TDA Newsletter- Australia may still be exposed to training college failure


Let’s imagine bold education policy – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Its’ fair to say that the policy landscape at present is littered with government reviews and policy positions from the full sweep of stakeholders concerned for tertiary education in Australia.

The review of the Australian Qualifications Framework could resolve the conceptual divide between higher education and training that hasn’t been bridged despite the collective wringing of hands by education policy experts.

For Australians, we conceive of the AQF as an enabler – a ladder to advancement – no matter where one starts.

Many are also hoping it will set a blueprint for sector policy owners to work toward more coherent post-compulsory schooling offers for all Australians.

Peter Coaldrake is examining provider categories within the higher education sector. In essence, he is contemplating whether the allowable types of higher education suppliers form rungs upon which Australians can pursue education outcomes best suited to them.

To complete the landscape, the VET sector, of course, is contemplating Joyce, and schools are assessing their ultimate purpose through revisions to the Melbourne Declaration.

In looking at what may lay ahead I reflect on the work of Jean Blackburn. If Jean were alive today, she would have turned 100 just last month.

Jean is mostly remembered as the deputy chair of the Schools Commission in the 1970s and the champion of the Disadvantaged Schools Program, which has been heralded as one of the more successful interventions to overcome inequality in schooling outcomes.

Jean’s work as chair of the Ministerial Review of Post Compulsory Schooling in Victoria, released in March 1985, captured my attention. Many with an eye to history may sheet home to that report the demise of technical high schools. The merits of that decision are not my focus, rather the philosophy Jean brought to the task.

It’s hard to imagine today, but in the early 1980s Victoria was concerned about its population decline. Figures presented in Jean’s report show that Victoria’s population of 15 to 19 year-olds was forecast to decrease by 40,000 over the decade from 1986 to 1996!

It’s little wonder her recommendations focused on getting more out of the dwindling stock of Victoria’s youth.

Recommendation 32 of her report proposed that from 1988 all technical and high schools “become comprehensive rather than being designated, equipped or staffed as technical or high schools.”

Unlike some reports we are faced with today, the rationale supporting this recommendation, are pertinent.

Curricular reforms have frequently been associated with the reshaping of educational structures. Organisational forms are not ends in themselves but are the means of meeting educational and societal purposes which change over time.

In this present day, why is it that structures and markets seem to be the policy outcome?

The Committee believes that existing high and technical schools should be amalgamated to give all students access to a more comprehensive curriculum and to broaden the opportunities of students in technical schools. The workforce structure to which technical schools originally related no longer exists.

In looking ahead at the obvious changes sweeping work, technology and organisation, why is it that we can’t contemplate new forms of training that meet a new order of capability required of all working adults?

In the interests of developing a higher theoretical basis for technical pursuits, and of giving more students the experience of relating practical and theoretical studies, we are recommending that all public sector secondary provision become comprehensive.

After 34 years of an education policy merry-go-round, why does this education theory, so simply stated, ring as something fresh?

Jean saw the power of education to support economic growth – in this case as an economic rescue mission for a state in decline. Jean was hellbent on education being the great instrument for achieving equality of opportunity – the ladder to success no matter one’s background.

It’s easy to see the VET sector residualised to little more than an expensive labour market program. But it’s not too hard to imagine strong and vibrant vocational education here in Australia led by TAFEs as trusted purveyors of enterprise-centred and industry-focused endeavours on behalf of the Australian community.

It’s all too easy to see our training system divorced from educational intent. But it’s not too hard to imagine educational structures and learning models which enliven learning for students who need a different approach than didactic models we too easily favour in our schools and universities.

It’s far too easy to fear that our competency model will be enshrined forever despite its educational shortcomings. But it’s not too hard to imagine offering opportunity through enlivened vocational education and a supporting AQF.

We see in front of us the majority of school leavers favouring university pathways over the offer of VET. But it’s not too hard to imagine a vibrant tertiary education system with a range of robust learning options from which all who access it can achieve the success they are chasing in their lives, complete with scaffolding that supports further learning as they build upon that success.

It would do us no harm as a country to reflect upon some of the great education reformers of our past and dream big of what could be.

The reviews at our doorstep present that opportunity.

Note:
I have extracted notes from a speech I gave at the launch of the Mackenzie Research Institute.

This month Monash University Publishing has released Jean Blackburn – Education, feminism and social justice by Craig Campbell and Debra Hayes. I’m only 40 odd pages in but no doubt I’ll refer to Jean’s work again when I return to the notion of comprehensive vocational education.

Lastly, the extracts from the Ministerial Review of Post Compulsory Schooling was possible because the report is available on VocEd, an immeasurably valuable resource managed by NCVER.


Queensland: Beautiful one day, perfect the next – for VET

There are many reasons to travel to Queensland, but this September Queensland holds real promise as the destination to reset vocational education and TAFEs.

