The role of community providers in the mix of RTO – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The role of community providers in the mix of RTO – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Last week, Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia, challenged the language being used by Department officials regarding the perpetuation of VET as a ‘market’. Don proposed that applying ‘market’ to the new tender arrangements for the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program needs to be questioned. Don stated that “the term underlies and reinforces a philosophy that endorses the view that private, competitive provision of VET services, including to disadvantaged learners, is the best means to skill Australia.”

In my piece last Monday, I was supportive of the introduction of the RTO typology that Jobs and Skills Australia is working on. As part of that typology the positive role of community education providers in generalist education, especially in foundation skills, must be highlighted.

It will be important that these government tenders recognise the different purposes and business structures of the different RTO types. And like Don, TDA suggests that must flow through to how language is used. This perpetuation of ‘the market’ is insufficiently nuanced and does not address the education and skills focus that is needed for the future.

In TDA’s submission to the University Accord panel we wrote “that the focus on fostering competition to improve effectiveness that has dominated the marketisation of VET for the last fifteen years has reached the end of its value if innovation is to be a priority.” TDA’s proposition here is that vocational education and training must look beyond this approach to deliver for Australia in areas of national priority.

It is time for that broader thinking. The RTO typology which recognises different purposes and organisational types is a good place to start. Community providers have a role to play and incentivising partnerships between these likeminded providers and TAFEs will support the skills development of Australians.

Today I also want to remind readers that it is the start of NAIDOC week. This year the theme is ‘For Our Elders’. You can find the magnificent winning 2023 poster and information about local events here.

Today is also the conclusion of our suite of twelve First Nations Focus stories. TDA has curated a story collection called First Nations Focus to recognise and celebrate the vital work that members nationwide do with First Nations students and communities to help them achieve their goals. Read all twelve First Nations Focused stories here.

Stories celebrate First Nations students and communities

Australia’s First Nations people are renowned as story tellers. The power of story has been used for over 65,000 years to share culture and the challenges and triumphs experienced.

TDA members in every state and territory contributed to the First Nations Focus story collection. All the stories are owned by TAFEs and republished by TDA with their permission.

Continuing on from the previous weeks, the two stories featured this week beautifully illustrate the powerful role that our members are playing in the upskilling and career growth of First Nations individuals. Both stories are anchored in nurturing skill development and creating career opportunities in significant sectors – healthcare and environmental conservation.

Start your healthcare career through the Aunty Fay Carroll program

The Aunty Fay Carroll program, is a compelling partnership between TAFE NSW and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. It’s designed to give First Nations people access to opportunities in healthcare careers, an industry of vital importance in closing the life expectancy gap between First Nations people and the rest of the Australian population. Rie Vee Fish, a graduate of the program, provides a heartening example of its success. She now utilises her Certificate III in Health Services Assistance as an Assistant in Nursing at St Vincent’s. The program’s achievements have led to its expansion, creating even more chances for Indigenous Australians to take part in the health system. To find out more about the Aunty Fay Carroll program, click here.

Rangers gain vital skills to care for Country

The Ranger Ready program by Charles Darwin University is teaching First Nations people in the Northern Territory about modern conservation techniques. This innovative scheme blends traditional knowledge with formal training to cultivate new generations of land and conservation managers. Participants in the program learn a variety of essential skills, such as weed spraying, small machinery operations, four-wheel driving, and GPS coordination. Notably, the program has welcomed its largest group ever, with 150 participants, most of whom are First Nations individuals from remote communities. You can read more about the transformative work of the Ranger Ready program here.

This marks the end of TDA’s special series on First Nations stories. We thank all those who participated and contributed their time and knowledge to bring these important and uplifting stories.

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

Ministers discuss national network of TAFE, university skills training centres

Commonwealth, state and territory skills ministers discussed the ongoing development of nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence that will partner with industry, universities, and governments to address critical workforce challenges including the AUKUS submarine project.

Friday’s meeting also took further steps towards finalising a new five-year national skills agreement, to commence next January.

The Minister for Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor told The Australian that building the workforce of the future would increasingly require universities and vocational education providers to work together.

The plan is already a key element of South Australia’s Skills Academy which will see TAFEs, universities and industry work together to deliver tailored training.

