Simplifying the training system to deliver skills needed now – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Simplifying the training system to deliver skills needed now – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

One of the key proposals for medium-term reform that TDA will be taking to the Jobs and Skills summit in September is the importance of simplifying the national training system.

As we pursue a simpler system, TAFE needs answers to the following questions. Does TAFE have enough autonomy to create training products that can solve an employer’s requirements now? Have we got a system allowing TAFE to respond quickly to the economic drivers of a regional community? Can TAFE find a solution now for an industry that needs skills for tomorrow, not now? Can we bring in the industry trainers we and employers need without six months of intense training before these industry trainers are compliant to assess? How can we foster TAFE-employer creative training partnerships (while retaining quality)?

TAFEs are currently funded to use national training packages. These products are designed and owned by industry. And yet we frequently hear industry say that the training products do not meet their needs or there are gaps in these training packages.

Take for example the recent very good report by the Tech Council Getting to 1.2million: Our Roadmap to create a thriving Australian tech workforce. While TDA acknowledges the challenges for this critical Australian industry, TDA finds it curious that the report identifies gaps in training products and pathways into tech jobs as one of the barriers to overcome. The report states that “90% of major corporates interviewed wanted to see improvements to current training and qualifications”. The commentary of these corporates supports the perspective that even major employers are looking for more custom developed training products.

Currently it is industry who designs and controls the training products that training providers must deliver. That leads to the conclusion that industry too has been constrained by a system that has dictated how training packages are to be built.

We must challenge all parts of what has developed as a very complex training system if we are to meet the demands of our time. That includes looking for solutions that are nuanced to local demand and supply conditions. Solutions that encourage TAFE and employer partnerships.

Jobs summit to consider industry contribution to skills training 

The possibility of businesses contributing more to fund the training and skills development of their own employees will be one of the questions posed at the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra in just over a week.

The Issues Paper released last week notes that while governments can do more to improve the skills and training systems, “businesses and industry also have an important role to play in planning for change and directly investing in training and skill development of their workforce.”

The issues paper notes that key performance benchmarks for the VET system over the past decade “have not been met or are not on track to be met.”

It says that among government-funded VET students who completed their qualification in 2020, only 60% improved their employment status after training.

Some 42% of technician and trade occupations are currently facing a skills shortage compared to 19% for all occupations.

“Completion rates for trade apprentices declined to 54 per cent for those who commenced in 2017, 5 percentage points lower than completion rates for those commencing in 2013,” the paper says.

The paper says key issues for discussion will include better integrate training with employment pathways; whether the current higher education and VET systems are suitable to Australia’s needs; and how the migration system can complement Australia’s domestic workforce.

There will be a strong focus on women’s experiences of the labour market and the challenges of ensuring women have equal opportunities and equal pay.

Ideas raised at the summit will feed into a White Paper on Employment to be released next year.

See the Jobs and Skills Summit Issues Paper

20,000 new university places to target areas of skills needs

The federal government is providing $485 million for a one-off boost of 20,000 Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) for higher education providers to target under-represented groups in areas of skills needs.

The Minister for Education Jason Clare said HE providers will competitively bid for places and will be required to allocate them to people from low-socio economic backgrounds, rural and remote areas, First Nations people, first in family and people with disability.

Places will be targeted at areas of skills shortage including education, health, engineering, and technology. The CSP allocation will comprise 10,000 commencing places in each of 2023 and 2024.

Eligibility is limited to universities, university colleges, and selected higher education providers approved to receive Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding to deliver courses in Education and Nursing. Applications close 19 September.

See the Minister’s media release, the program guidelines and FAQs.

Victoria's skills roadmap to be unveiled today

The Victorian Skills Plan which outlines the priorities and workforce needs of the state will be launched in Melbourne this morning.

The Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney will launch the plan at Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence.

The skills plan is one of the key tasks of the Victorian Skills Authority (VSA) and will provide a detailed outline of the workforce needs of local communities and industries for the year ahead.

It is the culmination of input from industry advisory groups and follows the development of a series of regional skills plans which set out skills needs to maximise economic opportunities in major regional centres.

The VSA is providing a livestream of the launch which will start at 10 am AEST today.

National Skills Week kicks off

National Skills Week kicks off today with a launch in Melbourne, followed by events around the country aimed at promoting the varied opportunities from vocational careers.

National Skills Week 2022 runs from August 22-28. This year’s theme is ‘A Universe of Skills: Go Beyond Your Imagination’.

The federal Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor will launch National Skills Week at William Angliss Institute in Melbourne today.

There are a host of activities around the country including the Skills & Thrills Parents Showcase where parents or students can ask questions about vocational education, training and career pathways.

See more

Time to register for TDA Convention 2022!


TDA is delighted that the South Australian Minister for Education, Training and Skills, Blair Boyer, pictured, will open the second day of the TDA Convention 2022 with a keynote address on Wednesday 16 November.

Minister Boyer will be followed by a panel of TAFE SA 2021 Honour Award winning students, sharing their personal stories of courage.

For further information on registration packages and inclusions, and to register for the event, please click here.

Sponsorship opportunities
The sponsorship prospectus is now available here. To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact

Stay up to date on convention news and program updates 
For updates on convention news and programming, please subscribe to the TDA Convention 2022 e-newsletter here.

TDA looks forward to welcoming its members, partners and supporters to Adelaide in November 2022 to be part of the conversation on Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.

TAFEs excel in VET participation, NCVER data shows

A total of 4.3 million students were enrolled in nationally recognised VET in 2021, a 9% increase over the previous year, according to NCVER.

The ‘Total VET students and courses 2021’ data shows that approximately 24% of Australians aged 15 to 64 years participated in nationally recognised VET.

