My family are all tradies – I know TAFE isn’t what it used to be and I know why

I come from a family of tradies.

My dad was a brickie. His dad was in the building game. As far as the eye can see in our family tree, on my dad’s side, are brickies, chippies, gyprockers, a sparkie or two, labourers, mechanics and builders. All blokes, of course. We’re talking about history here.

My three brothers are tradies, or once were tradies. Two of my three sons went through vocational training. My middle son went to TAFE when training to be a chef, and went again a decade later when he made the switch to become a carpenter.

TAFE colleges have been invaluable in helping many people start their careers. Picture: Louise Kennerley
 TAFE colleges have been invaluable in helping many people start their careers. Picture: Louise Kennerley

My youngest son was a mechanic for a few years before doing a teaching degree and working with challenging teens.

My eldest son owns a cafe and employs apprentices working their way through TAFE. 

I went to TAFE years ago to learn typing and shorthand as a cadet journalist. I went again with two of my sisters some time later for a semester of learning how to do basic sewing. Why I did that is lost in the mists of time. I’m rubbish at anything crafty. Possibly, I was there because I was the only one with a driver’s licence.

All I can remember is sitting in the back of the class where everyone else seemed proficient, and being banned from using sewing machines by myself because my threading skills were crap and I snapped way too many needles.

The other thing I remember clearly from that time is the first name of the woman who tried to teach us how to sew, and the pained expression and little sigh she gave every time I put my hand up for help. That’s not a complaint, by the way. I would have had a pained expression if I’d been trying to teach me.

Anyway, the TAFE colleges where I live – or “tech” colleges as I think of them, which gives the game away about how old I am – have always been significant institutions, because so many people around here attended them.

I live in a neighbourhood of tradies of a certain vintage. It’s close to the beach and we’re all on our seventh, eighth or tenth houses after buying land young years ago when there was land available that was reasonable to buy, and building and selling, building and selling until we own the ones we’re in. The great Australian dream.

The ratio of utes to homes around here is very high. And not just the pretty pretend utes whose owners spend too much of their weekends buffing and polishing them to a dazzling sheen, and bark orders to their kids about dirty shoes and sticky fingers.

No. I’m talking about proper utes, where a few bangs and dings from wheelbarrows, ladders and tools of trade thrown in the tray after a hard day on the job are a badge of honour. Those utes drive around here with a fine layer of dust and a bit of mud on the wheels. Their blokey owners give a smile and a nod and a fingers-up wave while their hands remain on the wheel, as a way of acknowledging they know you’re a local.

They sling boards on the back when the surf’s up. In summer salt-crusted towels join the crap in the tray or the crap around a passenger’s feet.

Every so often these real-ute tradie owners will hose their utes down but the interiors remain true tradie – dust on the dash, food wrappers and empty drink containers on the floor, pens and bits of paper here and there, sometimes ciggies, and a glovebox that could contain anything, from sticking plaster to measuring tape, car records to ticket stubs from a 1989 AC/DC concert, or tax documents that should have been lodged three years ago.

Being a tradie where I live means having control of your life, running your own race, having the ability to work hard and reap the profits of that. It also means being able to be flexible with your work hours and time – like when the surf’s up or a new baby is born.

For the past few months the federal and NSW governments, among others, have been talking up vocational training. The Business Council of Australia has been talking up vocational training. Everyone’s been talking up vocational training because we have, according to them, a skills shortage, and industries crying out for skilled workers.

But the way these spruikers of vocational training have been doing it is insulting to anyone with half a brain who’s watched, despairing, as governments of all stripes, over years, have trashed that education sector, or where the sector itself has kicked own goals.

“We have to address the cultural and financial bias that treats VET (vocational education training) like a second class citizen,” said Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott (a high school classmate of mine).

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian weighed in with: “We want universities and VET to be thought of in the same sentence for workers looking to prepare themselves for the high value jobs of the future.”

