Putting school vocational and trades training on the map



Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a new way to recognise and encourage n generations of builders, plumbers, software developers, agriculture and other trainees, with the launch of New Zealand’s first-ever student awards for trades training.

The Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Awards were launched at Hutt Valley High School and follows last week’s announcement of comprehensive reforms to the vocational education system.

“For too long trades and on-the-job skills training has played second fiddle in how we see success at school and later career choices,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Going to university will always be a great way to further your career but vocational careers are equally as important, particularly given the huge skills shortages that exist across many industry sectors.

“This award celebrates achievement in vocational education in secondary schools and wharekura. It will, I hope, send a strong message about the value this government places on vocational education and encourage new generations of students and their families to recognise the exciting opportunities it presents.

“Secondary schools and wharekura can apply for a prize of $2000 to be awarded to their top vocational student. Funding is available for every secondary school in the country.

“We’re encouraging secondary schools to apply as soon as they can and include this award in their prize-givings for 2019.

Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand needs more apprentices and people training for industry jobs.

“We want students, with the help of whānau and teachers, to be planning their learning more strategically – to create clear pathways for themselves through school and on to further study, training or jobs in the workplace,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Vocational education is learning that has a special emphasis on the skills needed to do a specific job, or work in a specific industry.

The launch of the award comes a week after Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced Government decisions to comprehensively reform vocational education.

“Vocational education, trades training and on-the-job training have been allowed to drift for too long. These are long-term challenges that this government is committed to fixing,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We are strengthening the vocational education and training system and unifying it to respond better to the needs of New Zealand learners and employers.

“The changes will deliver more opportunities to improve people’s skills, no matter where they are in their education or career and support a growing economy that works for everyone.

“We’re also making significant changes to the NCEA to create strong pathways towards the trades and other vocational careers, and are well-underway with a redesign of the careers system to provide much better support in schools, much earlier in the lives of students,” Chris Hipkins said.



The unbelieveable boom in international students

The Department of Education has released its International Student Data 2019, which has reported explosive growth in international student enrolments.

According to this data, international student enrolments surged by 69,500 (11%) in 2019, with enrolments ballooning by 290,000 (72%) over the past five years alone:

This growth has been driven by both higher education and vocational education and training (VET), whose enrolments have surged by 81% and 101% respectively over the past five years:

China (201,000), India (101,000) and Nepal (52,000) are Australia’s three biggest sources of international students, with each nation also experiencing strong growth:

Over the past five years, enrolments from China rose by 94,000, versus growth of 62,000 Indian students and 39,000 Nepalese students.

However, in percentage terms China’s 88% growth in international students was dwarfed by both India (155%) and Nepal (320%) over the past five year.

Turning to Australia’s jurisdictions, you can see that international student enrolments are dominated by New South Wales (267,000) and Victoria (227,000), which together accounted for 71% of Australia’s enrolments as at May 2019.

These two jurisdictions have experienced the strongest growth in international student enrolments over the past five years of 118,000 (80%) and 105,000 (86%) respectively.

Moreover, according to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, 97% of international students studied in a major city in 2018, with the majority of these students studying in Sydney and Melbourne.

Interestingly, New South Wales’ international student boom has been driven by both China (77,000) and Nepal (34,000), whose enrolments have surged by 35,000 and 27,000 respectively over the past five years:

By comparison, Victoria’s international student boom has been driven primarily by China (69,000) and India (48,000), whose enrolments have surged by 35,000 and 29,000 respectively over the past five years:

Looking ahead, the latest biannual data from the Department of Home Affairs shows that student visa applications from China fell by 3.3% in 2H 2019, which was more than offset by explosive growth from India (53.5%) and Nepal (47.8%):


Therefore, Australia’s future international student growth appears dependant on India and Nepal, which tend to study at second tier universities and private vocational colleges, often for the primary purpose of gaining working rights and permanent residency.

This is reflected by increasing concerns around degraded education standards and quality.

Govt struggles to overcome vocational education misconception

The current TVET is about high cognitive abilities required in performing a task


THE government is still struggling to improve the public’s perception on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), which is still viewed as “dirty” and will not provide a good living.

Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran (picture) said while the government considers TVET as the “hope for the future”, it is facing a difficult task in achieving its target of having a significant percentage of skilled workers in the job market.

He said after 62 years of providing technical courses via various educational institutions, there are only 28% skilled workers. The government envisions having at least 35% flooding the labour force by next year.

“Our neighbouring country Singapore has 54% of skilled workers in their labour market, while other countries have reached over 60%.

