TDA 2019 Convention: The Power of TAFE launched – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

TDA 2019 Convention: The Power of TAFE launched – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

We need to be future focused

Digital disruption of the workplace will require a significant relook at how workers are educated and trained for work, a new report has found.

Findings by Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce in the report Peak Human Potential – Preparing Australia’s workforce for the digital future are based on a national survey of 1,000 working Australians from a range of job roles and industry sectors.

In what is a unique perspective these days, the report concludes from the views of workers that, firstly, the more an industry is disrupted by technology, the more they value social competencies such as collaboration, empathy and entrepreneurial skills. Workers, secondly, prefer to learn on the job to prepare for the change.

Director of the Centre and report author, Dr Sean Gallagher, says that “The more digital our workplaces become, the more human we need to be as workers. Workers understand that social competencies – such as collaboration, empathy and entrepreneurial skills – are uniquely human and less vulnerable to being displaced by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies.”

We at TDA welcome the report. TAFEs and dual sector universities are uniquely placed to deliver on the skills workers need for the future. These institutes are the most experienced in delivery in the workplace for the workplace. With full industry coverage they can bring the range of knowledge and skills to the upskilling experience. This is important because technology usually brings convergence, often unanticipated, of technology and process, but with unique application. Know-how will be more important than ever – and that’s what the TAFE model delivers.

The report aptly issues the challenge:

We need to lift all workers into the digital economy by providing basic digital training. Many of these future skills are best provided through vocational education, especially within a more coherent tertiary education system. But for learning and work to converge, we need a learning infrastructure that brings education providers and employers together, too.

The future of tertiary education in Australia is bound to be debated further this year. At the centre of that dialogue must be its purposes for the Australian community, as must the unique role of TAFE.

The Power of TAFE

The unique roles played by TAFEs underpin this year’s TDA convention. The Power of TAFE is the theme and will celebrate that place and purpose of TAFE, which is important in Australia’s education history and is so important for Australia’s future.

The Convention will showcase innovation and excellence of TAFE Queensland through the site visit to SkillsTech, Acacia Ridge and the welcome reception at the South Bank campus. The main program is being held at the Brisbane Hilton with sessions including keynote presentations, facilitated panel discussions and workshops.

Registrations are open now for the TDA Convention 2019 at the Hilton Hotel Brisbane, Tuesday 3 September to Thursday 5 September 2019. Don’t miss the opportunity for early bird registrations

Register now via  Early registration closes on Monday 22 July.

Keep an eye out for the call for speaker proposals to be released this week.

All enquiries, including for sponsors and exhibitors can be directed to

Tae Yoo, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility with CISCO has said, “… the concept of skilling, reskilling and lifelong learning is not new. What is new is that the pace of disruption is faster than ever; educational and career pathways are less defined; and the need for perpetual learning is the new normal”. In further words that resonate with the purpose we have for TAFEs, Tae adds:

Together, we have the power to inspire, connect, and deliver on new opportunities and rich experiences that can open doors to innovation and progress while growing global economies and increasing well-being.

Finally, if you are interested in news on TVET from around the globe I recommend you read the latest newsletter of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.


PM is a 'champion' of VET: Steven Joyce

The architect of the federal government’s recent VET review, Steven Joyce (pictured), has described Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “champipon” of the VET sector, and says he doesn’t believe that political divisions should stand in the way of his key findings being adopted.

Mr Joyce, the former New Zealand minister responsible for tertiary education and skills, said his report was well received by the government, particularly by Mr Morrison who, he said is committed to real reform of the VET sector.

“It’s something I know the PM is very passionate about,” he said.

“He’s very, very passionate about vocational education and he thinks it’s underweight in Australia.

“So, you’ve got a real champion there,” he said in comments to the NSW and ACT Apprentice Employment Network conference in Sydney last Thursday.

He also expanded on other aspects of his report, including:

  • Saying he doesn’t see the VET system (with the possible exception of policies around TAFE) being so overtly political that it should threaten a national agreement to make the system run better.
  • Conceded that despite the reform effort in New Zealand, the country’s polytechnics are now struggling.
  • Said the planned national skills commission would have a strong focus on skills forecasting, acknowledging that “initially it’s not going to be that accurate but it’s going to evolve over time”.
  • Dismissed a suggestion he might be a candidate to head the new skills commission.
  • Warned that poor quality VET-in-Schools  programs may be actually worsening the job prospects of some VET secondary school students.
  • Said one of the “best and simplest” ideas from the New Zealand experience was the colour-coding of school subjects so students could identify university and vocational choices.
  • Said he was “a fan of group training organisations” and saw them working in partnership with the proposed new skills organisations.
  • Cautioned that the VET brand was “too broad” and “confused”, and should be narrowed, with a higher profile on new occupations such as those in the digital sector.