This week NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Dr Geoff Lee, a former TAFE teacher and university lecturer, repeated the “cultural bias” refrain, saying there was a “cultural bias towards university”, as if the problem with falling TAFE enrolments is an attitudinal thing alone, and we, the people, are snobs.

How about we frame it this way.

The public lost confidence in the vocational sector when governments supported the introduction of private colleges for “competition”, when that led to extraordinary rorting of the system and students, and when “diplomas” and “certificates” were thrown around like confetti but didn’t lead to jobs or careers.

How about some honesty about NSW TAFE “reforms” resulting in wholesale closure of regional TAFE colleges, the collapse of courses on offer, the sacking of staff and a dramatic jump in course costs for students, many of whom once saw TAFE as a way to get ahead, often after difficult childhoods where their schooling took a battering?

And what about the $600 million NSW TAFE IT system debacle that left thousands of students – my son included – unable to get final results that were needed before they could start work as licensed tradies.

The “cultural bias” towards university, or against TAFE, didn’t exist in my neck of the woods before vocational training was disrespected and plundered, internally and externally, over a long period. The TAFE college in Gosford, where I grew up, was on the hill as a prominent and respected local institution.

If vocational training is going to offer a great pathway again for young people into well-paying tradie careers – and particularly young people who deserve a break – how about our leaders be honest about who actually showed the bias that caused the mess.

SOURCEAAP:https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6385197/my-family-are-all-tradies-i-know-tafe-isnt-what-it-used-to-be-and-i-know-why/

Hundreds of TAFE teachers to strike over pay deal

Hundreds of TAFE teachers and tutors will walk off the job for 24 hours following an ongoing dispute over a new pay deal with the Queensland government.

About 800 TAFE Queensland union members from the Queensland Teachers’ Union and Together union will strike on Wednesday, with classes expected to be cancelled across the state.

Hundreds of TAFE Queensland teachers and tutors will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday.
Hundreds of TAFE Queensland teachers and tutors will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday.

It comes after TAFE teachers and tutors held a two-hour stop-work meeting on July 30.

The current enterprise agreement expired on June 30.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in March.

QTU president Kevin Bates said progress had been made on claims from the two unions, which share coverage of education staff at TAFE Queensland.

However, “two key issues” remained unresolved, he said.

These were ensuring Queensland salaries were comparable with teachers and tutors interstate and measures to address gender employment inequity.

The Queensland government’s wages policy restricts pay rises in the public sector to 2.5 per cent a year, however, the QTU has previously sought an increase of 4.5 per cent.

Mr Bates said the salary of TAFE tutors in Queensland was among the lowest in the country.

He said: “2.5 per cent does not deliver a change in our relative position with the other states and territories – it means it needs to be more than that.”

Salaries for Queensland tutors ranged from $52,000 to $60,000, while pay packets in most other states started at $61,000 and went as high as $76,000, Mr Bates said.

“TAFE teacher salaries in Queensland remain under $100,000 while interstate colleagues extend up to a maximum of $145,000 in Tasmania, $120,000 in New South Wales and $113,000 in Victoria,” he said.

Mr Bates said women were also over-represented in “precarious” and part-time employment, which had a career-long impact on their earnings and retirement savings.

Almost 71 per cent of casual TAFE Queensland educators were women, while 56.4 per cent were temporary employees.

More than half of permanent TAFE Queensland educators were men.

The QTU is asking for annual progression through the salary scale regardless of hours worked and shared access by both parents to parental leave entitlements.

A spokeswoman for Training Minister Shannon Fentiman declined to comment as negotiations were ongoing.

SOURCEAAP:https://www.smh.com.au/politics/queensland/hundreds-of-tafe-teachers-to-strike-over-pay-deal-20190827-p52l6e.html

TDA Newsletter-It’s time to register for ‘The Power of TAFE’, Brisbane, just eight days away!


Skills to the world – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Kazan, Russia is the top of the world this week when it comes to skills, and we have our Skillaroos drawn from the VET sector conquering that mountain.

