Unintended consequences that will impact a workforce – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Unintended consequences that will impact a workforce – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

The decision of the Fair Work Commission regarding pay increases for aged care workers, a very positive outcome for this workforce, prompted me to reflect on the unintended consequences of last year’s changes regarding the aged care workforce. Before we get to those unintended consequences, read Kit McMahon’s Opinion Piece in this TDA newsletter about the aged care pay decision.

The unintended consequence that I want to call out concerns the prescribed number of minutes that older people in aged care should receive from various members of the aged care workforce.

Mandatory direct care minutes were introduced in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Department of Health and Aged Care’s website states, “Mandatory care minutes ensure that older people in aged care homes receive the dedicated care time they need.”

While the three groups of workers being, Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Personal Care Workers are mentioned on the website as able to be used to provide evidence of meeting the care minutes, the fact that there is no mandated number of hours for an Enrolled Nurse has had an impact. This is the unintended consequence. Many aged care facilities are no longer employing Enrolled Nurses, rather they will increase the number of Personal Care Workers.

All industries need workforce design that allows for career progression. The Diploma of Nursing, delivered primarily in TAFEs is an essential qualification in the total workforce design for this industry. It is the experience of TAFEs that many of our students in the Diploma of Nursing choose to take this course as entry into the career. Others choose to progress from the Certificate III. These are vital choices for the potential worker.

For workforce design it is desirable to have different roles with increasing responsibilities. An Enrolled Nurse has a much greater scope of practice than a Personal Care Worker. This provides an attractive career progression point as the role becomes more complex and with greater responsibility. The absence of Enrolled Nurses in the aged care workforce will reduce these career opportunities.

Workforce design is essential. TDA and its Enrolled Nurse network, NENAC call on the government to explicitly include mandated hours for Enrolled Nurses to sustain a strong aged care workforce. We will continue to work with our partners to advocate for this change.

In the meantime, it is Easter next week and the TDA Monday Newsletter will have a little break.

The Aged Care Wage Decision: Recognition that women's work is undervalued: Kit McMahon

“ .. the Expert Panel finds that that the work of aged care sector employees has historically been undervalued because of assumptions based on gender.”

So stated the summary of the decision made by the Fair Work Commission on the work value case for the aged care industry. This landmark decision is important for two key reasons. Firstly, because it delivers the aged care workers a 28% increase in pay through their awards. Secondly, because it codifies the reality of gender “undervaluation” that is baked into our assumptions about the skills and work that is mainly done by women.

In its work, the Commission highlights key mechanisms that drive these “gendered assumptions” – in this case, the C10 Metals Framework Alignment Approach. These benchmarks have baked into them the bias and discrimination against the work of women and feminised workforces.

For so long Australia’s workforce has been characterised by its persistent gender segregation and linked to that, the pay gap. The March release of Workplace Genger Equality Agency (WGEA) data on individual employers and its ongoing work across industries, tells us that there is not one industry where there is not a pay gap. It also shows that it is not one single element, or one thing that is going to change this but many elements that will need to change together to close the pay gap.

Adding more women to a workforce on its own does not necessarily result in the closing of the pay gap nor does inserting said women into senior roles automatically reverse the trend.

The contribution to the pay gap is multifaceted and is constituted by such elements as women taking far more unpaid leave for care than men, prevalence of women doing part time work, barriers to accessing high-paid positions, and for the Commission, the gendered drivers that result in the assumption-writ-real that the work that women do is less skilled and therefore, worth less than the work that men do. Women’s work has been historically devalued because it is work done by women.

The Commission has just called this out and played a role in correcting this systemic inequity.

Kit McMahon is the CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, Chair of Tradeswomen Australia Group and, Co-Convenor of Women in Adult and Vocational Education (WAVE). Kit’s work involves providing advice to organisations and government about addressing intersectional inequity including skills and education policy.

TDA Convention 2024 – federal and NSW skills ministers to address delegates

The TDA Convention 2024 will take place in Sydney from 8-9 May at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, exploring the theme TAFE at the Heart. Please join TDA and over 500 delegates for an exciting lineup of sessions and speakers.

TDA is delighted to announce that both The Hon. Brendan O’Connor, MP, Federal Minister for Skills and Training and The Hon. Steven Whan, MP, the NSW Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education will feature in the TDA Convention 2024 program. They will share insights and perspectives on the integral role of TAFE at the heart of Australia’s education and training sector. Their participation underscores the pivotal role that TAFE plays in driving economic growth, fostering innovation and shaping the future workforce of Australia.

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with key decision-makers and contribute to the dialogue on TAFE’s enduring legacy and future at the heart of vocational education and training in Australia.

