Self-accreditation an enabler for innovation – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Self-accreditation an enabler for innovation – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Minister O’Connor’s speech last Wednesday at the extremely successful TDA Convention 2024 in Sydney really hit the mark. Not only did Minister O’Connor highlight the important policy directions that have placed TAFE back at the heart, such as 70% of funding, fee-free TAFE and TAFE Centres of Excellence, he announced an essential policy that will be an enabler for innovation.

Minister O’Connor said: “Today I am very pleased to announce that the government will scope and pilot ASQA delegating its course accreditation function to selected TAFEs in the coming 12 months.
I know that TAFEs have been advocating for this for some time and the government appreciated the thoughtful advice of the Universities Accord Panel in recommending it.
The Albanese Government recognises that TAFES play a special and important role in the delivery of VET in a sector that is very diverse with varying levels of maturity across a cohort of more than 4,000 providers.
This is another important example of how we are moving away from a one size fits all approach to the VET sector, including with respect to regulation.”

Tomorrow the Federal budget will be delivered. There will be considered responses to the Universities Accord panel’s recommendations. One of those we expect will encourage a more united tertiary education system.

TAFEs’ ability to self-accredit Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in priority industries through TAFE Centres of Excellence will enable the innovation that is desired between vocational and higher education.

Last Tuesday I was on a panel at the My eQuals conference also in Sydney. Many who are not within the sector don’t really understand why alignment between vocational and higher education has been so hard. It has been hard because of the regulatory environment and because of policies such as only competency-based learning environments in VET. Regulation, policy and funding have made it very complex. Minister O’Connor’s announcement, supported by the Accord’s recommendations, recognise that some of those barriers needed to be removed for innovation to occur.

TAFE leaders look forward to the combined policy directions of TAFE Centres of Excellence and now self-accreditation at AQF5 and 6, that will allow for greater levels of responsiveness to industry and innovation with higher education partners. We acknowledge and thank the government for recognising that enabling policies for our public providers will go a long way to delivering positive economic and social outcomes, rather than the one size fits all approach we have had for over a decade.

Times have been tough, but things have changed – Minister’s message to TDA convention

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor drew applause from hundreds of delegates at the TDA Convention in Sydney when he reiterated the government’s pledge to restore the central role of TAFE.

“The last decade has been tough for TAFE – I don’t need to explain that to any of you,” he said.

“But I am pleased to say that things have changed.

“After years of being simultaneously starved of resources, and blamed for not delivering, I am proud to be in a government which is committed to realising the potential of TAFE,” he said.

He noted that TAFEs provide place-based and locally focussed workforce training, pathways into lifelong learning, and serve as centres of innovation in skills and training.

“That is not to suggest that TAFE is the only one doing these things. But TAFE is perhaps the only one that does all of these things.

“And unlike other providers, TAFEs have a specific public purpose, responsible for delivering a public benefit.

“That is what makes them the bedrock of skills and training, and often of their communities.”

See Minister O’Connor’s address to the TDA Convention

TAFE's long-running struggle for course self-accreditation edges closer

The prospect of TAFEs having the right to course accreditation moved a step closer last week when the federal government announced a pilot project to explore putting TAFE self-accreditation into practice.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor told the TDA Convention that the government will scope and pilot ASQA delegating its course accreditation function to selected TAFEs.

“I know that TAFEs have been advocating for this for some time and the government appreciated the thoughtful advice of the Universities Accord Panel in recommending it,” Mr O’Connor said.

“This is important and detailed work, but it is untested ground, and we need to ensure we build an evidence base before we evolve the process further.”

Thanking Minister O’Connor for the positive announcement, TDA CEO Jenny Dodd noted that it was in 2012 when self-accreditation was removed from TAFEs.

“Your decision, as a government, to put self-accreditation back into TAFEs for select programs is the right decision in terms of putting education at the heart and supporting innovation.

“We won’t achieve a connected tertiary sector unless we are able to drive some of those innovative solutions”.

TDA Convention 2024 - TAFE at the Heart

China-Australia VET cooperation set to prosper 

There are growing opportunities for collaboration between China and Australia in vocational education and training (VET), that could help address skills development needs in both countries, the TDA Convention in Sydney heard last week.

The convention hosted a 30-strong delegation from China as part of the Sino-Australia VET Forum, comprising senior leaders from China’s training colleges, as well as the Vice Minister of the Jiangxi Provincial Education Department, Mr Lixia Wang.

Mr Rick Zhao, Director of International Education at GLC International Group said collaboration between the two countries has been progressing at a high level, with strong partnerships between Australian TAFE institutes and Chinese colleges.

“These are comprehensive partnerships that entail a number of elements including training delivery programs, the engagement of TAFE teachers in China at the certificate, diploma or bachelor level, and training that can be for both for teachers and students,” he said.

In welcoming the delegation, the Chief Executive Officer of Bendigo Kangan Institute, Ms Sally Curtain, said the strength of the China-Australia bilateral relationship was based on deep community and cultural ties, and strong economic and trade synergies.

“While economic prosperity is of course important to both of our nations and to regional security, the key to prosperity is our shared commitment to education, training and research.”

See TDA’s media release.

