Rare moment in time for an integrated tertiary education sector – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Rare moment in time for an integrated tertiary education sector – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

2023 is a rare moment in time. During 2023, the next five-year National Skills Partnership will be negotiated between the Commonwealth and States/Territories. This agreement will start by establishing principles. The first of those principles will be ‘TAFE is at the heart of vocational education and training (VET)’ There are some other principles that are likely to be included, such as a principle related to foundation skills.

TDA strongly recommends the inclusion of another principle. That principle should be in relation to partnerships between VET and higher education. A principle that will not just encourage a more integrated tertiary education sector but one which will remove the barriers of policy and funding.

So, what makes this year unique? The fact the Universities Accord consultation is also underway during 2023 makes for a real opportunity. If the Universities Accord also includes a principle related to partnerships between VET and universities, then for the first time we may have a practical way to deliver an integrated tertiary education sector.

If both the Universities Accord and the National Skills Partnership embrace the principle of a more integrated tertiary education sector, then there is a chance that there will be incentives in-built to foster partnerships. If the principles exist, then there must be funding attached to those principles. That funding would mean there are practical incentives for universities to work with VET and vice versa. That is, we have the chance to move towards real, integrated tertiary education that will deliver better outcomes for both students and industry.

Many industry bodies have identified that the workforce of the future will require skills acquired in both the higher education and VET sectors – technical and employability skills from VET that are complemented with the theory and research skills acquired in higher education. If this is the goal, then both the Universities Accord and the National Skills Partnership have to be explicit in how to achieve that goal. That is, they must both contain a principle that explicitly identifies the goal of an integrated tertiary education sector.

This week is the first meeting of the Universities Accord Reference Group. TDA looks forward to participating, and on behalf of its members, will highlight how the Accord can contribute to a sustainable integrated tertiary education sector.

New, high-powered role for VET official, Nadine Williams

Nadine Williams who has overseen the VET sector in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) will start this week in a new role at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as Deputy Secretary for Economy, Industry and Resilience.

Ms Williams appeared for the last time last week in her skills capacity at a Senate Estimates hearing.

The Secretary of DEWR Natalie James informed the committee of the change and congratulated Ms Williams on her contribution.

“I understand she is the first woman to be in this role. I’m really proud of her and her team and the way they have worked with the new government in the skills area, which is obviously mission-critical for our labour market right now,” Ms James said.

In her new role, Ms Williams will be one of seven deputy secretaries reporting to Secretary Professor Glyn Davis.

Her responsibilities cover a big swathe of government including economic and fiscal policy, taxation, industry policy, energy and climate change, infrastructure and transport.

TDA extends its congratulations to Ms Williams on this significant appointment and its appreciation for her valuable contribution to the skills and training sector over many years.

Nadine Williams and Natalie James at Thursday’s Senate Estimates committee.

First meeting for JSA forum

A new consultative committee that will support Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has had its first meeting.

The JSA Consultative Forum has been established by the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor to support JSA Director, Professor Peter Dawkins. It met for the first time last Monday.

It will provide strategic advice to Professor Dawkins on a range of issues including the annual workplan, and mechanisms for stakeholder engagement around JSA’s early workforce capacity studies.

The group represents union, industry and government. TDA is delighted to be a member. The group comprises:

  • John Azarias (independent convenor)
  • Kareena Arthy small state and territory representative, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT (shared with NT)
  • Annie Butler, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
  • Scott Connolly, Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Andrew Dettmer, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
  • Mary Faraone, Holmesglen Institute and TAFE Directors Australia
  • Correna Haythorpe, Australian Education Union
  • Lill Healy, large state and territory representative, Department of Jobs, Skills Industry and Regions Victoria
  • Natalie Heazlewood, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Catriona Jackson, Universities Australia
  • Megan Lilly, Australian Industry Group
  • Dominic Schipano, Council of Small Business Organisations Australia
  • Jennifer Westacott, Business Council of Australia
  • Catherine White, small state and territory representative, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, NT (shared with ACT)
  • Danielle Wood, Grattan Institute.