“Although reaching the 35% target by 2020 is possible, it still remains a key challenge for us,” he said at the Selangor Regional Powerhouse conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Kulasegaran was answering a question brought up by a member of the audience in the forum who was concerned about enrolling his child in technical courses due to the cloudy future of TVET graduates.

The minister admitted that while the number of courses, colleges and teachers in TVET has increased, the number of students is still below expectations.

Speaking at the conference, Kulasegaran said the perception must be changed as technical courses have evolved in line

with the industry requirements. “Germany, Japan and South Korea have done very well in developing their countries based on technical courses,” he said.

Malaysia Aerospace Industry Association president Naguib Mohd Nor said TVET should not be associated with the negative perceptions of yesteryears.

“We are not talking about the same TVET back then where ‘naughty boys’ pursued technical courses because they had no other choice. The current TVET is about high cognitive abilities required in performing a task.

“For instance at UMW Aerospace Sdn Bhd in Serendah, which manufactures aircraft fan cases, the products cost millions of dollars and are absolutely zero percentage of scrap tolerant.

“If there is non-conformance or deviation to the ex-manufacturing product, the technician will have to decide on what to do with this million dollars worth of product that will go to the plate,” he said.

Kulasegaran said there have been some TVET success stories where graduates have reaped around RM15,000 of salaries five years after they obtained the technical certificate.

In May, the government extended the operating hours of all Industrial Training Institutions (ILPs) nationwide from 5.30pm to 11pm, to allow fulltime workers re-skill themselves after working hours.

Kulasegaran said it would provide an opportunity for workers interested in learning new technical skills as well as upgrading their existing skills.

“When a worker is re-skilled, he or she can easily get a job and this can solve half of the worker shortage issue in the country,” he said, adding that almost 94% of TVET graduates have guaranteed jobs waiting for them, while the remaining 6% have chosen not to enter the workforce.

Early this month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on major industry players to support the TVET agenda as it is one of the key aspirations to chart Malaysia as a developed nation.


More TAFE funding answer to reversing VET decline

The best way to reverse the fall in enrolments at government-funded vocational education providers is to restore funding to TAFE and return it to being the primary provider of vocational education in Australia.

According to a new report by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), student numbers, subject enrolments and training hours at public vocational training providers all fell in 2018.

AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Maxine Sharkey said that the Morrison Government’s obsession with private vocational education providers at the expense of TAFE was already hurting the career prospects of thousands of Australians who need access to affordable and high quality vocation education.

“TAFE is one of the crown jewels of the Australian education system. However, it’s clear that years of funding cuts and official disinterest by successive Federal Coalition governments have left TAFE, our world-class publicly-owned vocational education provider, in a weakened state,” Ms Sharkey said.

“This has resulted in falling student numbers and TAFE campus closures. The solution is quite simple. We need a strong public TAFE sector that is fully funded.”

According to the NCVER figures, in 2018, compared with 2017:

  • estimated student numbers decreased by 1.9%
  • subject enrolments decreased by 5.7%
  • hours and full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) decreased by 6.4%

The figures also reveal that since 2013, the year the Federal Coalition was elected, the number of students in government-funded vocational education has fallen by 25%, from 1.48 million to 1.1 million. In addition, the number of hours of vocational education delivered has fallen by 28% between 2013 and 2018.

“The introduction of private-for profit education providers has been a disaster for Australia’s vocational education system,” Ms Sharkey said.

“History has shown that private providers aren’t interested in quality education – they are interested in profits.”

“The private sector’s idea of VET-sector competition is to drive down costs and standards and drive the ‘competition’ (read TAFE) out of business. Then it can jack up its prices and force students to pay through the nose,” Ms Sharkey said.

“The Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Government’s own regulator, said parts of the Australian training market are already in a race to the bottom. The Productivity Commission has described the Australian VET system as a mess.”

Ms Sharkey said that TAFE must remain a strong public provider of vocational education in Australia. She called upon the Morrison Government to:

  • Guarantee a minimum of 70% government funding to the public TAFE system. In addition, no public funding should go to private for-profit providers, consistent with other education sectors.
  • Restore funding and rebuild the TAFE system, to restore confidence in the quality of the courses and qualifications and the institution.
  • Abandon the failed student loans experiment, and cancel the debts of all students caught up in private for-profit provider scams.
  • Re-invest in the TAFE teaching workforce and develop a future-focused TAFE workforce development strategy in collaboration with the profession and unions.
  • Develop a capital investment strategy in consultation with state governments, to address the deplorable state of TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Support a comprehensive independent inquiry into TAFE.