Beautiful one session, perfect the next, rings true if you look at the line-up for the TDA convention in September.

Michael Brennan, the head of the Productivity Commission whose job is to promote competition and markets as the starting point for public policy, will explore what’s next for the VET sector.

Vicki Thomson from the Group of Eight Universities, Australia’s elite, will contemplate how TAFEs inhabit the tertiary sector.

Drawing on his findings as chair of Jobs Queensland, the warhorse of higher education, Professor Peter Coaldrake, will argue for a higher order of TAFE if Australia is to educate and train a new the class of worker.

The best of England and Canada, from a technical and vocational education viewpoint, will see David Hughes talk about the journey of Further Education colleges amid Brexit, and Dr Rick Huijbregts from Toronto reflect on the technology climate facing students.

A dedicated session with ASQA leadership will allow TAFEs  to take steps to a higher order focus on quality.

We will hear from Steven Joyce, whose advice to Prime Minister Morrison will be central in the shape of VET.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons will reflect on the next steps for TAFEs.

Overall, the Convention will see:

  • 15+ plenary speakers
  • 8 State showcases
  • 55+ workshops speakers
  • numerous networking opportunities

See more about the impressive line-up of plenary speakers.

See the Convention program

Register Now!


TAFE SA’s seven-year registration a sign of confidence

TAFE SA has received a positive response from the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to its application to renew its registration as a national registered training organisation (RTO) for local and international students.

ASQA granted TAFE SA the maximum seven-year registration, the first time the organisation has received this length of registration.

ASQA also approved TAFE SA’s application to renew its registration on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) allowing TAFE SA to continue to offer courses to overseas students, also for the next seven years.

TAFE SA Chief Executive, David Coltman, said the positive response was a strong show of confidence in the improvements that have been made across TAFE SA.

“TAFE SA has embarked on a fresh start, we are committed to providing quality outcomes for students and working closely with industry, and this seven-year registration confirms that we are on the right path,” he said.


Job uncertainty, finances, health play on the minds of young Australians

The challenges faced by young Australians juggling work, study and personal finances has been revealed in the latest analysis from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The study, Life at 24: Then & Now uses data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) to provide a snapshot of how study, training and work have changed for Australians aged 24 in 2018, compared with those of the same age in 2008. It shows:

  • Fewer young people are working in their career job at age 24 when compared to 24-year-olds ten years earlier
  • Young people are becoming more qualified with a  higher proportion obtaining a bachelor degree or postgraduate qualification
  • There has been a slight increase in the proportion with Certificate III or IV, while Diploma and Advanced Diplomas have remain steady, and there has been a sharp fall in the proportion with Certificate I or II, as well as those with no qualification
  • The proportion of young people in full-time work has decreased
  • The proportion of 24-year-olds unable to meet their basic needs due to a shortage of money has increased significantly
  • Rates of underemployment are increasing
  • Rates of volunteering have increasedSimon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER, said young people are taking significantly longer to complete their studies and transition into ‘career jobs’ than they were ten years ago.

“Our data also shows that more than one in ten 24-year-olds aren’t able to get the medical treatment they require, a figure that has almost doubled in the past decade,” he said.


Hear VET news from around the world

Catch up on news from around the globe from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

Its new monthly Dispatch gives you a quick update of TVET news internationally.


TAFE Queensland, CQ University and mining giant form skills alliance

TAFE Queensland, CQ University and mining company BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) have formed a new multimillion dollar skills partnership that will support the introduction of new technology in mining.

The Queensland Future Skills Partnership will fund and facilitate the fast-tracked development and delivery of new autonomy related qualifications in open-cut mining operations in Queensland.

TAFE Queensland CEO Mary Campbell said the partnership will be important in preparing Queensland’s future workforce.

“This partnership gives us an opportunity to work with industry and employers to deliver a range of flexible skilling solutions to ensure employment outcomes for Industry 4.0 jobs of the future,” she said.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the partnership was an important step when it comes to engaging with industry and delivering future focused skills training

The scope of training to be delivered is being finalised but it may include a traineeship qualification in autonomous operations and an expansion of existing trade apprenticeships to include autonomous competencies and entry pathway for autonomous mine controllers.

The first of the pilot programs will take place in the Bowen Basin region near BMA’s operations.


Does industry have too much clout in VET reform?

Is too much of the future of VET reform being placed in the hands of industry?

That was the question asked by TDA Chief Executive Craig Robertson in an op-ed in The Australian’s Higher Education last week.

In the face of stalled national productivity and stagnant wages growth, he pointed to the critical place of VET as an instrument of economic growth and opportunity for many working Australians?

He said industry was right to lament the decline in VET participation, “but industry wants to remain in charge of the sector, as was made clear in submissions ahead of COAG”.

“Industry points to the decline in apprenticeships. But it’s industry – employers – who engage apprentices, not training providers.