Image: The Sino-Australia VET Forum panel discussion; from left, Ms Frances Coppolillo, Chief Executive Officer, Melbourne Polytechnic, Ms Liqing Lin, Director of Academic Affairs Office, Shandong Vocational and Technical University of International Studies; Mr Jiehua Lei, Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Division of Jiangxi Provincial Education Department; Mr Bingzhu Zhang, President of Hebei Chemical & Pharmaceutical College; and Mr Raf Marcellino, Executive Director, Education and Skills, TAFE NSW.

TAFETalks: ASQA’s new regulatory approach. What is the impact on TAFEs?

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 2.00-3.00pm AEST

Like all regulators, ASQA takes a risk-based approach to its regulation in line with best practice regulation and the Regulator Performance Guide.

Given TAFE’s emphasis on student outcomes, and the outcomes-focus of the revised Standards for RTOs, we will find out from the regulator how this risk-based approach recognises the different characteristics of providers in the sector and how it can enable TAFEs to focus on learning and teaching through effective self-assurance of the outcomes being sought.

What does this mean for TAFE’s relationship with the national regulator?

Join us on 28 May at TAFETalks to hear firsthand from ASQA’s CEO and Deputy CEO on the differentiated regulatory approach and what it will mean for TAFEs and the VET sector more broadly.

Register here

More fee-free training places to boost construction

TDA welcomed the federal government’s latest measures to lift the number of workers in the construction industry that will see an additional 20,000 fee-free training places.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor announced $62.4 million to deliver an additional 15,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places over two years from 1 January 2025, as well as $26.4 million to deliver approximately 5,000 places in pre-apprenticeship programs

TDA Chief Executive Officer Jenny Dodd said the measures were a welcome step in helping to overcome the severe skills shortages entailed as part of the Commonwealth and state government housing commencement targets.

“There has been extraordinary uptake of fee-free TAFE places, and these additional places will play an important part in addressing the critical skills shortages impacting the housing sector. TAFE looks forward to playing its part in engaging students in the full range of building and construction roles at a time when these occupations are in such strong demand,” Ms Dodd said.

TDA also welcome measures to better utilise the skills and knowledge of potential migrants through the skills assessment. The Budget will provide $1.8 million to streamline skills assessments for around 1,900 potential migrants from countries with comparable qualifications in building and construction.

See TDA’s media release

Government ready to impose caps on international students

The federal government will introduce legislation this week that could see caps on the number of international students and restrictions on a range of practices by education providers and agents.

The measures are aimed at improving the integrity and and sustainability of the international education sector.

The laws will give ministers power to set a maximum allocation of new international student enrolments. Other measures will:

  • Prevent education providers from owning education agent businesses.
  • Pause applications for registration from new international education providers and of new courses from existing providers for periods of up to 12 months.
  • Require new providers seeking registration to demonstrate a track record of quality education delivery to domestic students before they are allowed to recruit international students.

The Minister for Education, Jason Clare said the reforms are designed to ensure the integrity, quality and ongoing sustainability of this vitally important sector.

The government also released the draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework which proposes defined limits on international student numbers and links enrolments to the supply of student accommodation.

‘Dodgy ‘international education colleges issued warning notices

The Department of Home Affairs has issued warning notices to 34 international education providers for non-genuine or exploitative recruitment practices, giving them six months to rectify their behaviour.

The Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said the providers risk being issued with suspension certificates which would ban them from recruiting more international students.

“Dodgy providers have no place in our international education sector,” Ms Clare said.

“These actions will help weed out the bottom feeders in the sector that seek to exploit people and trash the reputation of the sector.”

The warnings represent the first use of strengthened powers under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act, following the release of the government’s Migration Strategy last December.

The department said that ASQA’s new Integrity Unit has more than 150 serious matters under investigation.

As part of the latest crackdown, ASQA has conducted 67 site visits so far this financial year, including 39 unannounced visits.

See more

Future Skills Organisation to review ICT training package

The Future Skills Organisation (FSO) is commencing a review of the ICT Training Package.

Tasks will include defining potential areas of action and providing an ICT Review Report which will outline the needs and gap analysis findings, insights, and recommendations.

See more about the ICT Training Package Needs and Gap Analysis Project.

Register your interest here

Diary Dates

ASQA’s new regulatory model. What does it mean for TAFEs?
Tuesday 28 May 2pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2024 Skills Conference: Empowerment & Connection
12 June 2024
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
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Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Symposium 2024
Cultivating Creativity, Connections & Confidence in the Australian Tertiary Education Sector
12 June 2024
RMIT, Melbourne and online
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33rd National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ 
‘VET partnerships powering a dynamic workforce’
10-12 July 2024
North Metropolitan TAFE, Perth
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National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference ‘Skills for Life’
23-25 July 2024
Hilton Adelaide
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VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
‘From Competence to Excellence – Strive to Inspire’
15-16 August 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Register here

National Skills Week 2024
‘It’s a Game Changer’
19-25 August 2024

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
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WFCP World Congress 2024
22-27 September 2024
St James, Jamaica, West Indies
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AVETRA 2024 Conference
3-4 October 2024
University of Tech

Jobs and Skills Council Events

Go to individual JSC websites for event details.

Powering Skills Organisation
Energy Pathway Roadshow: Collaborating for a Sustainable Tomorrow – events in Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Bunbury, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Geelong and Brisbane.

State and Territory Roadshow 2024