TAFETalks: Women’s Leadership in Times of Crisis

Join TDA for a special episode of TAFETalks as we celebrate International Women’s Day and the important role of women in vocational education and training (VET). Hear Kit McMahon share insights on the challenges and opportunities facing women in the current VET system.

Additionally, Mish Eastman from RMIT and Sally Curtain from Bendigo Kangan Institute (BKI) will discuss how they have developed leadership in times of crisis, including RMIT’s innovative response to the pandemic and BKI’s unique program to transform their systems for better student-centered training.

To register for this event, please click here

TDA welcomes the VET Development Centre


TDA is pleased to introduce the VET Development Centre (VDC) as an Associate Member. VDC and TDA are excited to develop a partnership that will be mutually beneficial and provide leading professional learning services to TDA members.

TDA CEO Jenny Dodd said, “The TDA partnership with VDC creates a valuable opportunity for TDA members to access quality professional learning for our member educators.”

Since its inception in 2005, the VDC has evolved to become one of Australia’s leading providers of professional learning for VET educators, trainers, lecturers and other VET professionals. Its training programs are independently evaluated by the Australian Centre for Vocational Educational Research. All program content is mapped against the VET Practitioners Capability Framework for educators at all stages of their careers. There is no membership fee to utilise the VDC’s services, however, there can be a small cost for enrolment in individual training events.

VDC provides learning in the form of online, in-person and hybrid workshops, webinars, free thought leadership seminars as well as an annual national conference. The innovations of online delivery have enabled VDC to deliver training across Australia to over 14,000 participants annually. This will be further supported by the launch of self-paced learning modules and webinar recordings through the VDC-Learn platform in 2023. Stay tuned for further announcements regarding quality learning opportunities for TAFE educators.

VDC CEO Martin Powell welcomed the partnership.

“Through the government funded and fee for service programs that VDC has developed, we see our membership with TDA as a proactive way of further supporting TAFE and complementing the ongoing professional development efforts of its teaching workforce,” he said.

Business, union concerns led to government scrapping ASQA training role

The federal government has explained its decision not to proceed with the former government’s plans for the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to undertake the job of training package assurance.

The Assistant Minister for Education Senator Anthony Chisholm told Senate estimates last week that the Labor government’s decision was not a reflection on ASQA but the result of a lack of consultation by the former government.

“There was some stakeholder feedback when the decision was made by the previous government, particularly from some of the states and the joint position of ACCI (Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Ai Group and the ACTU that expressed some concern about the decision.

“We don’t think the previous government engaged in appropriate consultation before they made the decision,” he said.

The previous government announced that ASQA would take on the role of training package assurance from January 2023. However, that decision was reversed and the job will be undertaken by a unit in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

AVETRA conference to return in face-to-face style

AVETRA is hosting its first full-scale face-to-face conference since 2019, while also offering two full days of online conference live stream for those who can’t be in Melbourne in April.

AVETRA’s 25th Annual Conference – ‘VET + Challenging times, Challenges of our time and Challenges that lie ahead’ – will be held at the Citadines Hotel, Bourke Street, Melbourne, April 27 & 28, with a half day of pre-conference workshops hosted by the VET Development Centre and a welcome reception on April 26.

The pre-conference workshops are open to all and don’t require people to attend the conference.

See the conference details

New point-of entry service for people with disabilities

The federal government has launched a new service – the Disability Gateway – which provides a range of information and services to people with disability, their families, friends and carers.

For students with disability, it can be a central point of entry where they can access information, speak with community engagement consultants or be referred to CALD inclusive services or organisations.

website run by the Department of Social Services contains information around ten key topics including income and finance, employment, housing, transport, education, and rights and legal information.

There is also a phone and email enquiry service run by The Benevolent Society via 1800 643 787 or disabilitygateway@benevolent.org.au

See the Disability Gateway flyer

Diary Dates

Universities Australia Conference 2023
22-23 February 2023
National Convention Centre, Canberra
More information

TAFETalks: Women’s Leadership in Times of Crisis
8 March 2023
Webinar, 2.00pm AEDT
Register here

AVETRA 2023 Conference
27-28 April 2023
More information

World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 World Congress
23-25 April 2023
Montréal, Canada
More information

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

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
More information

2023 VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
17-18 August 2023 – save the date

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date