“In a climate of record employment growth, apprenticeship numbers have plateaued. It seems employers can’t find the right person or are choosing other strategies to solve their staffing issues,” he said.

“Clearly, nuance is required. A VET system without industry is nonsense, just as a VET sector solely in the hands of industry doesn’t make sense.”

He said if the sector is to rebuild, there needs to be serious investment in the trusted TAFE system, where governments can invest to offer deep, quality vocational education in the knowledge that public funds won’t be squandered.


Australia may still be exposed to training college failure

TDA Chief Executive Craig Robertson has warned of the possibility of future upheaval in the VET sector as data design of VET student loans would not foil unscrupulous behaviour by training colleges.

In an article in The Saturday Paper, he spoke of the fallout from the collapse of Careers Australia in 2017, which saw TDA take responsibility for some 7000 enrolments under the national Tuition Assurance Scheme.

“I’d always thought Careers Australia was a fairly respectable operator,” he said.

“It wasn’t until we really looked at the data that we realised what was going on.”

Andrew Norton, the former higher education director at the Grattan Institute, also warned that with some 4000 often quite small providers in the market, regulation can be difficult

“Even though there are providers being deregistered, I wouldn’t be convinced that the industry is clean,” he said.

Craig Robertson also cautioned about the possibility of harmful activity resuming.

“Our point is that in two, three years’ time, when everybody has turned their focus to something else, it could be an easy thing to try to do,” he says.


Australia Pacific Training Coalition recruiting country director

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is recruiting for a senior executive to run key programs in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

The position of Country Director will have responsibility for transitioning APTC from an Australian technical college to a vehicle forging coalitions with partner institutions, industry, enterprises, and governments to achieve sustainable TVET reform.

The position is based in Honiara and is contracted until June 2022.  Applications close August 25.

For more information, visit APTC.

For enquiries, please contact Human Resources Manager – Julia Peters on jobs@aptc.edu.au


NT government makes $7m injection into CDU

The Northern Territory government has provided a one-off funding contribution of $7 million to Charles Darwin University, following an independent review of the university’s VET delivery.

CDU’s 2018 annual report, tabled in NT Parliament last week showed a $21 million deficit last year.

The university commissioned professional services firm EY to undertake a review of its VET delivery earlier this year.

The report made seven recommendations CDU should implement over a three year period to improve its fiscal position.

One of the recommendations was that the university ask the NT government to financially support the actions it needs to take to address the deficit.

The $7 million one-off funding contribution comes in addition to the $65 million in ongoing annual funding the government provides to CDU, predominantly for the delivery of VET courses.

The Minister for Workforce Training Selena Uibo said the Northern Territory has one of the highest rates of VET engagement in Australia and CDU is its largest provider of these courses, including in remote communities.


Building leadership – PIN executive leadership conference

In times of change, the leadership of post-secondary education is more important than ever. It’s easy to follow the trends, it’s harder to manage within the trend.

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics is proud of its partnership with the Postsecondary International Network (PIN), whose mission is to build strong leadership and collaboration across leaders of post-secondary institutes focused on technical education and training.

Bellevue College, just outside Seattle, is proud to host the PIN 2019 Executive Leadership Conference. The PIN team look forward to welcoming postsecondary leaders from across the world to beautiful Washington State, 22-27 September 2019.

Registration is still open, and you can register here.

2019 PIN Conference highlights include:

Reception at Microsoft Headquarters

Microsoft is changing its structure for how employees work together. At this reception, you will be able to take a virtual reality tour of Microsoft’s new campus with its $5 billion of restructuring and renovations.

 

Keynote Address by Anthony Salcito, VP of Worldwide Education at Microsoft

 

Anthony will discuss the global impact of digital transformation on higher education.

 

Leith Sharp, Director and Lead Faculty, Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Leith will present on insights gleaned from the “Leaders on Purpose” project. Leith and her colleagues have interviewed over 30 CEOs of the largest international corporations, and she will discuss the strategies of these leaders for adapting to change and for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

Donald Brinkman, Senior Program Manager for Bing eSports at Microsof

Donald will present on the gamifications of learning and the rise of eSports.

Tours of Amazon Headquarters, including the Amazon Spheres, and the Boeing Factory will offer a glimpse into how technology and innovation are driving the future of work

You can learn more about the schedule of events here: 2019 PIN Conference Schedul


ASQA extends transition period for high-risk units

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has extended the transition period for training providers delivering 13 high-risk work units of competency.

ASQA says it is able to extend transition periods where it can be demonstrated that there would be genuine disadvantage to a cohort of learners if an extension was not approved.

Most of the units of competency relate to the operation of cranes and forklift vehicles.

The extended transition covers training, assessment and certification issuance and will end 1 January 2020.

 

See more.


