VET opens doors to women and careers – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

VET opens doors to women and careers – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Despite its somewhat convoluted title, the VET Student Outcomes – Top 100 Courses – VET National Data Asset (VNDA) report released in the last couple of weeks by Jobs and Skills Australia makes for very interesting reading. 

The report tracks students who start and complete a vocational education and training qualification. It includes information on employment outcomes and income levels. It identifies of the top 100 courses which have the best outcomes. For example, over 82% of those who complete a VET course are employed after completion. While there are differences between various courses, with engineering completions having the highest levels of employment after training, all 100 courses have positive outcomes of employment.

In his excellent presentation to the NSW VET Review last Friday, David Turvey, Acting Commissioner Jobs and Skills Australia, highlighted the importance of this new data asset. David said the data in the report demonstrates the “power of the VET system” in that it can make a difference to getting people “off income support”. David presented information across a range of courses and discussed the differences for various characteristics of learners such as those with disabilities, First Nations people, and women. As an example, he stated that females have lower employment outcomes but increased income following completion.

Diving a little deeper into female completions, it is interesting that the data shows the median age for those completing a course in a female dominated industry is higher than those completing a course in a male dominated occupation. For example, the median age of those who complete Cert III Early Childhood Education and Care is 28 years and Cert III Individual Support is 35 years. Perhaps this is not surprising. However, it does show the importance of VET for women at later stages in life.

This fact was reinforced last week by presentations at the NSW VET review by two fabulous women, both in their 30s. Both women were NSW winners in 2022 and are current VET ambassadors. Casey Fox as the 2022 NSW Vocational Student of the year discussed returning to study when she had little twins and the lifechanging impact of that opportunity. Casey had an impressive career in retail and since completing VET qualifications, has now career transitioned into a new, and equally impressive career as a VET trainer and educator. Melanie Sutton, NSW Trainee of the Year 2022, gave an incredible demonstration of resilience and drive as she moved from business administration to a traineeship in environmental studies and is now not only working in a high paying career job but doing a double science degree at university. This investment in themselves for both women occurred in their late twenties and thirties.

For both Melanie and Casey, the opportunity to take up a VET qualification and complete it has led to life-changing and lucrative career opportunities. Completing a VET qualification was the door that opened those opportunities. It was a privilege to listen to the passion for their study and absolute commitment to their careers that Casey and Melanie shared last Friday – thank you both for demonstrating the power of vocational education.

147,000 extra fee-free TAFE places for NSW

The federal governments has announced details of funding that will see an extra 147,400 fee-free TAFE places in NSW over the next three years.

The Commonwealth last week committed $129 million for the additional places, which is on top of $3.8 billion provided by the Commonwealth to NSW under the recently signed National Skills Agreement (NSA) between the Commonwealth, states and territories.

As at June, fee-free TAFE in NSW had seen more 20,700 enrolments in the care sector, over 6,400 in technology and digital, almost 6,000 in construction, and more than 5,000 in agriculture.

The NSW Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Steve Whan said the additional fee-free places were great news for anyone thinking of trying TAFE in NSW – “it’s never been cheaper to study or train in our state.”

The Commonwealth announcement was made by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor during a visit to Meadowbank TAFE which included a tour of the construction training facilities and a chat with apprentices.

Image: from left, Minister Steve Whan, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and the Member for Bennelong, Jeremy Laxale with apprentices at Meadowbank TAFE.

TDA Convention 2024 – Helen McCabe announced as MC

TDA is delighted to announce that Helen McCabe, Founder and Managing Director of Future Women will be the MC for the TDA Convention 2024TAFE at the Heart.

Helen began her journalism career in Adelaide working in radio and television before moving to the Canberra Press Gallery with the Seven Network. In 2004 Helen was appointed Night Editor of The Australian newspaper and later Deputy Editor of The Sunday Telegraph. She also spent six years as editor in chief of the Australia Women’s Weekly, winning a number of industry awards including editor of the year.  She is one of the few women to deliver the Andrew Olle lecture on journalism.

Helen has also held senior executive roles at Nine before launching Future Women in 2018 and Future Women Jobs Academy in 2021. In 2022 Helen was the MC for the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit.

