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Agility needed as election outcome hangs in the balance
Political instability prevails, with the election outcome too close to call and the VET sector in a state of uncertainty after eight weeks of campaigning.
The Australian Electoral Commission has the Coalition leading in 67 seats, with Labor on 71, with one Green, four Independents and seven seats in doubt.
In the Senate the rise of independents has shattered any hope of political or policy stability. On the crossbench, the Greens are set to be joined by Nick Xenophon senators, Derryn Hinch, Fred Nile and One Nation.
The Coalition remains hopeful that it can narrowly gain a majority in the House of Representatives, but a hung parliament is a real likelihood and Prime Minister Turnbull's plans for a joint sitting to pass key industrial legislation is virtually doomed.
Also, the PM's authority is being questioned, as are some of the major tactical calls - an eight-week campaign, a winter election, a double dissolution, and the conduct of the campaign itself.
For the tertiary education sector, the uncertainty is compounded by a curious lack of policy commitment from the Coalition, which did not release any training or skills policy or new initiatives during the campaign.
In higher education, it's a similar situation with the coalition policy subject to the views of an expert panel flowing from a discussion paper.
For international education, there will be more changes, with the Minister for International Education, Senator Richard Colebeck set to lose his Tasmanian Senate seat.
The VET sector and TAFE face a great deal of uncertainty flowing from the ambiguous policy environment and the uncertain leanings among many of the new parliamentary players.
This will not be an easy parliament, no matter which side succeeds in forming a government.The new PM will require an extraordinary reserve of policy and political agility.
Election squabble over apprentice numbers
The final week of the election campaign saw the issue of apprenticeships briefly take centre stage as the Coalition and Labor traded barbs over the cause of collapsing apprentice numbers.
The Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird issued figures from the Department of Education and Training obtained under FOI showing the collapse in apprentice numbers in suburbs of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
"Across Australia apprentice numbers have fallen by 136,400. In September 2013 there were 415,000 apprentices in training. After just two years of the Liberals’ neglect, by December 2015 this had dropped to just 278,600 apprentices in training," Ms Bird said.
Responding, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the numbers reflected "a legacy problem" inherited from Labor after $1.2 billion cuts to employer incentive payments, and that following govern,ment support there were now "encouraging numbers".
"So new apprentices in traditional trades are up under my Government. Construction trade is up 35 per cent, carpenters up 25 per cent, joiners up 28 per cent, bricklayers 14 per cent, electricians 11 per cent, glaziers, plasterers and tilers up 29 per cent and plumbers up 57 per cent. Now that is showing a pick up but it will take some time for those numbers to build up again," the prime minister said.
Also in the final week, Minister Ryan announced a $10 million grant to Surf Life Saving Australia to upgrade its volunteer training.
The federal opposition accused Senator Ryan of being the ‘Missing Minister’, saying "he has not released one single policy on TAFE or apprentices and has not even bothered to visit TAFEs and apprentices during the campaign."
Election campaign tally - what the major parties promised
Youth Jobs PaTH Programme
A $752 million program that aims to help young job seekers gain skills and internships, leading to jobs including apprenticeships.
Redesign of VET FEE-HELP
A discussion paper has proposed a range of options to take effect in 2017, supported by a $10 million education campaign.
Extension of P-TECH
$4.6 million has been promised for 12 new pilot P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) sites to promote STEM skills.
Reforms including fee deregulation and improved equity for TAFE higher education students have been put on hold pending an expert committee that will make recommendations later this year.
Ten new polytechnics
$430 million for 10 pilot sites for ta new tier of higher education institutes - Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education - combining TAFE, university, industry and government, delivering Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees.
Guaranteed TAFE funding
A National Priority Plan that defines the unique role of TAFE, rebalances contestable funding, and works with states and territories to provide "ongoing guaranteed TAFE funding".
VET sector review
A promised review of the VET sector that, Labor says, will be the first since the Kangan review in 1974.
VET-FEE HELP cap
An $8,000 per year cap on all VET FEE-HELP student loans, with a ministerial exemption for some high cost courses such as nursing and engineering.
