In this edition

Commonwealth waiting on states’ agreement for national skills fund

One of the last hurdles to the new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) has been cleared, with the federal government now awaiting formal agreement from the states and territories.

The Department of Education and Training told a Senate Estimates hearing last week that the process of consultation has been completed and agreements have been circulated to the states and territories for signature.

Deputy Secretary Dr Subho Banerjee told the committee that while no jurisdictions had yet signed agreements, he believed there were no major outstanding issues.

The SAF is designed to provide $1.5 billion in Commonwealth funds, matched by the states, for projects to create up to 300,000 apprenticeships over four years.

Dr Banerjee said that while the Commonwealth was committed to the $1.5 billion funding agreement, the amount ultimately delivered would depend on the projects submitted by the states.

TDA recommends changes to higher education support bill

With legislation introducing an improved rate of repayment of student loan debt, TDA has called for current loan fees for FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans to be abolished.

The legislation sets a new lower income threshold of $44,999 for repayment of all student debt. TDA states in its submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment that the loan fee of 20 per cent for VET Student Loans and 25 per cent for FEE-HELP loans is no longer justified.

“Presumably the loan fee was introduced because of lower than expected repayment rates from students accessing these schemes, but the lower earnings threshold blows this logic apart.” TDA chief executive Craig Robertson said.

The TDA submission goes on to say that the loan fee, only paid by VET students or private higher education students, is a discriminatory tax.

“It can only be described as a regressive tax measure given these students are effectively paying for the unpaid debt of university students,” Mr Robertson said.

TDA’s submission also raises concern that the lower repayment threshold will impose a burden on lower-income graduates.

The legislation also spells out protections to university students who, for special circumstances, are not able to complete a unit once a census date is passed. This protection is now consistent across all loan schemes. TDA issues a warning, however, that all schemes still place obligations on students to complete their education during the period assigned and published for each unit.

“Failure to recognise this key attribute of loan schemes may have the Commonwealth unilaterally accepting cases from students who simply did not get around to completing within the period for the unit for which they received a loan.” Mr Robertson warned.

Information about the bill is available on the committee’s website.

TAFE SA cleared by Senate committee but Simon Birmingham says it’s a whitewash

A political row has erupted over the Senate committee inquiry into TAFE SA, with the Labor dominated committee claiming the entire exercise was politically motivated.

“The committee considers this inquiry to be a purely politically motivated exercise orchestrated by the Coalition Government in order to attack the South Australian Labor Government ahead of the South Australian election on 17 March 2018,” the report says.

“The committee notes that when Careers Australia went bankrupt in May 2017, pocketing millions of dollars in Commonwealth funding and leaving 15 000 students out of pocket, the Coalition Government did not push for a Senate inquiry,” it says.

The Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said the committee had ducked the hard questions on TAFE SA in a “whitewashed” report.

The committee said that TAFE SA and the South Australian government had taken “prompt and appropriate steps” to address the issues raised by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

It noted ASQA’s observation that TAFE SA’s rate of non‑compliance was comparative to, or lower than, rates of non-compliance in other TAFEs and private providers.

See the Senate committee report

National audit office to examine VET student loan program

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is seeking stakeholder input into an inquiry it is undertaking into the VET Student Loans (VSL) program.

The objective of the audit is to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Education and Training’s design and implementation of the new VSL program, which replaced the VET FEE-HELP scheme.

It will not be examining the effectiveness of the course provider application processes or the investigations being undertaken of some VET FEE-HELP registered training organisations.

Training providers, industry bodies and consumer groups are being given the opportunity to provide their comments by Friday, 13 April to VETStudentLoans@anao.gov.auThe report is due to be completed by October.

See more.

Cost blowout, delays halt apprentice support IT platform

The federal government has placed on hold its troubled IT system, designed to streamline services for the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN).

The Department of Education and Training told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra last week that the Australian Apprenticeships Management System (AAMS) has been “paused” and is the focus of a review.

“The department has decided to pause the project and has entered into discussions with the vendor about the best way forward for the project,” the department’s group manager, skills program, Brendan Morling said.