The TDA Convention 2024TAFE at the Heart will take place at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel from Wednesday 8 to Thursday 9 May 2024 with an optional site visit to TAFE NSW’s Meadowbank campus on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 May. The convention will explore TAFE’s role at the heart of vocational education and skills development in Australia. It will offer opportunities to share knowledge and experience to ensure that TAFE remains a powerful force that nurtures talent, empowers individuals, supports industry and drives Australia’s economic growth. The event will also provide numerous networking opportunities including the convention dinner on 8 May where the TAFE Staff Recognition Awards will be presented and a networking reception at the Sydney Opera House on 9 May.

Early bird registrations are open until 23 February 2024. Further information on registration packages is available here. For all registration enquiries, please contact our event organisers at

The call for proposals is also open until 23 January 2024. The submission guidelines and portal can be accessed here.

For a discussion on sponsorship opportunities, please contact TDA’s Sponsorship Manager Chad Murphy at ASN Events at or on 03 8658 9530.

TDA, TAFE NSW and diamond sponsor ReadyTech are looking forward to welcoming you to Sydney in May 2024 for TAFE at the Heart!

First in family students access university through TAFE NSW

We continue to share our case studies on how TAFEs are creating pathways for students between vocational education and training and higher education. This week’s story discusses how TAFE NSW is easing the transition between school and higher education for young people who are the first in their family to access higher education through the delivery of a bachelor’s degree in partnership with the University of Canberra.

Data from the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre show that students without university-educated parents face significant barriers to higher education and are only half as likely to enrol in university, compared to those with a university-educated parent.

The Bachelor of Event and Tourism Management at TAFE NSW St Leonards has been completed by many students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, some of whom started with TAFE NSW in Year 11 as part of their school TVET program. These students have since gone on to complete Certificate III, as well as diplomas and degrees.

As the daughter of immigrants from Tibet and Niue, an island in the South Pacific, Valencia Lama became the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree when she graduated from the course earlier this year. Her graduation was a family celebration, with family members flying from Niue and New Zealand to attend.

Read more

Image: Valencia Lama (centre) surrounded by proud family from Niue and New Zealand at her graduation.

New building and construction JSC up and running

BuildSkills Australia, the Jobs and Skills Council for construction, property services and water infrastructure, has formally launched.

The organisation is headed by two co-chairs, Pauline Masters and Gabrielle Trainor, and CEO Bret Schimming.

BuildSkills Australia’s foundation members include the Real Estate Institute of Australia, AMWU, Master Builders Australia, Civil Contractors Federation, CFMEU, Housing Industry Association, Master Plumbers Association, and the Australian Workers Union.

BuildSkills Australia is hosting national launch events around the country.

Express Online Training in court for allegedly misleading students

The ACCC has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against training provider RSA Express Pty Ltd, trading as Express Online Training.

The ACCC alleges the organisation engaged in misleading conduct about aspects of its online training courses which were offered for students to attain certificates for the responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and construction induction training (White Card).

The ACCC alleges that Express Online Training falsely represented to potential participants that they would only pay, or be asked to pay, for the online training course after they had passed, and that courses could be completed in one day.

“Some jobseekers reported they jeopardised, and even lost, their job prospects because they were unable to complete the course in the timeframe expected,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.

“Other enrolled participants abandoned the course when they realised further assessments were required.”

See more

Future Skills Organisation set to release generative AI report

The Future Skills Organisation (FSO) will shortly release its latest report, Impact of generative AI on skills in the workplace.

Given the increasing presence of generative AI (GAI) in the market and its likely economic impact, the report explores the potential implications of GAI on the VET system, particularly within FSO’s remit of finance, technology and business.

The report will address how GAI will affect the performance of workplace tasks, the abilities and occupations most likely to be impacted, and likely impacts on the the training system.

On Friday 8 December, the FSO will host a webinar on the report with speakers, Patrick Kidd, the CEO of FSO and Tom McMahon, Director at Mandala Partners.

Early childhood education and care consultation open

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has opened consultations on its Early Childhood Education and Care Capacity Study (ECEC) consultation paper.

The consultation is an opportunity for stakeholders to share their views, and highlight case studies where innovative approaches and practices have been used to help meet workforce needs.

The capacity study is being undertaken in partnership with HumanAbility, the Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) with responsibility for the sector.

The consultation paper is open for comment, and feedback can be provided until 11 January 2024.

Diary dates

Empowered Women in Trades
Gala and Awards 2024
23 February 2024
The Trust, Melbourne
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

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
15-16 August 2024
Save the date

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