“Any proposal which undermines the importance of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments working together to build a strong, vibrant, fully funded public TAFE will be fiercely opposed by the AEU,” Ms Sharkey said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Fraudulent VET provider ordered to pay $200,000

13 June 2019

The Federal Court has ordered a Tasmanian man to pay significant penalties for providing a VET course without registration and for issuing qualifications that were not genuine.

On 30 May 2019, the Federal Court found that Leon Vere King had committed multiple contraventions of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (the NVR Act).

The Court found that Mr King contravened the NVR Act by providing a VET course when he was not a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). The Court also found that Mr King issued 31 statements of attainment, despite not being an RTO.

In making his judgement, Justice Perram found that Mr King ‘undermined the creditability of the VET training system’. Justice Perram went on to note that ‘this case has the potential to undermine public confidence in the vocational training sector’ and deemed it necessary to apply strong penalties to deter future unauthorised conduct.

Justice Perram ordered Mr King to pay $200,000 in penalties that include the Commonwealth’s costs of $75,000 as well as a civil penalty of $125,000.

ASQA Chief Commissioner and CEO Mark Paterson welcomed the Court’s decision.

“Australia’s registered training organisations deliver education and training to quality standards that ensure all students get the skills and knowledge they need for work,” Mr Paterson explained.

“Providing fraudulent qualifications is not only a serious breach of the law, it lets down students who are trying to learn new skills for jobs and has the potential to drag down the reputation of Australia’s world class VET sector.

“ASQA will continue to take action against organisations that misrepresent their status as registered providers and mislead students and employers.

“The recent decision against Leon Vere King is a welcome acknowledgment of the importance of maintaining quality across Australia’s VET sector.”

ASQA commenced investigations into Leon Vere King’s training activities in July 2016 and worked through lengthy legal processes to reach this recent outcome. This decision is the latest showcasing the importance of the regulator’s investigative work alongside its scrutiny of registered training providers and accredited courses.


The decline of Australian corporate culture

Former ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft pushed for a change in corporate culture (Screenshot via YouTube)

Poor conduct by principals and CEOs has resulted in Australia’s corporate culture in need of a change, writes Dr Kim Sawyer.

ON 8 DECEMBER 2016, Greg Medcraft, the Chairman of ASIC at the time, gave a speech on the importance of corporate culture. Medcraft asserted that culture matters because it can be the driver of bad conduct.

Nearly every day we see evidence of bad corporate conduct at Royal Commissions like the Banking Royal Commission or in individual company collapses. There is a recurring problem. It seems company regulations don’t matter, at least not for some.

Culture is a vague term. Culture generally refers to values. A good corporate culture is represented by things like transparency, honesty, perhaps even social responsibility — characteristics that seem to have disappeared from the corporate balance sheet. Medcraft was not alone in calling for cultural change. It has been recommended by every inquiry into corporate practice for the last 20 years; for example, the 2014 Financial System Inquiry. Yet there is little evidence that Australia’s corporate culture is changing.

In last year’s budget, $70 million was given to ASIC to establish a governance taskforce. One of the first actions of the taskforce was to insert a psychologist into boardroom discussions of more than 20 leading Australian companies including Qantas, Lendlease and Woolworths and to report back to the regulator on board behaviour by September.

There are two problems with such a study. Alessandra Capezio from the Australian National University pointed to the fact that directors are likely to behave differently when they are being observed by a psychologist. They are likely to be on their best behaviour. But there is also a second problem in that corporate culture depends on the Chairman and CEO. In smaller companies like start-ups and small resource companies, the CEO tends to be more important for the corporate culture. In smaller companies shareholders and creditors are less protected against the bad conduct of directors. They are at the mercy of the Board.

This is amplified by two recent high-profile cases involving two high-profile individuals. Both cases involve companies in the for-profit education sector which now has 65 registered companies (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency). The first case is that of Acquire Learning, a Victorian registered education provider which collapsed in May 2017 with debts of $145 million. The case is currently being heard in the Victorian Supreme CourtThere are three aspects of this case that show the problems of Australia’s corporate culture.

Acquire became what it was through the generosity of taxpayers. The Gillard Governmentboosted vocational learning by allowing students of private colleges to use the VET FEE-HELP scheme, which cost $325 million in 2012 but ballooned to $2.9 billion in 2015. Enter the rorters. Acquire targeted students through telemarketing and there were red flags everywhere. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took Acquire to court over its targeting of students and won, but it was too late for shareholders and creditors.


