Students will benefit from TAFE and university combined credentials and an even playing field – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Students will benefit from TAFE and university combined credentials and an even playing field – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The coming year, 2023, bodes well for the creation of high quality dual qualifications that are built for students.

The establishment of the Australian Universities Accord will examine the connection between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education. It will look at the experience of students in navigating these systems.

While this will inevitably take the conversation to one about pathways, the review must be more than that. It should consider both new qualifications and financial support for students who choose TAFE for their higher education study.

As Professor Greg Craven, past Vice Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, wrote in the Weekend Australian on November 12-13, there should be “strong incentives for universities to partner with TAFE for valuable, mutually advantageous dual credentials. This involves hard work, not flowery commitment”.

Having been involved throughout my career in leading TAFEs to partner with universities, I agree, it will be hard work.  Innovative solutions are possible, but they are often not systematised or sustainable. For example, many dual credentials fall apart when the champion in either provider leaves. We need to move from exemplars to mainstreaming dual credentials, and that will require hard work.

In terms of pathways, every TAFE has a register that they can provide for their students as to which universities offers credit for various TAFE VET qualifications. While important as a service to students, there are two considerations that are needed in this context.

Firstly, VET qualifications are a destination in their own right. Students choose a VET qualification to develop the competencies for the vocational outcome they have selected to study, and usually a job. Secondly, some students – although not many over the last twenty years – start in VET with the intent of going to university. Despite best efforts, it is often difficult for students to negotiate credit that can efficiently lead to reduced time at university and ease of progression.

While this discussion on pathways will continue to be important, many TAFEs find more success in pathways by offering higher education diplomas or associate degrees. Universities generally will give more substantial credit for a higher education sub degree than for a VET diploma.

This raises the question as to how a VET qualification can be designed to make navigating the two systems easier. Some of the changes proposed through the current VET reform that remove the prescriptive nature of training packages will help, but they are unlikely to go far enough. Thus, rather than just looking at pathways, new qualifications are needed. As Professor Craven says, the environment is right for dual credentials – a point supported by the Business Council of Australia, which also suggest the current workplace requires both skills and knowledge, acquired through both VET and higher education.

Finally, in regards the terms of reference for the Accord, TAFEs who offer higher education are already providing access for under-represented students. If we are to level that playing field Commonwealth Supported Places should be made available for a student who wishes to begin their higher education in a supportive TAFE environment. The policy that restricts access for these students to government subsidised places continues to be fundamentally unfair.

TDA looks forward to being part of the discussions on the Accord. There is much to consider.

TAFE collaboration driving better outcomes for apprentices

As highlighted in a recent TDA TAFE Talk, a landmark multi-TAFE collaboration project in Victoria has seen three TAFEs identify common challenges throughout the apprenticeships lifecycle and propose shared areas of focus to improve processes, stakeholder experiences and completion rates.

Bendigo Kangan Institute (BKI), Chisholm Institute and Melbourne Polytechnic, together with ReadyTech and facilitated by Nous Group conducted the project in 2022.  The Apprenticeships Management Best Practice and Future State Analysis report identifies six shared pain points which includes unclear processes, delays at critical steps, limited student tracking, and dropout rates.

The report also details a future state stakeholder experience vision for students, employers, teachers and administration staff, as well as recommended practical steps forward in areas including digital engagement and communications.

ReadyTech is also amplifying its support for apprenticeships through its artificial intelligence technology, leveraging its footprint across the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network. The insights from the machine learning model promise to provide apprenticeship providers and TAFEs with capability that can predict the likelihood of an apprentice completing with ~85% accuracy.

ReadyTech is the student management system partner for the three Victorian TAFEs involved in the collaboration project and supports 10 further TAFEs across Australia with a leading apprenticeship management solution, Ready Skills.

TAFE Directors Australia CEO Jenny Dodd said apprenticeships were a pivotal component of the overall TAFE offering, which meant that improving service across stakeholders in the apprenticeships market is vital for the future of TAFE.

“TDA is delighted to partner with ReadyTech and to work with a technology company with such experience and commitment to our shared goals of improving the student and employer experience,” Ms Dodd said.

Labor’s Victorian election win a boost for TAFE

Labor’s comprehensive win in Saturday’s Victorian state election will see free-TAFE extended, new TAFE campuses built or upgraded, and a guaranteed share of state funding for TAFE.

