth from 8-10 July and will be co-hosted by North Metropolitan TAFE, WA.

NCVER is seeking presentations that explore the theme Workforce ready: challenges and opportunities for VET and further our understanding of the issues it raises.

Presentations can highlight research and case studies that are either in-progress or complete.

NCVER strongly encourages both early career and established researchers, as well as employers, industry, VET providers and practitioners to present at the conference.

Scholarships are also on offer again this year to assist exceptional presenters with conference registration and travel-related costs.

Submissions close February 17.

Diary Dates

Year13 Youth Engagement Summit
19 March 2020
The Venue, Alexandria, Sydney
More information

Youth Futures Summit
20 – 21 April 2020
Melbourne Cricket Ground
More information

AVETRA Conference
20/20 vision for VET: Research at the centre of future policy and practice
23 – 24 April 2020
More information

VDC 2020 Teaching & Learning Conference
14 – 15 May 2020
RACV Torquay Resort, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Registrations opening soon

2020 VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
15 May 2020
QT Gold Coast Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Queensland
More Information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
Annual 2020 Skills Conference
11 June 2020
More information coming soon

‘No Frills’ 2020, 29th National VET Research Conference
NCVER co-hosted with TAFE WA, North Metropolitan TAFE
8 – 10 July 2020
Perth, Western Australia
More information

TAFE Directors Australia Convention 2020
12 – 14 August 2020
Westin Hotel, Perth
More information

National Skills Week
24 – 30 August 2020
Various locations
More information 

2020 National VET Conference
Velg Training
17 – 18 September 2020
Gold Coast Convention and Exhitbiton Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland
More Information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics
2020 World Congress

14 – 16 October 2020
Donostia – San Sebastian, Spain
More information