The psychologist inserted by the corporate regulator into boardroom discussions of more than 20 blue-chip companies including Qantas, Woolworths and AMP warns that Australia’s financial sector culture is broken. @patrickdurkin https://www.afr.com/leadership/management/asic-shrink-says-corporate-culture-is-broken-20190619-p51z7r?btis 

ASIC shrink says corporate culture is broken

The psychologist sent by ASIC into the boardrooms of blue chip companies such as Qantas and Woolworths warns the culture of our financial sector is broken.


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What Acquire Learning shows is the problem of bad conduct. Andrew Demetriou, the former Chairman of the AFL, was Chairman of the company’s advisory board between 2014 and 2016. Also the uncle of the CEO, Demetriou was used to profile the company. They leveraged him. He was paid $900,000 a year for a three-day-a-week advisory role. He was the beneficiary of a company loan of $311,000 now being contested in the Supreme Court hearings. Taxpayers and creditors subsidised the bad conduct of the principals.

The second case is that of Vocation, a vocational skills and training company that collapsed in November 2015. Vocation was dependent on subsidies offered by the Victorian Government for private providers of vocational training. Subsidies were granted on the condition of course quality. But an audit in 2015 by the Victorian Department of Education found Vocation had subcontracted to cheaper third-party providers, lowering standards. As a result, Vocation lost their $20 million government subsidy just before a $74 million private placement. Vocation had 40,000 students. Students, shareholders and creditors paid the price for the bad conduct of the principals.

One of those principals was John Dawkins, Chairman of Vocation and the architect of Australia’s Unified National System of Universities in 1988 where colleges became universities and universities became colleges. The Federal Court has found that Dawkins breached his duties as a director of Vocation by failing to make continuous disclosures to the market about the fact Vocation was facing subsidy cuts and enrolment suspensions for two of its biggest training colleges. Dawkins faces a potential five-year ban from sitting on boards and a million dollar fine. The penalties are still to be determined. Like Acquire Learning, Vocation depended on taxpayer subsidies, on regulators not knowing until it was too late and on the ignorance of creditors and clients.

Financial Review


Former federal Treasurer John Dawkins breached duties in Vocation collapse, the Federal Court has found. http://bit.ly/2I8pcR8 

Former Treasurer John Dawkins breached duties in Vocation collapse

Former federal treasurer John Dawkins breached his director duties as chairman of Vocation, the Federal Court has found.


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Corporate culture is more than that on show at Royal Commissions. Corporate culture is also exhibited by the average CEO earning nearly 80 times what the average worker earns, by one-third of large companies paying no tax and by principals of small companies using taxpayer subsidies to rort. I have long advocated for a False Claims Act that specifically targets those who rort the Government. The deterrent effects of such an Act are significant.

Charles Grassley and Howard Berman, the proponents of the U.S. Act, observed:

“Studies estimate the fraud deterred thus far… runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Instead of encouraging or rewarding a culture of deceit, corporations now spend substantial sums on sophisticated and meaningful compliance programs. That change in the corporate culture… may be the law’s most durable legacy.”

We need a False Claims Act. Surely, it would be as good as psychologists in boardrooms.

When we look at Acquire Learning and Vocation, we see the corporate culture of Australia. We see the networks at work. We see the use of taxpayer subsidies. We see regulatory failure of a deregulated sector. We see the role of the principals. Andrew Demetriou presided over the expansion of the AFL from 2005 to 2014, doubling its revenue. John Dawkins was a Federal Treasurer. Both will be remembered for their contributions other than Acquire Learning and Vocation, which will only be footnotes in their histories. Yet Acquire and Vocation exemplify a culture that ASIC wants to change. For culture begins with leaders.

Adam Curlis@TAFEeducation

‘Teetering education company Acquire Learning planned to pour $1 million a month into the pockets of its shareholders including former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou shortly before its collapse left tens of thousands of students stranded’ instead https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/boom-1-million-for-the-boys-acquire-eyed-success-ahead-of-fall-20190306-p5128m.html 

‘Boom! $1 million for the boys’: Acquire eyed success ahead of fall

Acquire Learning arranged to pour $1 million a month into the pockets of its shareholders including Andrew Demetriou shortly before its collapse left thousands of students stranded.


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Dr Kim Sawyer is a senior fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.


Here is part two of our look at the state of corporate culture in some of the world’s biggest economies with insights into Japan, Australia and France. http://ow.ly/iO4D30oFXFA 

How France, Japan and Australia Take On Corporate Culture

Here is part two of our look at the state of corporate culture in some of the world’s biggest economies with insights into Japan, Australia and France.