Tomorrow concludes the 2019 Worldskills competition and there are 15 Australians competing across trade and other areas including computing, design and fashion.

In Abu Dhabi we ranked tenth, globally, and snared four medals among 59 countries. The size of the task is getting harder because the world is catching up.

In my travels it’s easy to see that other countries are gearing up to climb the skills ladder. Taiwan has been central in organising an Asian region competition to help prepare candidates. Vietnamese officials I met many years ago wore their Worldskills membership badge with pride. And the last time I was in Islamabad in Pakistan, they were already holding competitions even though they only joined in 2017.

Some of you may have seen on social media the spectacular opening ceremony from Kazan. Rumour has it that President Putin saw the power of global standing in skills and worked hard for Russia to host this year’s competition.

WorldSkills International CEO David Hoey recently said, “Russia joined WorldSkills International in 2012, and seven years later it is already organizing the WorldSkills Competition! This event contributes not only to our movement, but to the Russian market as well.”

It’s worthwhile pausing to remember that China is the host of the competition in 2021.

We talk about the impact of globalisation and instant communications across the globe. It’s not too much of a stretch then that skills are increasingly global in design and application. It’s all too easy to think of the differences to us in the countries we visit. (The most pronounced for me is the undrinkability of North American coffee, but these are more the result of taste, while underpinning technology is the same, and so are the skills.)

Worldskills, therefore, is more important than ever to assess how we are maintaining our place as an advanced economy. We must do skills to a world-class standard if we are to maintain our global trade.

Worldskills is the perfect opportunity to benchmark how we are doing. As you can imagine, with a global competition there needs to be fair, yet high, standards for the competition. Worldskills standards set a new aspiration for Australia’s VET system.

In the heady days of the Rudd Government, business leader David Crawford AO conducted a review into sport in Australia. It lit a fuse about whether the priority was toward general sport participation or support for elite sportspeople, or both. The same dilemma applies to our approach to skills, especially if we want to keep pace with the rest of the world. We need to widen participation AND support our best through Worldskills.

In the past month we’ve had many statements about VET holding its own against university outcomes, at least for some of the highly paid jobs such as trades. Worldskills is the ideal avenue to promote a future and inspire participation.  But if we are going to, let’s make sure we get the building blocks right, from the very first day a potential student in primary or high school dreams of a global job, to enrolment in TAFE, to receiving leading-edge training.

I well remember the day I met several 2013 Australian Training Award winners who had just returned from a China youth skills conference and competition, courtesy of the Chinese government. Joel Schwarz, a diesel mechanic, was the winner of the Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year and Henry Kemp, an electrician, was runner-up. For Joel, a country kid from Mildura, the journey was his first overseas! Henry, an electrician from Perth, said he was itching to compete and when he saw what was required, he was confident he could – even with the instructions in Mandarin!

For several of the party they were the first of their family to travel overseas! I can tell you that after hearing those stories I worked a bit harder for the VET sector.

Over 22 experts, drawn from the VET sector, are guiding the competitors. They, as are all our trainers, are critical to the skills transfer that characterises VET.

If you are a trainer reading this, for the next student you enrol think about what may lay ahead for him or her. If you are facing down compliance work think about the passport you are building for those students through the skills you impart. As students wind their way through your TAFE, envision them competing with the best in the world in China.

For our leaders, when advocacy doesn’t seem to be working, contemplate the global workplace we are preparing students for and advocate some more. I will.

Editor’s note: The WorldSkills Australia Board advised during the week that Brett Judd, Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills Australia, has left to pursue other opportunities. Trevor Schwenke will assume the role of CEO immediately for the foreseeable future.

Trevor can be contacted at the WorldSkills Australia Melbourne office or via email on tschwenke@worldskills.org.au

TDA thanks Brett for his tireless work in promoting skills and working so closely with TDA.  

worldskills

Governments launch a review of senior secondary education

Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers have agreed to a comprehensive review of the country’s senior secondary education system.