Diary Dates

National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
Melbourne
More information

National Skills Week
26 August – 1 September 2019
Locations around Australia
More information

TAFE Directors Australia 2019 Convention
‘The Power of TAFE’
3 – 5 September 2019
Brisbane
More information

 

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
More Information

 

Australian Training Awards
21 November 2019
Brisbane, Queensland
More information

 

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

Australia’s outdated official job list leaves students, businesses in limbo trying to get visas

Two people pose in front of a treePHOTO: Zerub Roberts (left) and Neelima Pallanti are aspiring data scientists. (Supplied)

Australia’s fastest-growing jobs are not recognised on the nation’s official list of occupations.

Key points:

  • Australia’s official list of occupations is out of date
  • That means businesses are struggling to fill vacancies and migrants face uncertain futures
  • The Bureau of Statistics states it will cost an extra $4 million in funding for a review, but the Government cannot find the money

It is causing problems in Australia’s immigration program as businesses clamour to find in-demand workers.

None of the five jobs named as Australia’s fastest growing by LinkedIn in 2018 are contained within the standard worker classification, known as ANZSCO, although jobs like weight loss consultant and amusement centre manager are.

That means businesses wanting to recruit overseas workers in these occupations are unable to, or they face extra hurdles to get approval.

And people desperate to live and work in Australia with these in-demand skillsets have no certainty over when they can settle or how to plan their studies.

Although a review of the list has been almost universally demanded, the Government has confirmed none would occur until after the 2021 census.

Zerub Roberts, who has recently completed his masters at Deakin University, came to Australia from India to pursue local education and work in data science, alongside his partner Neelima Pallanti.

Data scientist or data analyst is not on the list, so he is having to adapt his experience to the occupation of ICT business analyst for his visa application, including spending on a $10,000 course with the Australian Computer Society.

He is now on a two-year graduate visa facing a race against time to collect enough experience and qualifications for his application.

“If I don’t manage to secure permanent residency in two years, that would be very unfortunate,” he said.

“I just hope we won’t end up regretting this major decision we took two years ago to come to Australia.”

Widespread calls for review

Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) senior economist Gabriela D’Souza said the migration program had become splintered.

“Instead of embarking on new programs like the Global Talent Scheme, we should really be trying to fix the problems with the frameworks,” she said.

She said one of the “faulty” frameworks was the outdated ANZSCO list.

“Our last review was in 2013 — some of the jobs we have today weren’t a thing in 2013,” Ms D’Souza said.

“But now they are heavily part of the growing tech sector and the Government needs to initiate a review soon.”

According to Ms D’Souza, if a business advertises for a position not on the ANZSCO list, it cannot submit those ads in its application as proof that it has tried to find local workers.

Instead, it must advertise again with the listed occupation, prompting months of delays.

And some applications that attempt to shoe-horn new jobs into listed occupations are rejected, triggering delays and additional fees.

Jenny Lambert, the director of employment, education and training at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said even if the list review was commenced now “it will be closer to 2022 before the review is completed, well over 10 years since the last update”.

“The migration program has had to put in place ‘workarounds’,” she said, referring to recent special migration pathways such as the Global Talent Scheme that do not rely on the occupation codes.

“But these schemes have limitations such as higher salary thresholds which mean they are not a realistic option for many employers who may need the skills.

“The future of work is here now, but the way we measure these changes is being substantially inhibited by the lack of an up-to-date statistical view of the jobs that are in the economy.”

Groups specifically calling for a review to the list in a recent Senate inquiry include:

  • The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union
  • Tourism Accommodation Australia
  • Universities Australia
  • The Law Council
  • Restaurant & Catering Australia
  • The National Farmers’ Federation

No prioritisation

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which manages the list, told the inquiry a review would be labour and resource intensive and would cost over $4 million.

“Unfortunately, at this point in time key stakeholders were not able to offer any user funding to the ABS for this purpose,” it said.

A spokesperson for Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who has responsibility for the ABS, said work was underway to update skill levels for certain occupations on the list.

“This work, which is expected to be completed in coming months, will assist key agencies using ANZSCO to administer skilled migration policies and will be available on the ABS website.”

However, there will be no prioritisation of the review.

“The ABS has advised that the timing of a full review is currently under consideration but would be unlikely before the 2021 census,” he said.

TAFE SA wins vote of confidence from national regulator

In a massive win for South Australian industry and job seekers, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has granted TAFE SA the maximum seven-year registration as a national VET Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for local and international students.

It is the first time that TAFE SA has ever received this length of registration.

This tick of approval from the national regulator represents a significant step towards TAFE SA’s goal of becoming known as a benchmark for high-quality vocational education in South Australia.

Applications for the renewal of RTO registration are rigorously assessed by ASQA and are granted for two, five or the maximum seven years.

ASQA has also registered TAFE SA on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRISCOS) for the next seven years.

Education Minister John Gardner said the announcement represents a significant milestone in rebuilding TAFE SA into the quality vocational training provider that South Australians deserve.