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Traineeships help young people to access jobs and further study

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton

Traineeships are successfully supporting more young people into employment, an apprenticeship or further study, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton announced today (19 June).

Traineeships are a flexible education and training programme aimed at helping young people aged 16- 24 to prepare for an apprenticeship or work.

New research published today highlights how traineeships are benefiting young people and employers across the country. Findings show that 75% of trainees get a job, take up an apprenticeship or go on to further study within a year of completing their programme. Employers including global professional services firm Aon have also reported how traineeships have helped them to recruit people from a range of backgrounds, leading to more diverse workforces.

The Government has also announced today that it will introduce a new traineeship achievement rate measure for education and training providers for the academic year 2019/20. The new measure will help the Government to monitor the effectiveness of the traineeship programme and will also help young people make informed decisions about their futures.

Anne Milton, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:

We want people of all ages and backgrounds to have the opportunity to learn new skills and go on to have successful careers. Traineeships are a great way of doing this by giving young people the chance to gain the skills and confidence they need to progress.

I’m thrilled that this report shows how traineeships are supporting young people to start their apprenticeship journey, get their first job or go to further study.The new measure we have launched today will also provide greater transparency and help young people make informed decisions about their next steps. Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers said:

This announcement represents a very positive step towards reinvigorating traineeships in terms of encouraging more young people to take advantage of a programme that has a proven track-record for progression. AELP particularly welcomes the separate measurements of achievement confirming the programme’s original objectives of progression into an apprenticeship, job or further education. In the light of this, we will be urging providers to seriously take a fresh look at traineeships with a view to increasing the number of opportunities available”.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

AoC is pleased that the government continues to support pre-apprenticeship programmes such as Traineeships. It is important that we do not lose the stepping stone programmes that allow people to progress to the levels of competence that employers are seeking. These changes will help recognise the many positive outcomes from Traineeships which colleges are helping to achieve.

To encourage more young people aged 19-24 to start a traineeship, the Government is also providing £20 million through the Adult Education Budget for further education and training providers.

Traineeships form part of the Government’s work to make sure people of all ages and backgrounds can get the skills they need to progress in their careers. This includes working with leading employers to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities and introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels.

For more information on traineeships, visit here.

/Public Release. View in full here.

TDA Newsletter-Queensland budget injects funds for TAFE, apprenticeships and skill sets


TDA 2019 Convention: The Power of TAFE launched – comment by CEO Craig Robertson


Digital disruption of the workplace will require a significant relook at how workers are educated and trained for work, a new report has found.

Findings by Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce in the report Peak Human Potential – Preparing Australia’s workforce for the digital future are based on a national survey of 1,000 working Australians from a range of job roles and industry sectors.

In what is a unique perspective these days, the report concludes from the views of workers that, firstly, the more an industry is disrupted by technology, the more they value social competencies such as collaboration, empathy and entrepreneurial skills. Workers, secondly, prefer to learn on the job to prepare for the change.

Director of the Centre and report author, Dr Sean Gallagher, says that “The more digital our workplaces become, the more human we need to be as workers. Workers understand that social competencies – such as collaboration, empathy and entrepreneurial skills – are uniquely human and less vulnerable to being displaced by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies.”

We at TDA welcome the report. TAFEs and dual sector universities are uniquely placed to deliver on the skills workers need for the future. These institutes are the most experienced in delivery in the workplace for the workplace. With full industry coverage they can bring the range of knowledge and skills to the upskilling experience. This is important because technology usually brings convergence, often unanticipated, of technology and process, but with unique application. Know-how will be more important than ever – and that’s what the TAFE model delivers.

The report aptly issues the challenge:

We need to lift all workers into the digital economy by providing basic digital training. Many of these future skills are best provided through vocational education, especially within a more coherent tertiary education system. But for learning and work to converge, we need a learning infrastructure that brings education providers and employers together, too.

The future of tertiary education in Australia is bound to be debated further this year. At the centre of that dialogue must be its purposes for the Australian community, as must the unique role of TAFE.


The unique roles played by TAFEs underpin this year’s TDA convention. The Power of TAFE is the theme and will celebrate that place and purpose of TAFE, which is important in Australia’s education history and is so important for Australia’s future.

The Convention will showcase innovation and excellence of TAFE Queensland through the site visit to SkillsTech, Acacia Ridge and the welcome reception at the South Bank campus. The main program is being held at the Brisbane Hilton with sessions including keynote presentations, facilitated panel discussions and workshops.

Registrations are open now for the TDA Convention 2019 at the Hilton Hotel Brisbane, Tuesday 3 September to Thursday 5 September 2019. Don’t miss the opportunity for early bird registrations.