The key policies that Labor pledged include:

  • Extending eligibility for Free TAFE to people with higher level qualifications
  • Changing the “once-in-a-lifetime” limit on enrolling in a Free TAFE course when continuing in a selected training pathway
  • Establishing six new Tech Schools in Frankston, Dandenong, Hume, Brimbank, Warrnambool and Wangaratta that will support about 62,000 students
  • Investing $170 million to build and extend TAFE campuses as part of a new Building Better TAFE Fund, which includes a $50 million Clean Energy Fund
  • $6 million for Federation TAFE’s Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre for Stage 2 works to deliver training in areas such as wind turbine maintenance and blade repair
  • $5 million to deliver South West TAFE’s Building Innovation and Design Centre, including a multi-disciplinary trades workshop for “green” plumbing, solar and battery electrical systems
  • $5 million for Gippsland TAFE to create a Clean Energy Centre at its new Trade Skills Centre
  • Up to $80 million for two new TAFE campuses in Sunbury and in Melton, which will be a dedicated construction skills facility
  • Up to $36 million for The Gordon’s Disability Services Hub and Student Hub
  • $4 million for Bendigo Kangan Institute’s health and learning hub at Castlemaine
  • Introducing legislation to guarantee 70 per cent of VET funding to TAFE
  • Committing to at least 6,000 apprenticeships as part of the reinstatement of the State Electricity Commission.

TDA welcomes new Corporate Affiliate, Amazon Web Services

TDA is excited to announce its newest corporate affiliate – Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS introduced the first ever cloud infrastructure solution in 2006. With this came the ability to get on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet. Without the need to invest in and maintain hardware, organisations could develop and grow significantly faster at a fraction of the cost. Today, AWS is the most comprehensive and adopted cloud platform in the world. AWS powers organisations of all sizes across almost every industry in 190 countries with over 200 products, services, and custom-built solutions. From machine learning to serverless computing to internet of things, organisations are using the cloud to solve ambitious challenges and improve the way we live. Netflix is able to stream 125 million hours of entertainment to over 200 million members a day. Hawaii-based Terraformation is working towards planting a trillion trees by scaling and decentralising seed databases globally. Capella Space is providing disaster relief organisations around the world with detailed satellite imagery in near-real time. It’s exciting, and it’s just the beginning.

As the world moves to the cloud at a rapidly increasing pace, the ability for organisations to find and employ cloud-skilled workers proves to be a challenge. According to research conducted by AlphaBeta, it is estimated that 86 million more people across seven countries in Asia Pacific and Japan will need to undertake digital skills training in the immediate future. In Australia, seven-in-ten workers are not confident that they are gaining digital skills fast enough to meet future career needs when 3.7 million workers are predicted to need digital skills training in the immediate future.

AWS is committed to expanding access to cloud skills training and education globally. AWS works hand-in-hand with organisations, education institutions, and governments to empower diverse individuals along different journeys to upskill, reskill, and prepare for high-quality jobs. With free cloud training programs like AWS EducateAWS AcademyAWS Cloud Quest, and AWS Skill Builder they offer a variety of resources for educators and students to upskill their cloud knowledge regardless of where they are in their cloud learning journey.

Looking ahead, AWS can’t wait to put even more innovative cloud technology and cloud training resources in the hands of organisations and learners – making it faster and easier for them to build anything, solve anything, and transform the way they achieve their goals.
AWS ANZ Program Manager, Brent Sarver said “We look forward to our collaboration with TAFE Directors Australia and learning how we can support TAFE institutions across the country.  We aim to help TAFEs integrate cloud upskilling programs and resources into curriculum and support them in the creation of pathways that align to in-demand cloud careers.”

Please contact the AWS team if you have questions or would like to discuss how they can support your learning needs!

Register for the final TAFETalks of 2022 – the year’s highlights and what to expect in 2023

The past year saw pivotal changes impacting Australia’s skills, vocational education, and higher education policy environments.

There is much to reflect on, and importantly there is much to think about for 2023. Our TAFE world will be impacted by the new Industry Clusters, qualification reform, the formation of Jobs and Skills Australia, and the higher education Accord …get the low down on all these developments … join the conversation!

Topic: TAFETalks: Highlights of 2022 and what’s coming up in 2023

Date & time: Wednesday 7 December at 2.00pm AEDT (Canberra/Melbourne/Sydney time)

To register for this event, please click here

The student voice was strong at TEQSA

Last week’s TEQSA conference brought together 700 participants face-to-face and a further 300 online. There were some great sessions and terrific comments, in particular the focus on the student voice.

Dr Stefan HajkowiczSenior Principal Scientist, Strategy and Foresight, CSIRO said “a key metric for higher education providers should be is the student happy?”

Professor Peter Coaldrake, TEQSA’s Chief Commissioner stated “the role of the student should be paramount … higher education providers need to listen”. And, Professor Glyn Davis, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, highlighted the importance of the student voice in the Accord.

The panel of students from diverse backgrounds were articulate, empathetic and passionate. They present a vision which was a sharp reminder of the multitude of ways in which higher education must develop to meet student diversity.

There was, of course, much more at the conference, but for a few of us who participated we noted the importance of the student voice as one of the key takeaways.

