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Newsletter | 11 September 2017

In this edition


TDA convention 'Networked TAFE' draws record numbers to lively debate

Almost 500 delegates, the biggest in TDA history, gathered in Adelaide last week for the two-day TDA 2017 Convention, 'Networked TAFE'.

Following a welcome reception at the iconic Adelaide Oval, delegates and visitors heard from more than 100 presenters and panelists who traversed topics including VET reform, the future of TAFE, cybersecurity, digital disruption, jobs of the future, innovation, entrepreneurialism, and the inspirational stories of TAFE alumni and world-class apprentices.

Keynote speaker was Dame Asha Khemka, Principal and CEO of West Nottinghamshire College in the UK, one of the country’s largest and most successful colleges and the biggest college provider of apprenticeships, delivering over 14,000 a year.

Her personal story is remarkable – she dropped out of school in India at 13, married at 15 and arrived in England with her family at age 25, barely able to speak English.

The college has not only thrived under her leadership, but has made an enormous contribution to addressing social and economic hardship through the development of skills and vocational training to thousands of students.

Dame Asha sits on the Cabinet Office’s Education Honours Committee, is a Board Member on the Institute for Apprenticeships and is the Founding Trustee of the Inspire and Achieve Foundation.

Dame Asha Khemka

Susan Close, South Australia's Minister for Higher Education and Skills 

Welcome to Country - Jack Buckskin, Tauondi Aboriginal College

Robin Murt, CEO, TAFE SA

Leigh Sales, ABC 7.30, Conference MC

Government and Labor clash over skills funding

In her address, the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund, which will support an extra 300,000 apprenticeships over the next four years.

She said that eligible projects will be nominated by the states and territories, along with matched funding.

Minister Andrews said she was “entirely open” to negotiations with the states and territories about their priorities for eligible projects.

In responding to questions, she also said that the government was prepared to look at funding of alternative models of apprenticeships, as well as for flexible training in regional and remote areas.

Jodi Schmidt, TDA Deputy Chair & CEO TAFE Queensland; Minister Karen Andrews; Mary Faraone, TDA Chair & CEO Holmesglen; and Craig Robertson, CEO TDA 

The Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Senator Doug Cameron, pictured said the Skilling Australians Fund was “internally flawed”, relying on insecure funding generated by visa fees for foreign workers. Government and Labor clash over skills funding

“If the number of temporary work visas goes down, the funding for skills and TAFE will drop,” Senator Cameron said.

“The coalition is promising it will deliver 300,000 additional apprenticeships over the next four years. That would require 30 per cent of all new jobs, up to the year 2020, going to apprentices and trainees, even though they currently occupy just 2.2 per cent of jobs,” he said.

TDA warns of dangers from higher education reforms

In her address to the conference, TDA Chair and Chief Executive of Holmesglen Institute, Mary Faraone, picturedsaid that during 2016, TAFEs delivered training at 1,644 training locations across the country, and remained the dominant provider in most of Australia’s core skilled occupations.

TDA warns of dangers from higher education reforms “However all is not rosy. There are significant implications for our institutions in responding to the challenges of the digital-age learner and the industry 4.0 workplace," Ms Faraone said.

“Demand-driven higher education funding has drawn students who would normally choose TAFE institutes into universities.

“And the current Higher Education reforms, if passed, will expand demand-driven funding to sub-bachelor places and risk diploma delivery at TAFEs,” Ms Faraone said.

“We also share a collective despair regarding the lack of a clear vision for the technical, vocational and tertiary sectors, nor a roadmap for what a 21st century tertiary sector should look like.”

Future workforce must be more agile and entrepreneurial

Future workforce must be more agile and entrepreneurialKPMG Demographics’ Bernard Salt, pictured, told the convention that all the major categories of jobs growth would require VET or university skills, and that TAFE had a major role to play in equipping both new entrants, and those requiring help in shifting from declining industries.

He said that while much had been made about the loss of jobs in manufacturing, the reality was that, since 2000, about 290,000 jobs across Australia had disappeared, and approximately 3.5 million had been created.

