TAFE and intergenerational capability building – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

TAFE and intergenerational capability building – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The sixth Intergenerational Report was released last week. This report predicts Australia’s future to 2063. In the Treasurer’s foreword, Dr Jim Chalmers identifies the main impacts of change including digitalisation, new technologies and energy transformation. He goes on to say that one of the actions needed is to “build the skills and capabilities of our workforce”.  

It is evident in these predictions that the demand for high level knowledge and skills will become even more important than it is now. The report indicates that Australians will need to have higher qualifications. TAFEs, with their broad sweep of qualifications including most delivering higher education, are well positioned to be central to Australia’s demands for higher level capability development.

Generational skill development is fundamental to the role TAFEs play with community and for industry. During the last couple of weeks, I have been out and about. This has included touring the national competition at World Skills in Melbourne and attending the opening of the impressive TasTAFE Water Energy and Trades Centre of Excellence in Hobart. On show at TasTAFE were a number of the newer trades’ teachers and their apprentices demonstrating skills development for the next generation of plumbers.

What is remarkable is witnessing the expertise of those who work in TAFEs. World Skills, as we all know is for all Vocational Education and Training. However, the contestants are predominantly from TAFEs. That means the mentors are predominantly from TAFE. When I was at TasTAFE, cabinetmaker Josh Boon won the gold medal in the national competition. This year he was a mentor and coach – another example of how generations train the next generation.

Josh talks on YouTube about the importance of intergenerational skills. He says, “The skills we pass down are skills taught to us generation after generation. My advice is to … listen to your TAFE teachers and your mentors … because they are the ones going to guide you with the skills to pass onto the next generation.”

CIT student Floyd Lucas-Baxter also took home gold from the 2023 national World Skills competition. Floyd thanked his employers and credited his achievement to them and to the training of his CIT teachers.

Floyd is an example of all the TAFE students achieving great skills and being mentored by teachers in TAFEs and dual sector university TAFE divisions. All TAFEs are committed to excellence in skilling the next generation. The list of those who succeeded at World Skills can be found here. This level of expertise and high-level skill is to be commended.

Australia will need continued investment for the next forty years in building skills and capabilities in critical areas of the economy. TAFE is at the heart of achieving that goal.

Skills ministers give ASQA new powers to close down ‘unethical, dishonest’ training providers

Commonwealth, state and territory skills ministers have agreed to broaden the powers of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to enable it to better scrutinise people managing, overseeing and controlling vocational training organisations.

The meeting in Perth on Friday agreed to tougher “fit and proper persons” standards that ministers said would enable ASQA to “eliminate the minority of non-genuine operators that profit from students and fail to provide the standards of education and training that students deserve.”

“The changes allow the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) more scope to keep substandard, unethical, dishonest or non-compliant practices out of the VET sector,” a statement said.

The fit and proper person requirement is a condition of RTO registration. The new, higher standard was recommended to the former government in 2018, but not acted on.

The expanded test will allow ASQA to:

  • consider instances where an offence was proven but no conviction was recorded;
  • consider a person’s management history and past breaches of registration;
  • expand the types of evidence which can be considered that show false and misleading conduct by providers; and
  • consider whether the provider has been found not to be fit and proper under an expanded range of federal and state laws, not merely in the VET sector.

“These changes will better enforce higher ethical standards for people entrusted to operating the registered training organisations that are vital to overcoming the current skills crisis,” the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said.

“We are working with states and territories, experts and sector leaders to ensure that ASQA as independent regulator has all the regulative and legislative tools it needs at its disposal.”

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Government shuts down ‘concurrent study’ visa rort

The federal government has shut down a loophole that has allowed international students to switch from their core study to cheap vocational courses soon after arriving in the country.

The crackdown, to take immediate effect, was announced on Saturday by the Minister for Education Jason Clare, the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor, and the Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil.

Investigations have revealed abuse of the “concurrent enrolment” provisions which allow international students to take additional courses along with their core studies as a way of improving their employability.

