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Newsletter | 7 December 2015

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In this edition  


New rules take effect to stop exploitation of students, raise training quality

The total loan limit for VET FEE-HELP providers will be frozen at 2015 levels under new laws to stamp out unscrupulous practices by training providers.

The “emergency measures” come into effect on 1 January and will see:

  • new entry requirements for VET FEE-HELP providers
  • moving from payment in advance to payment in arrears for certain providers, and
  • pausing payments where there are concerns about poor performance.

However, TDA will be making representations to the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills. Luke Hartsuyker, because with numerous private college closures, and students seeking transfers to TAFEs, loans may be restricted.

Last week, Minister Hartsuyker defended the changes, saying the poor conduct of some colleges required immediate restrictions to the scheme. He also promised a new tertiary loans scheme for 2017.

TDA had called for loans and VET funding to high risk providers to be stopped, rather than ‘frozen’.

“We hope it will be the start of a more balanced approach in vocational education, and the start of far more prudent governance,” TDA CEO Martin Riordan said.

See Minister Hartsuyker’s media release.

See TDA’s media release.

Apprentice and trainee numbers – further declines hit sector

The number of apprentices and trainees in-training at 30 June was 308 800, a decrease of 12.2% from a year earlier, according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Over the same 12 month period, commencements were down 2,800 (6.3%), although trades commencements increased by 9.2%, to 19,200, while non-trades commencements decreased 16.6%, to 22,100.  This is the third year that apprenticeships have been impacted, after Federal employer support benefits had been withdrawn under budget measures.

Completions in the June quarter totalled 29,700, a decrease of 36.4%, with trade completions down 38.5%.

Early trend estimates for the September quarter indicate a decrease in both trade and non-trade commencements from the June quarter (see chart below).

Lisa Paul to step down as head of education department

The Secretary of Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, Lisa Paul, is to step down from the position in February.

Ms Paul is the second-longest serving Secretary, having served for 11 years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Ms Paul had advised him of her decision to pursue a career beyond the public service.

“Ms Paul has been a Departmental Secretary since 2004 and has had an extensive and distinguished public service career. She has made a substantial contribution to the development of education and employment policy in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

Ms Paul said she will be focusing on a portfolio career including non-executive directorships as well as interests such as leadership, culture change, digital innovation and skills formation.

Registrar appointed for unique student identifier

Experienced education policy official, Jason Coutts has been appointed as the Registrar overseeing the Unique Student Identifier (USI).

Almost 4 million USIs have so far been issued and from mid 2016 it will provide a secure online record of transcripts and training records.

Mr Coutts has over 20 years’ experience in the education sector including roles in vocational education, higher education and international education, as well as head of the USI taskforce.


Australia working with Taiwan on closer VET ties

This month marks the mid-way point for Stage II of the joint TDA – Ministry of Labour/Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Taiwan, TVET Reform Project.  TDA works with Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour to implement its 10 point TVET Reform Plan.

To coincide with this stage, and in a reciprocal visit to Taiwan, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) recently joined in a bilateral TVET collaboration, covering issues as diverse as auditor training and policy development.

TDA and ASQA were hosted by the Australian Office (AO) in Taipei for a’ Boomerang Lunch’ for special guests of the AO and Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour. Following introductory remarks by the Australian Representative to Taiwan, Ms Catherine Raper, TDA’s Richard Bowen and ASQA’s Christine Chatburn co-presented on, ‘Skills for Prosperity: why vocational education and training policy is so important to productivity’.

Guests of AO: Richard Bowen, TDA Senior Advisor to Taiwan (4th from left), Catherine Raper, Representative AO, and Christine Chatburn, Manager of Regulatory Operations ASQA.  Deputy Representative AO, Richard Neumann (3rd from left) and Sandy Chen, Project Manager TVET Reform Project (far right).

Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour also hosted a workshop on ‘Australia’s Quality Assurance Mechanism & the Practice of Auditing in VET’.  The event was co-organised by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and TDA and executed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute. 

Opening remarks by Catherine Raper focussed on the formation of an inter-agency working group, moving towards mutual qualification recognition.

TDA was also represented at the 10th ANZCham Business Awards Dinner as guests of the Queensland Trade Investment Office.

The profile of TVET is on the rise in Taiwan, with the AO, TDA and the WDA joining forces to work through a number of barriers to facilitate partnerships between Australian and Taiwanese providers.

Victorian TAFEs get new funding for infrastructure and services

Victoria’s Holmesglen Institute will receive $9.3 million for new facilities and for improved training for apprentices and trainees.

The Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said $8 million would come from the $320 million TAFE rescue fund for a new student hub.  It will replace outdated facilitates to be renovated as part of the construction of a new $100 million private hospital.

A further $1.3 million will help bolster TAFE training in response to falling training levels.

The Minister also announced that The Gordon will receive $6.2 million to drive growth in apprenticeships and traineeships, while South West TAFE will receive $1 million.

Deadline extended for AVETRA abstracts

Due to technical issues, the AVETRA 2016 conference committee has extended the call for abstracts deadline until Thursday 10 December.

The conference will be held 20 - 22 April at the TAFE Northern Sydney, Gore Hill Campus, St Leonards, under the theme, theme “Putting VET research to work: collaboration, innovation, prosperity”.

Abstracts can be nominated for one of two presentation categories:

  • Individual Oral Presentation (25 minutes, slides)
  • Speed Dating Slot (3 minutes, maximum 1 slide)

See full details.

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

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

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

WorldSkills Australia
2016 National Competition

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

Corporate Affiliates