Future workforce must be more agile and entrepreneurial Aside from technical and high level skills, the one ingredient that would be essential for the future workforce was an entrepreneurial mindset.

Supporting this transition, Bronwyn Lee, pictured, the Deputy CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians said that some seven-in-ten young people were entering the workforce in jobs with a high risk of automation.

Aside from developing skills to prepare for the workforce of the future, the most vital skill, she said, would be entrepreneurial capability.

Training packages headed for review

The federal government is planning a further overhaul of training products, designed to encourage training packages and structures more suited to the modern workforce.

David Pattie, Branch Manager, VET Quality Policy and Regulation with the Department of Education and Training, said that the review would include issues such as course content and duration, and is expected to report to the COAG Industry and Skills Council later this year.

The panel heard that one of the key issues to be addressed is the extent to which the revamp should aim to reinforce the current industry-led approach, as opposed to meeting broader educational needs of learners.

“If we concentrate on what’s best for learners, then the industry is likely to get what is best for it also,” Mr Pattie said.

Professor Michael Lavarch, Commissioner, Risk, Intelligence and Regulatory Support at the Australian Skills Quality Authority, said key issues should centre on course duration and mode of delivery, whether online, blended or in a workplace setting.

Sara Caplan, CEO of PwC’s Skills for Australia said there needed to be a way of making changes to training packages much quicker and industry-led, with skillsets as a building block to a full qualification.

Craig Robertson, David Pattie and Professor Michael Lavarch

Cybersecurity skills in extraordinary demand

The convention heard of the extraordinary growth in demand for cybersecurity skills and the role of TAFE in fulfilling this demand.

Craig Davies, CEO of the Australian Cybersecurity Growth Network said the organisation’s goal is to make Australia the world’s leading centre of cyber education.

“It sounds ambitious and we will need a little bit of luck and some fundamental changes to the way we do things, but TAFE is the place to be doing this sort of thing”.

Currently there is estimated worldwide demand for up to two million cyber professionals – what Davies describes as a “zero unemployment industry”.

The CEO of Box Hill Institute, Norman Gray is in partnership with the centre, alongside Canberra Institute of Technology, in developing skills and qualifications that can be shared more widely across the TAFE sector.

“We are willing to spread our resources and believe that this is the best way to meet industry’s needs,” he said.

Left to right: Matt Carling, Cisco; Craig Carter, TAFE SA; Craig Davies, Australian Cybersecurity Growth Network; Norman Gray, Box Hill Institute; and Stuart Mort, Optus

Forum strengthens ties between China and Australia

The convention was held concurrently with the China-Australia VET Forum, hosted by TAFE South Australia and the South Australian government.  The forum saw over 60 delegates from China travel to South Australia to gain a deeper understanding of the Australian TAFE system.

Forum strengthens ties between China and Australia Delegates travelled from provinces, including Shanghai, Changsha and most notably, Shandong, which has a sister state relationship with South Australia, and recently signed an MoU on cooperation in VET.

Delegates attended a number of key sessions at the convention, and also had independent sessions specially targeted at their interest areas.  This included interaction with the federal Department of Education and Training, Austrade and senior South Australian ministers and officials.

The delegation toured TAFE SA's Regency and Tonsley campuses, and explored sessions focussed on tertiary education and pathways, international collaboration, and apprenticeship models.  The best of South Australia was also on show, with dinner at Saltram Wines in the Barossa, a visit to the South Australian Museum, and even a cuddle with Koalas at Gorge Wildlife Park.

AForum strengthens ties between China and Australia highlight of the program, which enabled TDA delegates to interact with our Chinese visitors, was a presentation on China's increasing attention to VET by the Chair of the South Australian Tourism Commission, Sean Keenihan, who was followed by the Governor of Shandong, His Excellency, Gong Zheng, pictured, who spoke about the importance of Shandong's education relationship with South Australia.