The program overview is available to view here. Please note that the program is subject to change. Information on registration is available here. We look forward to welcoming you to Sydney in May 2024 for TAFE at the Heart!



Ministers Brendan O’Connor and Steve Whan.

Strong jobs outcomes reported for apprentices

Strong jobs outcomes for apprentices have been highlighted in the latest NCVER statistics which show 95.6% of those who completed their trade training in jobs during 2023.

Even among those who did not complete their trade training, 86.1% were employed.

The best outcomes among those who completed trade apprenticeships were in Electrotechnology and Telecommunications (84.7% employed in the same trade), Construction (84.1%), and Automotive and Engineering (79.4%).

There was similar strong jobs outcome in non-trade apprenticeships, with 89.7% of non-trade completers employed, and 81.2% of those that did not complete.

The main reasons given by apprentices and trainees in trade occupations for not completing their training were that the pay was too low or they were unhappy with working conditions or their workplace (23.9%), slightly lower than reported in 2022.

See Apprentice and trainee outcomes 2023

TAFE Queensland contributing to the lives of young people

Jessica Addo, a 30-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from Cairns, is deeply committed to creating positive learning environments for Indigenous children. With family ties to Yarrabah and Mornington Island, Jessica’s strongest community connection is through her grandmother in Mapoon.

Her passion for teaching led her to enroll in the RATEP Indigenous teacher education program at TAFE Queensland, where she gained hands-on classroom skills and a qualification as a teacher assistant. Jessica believes Indigenous educators bring invaluable cultural knowledge to classrooms, fostering stronger connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Despite challenges, including resigning from a full-time job to pursue her studies,

Jessica received full support from RATEP. She completed a Certificate IV and a Diploma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, supported by a QTAC Scholarship and a VET Student Loan. Jessica’s dedication paid off as she transitioned into a managerial role, making a significant impact in education and her community.

Read more

Team Australia delegates package for WorldSkills released

WorldSkills has released its “Team Australia” delegates package for WorldSkills Lyon 2024.

The seven-day itinerary includes six nights of accommodation, tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies, transfers, entry to welcome and celebration events, and the official Team Australia supporters’ merchandise.

Delegates will be staying in a four-star hotel as part of the official Team Australia group of competitors, trainers, officials, and team management – the largest Australian team ever sent to a WorldSkills international competition.

The 33-strong contingent of young apprentices, trainees, and students – the Skillaroos – will compete against 1,500 competitors from 75 countries.

The 47th WorldSkills Competition will take place in Lyon, France from 10 to 15 September.

See the Team Australia Delegates Package

TAFE Gippsland tech director named Fulbright scholar

TAFE Gippsland director, Paul Boys has been awarded a Fulbright Professional Scholarship in VET that will see him travel to the United States to undertake research on the VET teaching workforce.

Paul will work with San Francisco State University and the University of California to research programs and policies which support the recruitment, retention, and professional development of teachers in the VET sector.

Paul is the Director of the Gippsland Tech School and Mobile Tech School at TAFE Gippsland, and has a background in curriculum design and teacher professional practice through some 20 years in the Victorian TAFE and secondary education sectors.

“My Fulbright research aims to advance the status of vocational educators and trainers to prepare students for future careers in a rapidly changing technological environment,” Paul said.

The Fulbright scholarship, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education, was presented at Canberra’s Parliament House by United States Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy.

See more

Image: Paul Boys presented with his Fulbright Scholarship by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Happy Easter from TDA – and a short newsletter break

With the Easter break, there will be no TDA newsletter next week. We will be back on April 8.

Diary dates

My eQuals Connect
A discussion about the future of digital credentialing (free event)
7 May 2024
Sybil Centre, University of Sydney
More information

TDA Convention 2024, ‘TAFE at the Heart’ – Register now!
8-9 May 2024
Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Call for presenters open now
Early bird registrations

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2024 Skills Conference: Empowerment & Connection
12 June 2024
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

33rd National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ 
‘VET partnerships powering a dynamic workforce’
10-12 July 2024
North Metropolitan TAFE, Perth
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference ‘Skills for Life’
23-25 July 2024
Save the date

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
‘From Competence to Excellence – Strive to Inspire’
15-16 August 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Save the date

National Skills Week 2024
‘It’s a Game Changer’
19-25 August 2024

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
More information

WFCP World Congress 2024
22-27 September 2024
St James, Jamaica, West Indies
More Information

AVETRA 2024 Conference
3-4 October 2024
University of Technology, Sydney
Save the date

Jobs and Skills Council Events

Go to individual JSC websites for event details.

Powering Skills Organisation
Energy Pathway Roadshow: Collaborating for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Events in Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Bunbury, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Geelong and Brisbane.

State and Territory Roadshow 2024