The meeting also established a dedicated group to progress national qualifications reform.

It discussed the progress of reforms to the current Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and agreed to work to strengthen the ‘fit and proper person’ requirements and possible changes to reflect the updated Training and Education Package.

The meeting also received an update from Professor Peter Dawkins, Interim Director of Jobs and Skills Australia.

See the Skills Ministers’ Communique

Victorian government unveils apprenticeships taskforce

The Victorian government has announced the first members of the new Apprenticeships Taskforce which will focus on safety and fairness in the workplace.

Former President of the ACTU Sharan Burrow will be Chair, with the Justice Iain Ross, previously President of the Fair Work Commission, a special adviser.

Union representatives will include Victorian Trades Hall Council, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, Electrical Trades Union, Young Workers Centre, Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union, United Workers Union and Australian Workers Union.

Employer representatives include Apprenticeship Employment Network, Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce, Master Builders Association of Victoria, Master Plumbers, National Electrical and Communication Association, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Australian Industry Group.

The taskforce will be delivered by Apprenticeships Victoria and will address regulatory arrangements, incident responses, employer screening processes, complaint reporting and improved accountability.

Taskforce Chair Sharan Burrow said the body will give Victorian apprentices “a seat at the table to make sure their voices are heard and needs are addressed to create a safer workforce.”

Wodonga TAFE secures $300m contract to train thousands of soldiers, sailors 

Allison Jenvey, Board Chair of Wodonga TAFE and Damien Crawley, Executive Officer Training Transformation Solutions of Wodonga TAFE sign the Joint Technical Trades and Training Services (JTTS) contract at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Wodonga TAFE will significantly expand its partnership with the ADF through a $300 million, five-year contract to deliver technical trades training to the Army and Navy.

Wodonga TAFE has a number of existing Defence contract, but the new agreement will see this extended on a national scale through more than 100 accredited and non-accredited courses in construction, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and electronics trades.

It will involve about 2000 Defence students per year, with many of the courses in locations where they work and live, instead of spending months away from their families and friends to travel to courses.

Wodonga TAFE – as the prime – will lead the delivery of Joint Technical Trades Training utilising designated national training partners throughout the NTEN, including Chisholm Institute, TAFE QLD, University of New England Partnerships, National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), Kangan Institute, Charles Darwin University, Kinetic IT, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and South Metropolitan TAFE.

Wodonga TAFE CEO Phil Paterson said the contract brings employment for up to 250 staff and has a potential term of up to ten years.

“This is a big win for Wodonga TAFE, our local region, the Victorian TAFE Network, and our National Technical Education Network,” he said.

See more

John Tucker appointed interim CEO of TAFE Queensland

The General Manager of TAFE Queensland SkillsTech, John Tucker, will undertake the role of Interim CEO of TAFE Queensland following the retirement of Mary Campbell.

Mary finished in the role last Friday, bringing to a close a remarkable 36-year career at TAFE Queensland that began as a teacher in 1987.

The Chair of TAFE Queensland, Jane Seawright said Mary leaves a proud legacy.

“Mary passionately believes in the transformational powers of VET and has championed a culture at TAFE Queensland of inclusiveness, equity and accessibility for all students and employees.

“I am sure you will all join me in again thanking Mary for her work, dedication and passion for TAFE Queensland ensuring the ongoing success of this intergenerational asset,” Ms Seawright said.

John Tucker will fill the role of interim CEO while the Queensland government finalises the formal approval of the appointment of the CEO

'Help Australia Thrive!' campaign to enhance international education

The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) has launched the ‘Help Australia Thrive!’ campaign, highlighting the economic and cultural contribution of international education.

The social media campaign will feature the stories of three international students – Jerry from Jakarta, Ralph from Dubai, and Patti from Bangkok. It will run on social media until September.

“International education isn’t a commodity. It supports communities and nurtures knowledge. International students pay their tuition, earn their qualifications and underpin outstanding research,” IEAA CEO Phil Honeywood said.

See more

Work begins at Skills Insight

Skills Insight, the new Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) for the agribusiness, fibre and furnishings industries, has started to develop its workforce plan after being officially established at the end of May.