One in ten jobs on priority federally-funded infrastructure projects to be apprentices, creating 2,600 new apprenticeships.
'Apprentice Ready' is a 20-week,pre-apprenticeship course for trades on the National Skills Needs List, delivered through TAFEs that Labor says will offer 10,000 apprenticeships,
Mature age apprenticeships
A pilot of a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers fast-track into apprenticeships.
Group training funding
$10 million a year over four years to group training organisations.
Apprentice advocate & portal
An apprentice advocate to address quality and training issues, and a portal, Apprenticeships Connect, that will link apprentices to employers.
Unemployed youth to be guaranteed a fully funded Certificate III under the Working Futures employmemnt program.
Tools for Your Trade
The reintroduction of Tools for Your Trade payments of up to $3000 to apprentices, costing $285 million.
The demand driven system to continue and Labor to create the Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to promote university efficiency.
...the rest of the week's news
Government support for the 2016 TDA Convention
The Victorian Department of Education and Training is now confirmed as the Official Sponsor and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training is confirmed as the Australian Government Sponsor for the 2016 TDA Convention ‘Skills Resurgence’ to be held in Melbourne from 4-6 October, 2016.
Earlybird registration discounts close on July 15. For information on how to register, become a sponsor or for more information regarding the program, please click here.
South Australia's training finalists announced
Thirty-eight of the South Australia's most accomplished vocational education and training students, apprentices, employers, training organisations and teachers have been named as finalists for the 2016 South Australian Training Awards.
TAFE SA is a finalist in the Industry Collaboration Award and the Large Training Provider of the Year Award.
South Australians can now vote for their favourite individual finalist in the People’s Choice Award. Voting closes midnight on Friday 2 September.
Tickets are available for the South Australian Training Awards presentation dinner, hosted by the State’s Training and Skills Commission, which will be held at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Friday 9 September.
Victorian VET teachers receive $8000 grants
Fifteen Victorian VET teachers will receive $8,000 each from the state government to help further their careers in the sector.
The Trainer and Assessor Academic grants will help the teachers to undertake a diploma or higher education qualification in VET Training and Assessment.
The successful VET teachers and trainers come from TAFEs and private training organisations and are from across the state, including four from Wodonga Institute of TAFE.
They will also receive workplace coaching and mentoring, and participate in activities run by the VET Development Centre.
Northern Territory revamps training, establishes new commission
The Northern Territory government has revamped its training system with a new commission and an industry-led focus on skills.
The Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Employment and Training Peter Styles said the passage of the Training and Skills Development Act will modernise skills training, and reduce unnecessary red tape.
It establishes the new nine-member Northern Territory Training Commission to be comprised of representatives from industry, business and employers.
The government has also introduced a new organisation, the Industry Skills Advisory Council Northern Territory (ISACNT) which became operational on 1 July.
ISACNT will undertake the functions currently being carried out by the six Industry Training Advisory Councils (ITACs). Existing staff of the ITACs have accepted positions with ISACNT.
25th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
4 – 6 July 2016
Biennial National Conference
27- 28 July, 2016
Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
18 - 19 August, 2016
NSW TAFE Managers Association
26 August, 2016
Taronga Zoo, Sydney
More information coming soon.
National Skills Week 2016
29 August – 4 September, 2016
VET Development Centre Teaching & Learning Conference
1 - 2 September, 2016
RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
National VET Conference
14 – 16 September, 2016
Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
LH Martin Institute
Innovation Eco-systems: Study Mission to Italy and the Netherlands
21-30 September 2016
TDA 2016 Convention – Skills Resurgence
4 - 6 October, 2016
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Melbourne, Victoria
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Conference
4-7 October, 2016
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart
2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition
6 - 8 October, 2016
Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) Conference
12-15 October, 2016
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
9-12 October, 2016
Pullman Hotel Auckland, New Zealand
ACER National Adult Training and Assessment Conference
13-14 October, 2016
William Angliss Institute, Melbourne
Australian Training Awards
17 November, 2016
Darwin, Northern Territory