Mr Keenihan highlighted the growing importance of the services sector to China and Australia, and China's increasing influence in innovation, research and development.  Mr Gong spoke about the critical importance of VET to China, and urged the audience to work together on innovation-driven development, curriculum, language learning and teacher training.

South Australia's Minister for Higher Education and Skills the Hon Susan Close (far left), and the Governor of Shandong, His Excellency, Gong Zheng (second left) at a book exchange with Plympton International College

Experts lay out views for the future of VET

The convention heard many views about what the VET system should look like, but the question was put, ultimately, to three experts with different perspectives of the training system.

Professor Peter Noonan from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University said what was missing from the VET reform debate was “political and industry leadership”.

The loss of confidence, collapse in investment and confusion around funding meant that reform was incapable of being addressed unless it was pushed to the top of the COAG agenda.

In relation to funding, he said that both the Coalition and Labor approach still had limitations.

The Skilling Australians Fund, which requires matching state funding, would require careful oversight because the states would chose to cut their training funding in other areas, he said,

“The state treasuries will match funding under the new fund and reduce funding under the base funding agreement. And, there is no way that Labor can promise guaranteed funding for TAFE under the current funding agreement,” he said.

Jonathan Chew, Director of the NOUS Group in Queensland presented new data on the training market that reveals significant structural shifts.

TAFE enrolments fell slightly from 1.4 million to 1.25 million between 2014 and 2016. Over the same period, statements of attainment, or skillsets, in TAFE grew from 12% to 21%.

“Something is happening here because there’s been a pretty significant change in the profile of delivery in just two years, mostly in the TAFE and the community sector. The private RTOs haven’t gone down the same path," he said.

Meanwhile, domestic fee for service grew significantly, largely in the private RTO sector, while government-funded revenue was lower, in line with falling subject enrolments.

“You (TAFE) have got a bigger slice of a pie that’s shrinking, while the private RTOs, if we believe the numbers, have got a bigger slice of a pie that’s growing,” he said.

“There’s a lot happening in a remarkably short period of time. It’s a question of whether this is the new norm.”

Bill Forwood, Chair of Melbourne Polytechnic cautioned against waiting for government to initiate policy reform.

“My experience is that if you wait for government to take control, you’re going to be here for a long time.”

Melbourne Polytechnic is expanding domestically and offshore with industry-focussed training partnerships.

“We are listening to industry, and industry is telling us what they want, and we tell them the way to get there.”

Left to right: Professor Peter Noonan; Jonathan Chew; and Bill Forwood

TAFE innovation, reform thriving in the regions

Regional TAFEs are engaged in a range of innovative activities with learners, industry and the community.

In this session, convention delegates heard about some of the standout examples.

The Executive Director of the Victorian TAFE Association Andrew Williamson has worked to establish the Regional TAFE Alliance, a $5 million project to collaborate in the development of VET learning resources that will be housed in a cloud-based portal.

“We’re not trying to build a whole new set of learning and teaching resources for subjects and impose them on members. Rather, the aim is to share curricula, teaching and assessment resources that already exist,” he said.

“I even had a vision of it going international – it’s a really exciting concept.”

In the Northern Territory, Roy Brandner, Head of School of Trades at Charles Darwin University has guided the 'Prelude to the Future' project, a partnership between the university, Shell, Group Training Northern Territory and the Northern Territory government.

It centres on training programs associated with the Prelude floating liquefied natural gas platform, now located in the Browse Basin off the coast of Western Australia.

The project involved Indigenous trainees being skilled in boilermaking, heavy diesel mechanics, logistics and warehousing.

“This is not just a training and employment program, it’s a life-changing opportunity,” Brander said.

“We’ve taken people from varying backgrounds and transformed their lives”.

In Western Australia, the training market has undergone a series of reforms that have seen the number of TAFE colleges reduced from eleven to five.

Bill Swetman, Managing Director of Central Regional TAFE has been centrally involved in the reform process including overseeing the amalgamation of three colleges into one.

“The real challenge is not the size or the number of students but the culture of the three colleges we’re trying to bring together, and we are still working our way through that,” he said.