Skills Insight’s role is to support strategic industry leadership and undertake research activities looking at skills and workforce challenges, with a specific focus on improving the VET system and industry participation in it.

Skills Insight says it will work with stakeholders to take a wide view of skills issues and potential solutions to improve outcomes for industry, learners, trainers and employers.

Its coverage includes primary production, plants and animals, forestry and timber, textiles, clothing, footwear and furnishing, and emerging industries around natural resource security and environmental management.

Organisations can be involved in finding potential solutions to national skills and training challenges by becoming a Skills Insight Member. Membership is free and provides an opportunity to be an active part of industry networks, contributing to the direction of projects and activities that will impact industry.

A key focus of the initial work as a JSC is to develop a Workforce Plan to describe workforce challenges and opportunities across the industries and develop appropriate strategies and advice to address these challenges.

See more about Skills Insight

Best wishes to TDA’s Melinda Fischer

TDA’s amazing Melinda Fischer will finish at the TDA secretariat to take up a new career position from next week.

Melinda started at TDA over four years ago when she was an international student at Canberra Institute of Technology and then went on to complete her degree in software engineering at the University of Canberra.

As a small team, TDA has been very fortunate to have had Melinda who has tackled every challenge placed in front of her with high-level capability and outcomes. Most recently Melinda expertly delivered TDA’s first online conference for 700 participants.

On behalf of the TDA secretariat and TDA Board we wish Melinda all the best in her career and thank her for a job brilliantly done.

Supporting TAFE students during the cost-of-living crisis – there is more we can do By Peter Nikoletatos, Technology One

“We need to support our students through the cost-of-living crisis in whatever way we can – that includes embracing modern technologies” – Peter Nikoletatos, TechnologyOne Industry General Manager and Adjunct Professor.

Every story in the news currently seems to be about the cost-of-living crisis and its flow-on effect: steep and frequent rental increases, interest rate rises, cost of food and bills going up. It feels like a never ending problem, and there’s one cohort who might be feeling it the most.

Imagine this; you are living in a remote area of Australia. The course you want to take is only available in another town. Your only option is to move away from the security of your family and friends. Now, you’re living on your own and while your TAFE course itself might be fee-free, you watch as the price of food, rent, fuel, continue to rise. This is the reality for many students.

When we consider the effect of the cost-of-living crisis on student retention, modernising the way TAFEs communicate and interact with their students is key. It allows institutions to spot early warning signs before struggling students risk walking away from their studies. This doesn’t replace the human element, but it enhances it and amplifies their support services.

In the age of big data, collecting it is meaningless if you can’t make sense of it and turn it into an actionable insight to improve a student’s experiences. Progressive organisations recognise that digital transformation is the key to solving these challenges. Smart solutions better support the administrative and pastoral needs of TAFEs and their students.

TechnologyOne’s OneEducation Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, for example, provides education leaders with real-time, holistic data-driven insights. We know that investing in smart technology and analysing the right timely data can be transformative in helping TAFEs identify and intervene when students are struggling – financially and emotionally – and ultimately helping them stay the course.

Predicting student attrition requires making sense of multiple data sources – how long is the student enrolled for, have they transferred to another course, have they been given a warning if they are not passing, have they sought support services?

But in most cases, that data isn’t connected across student-related information, such as academic performance, finance, or health services. Those gaps can limit a TAFE’s ability to spot patterns or risky behaviours that, if caught early, could change the trajectory for that student.

TechnologyOne is Australia’s leading software provider in higher education, with its OneEducation SaaS solution being used by two out of every three Australian TAFEs. Since partnering with our first education customers in 1990, we have listened to the needs of the vocational sector and come up with solutions to complex problems, so we can make our customers’ and their students’ and staff’s lives simple.

We know the last few years have had a profound impact on the vocational sector, but innovation often thrives under pressure. Now is the time for tertiary institutions to be agile and embrace smart new technologies to gain an edge and to help students going through changes and challenges.

I am passionate about working closely with educators and tertiary institutions, learning what they need to optimise their work and what drives them. Their focus is on their students’ best interests and providing opportunities they need to succeed and build a stronger Australia for the future, benefits all. Read the full article.

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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