#POWEROFTAFE – The COVID Story – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

#POWEROFTAFE – The COVID Story – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

‘We know the recovery from COVID-19 will not be easy. But having a multiskilled, agile workforce is the type of resilience that Australia will need to get our economy back on track.

As with all major market disruptions, the training sector will have a vital role to play in reskilling Australians. I am optimistic about the future.

Imagine the GP who has micro-credentials in cyber security, the warehouse and logistics worker who is skilled in infection control, and the boutique owner who has know-how in website design and e-marketing.

These are the types of multiskilled workers the vocational training sector is helping prepare for a post pandemic environment.’ Steffen Faurby, TAFE NSW, General Manager[1].

These are the words of Steffen Faurby, General Manager of TAFE NSW from 22 May this year and ring true at the end of the 2020 as we look to a post-COVID world.

Australian TAFEs have responded rapidly to keep the business of learning and training going during the upheaval of COVID-19.

Today we publish the story of the amazing adaptation by TAFEs to keep students and businesses engaged in training.


The extent of the change. The universal uplift in teacher capability. The satisfied students. New content. New channels for teaching and student support. Skills acquisition in the home.

These are just part of the remarkable story of the COVID experience in TAFEs.

We surveyed TAFEs in the latter half of the year to understand their journey through COVID-19. This is the story of TAFE responsiveness and adaptation.

The COVID Story also points to the future.

As Australia now starts the long haul to full economic recovery and pursue new areas of economic activity, the skills and capabilities of Australians need to follow.

New demand will need new responses.

Businesses have adapted their operating models to use technology more effectively. Consumers will buy more online. Students will demand easier online access to learning and teachers.

The extent to which TAFE business partners take up this new form of digital learning, and Australian industry embraces new ways that competency can be acquired, will determine the acceleration of the change across vocational and higher education in Australia.

The expectations of students and the new-found confidence of teachers to embed technology in their teaching and student engagement points to new operating models.

Paradoxically, effective learning is a social endeavour. The rhythm of class schedules, the dynamics of group learning and the power of the community of learners pushing all to succeed is likely to remain a strong feature of successful learning. Attendance on campus helps overcome isolation for many students.

COVID-19 will give rise to new dimensions of learning and engaging with students and business. Online courses have brought more people into a learning journey and this will need to continue as a buttress against the economic restructuring that will flow from the COVID experience.

TAFEs across Australia, operating on behalf of their governments and working as a network across Australia, have proven capable of pivoting to new priorities. They will be the bedrock for a skills-led recovery.

Deepest thanks and gratitude go to Jen Bahen who took some time during maternity leave to bring this publication together. Jen will read this in Hanoi, having taken up the post today as Education Counsellor.

Take time to read the electronic publication. The rapid-fire change is truly remarkable, as are the teachers and leaders who can be so proud of their achievement in 2020.

Truly the POWER OF TAFE.

[1] Originally printed in The Daily Telegraph, 22 May 2020

$100m TAFE campus upgrades outlined in Queensland budget

TAFE facilities across Queensland are set for a $100 million upgrade following details of planned capital works outlined in last week’s Queensland state budget.

The three-year Equipping TAFE for our Future initiative will commence next July and will focus on modernising facilities at TAFE Queensland and CQUniversity sites. The projects include:

  • $29.9 million for a Robotics and Advanced manufacturing centre at Eagle Farm TAFE
  • $10.6 million for a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Training facility at Bohle TAFE
  • $3.6 million for an Advanced Manufacturing Skills Lab at Bohle TAFE
  • $10 million towards fitout at a new TAFE campus at Robina
  • $8 million for Stage One of the Central Queensland TAFE Centre of Excellence at CQU
  • $7.5 million for the Mackay Ooralea Trade Training Centre Expansion for CQU
  • $7 million for a metal trades, manufacturing and robotics centre at Bundamba TAFE
  • $3.6 million for an Advanced Manufacturing Hub at Cairns TAFE
  • $4.3 million for an Agriculture and Horticulture Centre and maker space at Bundaberg TAFE
  • $3.4 million for an Agricultural Centre of Excellence at Bowen TAFE
  • $2.9 million for a Robotics Lab and Cyber Security Training Operation Centre at Southbank TAFE
  • $4 million for Cyber Security Training Operation Centres at Mooloolaba TAFE, and Cairns TAFE

The budget also included $16 million for the establishment of Manufacturing SkillsQueensland.

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said training and skills funding would include an additional $200 million over four years for skills initiatives and a further $21 million to extend the free TAFE to those aged under 25.

New CEO appointed for TasTAFE

The Tasmanian government has announced the appointment of experienced VET manager and former TAFE teacher, Grant Dreher as the new CEO of TasTAFE.

Mr Dreher is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Vocational Education and Pathways at Victoria University Melbourne. He commences in his new role on February 1.

The Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff said Mr Dreher brings a wealth of experience in vocational education and training and was selected from a highly competitive field of experienced candidates.

Prior to his appointment at VU, Grant was the General Manager of Education and Training at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE. He also held several senior leadership positions at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE including Manager – Hospitality & Educational Pathways and Centre Manager – Service Industries.

'Cyber Security - It's Everyone's Business': WFCP webinar to launch the new Cyber Security Affinity Group

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) will be hosting a webinar on Cyber Security to launch their new Cyber Security Affinity Group on Tuesday 8 December, 2020 at 4.00pm (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time).

Anyone interested in this topic should take advantage of this free webinar bringing together experts in the field to discuss industry challenges, cyber education, how collaboration between industry and education can address cyber workforce challenges and why the subject of cyber security is an issue that concerns us all. A second webinar timed for northern hemisphere participants is planned for early 2021.

Guest presenters include:

  • Rob May, Managing Director of ramsac. Rob May is an international Cybersecurity spokesperson. He will give a short briefing on his career journey, which started at BSDC and then explain the industry challenges and why the subject of Cybersecurity is an issue that concerns us all.
  • Jo Cave, Head of Cyber and IT, Box Hill Institute, Australia. Box Hill Institute was recently named Cyber Security Educator of the year at the 9th Australian Information Security Association (AISA) Cyber Security Awards. Jo will talk about Cyber education and how collaboration between industry and education can address the cyber workforce challenges.

Registration (free of charge) is required. Cannot attend live? Still register to receive a link to the recording after the webinar.

For further information please see here.

Please share this announcement with your colleagues!

Artificial intelligence project wants the views of health professionals

The University of Melbourne and the Australian Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare are doing research to capture expert educators’ ideas and plans for educating the Australian health workforce about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health systems and services.

Part of the research includes a survey that is open to those involved in a range of health-related positions.

The survey deadline has been extended to 5pm AEDT today.

Details of the research and the survey can be found here.

South Australia advertising for skills commissioner

The South Australian government is advertising for the position of Skills Commissioner, to oversee the state’s skills and training system.

The newly created position will be responsible to the Minister for Innovation and Skills for the operations of the new South Australian Skills Commission, to be established next July.

The Commissioner will establish the operational structure of the new Commission and will have the job of overseeing the Industry Skills Councils, guiding the direction of the skills system and workforce development, and regulating apprenticeships and traineeships.

Applications close this Friday, December 11.

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Diary Dates

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

Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group (ACDEVEG)

VET teacher development around the world: 6th Annual Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education  
14 – 15 December 2020
More information

Apprentice Employment Network, NSW & ACT
Skills Conference
16 June 2021
Dockside Darling  Harbour, Sydney
More information

Worldskills Australia
25 – 29 August 2021
Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre
More information