Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view online.

Newsletter | 7 March 2016

In this edition


TAFE's role in innovation and applied research identified at Canberra summit

The federal industry department has downplayed the omission of TAFE and vocational education from its National Innovation and Science Agenda, and has proposed key areas where TAFE expertise should be directed to national innovation and applied research.

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, David Hazlehurst, told the Innovation and Applied Research Roundtable in Canberra that criticism about VET not being included in the strategy was "fair enough".

"This was not meant to suggest that VET and TAFE don't have an important role. It's that there were some important gaps that the government wanted to fill," he said.

Approximately 100 TAFE and industry partners, as well as government representatives attended the summit, organised by TDA and the LH Martin Institute, at Canberra Institute of Technology last Wednesday.

Mr Hazlehurst said TAFE should be involved as partners with innovation incubators to develop regional offerings, as well as directly with industry and university partners.

"We're open to the discussion as to how we might involve the TAFE sector," he said.

Speakers from Canada, New Zealand and the UK outlined the extensive applied research and innovation which is part of national policy in their public community college systems.

Also highlighted were case studies of TAFE and industry partnerships that have led to innovation in areas including gas exploration (TAFE Queensland), health (Holmesglen Institute) and forensic science (Canberra Institute of Technology).

NCVER Director Dr Craig Fowler emphasised the untapped role of a large segment of the workforce and their place in diffusing innovation in enterprises through new technology, problem solving, lowering costs, and producing better products.

"That part of the innovation equation wasn't properly dealt with," he said.

Roundtable presentations will be posted to the TDA website later this week.

From left: Dr Subho Banerjee, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Training, and Dr Sarah Pearson, CEO, Canberra Innovation Network.

David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

LH Martin Institute Director, Professor Leo Goedegebuure.

TAFE and industry partnership panel discussion.

TDA launches TAFE Futures - the new voice in education and training

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) is today launching TAFE Futures, a new publication that that will significantly extend coverage of key issues in vocational education and higher education, including innovation and industry partnerships with TAFE.

The Chief Executive of TDA, Martin Riordan, said TAFE Futures would aim to extend high quality coverage of TAFE across a broad audience.

“Election year 2016 is a critical time to expand TAFE's voice and showcase the expanding role of industry,” Martin Riordan said.

Under editor John Mitchell, the first edition is now available online as well as in a print edition. Topics covered include:

  • The role of TAFE in ‘green skills’ development in the Asia Pacific
  • New data commissioned by TDA revealing TAFE market share across critical skilling areas of the economy
  • The views of experts on the VET FEE-HELP crisis
  • Kimberley Training Institute’s extraordinary reach and success
  • The Australia Pacific Training College and VET in the Pacific
  • Q&A with Christine Robertson, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University 
  • A profile of award-winning foundation skills teacher, Lyn Wilson

See the first edition of TAFE Futures.

Apprentice numbers continue to decline

Apprenticeships and traineeships fell by 13.7 per cent to 295,300 in the year to the September quarter, according to latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Over the 12 month period, commencements decreased by 19.3 per cent.

Total completions decreased by 6 per cent, with trade completions up by 18.1% and non-trades completions down by 18.4 per cent.

Cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 10.7%, to 24 000

“Previous NCVER research has shown that a subdued labour market and the uncapping of university places have an impact on the number of people entering into apprenticeships and traineeships," said Dr Mette Creaser, National Manager, Statistics and Analytics.

Australia-Pacific Technical College assisting in aftermath of Fiji cyclone

The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) is assisting in relief efforts after the effects of Tropical Cyclone Winston. APTC is an innovative development program funded by the Australian government to provide Pacific Islanders with Australian-standard skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers.

Last weekend, APTC staff and students visited Dranu, Veidrala and Delaikuku villages along the north east coast of Viti Levu. They were able to assist villagers in demolishing houses that had been partially destroyed, provided relief packs and administered minor first aid to children who were hit by flying debris.

APTC also delivered and installed a water tank for Dranu villagers that was donated by R.C. Manubhai for the relief effort. In the Western Division, seven families were provided with relief supplies. Most of the families visited by APTC had lost everything and are currently staying with neighbours or in temporary makeshift shelters.