The COAG Education Council has appointed a seven-member panel headed by the former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Professor Peter Shergold.

The terms of reference say the review will “provide advice and recommendations on how senior secondary students can better understand and be enabled to choose the most appropriate pathway to support their transition into work, further education and/or training.”

This will include “clarifying the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders, such as schools, students, parents, VET providers, higher education institutions, and employers, in supporting inclusion and preparing school leavers for life beyond school, whatever pathway they choose.”

Other members of the review panel are Professor Tom Calma, Sarina Russo, Patrea Walton, Jennifer Westacott, Dr Don Zoellner and Patrick O’Reilly.

The panel will report back to the COAG Education Council next June.

See more.


It’s time to register for ‘The Power of TAFE’, Brisbane, just eight days away!

It’s just over a week until the TDA Convention, ‘The Power of TAFE’, which runs from 3 – 5 September in Brisbane.

There are a host of impressive speakers, presenters, workshops and networking events.

The event will showcase best practice and innovation in teaching and learning, curriculum design, student support, industry outreach, international, innovation and new technologies.

With MC Kerry O’Brien, The Power of TAFE will hear from some of the most thought provoking and engaging speakers, including:

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 to host new VET centre at Western Sydney Aerotropolis

The NSW government has announced a permanent TAFE VET facility at the new  Western Sydney Aerotropolis, with a focus on advanced manufacturing, technology and engineering.

While on an international trade mission in Germany, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government is working with Siemens to finalise an MOU that will bring advanced technologies to the new facility.

Ms Berejiklian said Germany’s dual system of on-the-job and classroom training provided trainees with high-level technical skills and has been especially effective at responding to changes in technology and the employment needs of business.

The ‘Siemensstadt 2.0’ innovation precinct is set to transform a 70 hectare industrial area in Berlin into a modern, urban district with offices, residences, laboratories and production plants in place by 2030.


Victoria’s manufacturing sector buoyed by major projects

The future of manufacturing in Victoria is strong, the National Manufacturing Summit in Melbourne was told last week.

Hosted by Weld Australia, speakers outlined the growth expected in advanced manufacturing.

Victoria’s Minister for Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney, pictured, spoke of the reforms to state’s skilling system with TAFEs as a driving force.

 

“The Future Foundries for Defence Capabilities project is delivering an Australian first — a completely new accredited course at Chisholm Institute of TAFE’s Dandenong campus,” she said.

This project will help build a workforce to take advantage of opportunities in the production of complex, high-precision components for jet fighters, submarines, frigates and armoured vehicles.

The Victorian government’s recent budget included $5.6 million for  Victoria’s Big Build and Social Services higher apprenticeships program. This will support the rollout of major infrastructure programs and growth in the state’s human services sector.

“It is an example of how this government is building stronger links between the higher education and the training sectors,” Ms Tierney said.


National Skills Week kicks off around Australia

National Skills Week 2019 has kicked off with the first state launch yesterday at Victoria’s Box Hill Institute, and events around the country in coming days.

With the theme “Succeed your Way”, National Skills Week brings together stakeholders to raise the profile and improve the standing of VET, while highlighting the talents, diversity and benefits of VET pathways.

The Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator Michaelia Cash said National Skills Week is a great time to reflect on the many success stories that have come from VET, and a chance to introduce VET to those who are looking to move ahead with the career of their choice.

Other launch events will take place today in Queensland today, tomorrow in Sydney and on Thursday in South Australia.

See more


TasTAFE CEO looks to the future with confidence

The CEO of TasTAFE, Jenny Dodd (pictured) says the organisation has reached a milestone, with ASQA’s granting of a seven-year registration, following a period of reform and restructuring.

In an interview with The Mercury in Hobart, Ms Dodd outlined some of the challenges faced since taking on the top job at TasTAFE in February 2018.