“Today’s announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the Government’s policy direction, as outlined in our Fresh Start for TAFE SA,” said Minister Gardner.

“South Australian industry and job seekers can now go forward with enhanced confidence that TAFE SA is delivering high quality training that meets the standards required and industry needs.

“This is a very positive outcome for TAFE SA which would not have been achieved without the dedication and commitment of staff across the organisation to implement a new quality framework.

“TAFE SA remain committed to maintaining ongoing quality measures and the Government has put in place radically improved structures and oversight to ensure TAFE SA continues to deliver on its fresh start.

“This seven-year registration demonstrates that the Government’s commitment to TAFE SA and their efforts in improving compliance has not gone unnoticed.”

TAFE SA Chief Executive David Coltman said that the positive response to the registration renewal was a strong show of confidence in the improvements that have been made across TAFE SA.

“This is a really positive outcome for TAFE SA and a vote of confidence in the extensive quality improvements that have been implemented across all of our programs,” said Mr Coltman.

“TAFE SA has embarked on a fresh start, we are committed to providing quality outcomes for students and working closely with industry, and this seven-year registration confirms that we are on the right path.

“Staff across TAFE SA have worked tirelessly to ensure all of our education and training services are compliant, and at the standard that students, industry and the community deserve.

“We are at the first stage of the journey, we are focused on continuous improvement and we will continue to develop high quality and innovative training that responds to student and industry needs.

“At TAFE SA, we will continue to ensure that our education and training services meet the standards of all relevant regulatory bodies and that it plays an important role in building the South Australian workforce for the future.”

/Public News. View in full here.

Ministerial Skills Roundtable dishes up skills advice

New industry engagement roundtables will be held in regions across the state as a central part of the Palaszczuk Government’s new Skills for Queensland strategy launched this week.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said there has been strong industry support for the Skills for Queensland strategy which includes programs and initiatives that will target critical training needs to address current skills shortages.

“We know we need to ensure we have a skilled workforce, now and into the future,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We know that Government cannot provide all training needs without the help of industry. This includes Jobs Queensland, regional jobs committees, employers, training providers and schools.

“It’s the ongoing collaboration between government, industry and business that will ensure we have the skilled workers we need now and for emerging industries.”

“Better engagement and better supply of training and skills is at the core of the Skills for Queensland strategy.

“I’ll be bringing all that strategic advice together when we hold our regular Ministerial Skills Roundtable meetings, supported by local advice through our regional job committees.”

The Minister also welcomed the guidance of Jobs Queensland, chaired by Professor Peter Coaldrake.

“Jobs Queensland will provide the skills roundtable with strategic advice and research about future skills needs and workforce planning requirements in Queensland to inform key policy discussions and skills investment priorities,” Professor Coaldrake said.

“Industry, business and government need to plan together and Jobs Queensland’s advice and research will assist with the decision making.”

Construction Skills Queensland CEO Brett Schimming endorsed the Skills for Queensland strategy particularly the Ministerial Skills Roundtable initiative.

“It is important that future skilling and training strategies are evidence-based and designed to meet the real and emerging needs of local workforces,” Mr Schimming said.

“The Ministerial Skills Roundtable will ensure that the government’s planning will be directly informed by reporting from current workforce training experts.”

Ms Fentiman said the Ministerial Skills Roundtable will meet at least twice a year to ensure the government can plan ahead and make the necessary investment in training.

“This will ensure the government hears industry input to skills investment priorities first‑hand,” Ms Fentiman said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

PM pushing TAFE students into jaws of a profit-driven feeding frenzy

The Morrison Government’s push to put the private sector at the forefront of Australia’s VET sector will only create a profit-driven feeding frenzy that hurts the career prospects of thousands of Australians who need access to high quality vocational education.

Since being in government the Federal Coalition has already overseen $3 billion cut from vocational education and training (VET) and 140,000 fewer apprentices now than when it was elected.

Australian Education Union President Correna Haythorpe said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plans to privatise VET would leave hundreds of thousands of trainees and apprentices across Australia at the mercy of profit-seeking private training providers.

“Putting profit-seeking private training providers in charge of vocational education is all about helping big business line its pockets at the expense of ordinary Australians,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Prime Minister is on record as saying he thinks TAFE is as good as university. Yet if this is the case, why has he stripped $3 billion in funding from TAFE, our world-class public vocational education provider?”

“If Mr Morrison supports TAFE so strongly, why didn’t it get a single mention in the Federal Budget? Why do we have 140,000 fewer apprentices learning their trade today than back in 2013?” Ms Haythorpe said.

“History has already shown us, via the VET FEE-HELP scandal, that private training providers will go into a feeding frenzy in their drive to extract profits from VET students.”

“People need to remember that Australia will always need TAFE as a strong public provider at the heart of VET to provide affordable and high quality vocational education,” Ms Haythorpe said.

