The power of TAFE collaboration –  comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The power of TAFE collaboration –  comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Increasingly TAFEs are collaborating to deliver outcomes that are priorities for Australia. The most recent example was in this newsletter last Monday where we profiled Wodonga TAFE’s leadership of Joint Technical Trades training for the Australian Defence Force. The partners include TAFEs in other States such as TAFE Queensland and South Metropolitan TAFE WA, other Victorian TAFEs including Chisholm and Bendigo Kangan Institutes, and dual sector university TDA members from Victoria (RMIT) and from the Northern Territory (CDU).

TAFE collaboration is making a huge difference to the way we service industry partners. There are several stories on the TDA website that demonstrate TDA members collaborating to deliver outcomes for employers. One such an example is the TAFE Queensland and Central Queensland University partnership with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) – the Queensland Future Skills Partnership. Find out more about this collaboration.

A second collaborative focus is the coming together of TAFEs to work with industry and government stakeholders in Australian priority skills development areas. Two examples are the workshop with Jobs and Skills Australia regarding clean energy skills development, and two weeks ago, several TAFEs worked with government and industry stakeholders on issues related to national rail training.

These stories show collaboration between TAFEs and with industry. However, there is more to the story! To deepen collaboration, TDA facilitates a range of TDA member networks and supports communities of practice. TDA members come together to explore how TAFEs together can advocate for the public provider. A leading policy network is the TDA Quality, Regulation and Compliance (QRC) network.

Chaired by TAFE SA with deputy Chair TAFE Queensland, it is a critical network for responding to regulatory impacts. This network welcomes all jurisdictions to ensure TDA can present the TAFE view across multitude stakeholders. It has contributed to numerous policy debates and presents the TAFE position with stakeholders such as ASQA and DEWR when needed.

Two other examples of well-established networks that actively represent TAFE and demonstrate the diversity of the TDA networks are the Australian TAFE International Network (ATIN) and the National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Committee (NENAC). ATIN performs a vital connection point for TAFEs to connect with Commonwealth government agencies. It also shares opportunities and discusses issues related to international education on and offshore.

On the other hand, NENAC is an industry network. NENAC’s very active chair from Holmesglen Institute supported by the members are actively advocating nationally for Enrolled Nurses. They are seeking to help all stakeholders to develop better understanding of the scope of practice of an Enrolled Nurse. With TAFEs doing two thirds of the training in the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing, NENAC has a growing voice in this critical policy landscape.

Many TAFE readers of this newsletter may also not be aware of the collaboration between TAFEs in resource development. TDA hosts the TAFE Australia Shared Catalogue (TASC) which enables members to search a database of what resources and assessment other members have produced or have in the pipeline for development. To find out more contact

There is a lot happening in terms of collaboration demonstrating #POWEROFTAFE. Keep reading this newsletter to find out the latest!

Spy agency joins with TAFE to combat cyber threats

The Australian Signals Directorate has developed a new cyber training course that will be delivered nationally by consortium of 11 TAFEs, starting next month.

The Essential Eight Assessors Course is a three-day course that will enable participants to assess the cyber security of organisations, using the Essential Eight Framework designed by ASD’s Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The course will be delivered from August through TAFEcyber – a consortium of 11 TAFEs across the country.

The TAFEcyber training course, along with the Infosec Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) Training Course, forms part of a comprehensive cyber security training initiative that aims to develop a specialised national cyber workforce.

The course is designed for participants who already hold a minimum Certificate IV qualification in a related field and have at least two years’ industry experience.

The rollout of the course through TAFEcyber follows a pilot at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

See more

TAFETalks: Using immersive technologies to enhance learning 9 August 2pm AEST

Join TDA’s TAFETalks webinar, where TAFE Queensland and TAFE NSW will demonstrate how they are integrating immersive technologies to achieve improved learning outcomes, in high risk and high-cost training. This session will explore how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can improve learner outcomes, using examples from the construction industry.

Lee Webster from TAFE Queensland and John O’Brien from TAFE NSW will show the effectiveness of VR in improving student outcomes in courses such as working at heights. They will share how simulating real-life situations is effective at enabling learners to gain deep skills before entering the real environment. Tony Maguire from D2L will offer reflections and insights on leveraging Learning Management Systems to enhance the incorporation of immersive technologies in teaching and learning.

The collaboration between TAFE NSW and TAFE Queensland in immersive technologies has grown because of TDA’s Immersive Learning Network (TILN). TILN facilitates knowledge exchange among TAFEs, focusing on AR/VR and related technologies that have the potential to enhance TAFE’s educational delivery.

