Please explain – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Please explain – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

In the spirit of Year 12 exams underway across the country, a small essay exercise follows.

Read below and answer the questions that follow.

In a faraway land not too long ago lived a happy and prosperous people. They had come from around the world over many years to settle and enjoy the land’s rich reward.

Crops were bountiful, the land brought forth gold, silver and other rich ores. All enjoyed its largesse. Families grew. Each aspired for a small allotment of land and a house with a bedroom for each child, a room in which the family could mingle and a cave of some form for the father to retreat for peace and quiet from the ravages of family life.

Wise forebears made sure the people could decide every three years who should govern them. This made the rulers of the land kind, in the main.

But there was a necessary passage for any who wanted to live in this wonderful land they called Demandere. Rolling hills, lush from regular rain and bright sunshine, with beautiful outlooks made the lure great but the passage was dangerous, as Demandere was nestled high above treacherous rocky cliffs.

There were few pathways to Demandere. The paths Hard Work and Application were quite a climb but were safe and success was assured. The other – Priviligium – was somewhat easier but it had a narrow entry at the bottom of the cliffs that few could find.

The journey is the key to success in Demandere, many said. Regardless of the path taken, a prosperous life awaits as a reward for the climb. It didn’t matter if someone worked with their hands or were kind-of-heart and cared for fellow Demanderians, or brought their head to tasks in analysing, synthesising and writing solutions. Everyone shared prosperity and it was a happy place.

The kind rulers wished more could complete the journey. With climbs so difficult they formed a new industry to help everyone who wished to embark on the journey. Soon it was known as the Supplere Sector. Suppleres were separated into teams depending upon the pathway they served.

As time passed, Demandere changed. Those who came via Priviligium got bigger houses with better views. They felt that their contribution deserved more recognition.

Many believed this to be the case, so it was understandable that the rulers invested to make Priviligium a safer passage – strong foundations plus handrails and lights to guide the way. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough funds left for Hard Work and Application and they fell into disrepair. They became perilous. Several fell to crippling injuries.

Success grew more elusive. Hard Work and Application didn’t prove to be paths to Demandere and success. Even if someone made it, the reward seemed hollow because Demandere was changing. The nice houses and beautiful views went to those arriving through Priviligium because Demandere rewarded people who were good with their head as well as their heart and not so much those who worked with their hands.

Desperate to solve the dilemma, the rulers, asked for more suppleres to help people up the Hard Work and Application path, thinking that would solve the problem. Some new suppleres convinced many to take short-cuts, all in the name of innovation, with terrible results. Fewer still completed the climb.

Still no change to the Hard Work and Application pathways.

The rulers held the view that the journey was immaterial. All the effort goes into describing the destination. “Surely then the many and varied suppleres would fall upon the secret to successful passage,” they said.

Meanwhile, Priviligium is safe and assured. Those on that pathway are given the knowledge from their suppleres to navigate the path. Each step brings understanding and builds a scaffold for success in Demandere.

The good hearted suppleres for Hard Work and Application persevered and prepared people for the passage as best they could, taking extra effort to pass on the knowledge and capability for them to navigate the climb. Yet money from the rulers to help the suppleres in this important task kept falling while the expectations for entry into Demandere kept growing.

“A stronger sense of what’s needed in Demandere will do the trick,” the rulers said. They specified more – ‘demonstrate this, do that, find someone to do it with’ – all in the hope it would prepare people for entry.

But still no work on the pathways Hard Work and Application, so much so that they almost became impassable.

It seemed Priviligium was the only path to success. Those relying on Hard Work and Application gave up their dreams.

It seems the rulers were blinded by the destination and blind to the journey.


  1. In your view what is the root cause of the limited success via Hard Work or Application?
  2. Who should be held accountable for the poor state of Hard Work and Application paths – the rulers or suppleres?
  3. Explain what you think will be the implications of more people missing out on access to Demandere?
  4. Who has responsibility for rectifying the situation – the rulers in Demandere, the suppleres or the people?

TAFE welding skills recognised in key defence partnership

TAFE Queensland  has been recognised for its achievement in delivering high level welding skills and training which is pivotal to the delivery of Australia’s newest combat vehicles.

TAFE Queensland and Rheinmetall Defence Australia received the Premier’s Industry Collaboration award at the recent Queensland Training Awards for delivering the ISO 9606 Fusion Welding Program.

The partnership is vital to supporting the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 contract to build 211 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles in South East Queensland. Without ISO 9606 qualified welders Queensland engineering and manufacturing businesses would have needed to engage overseas workers.

The program also supports Rheinmetall’s bid for the LAND 400 Phase 3 Mounted Close Combat Capability acquisition of up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and up to 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles.

“Since the initial pilot program was launched, TAFE Queensland has already trained 130 participants in the new international welding qualification,” TAFE Queensland CEO Mary Campbell said.

TAFE Queensland had two other notable wins at the Queensland Training Awards – students Ngaire Trigg (Vocational Student of the Year) and Jabin Giblett (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year).

Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart and TAFE Queensland CEO Mary Campbell.

Virtual health training takes a step forward at TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW is trialling new virtual reality training for healthcare workers that has the potential to enable learning outside a traditional healthcare setting.

The world-first pilot program is about to go virtual for the first time as part of a new partnership between industry, TAFE and NSW Health, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The virtual reality blood testing pilot was developed by TAFE NSW with NSW Health Pathology, CognitiveVR and diagnostic solutions company Werfen.

It will see healthcare workers use a virtual reality headset to learn “hands-on” blood testing, no longer needing to be in an actual health setting, the report said.

Instead, trainees including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and Indigenous health workers will be able to learn the procedure while fully immersed in a virtual hospital, including sound effects such as blipping machines.

The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the state government was using emerging technologies to “develop a world-first training simulation”.

“This demonstrates how TAFE NSW is working with industry leaders to develop high-tech, immersive training solutions to address real-world challenges,” he said.

Werfen Australia New Zealand General Manager Sally Hickman demonstrates virtual reality blood testing. Photo credit: Dominic Lorrimer & SMH

More free and low-cost TAFE courses in WA

The West Australian government has slashed fees on an additional 107 TAFE courses, as part of the new JobTrainer agreement with the federal government.

The 107 additional reduced-fee courses will deliver training in sectors including building and construction, manufacturing, information technology, mining, engineering, aquaculture, agriculture, horticulture and logistics.

More free TAFE short courses will also be added to meet emerging skill needs. These skill sets are free for those looking for work or people under 25 to help get them into jobs.

Premier Mark McGowan said the government had made TAFE a priority, and the latest announcement meant reduced TAFE fees for a total of 180 courses.

The reduced TAFE fees will be available from 1 January.

See more

TAFE expert appointed to nursing and midwifery council

The TAFE sector has welcomed the appointment of Debbie Blow, the Director of Faculty and Executive Leader in Health and Nursing at TAFE Queensland, to the board of the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC).

The prestigious appointment recognises Debbie’s extensive knowledge and experience in the health sector over 30 years. The appointment is for three years, commencing 27 October.

“I feel very privileged to be able to represent the vocational education sector, and my TAFE colleagues, on the Board of ANMAC, in what has been a challenging year for the health sector across the globe,” Debbie said.

ANMAC is the independent accrediting authority for nursing and midwifery education under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, making it central to the quality of nursing and midwifery education, including in the VET sector.

TDA extends its congratulations to Debbie on her appointment.

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Bendigo and Kangan institutes launch 'Our Heroes' ad campaign

Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute have launched their ‘Our Heroes’ advertising campaign, which was developed in-house by the marketing team and celebrates the role students play in the community.

“Our new advertising campaign sums it up – they are Our Heroes and they are made at our TAFEs,” Caroline Schmidt, Director, Group Brand and Student Acquisition at Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute said.

The fun and eye-catching campaign, which showcases emotive vision and images, targets 18-55 year olds from all backgrounds seeking to upskill or train, who aspire to improve their lives through career enhancement or change.

“Within a few short years, our students are building our houses, nursing our sick, fixing our cars, caring for our children and pets, designing our clothes – all playing their part in bringing our economy back on track following the coronavirus pandemic,” Ms Schmidt said.

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New dual trade apprenticeship in South Australia

The South Australian Training and Skills Commission has introduced a new qualification that will see both electrical and refrigeration/air conditioning qualifications delivered concurrently.

“The qualification sets a new benchmark in Australia for the delivery of trade qualifications in two disciplines, and establishes a pilot model for additional dual trade pathways in the future,” the Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said.

He said the new trade – an Australian first – was developed in consultation with the National Electrical and Communications Association, and addresses demand for  broader skill sets in this specialised industry.

A pilot project will be established during the first stage of implementation, with a small number of apprentices commencing in early 2021.

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Huge support for improved TAFE funding in new poll

Almost all Australians feel it’s important that federal funding to TAFE is increased in order to help recovery from the recession, according to a national poll conducted on behalf of the Australian Education Union (AEU).

The Fifty Acres-Pollinate Survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1001 Australians aged 18 and over, and found 94% said it was important that the federal government increase funding to TAFE for the post-recession rebuild and recovery.

A total of 45% said it was “very important”, with just 2% saying it was not important.

“This survey vindicates our call for the Federal Government to abandon the market model of vocational education and immediately increase TAFE funding,” the Federal Deputy President of the AEU, Meredith Peace, said.

She said the federal budget that was silent on TAFE and most Australians want to see funding boosted for the sake of the economic recovery.

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Digital skills organisation appoints CEO

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) has announced the appointment of Patrick Kidd, pictured, as its CEO.

The DSO is one of three industry-led Skills Organisation pilots designed to bring a new approach to the training system, with pilots also underway in the human services care and mining sectors.

In his previous role, Mr Kidd worked in support of Infosys as the Programme Director implementing a large-scale digital transformation program in the federal government. Prior to that he worked with Deloitte Australia Consulting, and was seconded to the role of CEO for the Invictus Games Sydney.