Register now via www.tdaconvention.com.au.  Early registration closes on Monday 22 July.

Keep an eye out for the call for speaker proposals to be released this week.

All enquiries, including for sponsors and exhibitors can be directed to tdaconvention@absoluteevents.com.au.

Tae Yoo, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility with CISCO has said, “… the concept of skilling, reskilling and lifelong learning is not new. What is new is that the pace of disruption is faster than ever; educational and career pathways are less defined; and the need for perpetual learning is the new normal”. In further words that resonate with the purpose we have for TAFEs, Tae adds:

Together, we have the power to inspire, connect, and deliver on new opportunities and rich experiences that can open doors to innovation and progress while growing global economies and increasing well-being.

Finally, if you are interested in news on TVET from around the globe I recommend you read the latest newsletter of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

PM is a ‘champion’ of VET: Steven Joyce

The architect of the federal government’s recent VET review, Steven Joyce (pictured), has described Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “champipon” of the VET sector, and says he doesn’t believe that political divisions should stand in the way of his key findings being adopted.

Mr Joyce, the former New Zealand minister responsible for tertiary education and skills, said his report was well received by the government, particularly by Mr Morrison who, he said is committed to real reform of the VET sector.

“It’s something I know the PM is very passionate about,” he said.

“He’s very, very passionate about vocational education and he thinks it’s underweight in Australia.

“So, you’ve got a real champion there,” he said in comments to the NSW and ACT Apprentice Employment Network conference in Sydney last Thursday.

He also expanded on other aspects of his report, including:

  • Saying he doesn’t see the VET system (with the possible exception of policies around TAFE) being so overtly political that it should threaten a national agreement to make the system run better.
  • Conceded that despite the reform effort in New Zealand, the country’s polytechnics are now struggling.
  • Said the planned national skills commission would have a strong focus on skills forecasting, acknowledging that “initially it’s not going to be that accurate but it’s going to evolve over time”.
  • Dismissed a suggestion he might be a candidate to head the new skills commission.
  • Warned that poor quality VET-in-Schools  programs may be actually worsening the job prospects of some VET secondary school students.
  • Said one of the “best and simplest” ideas from the New Zealand experience was the colour-coding of school subjects so students could identify university and vocational choices.
  • Said he was “a fan of group training organisations” and saw them working in partnership with the proposed new skills organisations.
  • Cautioned that the VET brand was “too broad” and “confused”, and should be narrowed, with a higher profile on new occupations such as those in the digital sector.

Queensland budget injects funds for TAFE, apprenticeships and skill sets

The Queensland state budget has delivered an additional $24 million as part of a $978 million skills and training package.

The Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said the state’s capital works program will more than double, with over $105 million in upgrades to TAFE facilities.

It includes upgrades at TAFE campuses on the Gold Coast, Alexandra Hills and Mt Gravatt, and continuing works at Pimlico, Townsville and Toowoomba.

There will also be a new higher level apprenticeships pilot program with industry to develop training pathways on top of the traditional apprenticeship program.

There will be a three-year, $5.5 million micro-credentialing pilot project to investigate skill sets and short courses in new technologies.

South Metropolitan TAFE  joins WA government and industry to deliver automation skills

The West Australian government has launched two new cutting edge courses to be delivered through TAFE as part of the joint industry initiative to equip the workforce for a new era of automation.

The Premier Mark McGowan and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery announced that the automation courses will commence at South Metropolitan TAFE’s Munster campus from the second semester of this year.

It is the first achievement of the Resource Industry Collaboration between the state government, South Metropolitan TAFE and Rio Tinto, which contributed $2 million to the new training program.

The Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be delivered as a pilot VET for secondary students, while the micro-credential course, Working Effectively in an Automation Workplace, is a skill set that trade qualified workers and apprentices can use to improve their skills in automation.

Premier Mark McGowan said it was a great example of industry working in partnership to ensure the training sector creates a highly skilled workforce.

New Zealand ad campaign confronts the ‘shock’ of VET

A New Zealand apprenticeship company has taken a novel approach to changing the image of VET and, in particular, the attitudes of parents, as part of a new advertising campaign featuring on social media.

Some are asking, is this what Australia needs?

Watch the ad here.

Financial support to help young carers continue their education

A fresh round of financial support is available to help with the education of young people who are caring for aged family or friends, and those in areas such as disability, physical or mental illness and substance dependency.

The Young Carer Bursaries support young carers to continue with their education through a limited number of $3,000 bursaries available each year.