To register, please click here

Government introduces Indigenous stream into foundation skills program

The federal government has introduced an Indigenous stream into the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) foundation skills program, to improve literacy, numeracy and digital skills for First Nations people.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor announced the addition to the foundation  skills program in Darwin last week.

The redesign of the SEE program will provide more pathways to access training to improve language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills. It is expected to support up to 2,000 First Nations people per year by 2026-27.

From July 2024, stream one of foundation skills will focus on job seekers, employees and people not in formal education, employment or training. The second stream will focus on First Nations people, providing grants to First Nations community-controlled organisations so they can partner directly with training providers.

The introduction of the second stream follows consultation with Indigenous representatives through the Foundation Skills Advisory Group.

See more

Apprentice support services about to go to tender

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) plans to issue a Request for Tender (RFT) in the final quarter of this year for a new model of apprenticeship support.

DEWR has issued advance notice of the RFT on the AusTender website. The new contract will start next July and run until 2026.

It follows extensive consultation on apprenticeship support services, including through the Future Directions for Australian Apprenticeship Support Services Consultation Paper.

DEWR says it heard from a range of stakeholders through a mix of roundtables, bilateral meetings, site visits, as well as from more than 40 written submissions.

“Feedback confirmed the importance of better supporting the apprentice through their journey, and the focus on key client groups, with many noting the additional support provided under the new model,” DEWR said.

DEWR says the consultations also highlighted a number of necessary improvements, including better connections between services, the need for language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills, support for employers who may also need mentoring and advice, and support for women in male-dominated trades.

JSA's clean energy workforce study due in September

Jobs and Skills Australia’s Clean Energy Capacity Study, originally due mid-year, will now be finalised in September to incorporate a number of recent clean energy developments.

This includes recent budget announcements, including the establishment of a new Net Zero Authority, a further $2 billion for the Hydrogen Headstart program, and a $1.6 billion Energy Savings Plan to improve energy efficiency.

“This extension will allow us to engage in wider stakeholder consultation on the development of the final report,” JSA said in an update.

The study will examine the jobs and industries that make up Australia’s clean energy workforce, and will look at different scenarios for reaching net zero by 2050, as well as the number and types of workers needed.

JSA has received 35 written submissions and conducted five roundtables as part of its consultations. An 18-member steering group has been established to support the study.

Further information on the Clean Energy Capacity Study is available here

The Clean Energy Capacity Study team can be contacted at:

WA releases state training plan

The West Australian government has laid out its skills and training priorities in the State Training Plan 2023-24, released by the Minister for Training Simone McGurk.

The plan lays out four key priorities:

  • WA’s skills needs in national skills reform
  • Preparing a skilled workforce to meet energy transformation and decarbonisation targets
  • Managing a sustainable pipeline of apprentices and trainees, and
  • Building regional workforce skills and capacity.

The plan will also focus on skills development for the tourism and hospitality industries, social assistance and allied health, and agriculture. The diversification of the WA economy continues as a focus through work in the emerging defence industries.

See the WA State Training Plan 2023-24

ASQA to target international student market, licencing and high-risk industries

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is about to commence a series of regulatory campaigns focussed on international students and areas of industry involving licensing or high risk, such as childcare.

In the latest ASQA update, CEO Saxon Rice said the agency has identified RTO risks through environmental scans, sector research, issues raised by consumers, and internal data collection and analysis.

“Like all campaigns, this will involve a range of activities, including resources and guidance to assist the sector to mitigate these risks, as well as targeted regulatory activities to ensure we maintain appropriate regulatory oversight,” Ms Rice said.

The regulatory activity will aim to support providers to return to compliance “or exit them from the sector where they are unable or unwilling to deliver quality outcomes.”.

ASQA has also released its Service Charter which includes the service standards it is committed to, and the values underpinning all its activities.

“You can expect us to act with honesty and integrity, respect and courtesy, confidentiality, procedural fairness, competence, due care and diligence,” Ms Rice said.

SA goes it alone with trial of AI in schools

Students at eight South Australian high schools are trialing an artificial intelligence (AI) app – the first of its kind in the nation – with the safety of students a key focus.

The app, which has been designed in partnership with Microsoft, shows students how to use AI to support their studies, while also having parameters in place to protect students from inappropriate information.

South Australia is the only jurisdiction in the country not to have banned AI in schools.

The Minister for Education, Training and Skills, Blair Boyer said the government has “embraced the technology, rather than attempting to ignore it and ban it.”