Registrations open for 2023 World Congress in Montreal

Registrations have opened for the World Congress 2023 to be held in Canada next April.

The Congress will be hosted by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) and the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) in Montreal, with the theme “Collective Intelligence”.

The event is expected to attract more than 1500 participants, meaning that hotels and flights will book quickly. The early registration deadline is March 20.

See more

Also, there is only a week left to submit a nomination for an Award of Excellence, to be announced at the World Congress.

The Awards of Excellence recognise excellence of both individuals and institutions/associations in thirteen categories.

Nominations need to be submitted by 5 December 2022 (11:59 p.m. Canada/US Eastern Standard Time).

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South Australia releases list of free TAFE courses

The South Australian government has released the list of 110 free courses to be delivered by TAFE under the recently signed national skills agreement for 2023.

The agreement between the Commonwealth and state government will see 12,500 free places for the coming year – 10,500 of which will go to TAFE.

The free places cover areas such as health, community, construction, early childhood, hospitality and IT, as well as foundation courses, including vocational preparation for women and English proficiency qualifications.

The Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer said the free TAFE places align directly with the government’s priorities including rebuilding the health system, preparing for universal three-year-old preschool, building infrastructure, and supporting more major events.

TAFE SA CEO David Coltman said he was delighted that the state was leading the country in launching this federal-state initiative for 2023.

“The Fee-Free TAFE places will help us get more people trained and into the
workforce and we are excited about what this initiative means for the state,” he said.

See the fee-free TAFE courses and eligibility criteria

Latest data shows TAFE delivering the bulk of priority skills

TAFE has continued to attract the lion’s share of students in the key skills priority areas of the national economy, according to the latest NCVER statistics.

A total of 876,335 students were enrolled in government-funded VET in the first six months to 30 June 2022, comprising:

  • 471,100 or 53.8% at TAFE institutes
  • 38,460 or 4.4% at other government providers
  • 31,295 or 3.6% at community education providers
  • 305,095 or 34.8% at private training providers
  • 51,360 or 5.9% at other training providers

Government-funded VET includes training package qualifications and accredited qualifications that are recognised by governments as central to national skills development, including in apprenticeships and traineeships.

See Government-funded students and courses, January to June 2022

University accord to examine links between VET and higher education

TDA welcomes the appointment of an eminent panel to develop an Australian Universities Accord, to be led by Professor Mary O’Kane (pictured).

One of the key areas for review will be the connection between VET and higher education, in particular, the experience of students in navigating the systems.

Professor O’Kane is a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide and NSW’s first Chief Scientist and Engineer, as well as the first woman to be a Dean of Engineering at an Australian university.

The other members of the panel are Professor Barney Glover, Shemara Wikramanayake, Jenny Macklin, Professor Larissa Behrendt and Fiona Nash.

The Minister for Education Jason Clare will chair a Ministerial Reference Group to include representatives of students, staff, business groups, higher education and VET peak bodies and the Chief Scientist.

An interim report will be provided to the government next June with the final report due in December.

International students welcomed back to Australia

The federal government is rolling out the welcome mat to international students as the sector prepares for an expected influx in the wake of tough COVID restrictions.

The Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell and the Minister for Education Jason Clare made a targeted pitch for students to return at the Australian Export Awards in Canberra last week.

Describing the former government’s action toward international students as callous”, the ministers emphasised that Australia was a “safe and friendly country offering a world-class education across our school, university, English language, and vocational education and training sectors”.

“On behalf of the Albanese Government, I extend my warmest welcome to all international students studying or planning to study with Australia,” Mr Farrell said.

Mr Clare said the government was addressing the visa backlog and had extended work rights for students studying for degrees in areas of skills shortage.

“It is great to see, but there is still a lot more work to do,” he said.

ASQA approves extended transition for carpentry qualification

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has approved an extended transition period for CPC30211 Certificate III in Carpentry.

The teach out period was due to end yesterday, 27 November 2022.

ASQA has approved an extended transition to 31 January 2024 for all ASQA registered RTOs with scope for delivery for continuing students only.

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Career opportunity at new CDU TAFE faculty

Charles Darwin University (CDU) has launched a re-alignment program, creating a new faculty, CDU TAFE to centralise VET service delivery.

An exciting career opportunity exists for a Pro Vice-Chancellor – Chief Executive to provide strategic leadership to realise the university’s growth agenda for VET.

The focus will be on leveraging strong, long-term partnerships with government, industry, local Indigenous communities, and organisations, and developing and implementing new strategies and creating a new collaborative model for vocational and higher education in a dual-sector context.

Information on the role and application process can be found at Careers at CDU | Charles Darwin University

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: Highlights of 2022 and what’s coming up in 2023
7 December 2022
More information

Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group (ACDEVEG)
A new focus on VET teachers: 8th Annual Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education
8 December 2022 (Online)
More information

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

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information