“Anyone who’s involved in regional delivery will know what the challenges are. We’re sharing staff and resources and looking at the best delivery modes for the different cohorts of students.”

Left to right: Andrew Williamson, Roy Brandner, Leigh Sales, and Bill Swetman

Conference dinner applauds TAFE talent and honours former CEO

The convention ‘Paddock to Plate’ dinner provided a showcase of South Australian industry, food and the Arts, including entertainment by some spectacular TAFE SA music and dance students.

Conference dinner applauds TAFE talent and honours former CEO There was also a presentation to former TDA CEO Martin Riordan, pictured, for the role he played in leading TDA over 12 years.

TDA Chair Mary Faraone thanked Martin for the outstanding part he played in the development of TDA as the peak national body.

“Martin was an extraordinarily energetic and effective contributor to discussion about TAFE in the community,” Ms Faraone said.

“He built a strong core of committed individuals in the TDA secretariat, covering policy, membership and the growing international education market.

“It is no accident that TAFE’s reputation domestically and internationally is so highly regarded.”

Conference dinner applauds TAFE talent and honours former CEO The 300-strong audience also heard the remarkable success story of 2017 Young Australian of the Year, Paul Vasillef, pictured, an award winning fashion designer who has catapulted from suburban Adelaide to Paris Couture Fashion Week.

His stunning wedding dresses have earned a global reputation, and he was recently announced as Young Entrepreneur for South Australia.

“I started in my parents’ lounge room and now I employ 18 people in the business and it’s fantastic to be working with students from TAFE,” he told the audience.

“It’s really fulfilled a dream I had since the age of nine to be tailoring beautiful items made to measure”.

Performance by TAFE SA dance students

TAFE SA student musicians

VET FEE-HELP complaints flooding in

The fallout from the disasterous VET FEE-HELP scheme is still churning through the system, with the VET FEE-HELP complaints flooding innew VET Student Loans Ombudsman hit with thousands of complaints from students.

In the first two months of operation, Lee Katauskas, pictured, Director of the VET Student Loans Ombudsman said her office has received about 2,500 complaints, largely related to former VET FEE-HELP providers, with about 70% of those centreing on providers that no longer exist.

“In those cases we work with the administrators of those providers to try and reach a resolution but we recognise we need to work with other government agencies to ensure students have access to suitable remedies,” Ms Katauskas said.

Reflections from TAFE leaders

The final convention session brought together four senior TAFE representatives for a strategic reflection on the direction for TAFE and the standout themes of the two days’ discussion.

Christine Robertson, TDA Board Member and Pro-Vice Chancellor, VET, at Charles Darwin University said one of the key goals should be to build trust with government and funding bodies in order “to allow us to get on with the work that we need to do”.

“I work in a dual sector university and see how higher education programs are developed and delivered, and how my higher education colleagues are allowed to just get on with their work.”

“I envy the trust that goes with being a higher education scholar and educator, and my plea is that as vocational education scholars, educators and administrators, we are trusted and allowed to get on with our work.”

TDA Chair and Chief Executive of Holmesglen Institute, Mary Faraone said the convention showcased the breadth and depth of talent and practice across the TAFE sector.

“We do it really well, we’ve got fantastic ambassadors, and yet we’re still here talking about perceptions of the sector within the community and government,” she said.

There was also the likelihood that the government’s higher education reforms, if legislated, would have an adverse impact on TAFE and force the need for different business models.

“The convention heard a lot of discussion about the future of work and changing jobs, but what is not clear is what, as providers, we are going to look like in the future,” Ms Faraone said.

Craig Robertson, CEO of TDA said there was a strong message about the need for a national conversation on the role of VET and the loss of opportunity for a large part of the population “marooned in a labour market that is fundamentally changing”.

He also warned about the inequity built into funding arrangements in the tertiary sector.

“It seems odd to me that if you look at the socioeconomic profile of people going to universities, they get a free kick, while those going to VET get hit by the government with an extra 20-25% student loan administration fee.