The latest available data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on government funding[1] shows 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.
  • in 2017, following the VET FEE-HELP scandal, nearly $1.2 billion of public money flowed directly to private providers.
  • despite the fallout from the VET FEE-HELP scandal, in 2017 more than a third of the hours of training delivered by private providers were funded from public sources (34.5%) and more than a third of all state and commonwealth publicly funded hours (34.3%) were also handed to private providers.

“Despite the clear and undisputed benefits that a fully funded high quality public TAFE sector provides our economy and our society, there has been a concerted and continual drive from successive Coalition governments to marginalise vocational education and deprioritise TAFE,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Morrison Government just isn’t concerned enough about the 25% fall in TAFE enrolments on its watch to even acknowledge the existence of TAFE anywhere in the budget, let alone to do anything about this crisis.”

“Instead of reigning in private providers and rectifying the incalculable damage they have inflicted on the sector in recent years, Mr Morrison plans on handing them the keys to the piggy bank,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe 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 Haythorpe said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Regional communities brimming with potential

Business Council of Australia

Australia’s regions are brimming with potential to drive a fresh wave of innovation but only businesses investing can unleash that capacity, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“As Australia’s political leaders meet in Cairns for COAG tomorrow they will have the opportunity to hear the same message from the region’s workers and employers that we have heard: communities want to lock in new investment, growth and jobs.

“Business leaders have travelled across Australia – and were in Cairns a fortnight ago – to listen to what regional communities want and need.

This is a collective responsibility and there are a range of things we can do right now to drive a fresh wave of prosperity such as improving planning, invigorating vocational education and the skills system, fixing the unnecessary burdens created by red tape and rolling out critical infrastructure that will create really strong communities.

“The best way to ensure Australians in regional areas can get the new jobs they want is by boosting innovation, investment and improving the skills system and infrastructure planning.

“Employers are committed to working with regional communities and federal and state leaders to invest in new projects, new jobs and higher wages.

“Employers are also committed to working with federal and state leaders to take a comprehensive approach to regional planning and delivering a better skills system for all Australians.

“We need to look at the whole economy in a region and say, ‘what are the strengths of that community, what are its natural advantages, what are its competitive advantages, and what is it that’s going to make that community and region prosper even more.

“Whenever we travel through regional Australia we see big and small businesses working together to create opportunities for their communities.

“These are the types of relationships that are going to make our regions even stronger, create jobs and higher living standards for all Australians.

“We want to give regional Australia a much louder voice – if we could prioritise infrastructure, a skills agenda, and put a series of investments into regional Australia – it will add to our national prosperity.”

The Business Council has developed a to do list to make regional Australia even stronger.

The to do list:

  • � Audit the strengths and weaknesses of key regional areas.
  • � Target infrastructure dollars to regional centres with the best potential to grow.
  • � Consider incentives such as fast-tracking planning approvals to encourage businesses to set up shop and invest in regional Australia.
  • � Make sure regional centres are connected to other cities with good transport links for people and freight.
  • � Make sure regional Australia has fast and reliable digital connections, including the National Broadband Network.
  • � Urgently reform the post-secondary education and skills system. Remove the cultural and funding bias against vocational education and training by moving to a single funding model for both VET and higher education.
  • � Set up a single information platform so students and workers have a one-stop-shop to find out about jobs in demand, potential earnings, what to study, how long it will take, and what it will cost.
  • � Give every Australian a Lifelong Skills Account to pay for their training and education needs through their working lives, allowing them to choose where, what and when they study.
  • � Create a national apprenticeship system that encourages employers to take on young workers.
/Public Release. View in full here.

Ai Group urges COAG to genuinely tackle training system reform

Ai Group has urged the Prime Minister and State and Territory leaders to use tomorrow’s COAG meeting in Cairns to genuinely tackle the reform of Australia’s training system.

“With the global economy now in choppy waters and Australia falling down the world’s performance tables, now, more than ever, governments need to work with industry to secure a long-term prosperous future for us all. The first step has to be a ground-up rebuild of our Vocational Education and Training (VET) System. This must be a national priority,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

“It is our view that the VET system is in a less than optimal state to meet the national imperatives of delivering the skill requirements for the labour market of the future.

“Our economy and community are facing significant transformations, triggered by digital disruption, structural adjustment and demographic shifts. This has contributed to a dynamic and accelerating requirement for skills and employment. However, they are not the same as those of today and improvements are urgent and necessary for Australia to have a training system that meets both current and future needs.

“From an employer and individual perspective our training system is further bedevilled by inconsistency in both its multiple funding regimes, declining levels of funding and varying qualification arrangements between the different jurisdictions.

“Disappointing apprenticeship commencement and completion rates add further to the complex and confusing situation. Industry leadership has been eroded and the pivotal alignment of public expenditure to economic imperative and productivity improvements has been severely diluted. Confidence needs to be restored to the VET system.