 

“We had 29 business units operating in 29 different ways, and you can’t run a single registered training organisation like that,” she said.

But the reforms have borne fruit with the regulator recently providing the longest available period of registration.

“Seven years’ registration is hard to get, and it’s a big deal for Tasmania,” she says.

Part of the new focus will be on programs that enable existing workers to upskill as their jobs transform, including both advanced and foundational digital skills.

There is also a closer partnership with the University of Tasmania in the area of co-delivery of some short-course programs, including some nursing classes.

Ms Dodd, who is also a TDA Board Member, joined TasTAFE from TAFE Queensland where she was Chief Academic Officer.

Photo: Zac Simmonds, The Mercury


VET to drive SA’s international student strategy

The South Australian government is counting on a doubling in the state’s VET student numbers as the main driver of a new $3 billion strategy to attract international students.

A strategy paper International Education 2030 says that VET is expected to be the fastest growing area of international education in the state, more than doubling from 7,000 students in 2018 to 14,500 in 2030, and outstripping the national growth rate.

Higher education is expected to increase from 19,500 students in 2018 to 36,100 in 2030, making up more than 50 per cent of total enrolments in the state.

The current top four source markets for enrolments in South Australia – China, India, Hong Kong and Vietnam – are expected to remain the top performing markets to 2030.


TAFEs able to apply for grants to promote regional studies

Tertiary education providers including TAFEs are eligible to apply for grants to enable international and domestic students to study in regional Australia.

The first round of the $94 million Destination Australia Program is now open and aims to attract 4,720 students to study at regional campuses from next year with scholarships of $15,000.

The scholarships are available for qualifications from a Certificate IV through to a PhD.

Students are not able to directly apply for the scholarships.

See more


NZ’s displaced construction workers need to ‘live in Australia’: Steven Joyce

The architect of Australia’s recent VET review, New Zealander Stephen Joyce has warned that his country’s road infrastructure program has been hijacked by the Greens and that policy makers should look to Australia for job-boosting initiatives.

He also says that out of work construction employees will find plenty of jobs if they’re prepared to move to Sydney or Melbourne.

“Everyone knows the Green Party is anti-road and anti-development,” he says in an article in NZ’s Sunday Star Times.

“The surprise for most people is just how much the Greens are now controlling New Zealand’s roading policy, and how radical that policy has become.”

“The construction workers will be okay. There is tons of work coming up for them, although they will need to live in Australia.

“Melbourne and Sydney in particular are crying out for skilled road builders as Australia ramps up its infrastructure investment,” he says.

 

See more


Researcher finds the key to making a good argument

A Queensland education researcher has argued that the Australian curriculum places too much emphasis on emotive writing and not enough on encouraging students to develop their powers of reasoning.

Luke Zaphir, a researcher with the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project, says there are three things present in all good arguments, and that teachers need to encourage children to start putting across their points of view from an early age.

“One shortcoming in the Australian Curriculum is that it asks students to write persuasively, by using emotive language,” he says.

“We should be teaching our students to provide the reasoning behind their opinion as well as backing it up with evidence, not to manipulate emotions,” he says in an article in The Conversation.

See “How to make good arguments at school (and everywhere else)” in The Conversation.


ASQA clarifies third party training for VET-in-schools

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has sought to clarify new third-party arrangements for training providers that will apply for VET-in-schools.

It follows the release of guidance on third-party training arrangements that will take effect soon.

ASQA says it has been asked to clarify the impact where a school engages an RTO to deliver a course to VET-in-schools students, and the school provides some support in the delivery.

Essentially, the arrangements will depend on whether the school is registered as an RTO under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011.

See the new guidance for VET-in-schools.


Diary Dates

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

SOURCEAAP:https://www.tda.edu.au/newletter/skills-to-the-world-comment-by-ceo-craig-robertson/

Scott Morrison’s TAFE for the rich

(Caricature courtesy Bruce Keogh / keoghcartoons.com.au)

The Coalition Government’s policies have starved TAFE in favour of private-sector VET training, effectively making it an educational option only for the rich., writes Leisa Woodman.