A mycause campaign has been initiated by TAFE Queensland to raise money and provide financial assistance to Fiji. The contributions will be distributed by APTC to buy supplies and support clean-up and rebuilding of villages.

See here for more information or to make a contribution.

NSW TAFE chair delivers withering criticism of organisation

TAFE NSW is one of the state's most overgrown bureaucracies, with a bloated management structure, according to its chairman, Terry Charlton (pictured).

Mr Charlton suggested that amalgamations, asset disposals and teaching changes were all required to address the problem.

He told The Australian that after reviewing the organisation for the last six months, it was “not unreasonable” to expect that one-quarter of TAFE’s operating costs of about $2 billion a year could be saved over the next few years.

“If people don’t want to be on board, there’s options for them — voluntary redundancies, there’s other roles they can play in the broader community, and the conditions to retire are quite good," he said.

The former Snowy Hydro chief executive who has been in the job for the past eight months said the organisation was failing to keep pace with student expectations because it is “traditionally intimidated by change”.

New report identifies key skills needs for South Australia

Employers have identified skills including management, sales and customer service, and IT as the priority areas in a broad ranging survey across South Australia.

The Training and Skills Commission’s report on South Australia’s Industry Priority Qualifications identifies critical skills areas over the next five years.

Training and Skills Commission Chair Anthony Kittel said the 12-month consultation process has culminated, for the first time, in the state’s industry identifying their priorities for growing South Australia’s economy.

Key insights of the report include:

  • 58 per cent of employers identified as micro or small businesses, with less than 20 employees.
  • Generic business-related qualifications were consistently identified as high priorities for industry and the economy.
  • High growth and small employers said marketing and customer engagement qualifications are a high priority.

Former TAFE chair says "unthinkable" solutions needed to repair VET

Australia's VET sector is in chaos and may require "unthinkable radical solutions", according to a former senior TAFE executive and regulator.

Writing in The Mandarin, Paul Roberts-Thomson says the once high reputation of VET has been trashed by the behaviour of unscrupulous VET operators and the arguable naivety of senior government bureaucrats.

Mr Roberts-Thomas is a former chairman of TAFE Tasmania and of the regulator, Skills Tasmania.

He says that VET FEE-HELP may unwittingly end up as the "hero in the debacle".

"The Turnbull government can fix the VET system by instituting external assessments of competence, either as a 100% requirement (like Finland), or an auditing tool or some other variation of the concept," he says.

"VET Fee-Help has unwittingly provided an opportunity to set VET on the road back to being a world leader. The question is does our government have the will and the courage?"

Diary Dates

2016 Virtual VET Summits
Velg Training
8 – 9 March, 2016: RTO Managers
15 – 16 March, 2016: Trainers & Assessors
Online Live Stream
More information

Group Training National Conference
‘Skilling for Growth’
7 – 8 April, 2016
More information

AVETRA 19th Annual Conference 
20 – 22 April 2016
More information

WAVE National Conference
Women: Education, Empowerment, Equality. A New Agenda?
20 April 2016
Northern Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW
More information

EduTECH 2016
30 - 31 May, 2016
More information

2016 Skills Conference
Group Training Association of NSW & ACT
15 June, 2016
More information

25th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’
4 – 6 July 2016
Rockhampton, Queensland
More information

VETnetwork Australia
Biennial National Conference
27- 28 July, 2016
Gold Coast
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
18 - 19 August, 2016
More information coming soon.

NSW TAFE Managers Association
19 August, 2016
Taronga Zoo, Sydney
More information coming soon.

National Skills Week 2016
29 August – 4 September, 2016
More Information

VET Development Centre Teaching & Learning Conference
1 - 2 September, 2016
RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
More information

National VET Conference 
Velg Training
14 – 16 September, 2016
Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
More information

TDA Convention
4 - 6 October, 2016
More information coming soon

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Conference
4-7 October, 2016
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart  
More information

2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition
6 - 8 October, 2016
Melbourne Showgrounds
More information
Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) Conference  
12-15 October, 2016
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
More information
Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
9-12 October, 2016
Pullman Hotel Auckland, New Zealand
More information

Australian Training Awards
17 November, 2016
Darwin, Northern Territory
More information


Corporate Affiliates