“This is why we have worked with Microsoft to develop a safe version for use in schools. This work puts South Australia on the cutting edge of this technology, leading the way on both a global and national scale.”

See more

Free telco advisory service for regional, rural, remote students

TAFE students in rural, regional and remote area may be interested to know about a free government service that provides help with phone and internet connection issues.

The Regional Tech Hub is operated by the National Farmers’ Federation, in partnership with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

It is a free, independent, federally funding telecommunications advisory service that offers help to individuals and businesses to navigate often confusing phone and internet options and technical issues.

See the flyer and more information here.

Call for papers to examine the social role of colleges

The Journal of Vocational Education has issued a call for a special edition that explores the social role of colleges in international perspectives.

The role of universities and schools has been well theorised, but less so the role of colleges. When they are theorised at all, they are often cast in residual terms, as doing what schools and universities don’t do.

In contrast, this call argues that the social role that colleges play is vital for the economic and social wellbeing of the students, communities, industries and regions they serve, and that they are fundamental in supporting social inclusion and sustainability.

It will include community colleges, further education colleges, TAFE, polytechnics and vocational colleges. Five hundred-word abstracts are due by 2 October 2023.

The editors of this special edition are Gavin Moodie (, Jakob Kost ( and Leesa Wheelahan (, who are happy to answer any questions or to talk through ideas for a paper.

See more

International Journal of Training Research seeking a Co-Editor

The International Journal of Training Research (IJTR), a peer-refereed journal published by Taylor & Francis and AVETRA, is recruiting for a Co-Editor (2 to 3 hours per week non-remunerated).

The role is an opportunity for an academic with a strong research background in education and VET, and who also has the commitment, drive and ability to help develop the journal.

More details and an application form are here

Australia needs to stop using the term “VET market” – opinion piece by Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia

Words matter, and the choice of the term “market” when referring to Australian vocational education and training (VET) is more than symbolic; it shows a preference to continue Australia’s deeply problematic policy of marketising (substantially privatising) the VET system. The term underlies and reinforces a philosophy that private, competitive provision of VET services, including to disadvantaged learners, is the best means to skill Australia. I believe that is a wrong approach, and strongly encourage Commonwealth, state and territory governments to adjust their terminology to reflect a system that emphasises quality of provision and ethical behaviour by training providers, rather than a “competition” that seems like it will include “cost efficiency” as a major criterion. Lower costs will not equate with quality provision.

The latest example of “VET market” use is the title of a Commonwealth SEE Program discussion paper: Market Preparation Paper for Stream 1 of the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program, issued by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. The Preparation Paper includes the following phrases, aside from the title:

  • “Introduction of longer-term contract arrangements of up to 10 years to provide greater stability in the market.” (page 7)
  • “These will be detailed in the RFT when released to the market.” (page 8)
  • “This document, being the formal approach to market process for the SEE program.” (page 28)

Why not re-word those phrases:

  • “Introduction of longer-term contract arrangements of up to 10 years to provide greater stability in the VET system.”
  • “These will be detailed in the RFT when released to VET providers.”
  • “This document, being the formal approach to possible providers for the SEE program.”

Every time a department is tempted to use the phrase “VET market”, why not remove the word “market” and insert the word “system”, so it reads “VET system”. Does it still make sense? I suspect 99% of the time it not only will make sense, but it will also lead the reader to a better understanding of Australian skills and training – one based on how the system operates, not that it is a “buy and sell” market.

In what strange world do we now call the provision of foundation skills through the SEE Program, which delivers primarily to disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians, a “market”? In other words, use of the term “VET market” will continue Australia’s deeply misguided policy of VET system privatisation. I respectfully request all governments in Australia to change that approach.

Why have government agencies persisted in referring to Australia’s VET system as a “market”?
The university system of higher education is never referred to as a “market”, with 95%+ of higher education students enrolled in public or not-for-profit institutions. Nor are primary and secondary schools in a “market”; schools cannot receive government fundingAnchor if they are for-profit institutions. Even the heavily “marketised” early childhood learning sector is not, thankfully, called a “market” (imagine that – buying and selling childhood education and care).

Education should not be seen as a “buy and sell” commodity.

Read Don’s full paper. TDA sends Don our best wishes as he finishes with CCA at the end of this week

Diary Dates

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
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32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
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Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
TAFECreates 23
26 – 28 July 2023
Mildura, Victoria
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National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
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VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
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WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
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Victorian Training Awards
18 August 2023
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National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
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NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
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Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
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Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
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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
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Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
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