Setting the scene for 2024 – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Setting the scene for 2024 – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

2024 will be another big year for TAFE and vocational education. 2023 was largely a year of planning and agreement signing with early introduction of some initiatives. 2024 will be the year of execution. So, in this first newsletter of the year let’s outline five of the big-ticket national agenda items.

Firstly, fee-free TAFE continues. This is a story of success. Fee-free TAFE provides local solutions aimed at equity students that enable them to gain great education and skills at TAFE. This time last year across the country there was a flurry to ensure systems were ready. That is all done now, and each TAFE is well positioned for 2024 enrolments into fee-free TAFE.

Points two, three, and four relate to the significance of the National Skills Agreement that was signed in late 2023.

Point two – 2024 will see the first of the TAFE Centres of Excellence established. States and Territories are currently working on their proposals. The TDA Convention 2024 on 8 and 9 May will be the place where initial progress on TAFE Centres of Excellence will be shared. Register now (see details in this newsletter).

Point three – within the National Skills Agreement is a commitment to a national TAFE network. This is an exciting development. As you know TAFEs are already connected through TDA networks and communities of practice, so we look forward to seeing how these are leveraged in this new initiative.

Point four collates other aspects of the NSA. As part of the agreement there are government led actions that will have varying levels of impact on the business of TAFEs. They include introducing strategies that focus on increasing completions, improving VET data, creating a blueprint for a sustainable vocational education and training workforce, and focusing on closing the gap and gender equity. All TAFEs with their State and Territory colleagues are developing plans in these areas.

Point five is about foundation skills, and while these are also a focus of the NSA, there are other broader pieces of work happening in foundation skills such as Jobs and Skills Australia has a capacity study on the foundation skills workforce. TDA members are very active in foundation skills with lots of sharing of good practice through the foundation skills network.

Those five points get us going for 2024. But wait there is more! Next week we’ll turn our attention to another five big-ticket areas.

TDA looks forward to continuing to be a key source of information for TAFE members during 2024 along with sharing your stories of success and information about stakeholders. Have a great start to the year all!

VET leaders named in Australia Day Honours

A number of senior TAFE and VET figures were recipients of Australia Day Honours, announced by the Governor-General.

Recipients of the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) include:

Peter Lewinsky, Chair of Holmesglen Foundation, for significant service to the community, to public administration, and to business.

Alan Sparks AM (Mil) BEM, CEO of East Coast Apprenticeships, for significant service to apprenticeship and vocational training, and to veterans.

Emeritus Professor Ross Harley, Acting Chair, Higher Education Academic Council, TAFE NSW, for significant service to tertiary education, and to the arts through a range of roles.

Diana Taylor, former Chair and Director of GOTAFE, for significant service to Australian rules football, and to the community of Geelong.

Recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) include:

John Chapman, former Director of TAFE SA and current member of the SA Skills Commission, for service to public administration in South Australia.

Geraldine Anderson, a longstanding educator at Bendigo Kangan Institute, Thomas Embling Hospital, for service to vocational education.

Rosie Boylan, a former lecturer at Sydney Technical College, and Ultimo TAFE, for service to the creative arts as a milliner.

Terrence Donovan, a former lecturer at TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour Campus, for service to the community, particularly Indigenous health.

Georgina Gubbins, a former director of South West TAFE, Victoria, for service to primary industry, and to the community.

Michael Tehan, the chair of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE from 2007-2017, for service to the community of the Goulburn Valley.

Scores of training colleges sanctioned after ASQA complaints

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor has revealed that about 14 training colleges have been shut down and 70 have faced regulatory action under a government crackdown on dodgy operators.

Mr O’Connor told The Australian the crackdown follows more than 400 reports to the government’s new VET tip-off line that was launched in October. It has led to about 70 compliance sanctions, investigation or enforcement activities against VET operators.

In the past six months, the Australian Skills Quality Authority has cancelled the registrations of 26 providers – a 50 per cent increase on the same period in 2022.

Mr O’Connor said ASQA was also investigating about 60 more providers based on intelligence gained through the tip-off line.

“What we’ve seen in the past is providers acting egregiously or not providing the education and training required and sometimes they’ve been found but they just closed down and then started up in another form,” he said.

“So, we strengthen(ed) the rules to ensure that people who own or operate or manage RTOs meet higher and broader fit and proper person standards.

“That obviously includes any criminal behaviour, but it also allows ASQA to look at substandard, unethical, dishonest or non-compliant practices out of the sector.”

New occupations added to apprentice priority list

The federal government has added 19 new occupations to the 2024 Australian Apprenticeship Priority List, meaning those jobs will attract additional financial support.

The new occupations include Ambulance Officer, Architectural Draftperson, Boat Builder and Repairer, Fire Protection Plumber, Furniture Maker, Nursing Support Worker, Out of School Hours Care Worker, Pharmacy Technician, and Shipwright.