“Recent research by Ai Group reveals the growing intensity of skill shortages and skill gaps. Our most recent Workforce Development Needs (2018) survey highlights 75% of employers experiencing difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people into vacancies. The occupations most frequently reported in shortage were from the Technicians and Trades Workers occupational group, followed by Professionals, all in STEM fields. Employers listing occupations experiencing skills shortages for the first time included those with skills in business automation, big data and artificial intelligence solutions.

“The unprecedented pipeline of public investment across transport and social infrastructure will place significant pressure on government and industry to respond and also creates the opportunity for a skills legacy. Such a large program of work increases pressures on capability and capacity in both the private and public sectors.

“This infrastructure work is necessary to stimulate our softening economy and lift domestic productivity and amenity but it also carries with it pressures on particular skills which are in high demand because they are the same skills required elsewhere in the economy – such as in the mining sector.

“The state of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia is illustrative of the problems plaguing our training system. We find ourselves dealing with 259,385 in apprentices & trainees in training in 2018 compared with 387,100 a decade ago and a high of 446,000 in 2012. This is the lowest for a decade. This drop in volume can be directly linked to a series of policy adjustments including the removal or reduction of many employer incentives.

“A significant consideration is to address the excessively complex and duplicative Commonwealth and State/Territory roles and responsibilities in the training system. The National Skills Commission is an important first step for all parties to engage with. Commitment to a roadmap for reform should be a key outcome of the current COAG process. A genuinely national training system that meets the needs of economy may finally be possible.

“Commitment to a roadmap for reform should be a key outcome of the current COAG process. A genuinely national training system that meets the needs of economy may finally be possible,” Mr Willox said.

Full text of a letter from Innes Willox to the PM and state and territory leaders is at this link.

/Public Release. View in full here.

COAG Call to action on skills

The Australian Chamber is calling on the country’s political leaders to agree to reform our vital Vocation Education and Training (VET) system, to deliver the skills that Australian jobseekers and businesses need, at tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Cairns.

Prime Minister Morrison has put vocational training back on the agenda following the recent Joyce review of VET that he announced to ACCI’s members late last year.

It comes amid evidence that, despite significant funding growth in all other sectors within education, the amount of funding nationally for VET and the number of government funded VET students has declined over recent years.

Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson said it was important to improve confidence in the system.

“We know how fraught discussions about VET reform have been, and recognise that COAG has attempted on a number of occasions to consider changes that will make a real difference to the support provided to students and industry Now is the time for decisions to be made.”

“Industry stands ready to work with all governments, and we know that the Prime Minister is committed to positive change.

“We have worked closely with Ministers and advisers, and government officials, in the lead up to, and after, the Prime Minister’s announcement of the VET review to our members last November. Our network of state and territory chambers of commerce – the peak business bodies in each COAG jurisdiction – and industry associations is well placed to work with all governments on reforming VET.”

“Given the urgent need to make long lasting positive improvements in VET, we urge COAG to focus first on the end goal. This is likely to be a more fruitful discussion than the more difficult one about who pays for what and what changes are needed to get there.”

The Joyce Review has repeated our call for governments, education and training providers and industry to agree on a shared vision for VET. Successful reform of VET would include:

  • Meeting the labour market skill needs in occupations that rely on vocational training
  • A return to growth in the number of government funded VET students
  • Real funding increases for vocational training in all jurisdictions
  • Improved student employment outcomes
  • Industry more strongly embedded in the advisory and governance arrangements at all levels of the VET system
  • Valuing equally VET and Higher Education and promoting jobs that require VET qualifications to students and parents as good career options
  • Increased support for apprenticeships and traineeships to address skill needs and youth unemployment

“The path to achieving these objectives is challenging; we call on COAG to take the lead from the Prime Minister and move beyond the cost and blame shifting to restore certainty and growth to VET,” Mr Pearson said.

“VET not only prepares young people for work, but also ensures Australia has the skilled workers required to build the infrastructure so badly needed in our regions and cities.

“With more than a year before the next State Election, political leaders have the clear air needed to be decisive. Australia cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by to make meaningful change to vocational training.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire.

/Public Release. View in full here.

COAG Call to action on skills

The Australian Chamber is calling on the country’s political leaders to agree to reform our vital Vocation Education and Training (VET) system, to deliver the skills that Australian jobseekers and businesses need, at tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Cairns.

Prime Minister Morrison has put vocational training back on the agenda following the recent Joyce review of VET that he announced to ACCI’s members late last year.

It comes amid evidence that, despite significant funding growth in all other sectors within education, the amount of funding nationally for VET and the number of government funded VET students has declined over recent years.

Australian Chamber CEO James Pearson said it was important to improve confidence in the system.

“We know how fraught discussions about VET reform have been, and recognise that COAG has attempted on a number of occasions to consider changes that will make a real difference to the support provided to students and industry Now is the time for decisions to be made.”