Affordable, practical education through Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is part of the Australian consciousness in a way that many may not even realise.

Quality materials and competent workmanship have long been taken for granted in our society, and Australians have for generations been creatively stimulated by the secure knowledge that their educational journey is never over.

Even if one had been coerced into an unsuitable degree, or dropped out of high school, there was still a way back into learning through TAFE.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has mysteriously declared he wants to “raise the status” of TAFE courses in Australia, saying they are “as good as uni”.  He has revealed that “reform” of the vocational education sector would be at the forefront of the agenda at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns. Australians should rightly demand of the Prime Minister, whether this plan for reform is going to address how TAFE has morphed in recent years into what one teacher termed, “education for the rich”.

VocEdAustralia@VocEdAustralia

GoogleVET:PM declares ‘TAFE is as good as uni’ as vocational training placed on COAG agenda – The New Daily https://ift.tt/2YRGOaj 

PM places TAFE, vocational training on COAG agendaPrime Minister Scott Morrison has declared “TAFE is as good as university” and in many cases pays better, before COAG talks begin in Cairns on Friday.

The full fees payable for many diplomas are now comparable to university fees. While each student is allowed two chances at accessing government-subsidised study before having to pay the full fees, even these subsidised courses cost many thousands of dollars. Fees are payable upfront in the case of certificates, that don’t allow deferred Vocational Educational and Training (VET) loans. What working-class person has thousands sitting around handy? According to the TAFE educator, students manage to pay these fees if “they have benefactors”.

TAFE proudly advertises that students can access fees by instalment, but when a student enquires about this scheme, they are informed they must allow for $80 to $90 left in their bank after repaying their fortnightly fee contribution, which could be $70 dollars or more. A simple calculation reveals this is impossible if living out of home, on any government payment.

To make matters worse, many TAFE diplomas now have prerequisites for entry — meaning a student may exhaust their two subsidised courses by the time they get to the course they really want to do.

Scott Morrison may have declared that ‘TAFE is as good as university’, but Australia is a long way from having policies that support students equitably across the tertiary education system. By @andrewjnorton https://grattan.edu.au/news/the-rewards-of-vocational-education-need-to-be-better-known/ 

The rewards of vocational education need to be better known

Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have declared that ‘TAFE is as good as university’, but Australia is a long way from having policies that support […]grattan.edu.au.

Fees also differ wildly from one state to the next. A Diploma of Building and Construction costs $37,168 at TAFE South Australia, but under Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ progressive TAFE policy, is free to the unemployed in Victoria. One can imagine the few remaining prospective students not excluded by the cost being perturbed by the instability and so, it seems, student numbers are down across campuses.

There is a chance for the Federal Government to address a real problem. Many employers in technical fields, such as pathology, are now asking for university degrees for no reason other than that so many have them. The result of people choosing universities, who probably should have attended TAFE institutions, is that degrees have lost their value in the labour market. Some entry positions now, in reality, favour a master’s degree, which, mostly uncovered by Austudy, is also only accessible to the rich.

To attract students back to TAFE, employers must begin to see education as a set of suitable skills, rather than a spending competition. However, this is an ethos directly in competition with the goals of our present Coalition Government.

It has long been the policy of the Coalition to effectively “starve” TAFE in favour of the private sector of VET training, ripping out $3 billion in funding in the past six years. One suspects that Morrison’s plan to raise the status of TAFE will simply be a language project designed to justify the now prohibitive costs at disastrously underfunded campuses.

TAFE cannot be revitalised with words. Only a sustained injection of funds to TAFE can end predatory Registered Training Organisations and restore technical education to its rightful place in assisting Australians from all backgrounds to gain, diversify and upgrade their skills easily throughout their lives.

You can follow Leisa Woodman on Twitter @LeisaWoodman.