The list will be used by the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS), to provide additional financial support to apprentices, trainees and their employers.

An eligible full-time apprentice may receive up to $10,000 over the duration of their apprenticeship to help with cost of living, while an employer may receive support of up to $15,000.

The occupations on the list are based on analysis by Jobs and Skills Australia.

See more

TDA Convention 2024 – Sino-Australian VET Forum

TDA is delighted to announce the return of the Sino-Australian VET Forum to TDA Convention 2024 program on the afternoon of 9 May 2024, celebrating the shared commitment of China and Australia to excellence in education.

The forum will bring together education leaders from China and Australia to share expertise, discuss best practices, and foster cross-cultural understanding. Register now to be part of this ongoing collaboration and contribute to shaping the future of vocational education and training on a global scale.

Registration: The TDA Convention 2024 commences with an optional site visit to TAFE NSW’s Meadowbank campus on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 May. The program continues over two full days on 8-9 May at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel including the Sino-Australian VET Forum on the afternoon of 9 May. Delegates can take advantage of numerous networking opportunities including the convention dinner on 8 May at the Sofitel and a networking reception at the iconic Sydney Opera House on 9 May. Early bird registrations are open until 23 February 2024. Further information on registration is available here.

Sponsorship and exhibition: Align your brand with ours through exclusive sponsorship and exhibition opportunities enabling you to connect and engage with convention delegates. For a discussion on sponsorship opportunities, please contact TDA’s Sponsorship Manager Chad Murphy at ASN Events at or on 03 8658 9530.

We look forward to welcoming you to Sydney in May 2024 for TAFE at the Heart!

TAFE Staff Recognition Awards

Get involved at the TDA Convention 2024 by nominating your extraordinary staff members for a TAFE Staff recognition award. TDA’s TAFE Staff Recognition Awards recognise and honour the achievements of TAFE staff across Australia. The 2024 awards will be held during the TDA Convention 2024 on the evening of 8 May at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.

See here for more information and online nomination forms. Nominations close on 1 March 2024.

Australia rejoins international survey of adult skills

The federal government has rejoined a large group of OECD countries in a major international research program to measure and address adult foundation skills.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor announced that Australia will rejoin the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which provides up-to-date evidence on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills.

The OECD conducts PIAAC in 10-year cycles. The most recent findings for Australia are from 2011-12, which found that one in five Australians – around three million adults – have low literacy and/or numeracy skills.  Australia did not take part in the 2018-19 PIAAC study.

Meanwhile, Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has started work on its own Foundation Skills Study which will have four key stages:

  • a survey of Australian adult literacy and numeracy skills
  • a feasibility study into how to collect the literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills of First Nations people
  • analysis of Commonwealth administrative and other data to assess the skill levels for priority groups
  • defining digital literacy and piloting this with relevant groups to establish a national definition.

JSA has formed two advisory groups which will help shape the survey – a Foundation Skills Steering Committee which will meet in February, and a group of technical and subject matter experts.

The JSA study will see design and development work undertaken this year, followed by survey data collection and processing next year, with key findings due mid-2026.

MD appointed at South Metropolitan TAFE

Darshi Ganeson (pictured) has been appointed as Managing Director of South Metropolitan TAFE (SM TAFE) in Western Australia.

The five-year appointment was announced by the Minister Assisting the Training and Workforce Development Minister, Hannah Beazley.

In addition to experience leading South Regional TAFE (SR TAFE), Ms Ganeson has previously held executive and management roles with Challenger Institute of Technology, and SM TAFE, including Executive Director Strategic Partnerships.

Ms Ganeson has been Acting MD at SM TAFE since September.

“Ms Ganeson is known for her strong knowledge of vocational education and training and expertise in commercial operations,” Minister Beazley said.

TDA extends its congratulations to Darshi on her appointment.

TDA CEO Jenny Dodd appointed to National Aged Care Advisory Council

The Chief Executive Officer of TDA, Jenny Dodd, has been appointed as a member of the revamped National Aged Care Advisory Council.

The council was established in response to one of the key recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission. As a result, nine new members have been appointed, while nine existing members have been reappointed.

Ms Andrea Coote remains as Council chair and is joined by new members:

  • Ms Annie Butler, Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Association
  • Mr Lloyd Williams, National Secretary of the Health Services Union
  • Ms Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director of the United Workers Union
  • Ms Pat Sparrow, CEO of COTA Australia
  • Mr Tom Symondson, CEO of Aged Care and Community Providers Association
  • Mr Carlo Carli, Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia
  • Ms Jenny Dodd, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia
  • Mr Simon Miller, CEO of Anglicare
  • Ms Cathy Thomas, Group Executive of Aged Care and Community Services, BlueCare.