It’s open to young people aged 12 to 25 providing unpaid care and support, and undertaking study including at TAFE.

Applications for 2020 open 23 July.

See more.

Use of digital media in TVET set to feature in international exposition

Those involved in the use of digital media in TVET have the chance to apply and present to an international audience later this year.

UNESCO-UNEVOC is partnering with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Germany (BIBB) to identify good practices from Asia-Pacific for the use of digital media in the field of TVET.

It will show the potential of applied digital learning opportunities and identify viable solutions for their sustainable integration into TVET.

A call for application has been issued and selected applicants will be invited to present at the BIBB International Roadshow 2019 – Digital Media in TVET that will take place at the Worlddidac Asia on October 10 in Bangkok.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their application by 15 July to hanau@bibb.de. You are kindly requested to also copy the UNEVOC Network coordination team via E-mail: unevoc.network.ap@unesco.org  when applying.

See the call for application.
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A belated congratulations to Ron Wright on his Queen’s Birthday Honour

In our coverage last week of VET leaders named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, we missed one important name – Ron Wright (pictured), who was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to skills development programs and infrastructure projects in NSW.

Ron, who is now a consultant, was the man behind the TAFE NSW Skills Point that saw thousands of workers gain skills and qualifications working on the massive Barangaroo project on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.

It was, and remains, a benchmark for large scale training on infrastructure and major works, and enabled thousands of new workers to enter the industry and gain skills on a world-leading project.

Our congratulations to Ron on this much-deserved award.

CISA national conference

You can engage with international students at the conference of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) in Perth from 15-19 July 2019.

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Diary Dates

22nd Annual Conference of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
No future for old VET’: Researching for the training system/s of tomorrow
17-18 June 2019
Western Sydney University and University College, Parramatta, Sydney
More information

No Frills 2019: The student journey: skilling for life
28th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference
10-12 July 2019
TAFE SA Adelaide Campus, 120 Currie Street, Adelaide, South Australia
More information

CISA (Council of International Students Australia) National Conference
15-19 July 2019
Perth, Western Australia
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National Apprentice Employment Network
2019 National Conference
31 July – 2 August 2019
Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast
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QLD School VET Conference
Velg Training
9 August 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
More Information

VTA 2019 State Conference 
15 – 16 August 2019
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Save the date

National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
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National Skills Week
26 August – 1 September 2019
Locations around Australia
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TAFE Directors Australia 2019 Convention
‘The Power of TAFE’
3 – 5 September 2019
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2019 National VET Conference
Velg Training
12 &13 September 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
More Information

Community Colleges Australia 2019 Annual Conference
18-20 November 2019
The Stamford Plaza Hotel, Brisbane
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Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
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Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group
5th Annual Conference on VET Teaching and VET Teacher Education
9-10 December 2019
Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga Campus
More information

Governments urged to act on tertiary decline

Victoria University vice-chancellor urges government action on declining rates of tertiary participation. Picture: David GeraghtyVictoria University vice-chancellor urges government action on declining rates of tertiary participation. Picture: David Geraghty

Victoria University vice-chancellor Peter Dawkins has warned that Australia will be locked into falling participation in tertiary education well into the next decade unless governments take urgent action.

Professor Dawkins urged the federal and state governments to boost funding, particularly to boost student numbers in the vocational education and training sector, where participation has been in decline for many years.

In a new paper with co-authors Peter Noonan and Peter Hurley, Professor Dawkins projects that participation in higher education will be flat for the next decade and VET participation will continue to decline based on current government higher education policy and the two-year trend in the VET sector.

“There is a risk that participation rates in tertiary education (which includes both higher education and VET) will decline almost six percentage points overall, or one-fifth, from their peak in 2012,” the paper says, projecting that the rate in 2030 could be only 26.2 per cent, compared with 32 per cent in 2012.

“Unless governments try to take on the issues it will make the economy less productive. It’s a false economy to be disinvesting in tertiary education,” said Professor Dawkins, an economist who was previously a senior Victor­ian bureaucrat, as well as head of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

But the paper also urges federal and state governments jointly to make reforms to tertiary education that will reduce its unit cost, while producing better graduates who meet employers’ needs.

Strategies to contain the cost of tertiary education reform include:

 Ensuring that lower-cost VET education grows faster then higher education.

 Offering an increasing proportion of higher education degrees through cheaper VET pathway courses.

 Boosting “micro-learning” in which students do short courses focused on upgrading specific skills.

 Increasing the investment by industry in education and training.

The paper also calls for a broad review of higher education and VET funding to be undertaken through the Council of Australian Governments.