Concurrent enrolments have recently exploded, reaching 17,000 in the first half of 2023, compared with approximately 10,500 for the same period in 2019 and 2022 combined.

The Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said there would be no tolerance for people who exploit students.

“Our message is clear – the party is over, the rorts and loopholes that have plagued this system will be shut down,” Ms O’Neill said.

The government will also consider using its powers under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act to issue suspension certificates to high-risk providers.

“This would be the first time an Australian Government has used this power and reflects how seriously the Albanese Government takes the issue of dodgy providers,” the statement said.

See the joint statement

TAFETalks: Beyond Paper - The evolution of digital credentials – this week!

As digital transformation continues to take place across many aspects of life, TAFEs are at the forefront, streamlining the student experience by awarding and recognising qualifications digitally.

TDA invites you to join us for a discussion with our corporate affiliate My eQuals along with representatives from Bendigo Kangan Institute, Holmesglen and Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to learn more about how TAFEs are digitising their credentials, and the benefits that this is bringing to students, institutions and industry alike.

The consistent approach to provisioning official credentials between VET and higher education providers also supports increasing alignment on recognition of learning between the sectors. This session will also explore the future evolution of this technology, including the movement to Self-Sovereign Identities (SSI) for individuals to securely store credentials in their digital wallet. The future of digital credentials is here!

To register click here

Ministerial meeting agrees to expedite rollout of TAFE Centres of Excellence

The priority areas for a national network of TAFE Centres of Excellence was a key issue at the meeting of federal, state and territory skills and training ministers on Friday.

Ministers agreed that setting up the Centres of Excellence will be included as an element of a new National Skills Agreement (NSA) which is being progressed.

“Skills Ministers and their departmental officials will work closely with TAFEs to expedite delivery on this commitment,” the joint Communique said.

“National priorities for Centres of Excellence will include supporting transformation to a net zero economy, sustaining essential care and support services, ensuring Australia’s digital and technological capability and sovereign capability.”

Other issues discussed by skills ministers included:

  • Fee-Free TAFE – ministers noted that Fee-Free TAFE enrolments have exceeded the national target of 180,000 under the 2023 12-month skills agreement, ahead of an additional 300,000 Fee-Free TAFE places being added over three years from January 2024.
  • Closing The Gap – ministers reaffirmed the commitment to embedding Closing the Gap as a national priority in the NSA, including the critical role that Aboriginal Community Controlled Registered Training Organisations.
  • National VET Completions Project – ministers received the National Vocational Education and Training Completions report, led by the South Australian government, with input from NCVER, Jobs and Skills Australia, and governments. The report will be released soon.
  • RTO Standards and VET Workforce blueprint – ministers responded to pressures on the VET workforce by expanding the workforce pool and enabling the broader use of industry experts. Officials will develop a program to fully embed quality aspirations into the RTO Standards.
  • New Fit and Proper Person Instrument (see story above).

See the Communique

Image: Ahead of the meeting, skills ministers had a demonstration of the state-of-the-art interactive maritime simulator at South Metropolitan TAFE campus in Fremantle.

NSW tops WorldSkills Australia medal tally

NSW topped the WorldSkills Australia 2023 medal tally with an impressive 21 Gold medals, edging out Victoria with 19 Gold.

However, Victoria amassed a larger number of medals – 59 in total, compared with 57 for NSW, according to the final tally.

Western Australia came in third with 13 Gold and 26 medals in total.

NSW also secured the VETIS Shield for an outstanding performance among VET in Schools competitors.

The Evatt Shield for the best performing region went to Melbourne.

The Tjerk Dusseldorp Best in Nation award went to Magnus Andersson and Will Vestergaard in the field of Mechatronics.

A total of 470 young Australians competed at the championships and almost 27,000 visitors attended the event.

See more

Register for TDA's online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system, 18 October 2023

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) is thrilled to be hosting our second online conference for 2023, Linkages: One tertiary education system which will explore the policy and practice of better alignment between higher education and vocational education and training.