Returning members are:

  • Ms Anne Burgess AM
  • Mr Craig Gear
  • Ms Maree McCabe AM
  • Mr Mike Baird AO
  • Ms Rachel Argaman OAM
  • Ms Jody Currie
  • Dr Sandra Iuliano
  • Associate Professor Michael Murray AM.

Council members are not organisational representatives but are selected because of their strong connections to sector organisations and their relevant expertise.

The Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells said the refreshed membership will mean the government receives the best advice from the sector as it enters the next phase of reforming aged care.

“The National Aged Care Advisory Council is one of the ways I can be confident I’m hearing from a wide range of sector representatives as we reform aged care, and making changes that are fit for purpose,” Ms Wells said.

Holmesglen's WAVE project breaking barriers

In this week’s Industry stories collection, TDA is highlighting Holmesglen’s Women Apprentices in Victorian Electrical Project (WAVE Project).

Holmesglen Institute has been honored with the 2023 Industry Collaboration Award at the Australian Training Award for its innovative WAVE project.

Designed to boost the participation of women in electrical apprenticeships in Victoria, the project provided comprehensive support, including the completion of the Certificate II in Electrotechnology. It also provided targeted mentoring by successful women in the electrical industry, and assistance with tools and protective equipment. Trainers underwent awareness training to eliminate unconscious biases, and learning resources were updated for inclusivity. The program also offered support for childcare, transport, and other barriers.

Successful participants went on to apprenticeships in electrotechnology, electrical fitting, and electrical services infrastructure. While acknowledging the progress, Ross Digby from Holmesglen emphasises the ongoing need for further efforts to address gender disparities in the electrical trades industry.

Congratulations to the participants, Holmesglen, and employer partners for this crucial step toward gender equality.

Read more

Consultations start on national skills passport

Public submissions have opened on the plan for a national skills passport, which aims to incorporate the full range of qualifications, microcredentials, and workplace experience across an integrated digital system.

The idea for a skills passport was announced by the federal government in September last year, alongside the release of the Employment White Paper, with a commitment consult widely on its design.

The government has released a discussion paper that outlines key issues and poses questions around issues such as usability, functionality, reliability, security and privacy.

“A National Skills Passport could combine a person’s qualifications across VET and higher education to more effectively demonstrate their skills to employers, encouraging further education, upskilling, reskilling and workforce mobility,” the discussion paper says.

It also notes that a skills passport could be “privacy enhancing, given the quantity of personal information currently being shared in paper, by email and on the internet.”

“Privacy and security must be at the heart of a National Skills Passport,” it says.

The closing date for submissions is February 18.

See more

Universities Australia names new CEO

Universities Australia has appointed Luke Sheehy, pictured, as its new Chief Executive for a five-year term, commencing next week.

Mr Sheehy has more than 20 years’ experience in the higher education sector and was most recently the Executive Director of the Australian Technology Network of Universities.

He has held key education roles in government, along with working as an education and strategy consultant for the Asian Development Bank and also held senior management roles at Swinburne University.

Universities Australia Chair Professor David Lloyd said Mr Sheehy knows the sector well and comes with demonstrated skills and a strong track record of working across the political aisle and with industry bodies to advocate the interests of universities.

“Luke takes the reins from Catriona Jackson who has done an outstanding job of leading UA and leaves the organisation in a strong position,” Professor Lloyd said.

Outcome of consultation on battery electric vehicle skill sets

AUSMASA, the Jobs and Skills Council for the mining and automotive industries, recently opened national consultation in response to stakeholder feedback regarding pathway qualifications into the following skill sets:

AURSS00063 – Battery Electric Vehicle Diagnose and Repair Skill Set
AURSS00064 – Battery Electric Vehicle Inspection and Servicing Skill Set

Of the 122 submissions received, most supported changes to both skill sets. AUSMASA will move to add AUR31220 Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology as a pathway to both.

See more.

Call for abstracts for NCVER ‘No Frills” conference

‘No Frills’ is a well-known annual national conference and a key part of NCVER’s engagement with the VET sector.

It is an opportunity to showcase research to VET practitioners and build the capacity of researchers. NoFrills2024 will be co-hosted with North Metropolitan TAFE in Perth, Western Australia, from Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 July.

NCVER is inviting abstract submissions up until 8 March.

Diary Dates

Empowered Women in Trades
Gala and Awards 2024
23 February 2024
The Trust, Melbourne
More information

TDA Convention 2024, ‘TAFE at the Heart’ – Register now!
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Call for presenters open now
Early bird registrations

National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Research Conference ‘No Frills’ 
‘VET partnerships powering a dynamic workforce’
10-12 July 2024
North Metropolitan TAFE, Perth
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
‘From Competence to Excellence – Strive to Inspire’
15-16 August 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Save the date

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
More information

WFCP World Congress 2024
22-27 September 2024
St James, Jamaica, West Indies
More Information