Queensland budget injects funds for TAFE, apprenticeships and skill sets

The Queensland state budget has delivered an additional $24 million as part of a $978 million skills and training package.

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said the state’s capital works program will more than double, with over $105 million in upgrades to TAFE facilities.

It includes upgrades at TAFE campuses on the Gold Coast, Alexandra Hills and Mt Gravatt, and continuing works at Pimlico, Townsville and Toowoomba.

There will also be a new higher level apprenticeships pilot program with industry to develop training pathways on top of the traditional apprenticeship program.

There will be a three-year, $5.5 million micro-credentialing pilot project to investigate skill sets and short courses in new technologies.

South Metropolitan TAFE  joins WA government and industry to deliver automation skills

The West Australian government has launched two new cutting edge courses to be delivered through TAFE as part of the joint industry initiative to equip the workforce for a new era of automation.

The Premier Mark McGowan and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery announced that the automation courses will commence at South Metropolitan TAFE’s Munster campus from the second semester of this year.

It is the first achievement of the Resource Industry Collaboration between the state government, South Metropolitan TAFE and Rio Tinto, which contributed $2 million to the new training program.

The Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be delivered as a pilot VET for secondary students, while the micro-credential course, Working Effectively in an Automation Workplace, is a skill set that trade qualified workers and apprentices can use to improve their skills in automation.

Premier Mark McGowan said it was a great example of industry working in partnership to ensure the training sector creates a highly skilled workforce.

New Zealand ad campaign confronts the 'shock' of VET

A New Zealand apprenticeship company has taken a novel approach to changing the image of VET and, in particular, the attitudes of parents, as part of a new advertising campaign featuring on social media.

Some are asking, is this what Australia needs?

Watch the ad here.

Financial support to help young carers continue their education

A fresh round of financial support is available to help with the education of young people who are caring for aged family or friends, and those in areas such as disability, physical or mental illness and substance dependency.

The Young Carer Bursaries support young carers to continue with their education through a limited number of $3,000 bursaries available each year.

It’s open to young people aged 12 to 25 providing unpaid care and support, and undertaking study including at TAFE.

Applications for 2020 open 23 July.

See more.

Use of digital media in TVET set to feature in international exposition

Those involved in the use of digital media in TVET have the chance to apply and present to an international audience later this year.

UNESCO-UNEVOC is partnering with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Germany (BIBB) to identify good practices from Asia-Pacific for the use of digital media in the field of TVET.

It will show the potential of applied digital learning opportunities and identify viable solutions for their sustainable integration into TVET.

A call for application has been issued and selected applicants will be invited to present at the BIBB International Roadshow 2019 – Digital Media in TVET that will take place at the Worlddidac Asia on October 10 in Bangkok.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their application by 15 July to You are kindly requested to also copy the UNEVOC Network coordination team via E-mail:  when applying.

See the call for application.
See the application form.
See data protection information.

A belated congratulations to Ron Wright on his Queen's Birthday Honour

In our coverage last week of VET leaders named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, we missed one important name – Ron Wright (pictured), who was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to skills development programs and infrastructure projects in NSW.

Ron, who is now a consultant, was the man behind the TAFE NSW Skills Point that saw thousands of workers gain skills and qualifications working on the massive Barangaroo project on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.

It was, and remains, a benchmark for large scale training on infrastructure and major works, and enabled thousands of new workers to enter the industry and gain skills on a world-leading project.

Our congratulations to Ron on this much-deserved award.

CISA national conference

You can engage with international students at the conference of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) in Perth from 15-19 July 2019.

See more

22nd Annual Conference of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
No future for old VET’: Researching for the training system/s of tomorrow
17-18 June 2019
Western Sydney University and University College, Parramatta, Sydney
More information

No Frills 2019: The student journey: skilling for life
28th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference
10-12 July 2019
TAFE SA Adelaide Campus, 120 Currie Street, Adelaide, South Australia
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CISA (Council of International Students Australia) National Conference
15-19 July 2019
Perth, Western Australia
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National Apprentice Employment Network
2019 National Conference
31 July – 2 August 2019
Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast
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QLD School VET Conference
Velg Training
9 August 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
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VTA 2019 State Conference
15 – 16 August 2019
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Save the date

National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
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National Skills Week
26 August – 1 September 2019
Locations around Australia
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TAFE Directors Australia 2019 Convention
‘The Power of TAFE’
3 – 5 September 2019
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2019 National VET Conference
Velg Training
12 &13 September 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
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Community Colleges Australia 2019 Annual Conference
18-20 November 2019
The Stamford Plaza Hotel, Brisbane
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Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
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Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group
5th Annual Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education
9-10 December 2019
Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga Campus
More information