DSO has undertaken its first pilot project to train and employ 100 data analysts. A number of bidders are currently participating in a competitive pitch process to produce a range of training solutions that will be funded by the DSO. The successful bidders will be announced next month

AATIS launches digital information workshops

The Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS) has launched a series of nationwide digital information sessions which are going to be held as interactive workshops.

The sessions are divided into two – a breakfast session on ‘What employers want to know about Australian Apprenticeships’ and a mid-morning session, ‘An overview of AATIS resources’.

The breakfast session will also see the preliminary results of research around the most important information that employers need when taking on an apprentice or trainee.

The mid-morning session will include the launch of the first series of AATIS videos, showcasing some of the widely used AATIS resources. This session is meant for anyone new to the apprenticeships sector or looking for free resources about apprenticeships including staff from AASNs, GTOs, RTOs, government departments, employment services providers, careers advisers and school staff.

Limited seats are available, and anyone interested is encouraged to sign-up to ensure their spot.

All sessions are listed here

Diary Dates

AVETRA 2020 Researcher Development Series
Webinars designed for early career, emerging and practitioner researchers
June 2020 – March 2021
More information

OctoberVET 2020
A series of online events in October showcasing VET research and discussion.

‘Social justice research and vocational education: A conversation with Professor Liz Atkins (University of Derby, UK)’

Host: Dr Teressa Schmidt (CQUniversity) Member of AVETRA Executive Committee

Date: This is a pre-recorded interview, which is available here: Recording

Enquiries: Dr Teressa Schmidt

Flyer: Attached

‘One hundred and fifty years of Australia Technical Education: An overlooked sesquicentenary’, with Dr John Pardy (Monash University)

Host: Dr John Pardy, Monash University

Date: 27th October, 2pm – 3pm (AEDT)

Webinar Link: To participate in this seminar Please click this URL to start or join. Or, go to and enter meeting ID: 992 0071 3933 and password:35354691

Enquiries: Dr John Pardy

Flyer: Attached

Registration: No need to register, just join by the Zoom link on the day!

‘An introduction to VET and Australian Apprenticeships Data’

Host: Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS), with Phil Loveder from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

Date: 28th October, 2pm – 3pm AEDT

Flyer: Attached

Enquiries: If there is any data you would like us to include during this session, or any questions you have, please include this in your registration or email

Register here

A recording of this session will be made available after the event at:

‘Women learning, women working: how disability and gender shape training and career opportunities’ with:

–          Dr Lizzie Knight (Victoria University and Secretary of AVETRA

–          Jen Cousins (TAFE SA)

–          Dr Karen O’Reilly-Briggs (LaTrobe University)

–          Michelle Circelli (Senior Researcher, NCVER)

Host: Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE)

Date: 29th October, 1.30pm – 3.30pm (AEDT)

Webinar Link: Provided upon registration.

Enquiries: Dr Kira Clarke (Brotherhood of St Laurence)

Flyer: Attached

Register here (For this webinar, there is a small charge of $20 to help raise funds for a grant in memory of our WAVE colleague, Sue Salthouse, who sadly passed away earlier this year).

The multi-stakeholder engagement model (the ecosystem) for applied research and innovation in the Basque Country: insights from TKNIKA’ withIñigo Araiztegui and Unai Ziarsolo (TKNIKA).

Host: Andrew Williamson (Holmesglen Institute of TAFE)

Date: 5th November, 9am – 10.30 (AEDT)

Webinar Link: Provided upon registration


Flyer: Attached

Register here

‘How can VET teachers apply the Principles of Universal Design in Education to support learners of all abilities?’ with Annemaree Gibson and Annie Carney (Teaching and Learning Enhancement, Box Hill Institute)

Date: 4th November, 12.30pm – 1.30pm (AEDT)

Webinar Link: Provided upon registration


Flyer: Attached

Register here

‘Learning in turbulent times’, hosted by Federation University, featuring Anthony Mann (OECD) speaking about ‘Young people and the COVID-19 Labour Market’ along with three Federation University presentations focusing on Men’s Sheds; Community learning in adversity; and People’s learning about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Date: 16th November, 6pm – 8pm (AEDT)

Webinar Link: Provided upon registration


Flyer: Attached

Register here

LH Martin Institute
Web Fest
1 – 29 October 2020
More information

AIEC Braindate: Making meaningful connections in a virtual world
20 & 21 October 2020
Virtual event
Register here

National VET PD Week
Velg Training
26 – 30 October 2020
More information

Beyond 2020: Creating the Future with Work Integrated Learning (virtual) 
Australian Collaborative Education Network Limited (ACEN)
27 – 28 October 2020
More information

VDC 2020 Virtual Teaching & Learning Conference
19 & 20 November 2020
Registrations Open

Australian Training Awards
20 November 2020
More information

Velg Training & MRWED
30 November – 4 December 2020
More information

TAFE Directors Australia Convention 2021
29 – 30 April 2021
Westin Hotel, Perth
More information coming soon

Worldskills Australia
28 April – 2 May 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information