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Newsletter | 14 December 2015

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In this edition  


Christmas greetings from TDA

On behalf of the TDA national board, and our National Secretariat staff, may I pass on our thanks for your support during 2015.

To all working in TAFE, and public and industry stakeholders, students and community, and those service providers who support TDA, I’d like to extend my very best wishes.

This is our final national e-newsletter for 2015. Our newsletter subscribers now exceed 2,000 – with almost 20% offshore to our TAFE international partners.  

We look forward to our working with you in 2016, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Martin Riordan

CEO, TAFE Directors Australia

“Further work” needed on COAG VET reforms – 2016 agenda

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, state premiers and chief ministers have agreed to more closely review reforms and regulation, which had begun under the original COAG National Partnership Agreement on skills - initially created in April 2012 under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The COAG meeting in Sydney on Friday – the first for Prime Minister Turnbull – agreed that “further work will be undertaken on options to reform vocational education and training, for initial consideration at COAG’s first meeting in 2016, recognising that skills ministers will continue to work together to address key VET system challenges.”

See the COAG Communiqué.

Martin Riordan, Chief Executive of TDA said the recent meeting in Hobart of state and territory ministers with Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Luke Hartsuyker, had questioned the proposed transfer of responsibility for VET to the Commonwealth, with some ministers pointing to federal mismanagement of VET FEE-HELP loans, as an example of capacity problems under such a transfer.

Martin Riordan said: “The National Partnership Agreement on skills reform from 2012 has been a disaster. Industry and students have been hampered by waste on a scale not witnessed in the VET sector, and worse, matched almost exactly by the withdrawal of federal incentives to employers on apprenticeships and traineeships.

“It is pleasing that this COAG meeting has flagged a wider review of current VET policy, and how it is impacting industry and students.”

Training ministers for NSW and Victoria also signalled last week their dissatisfaction with current vocational education policy, and the need for changes. (see below)

TAFE not entirely overlooked in innovation blueprint

TDA responded to the release of the federal government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), noting the significant focus on existing tertiary education funding, quarantined to universities.

However TDA welcomed the opportunities for start-ups and industry investment in innovation, and the scope for TAFE Institutes to strengthen ties with industry and engage in applied research.

“While the initiative identified block grant and ARC-funded opportunities for universities, it will be TAFE’s closer links with industry that may spur greater innovation and workforce productivity,” TDA CEO Martin Riordan said.

“The establishment of a dedicated Innovation and Science Cabinet Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Turnbull, may also be a useful platform for new opportunities for non-universities and TAFEs, especially those offering higher education.”

New visa access for overseas researchers to work collaboratively with industry and educators may also add to TAFE capability.

See TDA’s media release.

NCVER figures show big shift in funding

The operating revenues for the government–funded VET system totalled $8,653.4 million in 2014, an increase of $141.0 million or 1.7% from 2013.

The NCVER figures show that revenue from the federal government increased by $571.6 million, or 22.3%, while revenue from state and territory governments decreased by $318.5 million or 7.9%.

The NCVER figures also show that revenue from fee-for-service activities decreased by $131.8 million (10.2%).

An article in The Australian said the figures suggest “Australia’s world-recognised public VET system is being colonised by a rort-ridden scheme which graduates fewer than one-fifth of its students.”

In the same article, Victorian Skills Minister Steve Herbert said the scheme was “skewing the entire training system”, inducing students and colleges to abandon state-funded VET.”

NCVER Managing Director, Craig Fowler, said the figures suggested there may have been a “significant rebalancing” in the sector.

See the NCVER report.

VET funding a “race to the bottom”, NSW skills minister says

NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro says the ongoing private college issue is hurting the economy because small businesses are not getting the skilled workforce they need.

Mr Barilaro told COSBOA, that billions of dollars had been wasted because of a lack of proper outcomes for small businesses and young people.

“Let me just make it absolutely clear - what you hear about VET-FEE HELP is a problem the federal government created, not the state,” Mr Barilaro said.  

“If the feds actually copied the NSW state’s process when it comes to vocational education and training, we wouldn’t have had this problem.

“We should be funding training on outcomes not on sign-ups and enrolments,” he said.

“It’s been a race to the bottom on enrolments under the VET-FEE HELP process.”

Equine training needs reform, ASQA says

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has recommended changes to the way equine training qualifications are delivered to address critical safety and quality issues.

A new report, Training in equine programs in Australia’ says the VET market for equine training is complex and confusing, and it makes 11 recommendations.

“If a training package or accredited course unit requires access to a horse, the RTO has a responsibility under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 to ensure the horse is fit-for-purpose and the student can safely handle and where necessary, ride the horse while training,” Commissioner Chris Robinson said.

“That is why ASQA has recommended that all RTOs delivering equine programs must demonstrate completion of a horse suitability audit and checklist as part of their compliance with the assessment requirements of the Standards.”

See the report.

Diary Dates

National conference on VET teaching & VET teacher education
‘Refocusing on teaching and training in VET’

DATE: 14 December 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne
DETAILS: More information

Group Training National Conference
‘Skilling for Growth’

DATE: 7 – 8 April 2016
LOCATION: Adelaide
DETAILS: More information

AVETRA 19th annual conference
DATE: 20 – 22 April 2016
DETAILS: More information

HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia)
The Shape of Higher Education

DATE: 4-7 July 2016
LOCATION: Fremantle
DETAILS: More information

NSW TAFE Managers Association Conference
DATE: 19 August 2016
LOCATION: Taronga Zoo, Sydney
DETAILS: Coming soon

National Skills Week
DATE: 29 August – 4 September 2016
DETAILS: More information

VET Development Centre
Teaching & Learning Conference

DATE: 1 – 2 September 2016
LOCATION: RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
DETAILS: More information

WorldSkills Australia
2016 National Competition

DATE: 6 – 8 October 2016
LOCATION: Melbourne
DETAILS: More information

Corporate Affiliates