“Our role as quality public providers is to lead that debate, not out of self-interest, but for our clientele, one of which is industry with whom we need to partner, and the other is the students.”

Brian Rungie, Executive Director of Education at TAFE SA said the recurring conference themes of labour market change and entrepreneurship should force new thinking within TAFE, and should also prompt a sense of urgency.

“We’ve got to get faster at reacting – as a sector we’re often good at identifying opportunities, but slow at reacting.  We’ve got to stop talking and start doing,” he said.

“It’s worth remembering that a huge amount of the narrative is about apprenticeships, but it’s only a drop in the bucket of what we do and what industry actually needs.”

Left to right: Brian Rungie, Craig Robertson, Mary Faraone, Christine Robertson and Leigh Sales

Apprentice numbers continue soft trend

The number of apprentices and trainees in-training fell 3.7% to 275,200 over the 12 months to March this year, according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Over the same period, commencements fell by 1.9%, to 166,700 and completions fell by 15.1%, to 97,300.

NCVER said that, based on early trend estimates for the three months to June, the figures suggest that both trades and non-trades commencements have remained relatively flat, averaging around 18 000 for trades and 23 700 for non-trades over the past year and a half.

TasTAFE chair, Nick Burrows, steps down

The chair of TasTAFE Chair, Nick Burrows has agreed to stand down from the position.

Tasmania's Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff said on Friday that while Mr Burrows' term expires in June next year, he had made the decision to leave now in the best interests of TasTAFE’s future, enabling a new chair to oversee TasTAFE's new corporate plan.

Ms Nicola Morris will be appointed Interim Chair and a recruitment process to fill the board vacancy will commence shortly.

The minister said that the first quarter of the independent audit into TasTAFE is expected to be finalised shortly and the government will release the audit as well as the government’s response in coming weeks.

Melbourne Polytechnic CEO, Rob Wood, off to Canada

Melbourne Polytechnic CEO, Rob Wood, off to Canada The CEO of Melbourne Polytechnic, Rob Wood (pictured), has announced his resignation to return home to Canada to take a new position as Deputy Minister (Secretary) of Education for the Yukon Government.

Rob joined Melbourne Polytechnic in 2015, following his role with the Victorian government, assisting the Department of Education through much of its vocational education reforms.

Deputy CEO Frances Coppolillo will move into the CEO role.

IEAA board and special interest group nominations closing tomorrow

The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) is inviting members to consider nominating for a number of positions on the board and on its Special Interest Group (SIG).

The positions are Treasurer, Ordinary Board Member (3 positions), and Deputy SIG Conveners (7 positions) covering Admissions and Compliance; Internationalisation of the Curriculum; Marketing, Recruitment and Communication; Pathways; Sponsored Students; Student Mobility; and Transnational Education.

Nominations close tomorrow.

Members can find out more here.

D2L Ignite APAC conference

The annual APAC conference will showcase how D2L's services can support the work of educational institutions, and will give current and prospective users the chance to share problems and explore solutions with peers and D2L senior executives.

The  event is hosted at TAFE Queensland on September 21 & 22.

If interested, please email: Jonathan.Yim@D2L.com  or visit here.

Diary Dates

National VET Conference
13 - 15 September 2017
International Convention Centre, Sydney
More information

D2L Ignite Asia Pacific Conference
21 - 22 September 2017
TAFE Queensland, Brisbane
More information

Australian International Education Conference (AIEC)
10 - 13 October 2017
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania
More information

AUSTAFE National Conference
Turning Together for Success
11 - 13 October 2017
TAFE Queensland, Brisbane
More information

Chinese Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE)
Annual Conference
19 - 22 October 2017
Beijing, China
More information

International Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS) Conference
THINK BIG for Global Goals
1 - 3 November 2017
RMIT University, Victoria
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference
1 - 3 November 2017
Radisson Blu Hotel, Sydney
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Australian Training Awards
23 November 2017
National Convention Centre, Canberra
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Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group (ACDEVEG)
VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education Conference
7 & 8 December 2017
TAFE Queensland, Southbank Campus
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Corporate Affiliates