“Industry stands ready to work with all governments, and we know that the Prime Minister is committed to positive change.

“We have worked closely with Ministers and advisers, and government officials, in the lead up to, and after, the Prime Minister’s announcement of the VET review to our members last November. Our network of state and territory chambers of commerce – the peak business bodies in each COAG jurisdiction – and industry associations is well placed to work with all governments on reforming VET.”

“Given the urgent need to make long lasting positive improvements in VET, we urge COAG to focus first on the end goal. This is likely to be a more fruitful discussion than the more difficult one about who pays for what and what changes are needed to get there.”

The Joyce Review has repeated our call for governments, education and training providers and industry to agree on a shared vision for VET. Successful reform of VET would include:

  • Meeting the labour market skill needs in occupations that rely on vocational training
  • A return to growth in the number of government funded VET students
  • Real funding increases for vocational training in all jurisdictions
  • Improved student employment outcomes
  • Industry more strongly embedded in the advisory and governance arrangements at all levels of the VET system
  • Valuing equally VET and Higher Education and promoting jobs that require VET qualifications to students and parents as good career options
  • Increased support for apprenticeships and traineeships to address skill needs and youth unemployment

“The path to achieving these objectives is challenging; we call on COAG to take the lead from the Prime Minister and move beyond the cost and blame shifting to restore certainty and growth to VET,” Mr Pearson said.

“VET not only prepares young people for work, but also ensures Australia has the skilled workers required to build the infrastructure so badly needed in our regions and cities.

“With more than a year before the next State Election, political leaders have the clear air needed to be decisive. Australia cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by to make meaningful change to vocational training.”

The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest network of employers, speaking for over 300,000 businesses employing millions of Australians in every sector of the economy, in every corner of Australia. Our Small Business is a Big Deal campaign gives voice to what small businesses need from the federal government, and our Getting on with Business recommends ways to make Australia the best place in the world to do business, so that Australians have the jobs, living standards and opportunities to which they aspire.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Palaszczuk Government gets a head start with skills strategy

An independent Queensland Audit Office report has come out in support of the Palaszczuk Government’s Skills for Queensland strategy launched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman this week.

Acting Minister for Training and Skills Development Mick de Brenni said the report Investing in VET endorses the government’s approach to targeted investment in training.

“Queensland’s investment in vocational education and training (VET) is not only effective, but also efficient,” Mr de Brenni said.

“This is great news and highlights why the Palaszczuk Government continues to invest in training for Queenslanders.

The report says our annual VET investment meets Queensland’s skilling needs in a most cost-effective way and recommends a skills strategy be finalised as the number one priority to ensure Queensland has a skilled workforce for the jobs of the future.

“Just this week the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and I launched our Skills for Queensland strategy, Great training for quality jobs and kicked off our free apprenticeships initiative for anyone under 21,” he said.

“The Skills for Queensland strategy is part of the government’s focus on growing a strong economy that can create jobs, increase private sector investment and engage more young Queenslanders in education, training and work.

“It sets out a clear plan to build on the existing strengths of the skills and training system.”

The Minister said the Skills for Queensland strategy will target critical skills needs, new skills needed for existing jobs, emerging opportunities brought about by technology advances, and regional and statewide priorities.

The initiatives include:

  • A $5.5 million Micro-Credentialing pilot will support employers and their workers to gain the skill sets needed to adapt to workplace changes including new technologies
  • A next generation Higher Level Apprenticeship pilot that will train apprentices in specialty and emerging technical and trade fields
  • Review and Expansion of the Gateway to Industry Schools program so that school students can train in emerging and innovative industries
  • A government-endorsed Skills Assure system for students and employers to have confidence in a quality training experience
  • A new Link and Launch pilot to target youth hot spots and provide seamless access to government programs like the successful Skilling Queenslanders for Work or Back to Work
  • A new Ministerial Roundtable to ensure government hears industry input to skills investment priorities first‑hand
  • New regional jobs committees to bring together local industry groups, training providers, local and major employers, and councils to help plan local training.

The Queensland Audit Office said Queensland has effectively managed the demand-driven VET market, providing students with greater choice whilst maintaining consistent student and employment outcomes.

The report highlights the government’s increased funding for disadvantaged cohorts through the successful Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW) initiative, which provides work-ready skills and training to Queenslanders who need it most.

The audit also recognises the important role played by public providers in the VET landscape.

“The report reinforces our continued strong support for public providers including TAFE Queensland and Central Queensland University, through the annual State Contribution Grant,” Mr de Brenni said.

Other Queensland Audit Office recommendations include performance measures and periodic reviews for the State Contribution Grant, improved transparency for the annual VET investment and subsidy lists, streamlined processes for SQW projects and improved efficiency and quality of the pre-qualified supplier contract renewal process.

/Public Release. View in full here.