The IT platform was designed to modernise and replace the current paper-based system that provides payments to employers and apprentices under the government’s incentive and trade support loans programs.

Almost $13 million has been spent on the program to date, including $4.9 million to the vendor, NEC. It was planned to be operational in July 2016.

“Quite clearly, it’s taken a lot longer than any of us expected to deliver the project, there have been a number of technical issues, and in our consultations, stakeholders have expressed concerns about the project,” Mr Morling said.

Chisholm named as Melbourne Demons’ training partner

Sport and education will sit side-by side under an agreement where Chisholm Institute will be the preferred education and training provider for the Melbourne Football Club.

It will see Chisholm engaged across different levels of the club including, Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy and the Casey Demons VFL team.

Chisholm Institute’s Acting CEO, Grant Radford said the partnership will enable students to chase their calling by seamlessly integrating athletics and education.

Under the plan, the Chisholm Sports Academy Melbourne Football Club Program will be delivered from Chisholm’s Cranbourne campus and Melbourne Football Club’s Casey campus.

Athletes will be able to undertake a dual Diploma of Sport Development and Diploma of Sport and Recreation Management.

Don’t miss your chance to exhibit at the 2018 World Congress

A record number of applications has been received in response to both the call for proposals, and the awards of excellence for the 2018 World Congress.

Applications have now closed. More than 110 proposals and over 80 award nominations have been received, with strong interest from within Australia, as well as from colleges and polytechnics across the globe.

The Congress organising committee now faces the task of selecting the best proposals for the Congress program, with the first sessions likely to be announced in the second half of April, alongside more key note speakers. If you missed submitting a proposal for the Congress, please contact memberservices@tda.edu.au to discuss options to be involved.

Demand for exhibitor booths is also strong, with small booths very close to selling out. There are still medium and large booths available, and a number of other sponsorship opportunities available.  Click here to express interest, book an exhibition booth or register or visit the Congress website for more information (www.wfcp2018.com.au).

AVETRA seeking research articles

AVETRA is calling for articles for the next edition of its magazine, Research Today.

The publication provides a summary of the key issues in the national VET research landscape.

Anyone wishing to make a e a contribution can contact Josie Misko by email: josie.misko@ncver.edu.au.

Articles can be of two to three A4 pages in length and should discuss what the study set out to do, the rationale, the methods used to collect and/or analyse information, and the key findings.

Accepted articles for this edition will be required by 16 April.

Real Skills for Real Careers

Diary Dates

ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue
21-23 March 2018
Penang, Malaysia
More information

VET Practitioner Research Conference
AVETRA, VET Development Centre, and Victorian TAFE Assoc.
26-27 April 2018
More information

VET CEO Conference
Velg Training
18 May 2018
Hilton Brisbane
More information

Skills Show Australia 2018
WorldSkills Australia
2-4 June 2018
International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

Skills Pathway Expo
Velg Training
2 – 4 June 2018
International Convention Centre Sydney
More information

Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD)
National Conference

7- 8 June 2018
International Convention Centre, Sydney
More information

2018 Skills Conference
Apprentice Employment Network, NSW & ACT
14 June 2018
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

2018 UNEVOC TVET Leadership Programme
25 June – 6 July 2018
Bonn, Germany
More information

QLD Schools VET Conference
Velg Training
10 August 2018
Hilton Brisbane
More information

No Frills – Skills for a global future
NCVER & New Zealand’s Ako Aotearoa and Industry Training Federation
15-17 August 2018
Sydney
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
‘TAFE: Dynamic, Connected, Invigorated’
16-17 August 2018
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
More information coming soon

National Skills Week 2018
27 August – 2 September 2018
More information 

2018 VDC Teaching & Learning Conference
6 – 7 September 2018
RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
More information

National VET Conference
Velg Training
13 – 14 September 2018
Adelaide Convention Centre
More information

2018 World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) World Congress (in conjunction with TDA National Conference)
8-10 October 2018
Melbourne Convention Centre
More information

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