The online conference will take place from 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm AEDT on Wednesday 18 October and features a range of high profile speakers from vocational education and training, higher education, government and industry.

Some of our high profile speakers include the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training who be providing an opening address at the conference. The Hon Jenny Macklin, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne and Panel Member Australian Universities Accord will be discussing the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.

Members of the 2019 AQF Review, Professor Sally Kift, President of Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows and Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Victoria University, and Megan Lilly, Executive Director, Centre for Education and Training, AiGroup will be speaking on the proposed changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) reform.

To view the full program, visit the TDA Linkages: One tertiary education system event page.

Registrations are now open for this free event. To secure your spot, click here.

ASQA warns of ‘kidnapping’ scam targeted at Chinese students

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has issued a warning that Chinese students are the target of a ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam being undertaken by criminal gangs.

ASQA says the Australian Federal Police and Department of Home Affairs have raised awareness about the kidnapping scam and asked students to be on alert.

The scam involves a call that accuses a student of criminal activity.

“They will threaten the victim and their family with criminal sanctions unless they pretend they have been kidnapped, including by taking photos of themselves bound and gagged,” the National Scam Watch website explains.

“Scammers will then use these photos to extort money from the student’s family by claiming the student has been kidnapped,” it says.

ASQA refers students to a range of information on the Department of Education website.

TAFE teacher appointed to NSW TAFE commission

TAFE NSW metal fabrication and welding teacher Stuart McKinder, pictured, has been appointed to the Board of the TAFE Commission – the first time in the last eight years that a teacher has been appointed.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Prue Car said the appointment would ensure that the government benefits from advisors who are at the coalface of helping learners, businesses, and communities.

Mr McKinder has a long affiliation with TAFE NSW after completing a five-year apprenticeship in 1992, and becoming a welding and metal fabrication teacher in 2008. He currently teaches at TAFE NSW in Wetherill Park.

While on the board, Mr McKinder will be supported by a panel of teachers who will act as an advisory group, providing a range of perspectives across regional and industry skill areas to ensure all facets of teaching are considered.

Agribusiness JSA announces three new projects

Skills Insight, the Jobs and Skills Council for the agribusiness, fibre and furnishings industries, has commenced work on three new projects to address skills and workforce needs.

The Agricultural Trade Pathways Project will explore the feasibility of establishing an agricultural trade apprenticeship pathway. 

The AHC Improvements Project will see several qualifications and skill sets in the Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management Training Package updated to incorporate units of competency that have been developed or revised in recent projects, including several work health and safety and environmental care related units.

The Tree Felling Project will see consultation to review three tree felling units and consider how many trees are required to demonstrate each skill level and what other mechanisms may be needed to support safety, accessibility and competency.

Anyone wishing to be involved in any of the projects should contact the respective project manager directly.

These are the first projects to be approved by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) as part of Skills Insight’s Jobs and Skills Council role. Further projects will commence following DEWR approval of an Annual Activity Plan.

ASQA approves extended course terms

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has approved extended transition periods for a range of qualifications across various industry sectors.

In the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear training package, the following qualifications have an extension date of 31 January 2025:

  • MST20616 – Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
  • MST30819 – Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
  • MST40119 – Certificate IV in Textile Design, Development and Production
  • MST50119 – Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
  • MST60119 – Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising

In the Construction sector, CPC31511 – Certificate III in Formwork/Falsework has been extended until 31 December 2024.

In Community Services, CHC43115 – Certificate IV in Disability has been extended until 31 July 2024.

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Diary Dates

SAVE THE DATE – TDA Convention 2024 – 8 and 9 May, Sydney – details coming soon!

TAFETalks: Beyond Paper: The evolution of digital credentials
30 August 2023, 2pm AEST
More information

NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
More information

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

TDA online conference – Linkages: One tertiary education system
18 October 2023, 1 pm AEDT
See more and register here

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

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information

TDA Convention 2024
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Save the date