The paper urges the two levels of government to jointly commit to “rethink and revitalise tertiary education”.

It says they need to co-finance growth in VET enrolments and rebuild TAFE.

It also recommends the federal government take over funding of VET courses at the diploma and advanced diploma level and that the incentive states have to move funding away from VET be removed.

The report calls for a HECS-style income-contingent loan system to be extended across the VET sector to ensure students do not face upfront tuition fees.

It also calls for VET learning to move away from the current “competency-based model”, which has “squeezed broader-based skills and capabilities to the margins of the curriculum”.

“This contributes to the current gap between what the VET sector is providing, and the skills needs expressed by Australian employers,” the report says.

The paper argues that its reform agenda will have many economic benefits generated by increased participation in tertiary education, workforce enhancement and promotion of economic growth.

“This in turn would generate more tax revenue for government and reduce its expenditure in dealing with unemployment and underemployment,” it says.

“This would justify an increased investment in tertiary education and training by governments, without imposing a fiscal burden.”

Last night, Professor Dawkins delivered the Mitchell Institute Policy Lecture, which was based on the paper.


Tinkering at the edges but little reform for vocational sector

TAFE Directors Australia CEO Craig Robertson in Canberra.TAFE Directors Australia CEO Craig Robertson in Canberra.

The vocational sector will likely be subject to “tinkering at the edges” but enjoy little in the way of fundamental reform as the Morrison government moves ahead with elements of the Joyce review, which was released just before the election campaign began.

While two of the report’s 71 recommendations received funding in the April federal Budget, sector experts say there is a valid question as to how far the newly elected government will go with implementing the entirety of the report from former New Zealand education minister Steven Joyce.

“We are not clear whether the government has accepted all the recommendations or whether the budget announcements are the limit of what they intend to do,” said Craig Robertson, chief executive of TAFE Directors Australia.

One key recommendation is that the federal, state and territory governments “commit over time” to reducing the funding imbalances between qualification-based vocational education and higher education.

So far, the recommendations for a national skills commission and a national careers institute have received a prime ministerial thumbs up after the Joyce report was handed to Mr Morrison in March.

The skills commission is intended to co-ordinate approaches to the funding and resourcing of vocational education and training between federal and state governments. The careers institute, designed to be part of the skills commission, will provide better careers information to students.

Both initiatives have received mixed reactions from experts. The commission has been described as a ‘‘lite’’ version of the Australian National Skills Authority that was disbanded under the Howard government. It would need industry to come to the table to be effective, Mr Robertson said.

The careers institute might offer useful information but it will be using workforce planning and employment outlooks from the commission which have been historically proven to be “unreliable” and “invented to give astrology a good name”, according to Gavin Moodie, an adjunct professor of education at RMIT.

“(The predictions) will be as unreliable as every other central body’s employment projections,” Dr Moodie said.

However, there are serious questions about the government’s ability to deliver on its most prominent budget announcement — 80,000 new apprenticeships over four years via $8000 employer subsidies. Currently, apprenticeships make up just 20 per cent of vocational enrolments, with commencements at their lowest level since 1996.

“Even if we dramatically increase the number of apprenticeships, they will still be a minority of the system. The federal government needs a policy for all vocational education, not just apprenticeships,” said Leesa Wheelahan, the William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership at the University of Toronto.

Claire Field, a consultant to private vocational providers, said that in the past employer incentives had been more successful in driving traineeships than apprenticeships.

She said the predecessor Skilling Australians Fund had been criticised as being too narrowly focused on traditional apprenticeships while overlooking the fact that jobs growth was largely centred in services, such as aged and disability care.

Ms Field said that while she rated the Joyce review highly, there was little to suggest that private vocational providers would see any growth in domestic markets under the Morrison government and they would need to look to international students.

There are also questions about whether the Morrison government has any plans to revive the public TAFE sector which has been decimated in recent years by ad hoc, pro-market policies and rampant defunding.

“Unless the federal government recognises the value of TAFE as a key anchor institution of the communities they serve and funds it accordingly, public vocational education is in danger of being reduced to atomistic, just in time and just for now, narrow skills training,” said Professor Wheelahan. “This is exactly what Australia has done to its aged care system and to the job services network.”

John Pardy, an education expert from Monash University, said the Joyce review’s aim for national consistency would need to be built in ways that could balance competing industries and needs on local, state and national levels.

“The challenge in this pivot for consistency is that it does not descend into a series of piecemeal approaches longing for a coherent policy base.”

He said both the skills commission and careers institute might play a role in nationally co-ordinating policy and practice “however slight”.