The figures show that:

  • TAFE institutes saw a 4.7% increase in program enrolments from 782,135 in 2020 to 818,930 in 2021
  • Program completions at TAFEs increased by 3.7 per cent from 208,370 to 216,020
  • TAFEs continued to have a clear focus on delivering nationally recognised qualifications and skill sets, rather than stand-alone subjects
  • TAFEs continued to have above average representation from students who identify as indigenous and those with a disability
  • 51% of students at TAFE were aged between 15 and 24 years; while 49% were aged 25 years and over, reflecting TAFEs importance to Australians at all stages of their careers
  • In terms of socio-economic status, just over 40% of TAFE students were in the bottom two quintiles of social-economic disadvantage
  • TAFEs are delivering nearly 30% of all program enrolments, particularly in crucial fields such as nursing, electrotechnology, plumbing, engineering fabrication and mechanical trade and in emerging areas such as cyber security
  • TAFEs are the dominant providers of foundational, preparatory and pathway qualifications such as spoken and written English, tertiary preparation and skills for education and training pathways

TDA is very pleased that TAFE institutes and dual sector universities continue to be the trusted, quality providers in the VET sector.

See more

New CEO for TAFE Gippsland

TAFE Gippsland has announced the appointment of Laura Macpherson to the position of Chief Executive Officer.

Ms Macpherson brings an accomplished set of credentials to TAFE Gippsland including significant corporate and government experience including senior leadership roles across the transport and education sectors.

Laura was most recently Interim CEO and Managing Director of Box Hill Institute, following four years in executive roles across the institute.

TAFE Gippsland’s Board also acknowledged the important contribution of Linda Austin as interim CEO. Linda will continue in the role as interim CEO until Laura formally assumes the role of CEO on 3 October 2022.

TDA extends its congratulations to Laura on her appointment.

New skills standards for companion animal incident management

The animal care and management industry has been consulted to develop national skills standards for managing the safety of companion animals and those they live with during incidents such as natural disasters.

The 2019-20 bushfires and recent flood events have highlighted the need for a national approach to managing the safety of companion animals and the people they live with during such incidents.

Over the past year, the animal care and management industry has contributed to a national project to update and develop skills standards for companion animal incident management.

As a result of the consultation, eight units of competency and four skill sets were developed and revised to support the unique skills requirements of responding to an incident involving companion animals. TAFEs from around Australia provided feedback into this project.

The new units have been added to Certificate III in Animal Care Services, Certificate IV in Animal Regulation and Management, and Certificate IV in Animal Facility Management.

The new and updated units, skill sets and qualifications are now published on the national training register,

TAFETalks: General Capabilities / Employability Skills – key to lifelong learning


Date: Wednesday 31 August at 2.00pm AEST (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)

General capabilities, often referred to as employability skills are increasingly important. In the process of attaining a tertiary education qualification learners will acquire and demonstrate general capabilities. These general capabilities are fundamental for success as a lifelong learner, and they are demanded by industry as necessary for successful workforce participation. Lifelong learning has become essential as workplaces demand existing workers to continually uplift their skills.

Please join TDA and expert Sandra Milligan from the Assessment Research Centre for a discussion on current developments of general capability tertiary education frameworks and future possibilities. Following Sandra’s presentation, Megan Lilly from the Australian Industry Group will offer a perspective on their importance for industry. Jane Trewin of Box Hill Institute will conclude the session by providing examples of how one TAFE embeds them in their delivery and assessment.

Guest Speakers: 

  • Sandra Milligan, Director and Enterprise Professor, Assessment Research Centre University of Melbourne
  • Megan Lilly, Executive Director Australian Industry Group
  • Jane Trewin, Executive Director Educational Delivery, Box Hill Institute, Victoria

Registration:  To register for this event, please click here

For further information, please visit here

 Invitation to share VET research

Australia’s only national, independent association of VET researchers – AVETRA – is currently inviting contributions for the next edition of its Research Today magazine.

Practitioner-based and applied research is the focus of Research Today. It’s a forum where VET practitioners share the innovative skills and knowledge creation projects that they are working on, often in partnership with industry and community.

Contributions to the upcoming edition are due by Friday 30 September.

As a guide:

  • Articles should be of around 1000-1500 words and on topics of interest to AVETRA members and the wider VET community (including researchers, academics, VET practitioners and other stakeholders).
  • Articles should include the aims of the research, how information was collected, and key findings.
  • If you refer to academic literature, your piece should include the references and a reference list.

If you would like to contribute to the magazine, please contact Andrew Williamson via email or phone 0400 403 755 for more information

Diary Dates

ACER Research Conference 2022
Reimagining assessment
22-25 August 2022
More information

Victorian TAFE Association
State Conference
24-26 August 2022
Registrations open

National Skills Week 2022
22-28 August 2022
More information

South Australian Training Awards
25 August 2022
More information

TAFETalks: General capabilities / employability skills – key to lifelong learning
31 August 2022,
Register here

Jobs and Skills Summit
1-2 September 2022
Parliament House, Canberra
More information

Tasmanian Training Awards
9 September 2022
Wrest Point Hobart
More information

Victorian Training Awards
10 September 2022
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

Community Colleges Australia National Conference
13-14 September 2022
More information

NSW Training Awards
16 September 2022
Sydney Town Hall
More information

Queensland Training Awards
17 September 2022
Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane
More information

WA Training Awards
21 September 2022
More information

October 2022
More information

Australian International Education Conference 2022
18-21 October 2022
Gold Coast & Online
More information

2022 National VET Conference
Velg Training
3-4 November 2022
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

TDA Convention 2022
Courage, Change and Challenge – the Future of TAFE
15-17 November 2022
More information

VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
VET Development Centre
17 & 18 November 2022 (Online)
More information

TEQSA Conference
23-24 November 2022
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins (and online)
More information