Adam Curlis@TAFEeducation

@GladysB and @ScottMorrisonMP seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. After years of funding cuts & neglect, why the sudden interest in TAFE?

What exactly have they got planned for our public TAFE system? https://twitter.com/TAFEeducation/status/1162174463489609728 

“I have always had a vision universities & TAFEs have to work much more closely together & the diversification of our economy & … having that fed back to me from the companies I am meeting” I am intrigued ⁦⁩. Which companies?

SOURCEAAP:https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/scott-morrisons-tafe-for-the-rich,13020

University debt and limited job prospects mean learning a trade at TAFE is better for income, report finds

The earning capacity of many young Australians would be significantly higher if they learned a trade instead of going to university, a new report has found.

Key points:

  • The Grattan Institute looks at the earning capacity of university students and those young people who learn a trade
  • It finds for some people, particularly young men with lower ATAR scores, vocational occupations result in higher earnings
  • The report comes as the vocational education industry is reporting a 43 per cent drop in trade-based enrolments
  • One commentator says the idea that university is the only option often comes from parents

The Grattan Institute report found that for men, particularly those who scored lower ATARs at school, vocational qualifications in engineering, construction and commerce resulted in higher average earnings than a degree qualification.

The number of students enrolling in university has swelled by more than one-third over the past decade, with more students with lower ATARs and those from diverse backgrounds now attending.

That increase has come at the expense of vocational education, with the number of students taking up a place in those trades-based courses down 43 per cent in the past five years.

The Federal Government made the issue a key focus of COAG talks last week amid concerns about critical skills shortages. It has also commissioned a review of post-secondary school pathways.

Grattan’s higher education program director Andrew Norton said some university graduates were struggling to get jobs, especially if they studied generalist degrees in humanities and science.

This was particularly the case for students with lower ATARs.

“This report is looking at the concern that some low ATAR students, who have been increasing in numbers at university, would have been better off in vocational education,” Mr Norton said.

“The report finds that is true in some cases, particularly for young men.

“We find that there is a high risk that they won’t get the financial benefits of higher education that higher ATAR students would get, and that they would do well in a range of vocational occupations such as engineering and trades related [to] construction and some commerce type degrees.”

But Mr Norton said the picture was different for women.

“By contrast, lower ATAR women who go into nursing and teaching degrees have pretty good employment outcomes, very high rates of professional employment, and we think they’ll end up earning a lot more than the women who go into vocational education,” he said.

Students growing up with university as only option

Nineteen-year-old Liam Mills enrolled in a university degree earlier this year but left in favour of a TAFE course. He’s now studying web development at Hornsby TAFE in northern Sydney.

“I prefer a much more hands-on approach, so sitting in a lecture wasn’t really doing it for me,” he said.

“I much prefer being behind the computer.”

Mr Mills said he had grown up with the idea that going to university was the only option.

“My choice to go to university was mainly based on what a lot of my friends were doing at the time,” he said.

“It was kind of the plan I’d always had basically from starting high school, [but] by the time I got there I realised it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.”

Many parents still believe university is the ‘right route’

The decline in those taking up vocational training comes despite national skills shortages in many of the trades that are predicted to soon become more critical.

It is estimated Australia will need up to a million workers with vocational qualifications by 2023.

The decline in vocational students will be a focus of National Skills Week later this month.

The event’s founder Brian Wexham said he believed change needed to come from parents.

“We’re faced with this challenge that many, many parents still believe that the right route for their child is to go to university and they will get a more fulfilling and better career, and for some that is true, but of course it’s not true for everyone,” he said.

“A lot of students are practical learners, they’re not academically inclined.

“And frankly I think universities have got a lot to answer for, because they encourage people to go there even if it might not be suitable for them.

“It’s been widely reported that some universities have accepted ATARs of 50, and frankly all they’re doing is enrolling somebody who’s probably destined to fail, and all they end up doing is having a HECS bill, but if you’re an apprentice you get paid to learn.”

Universities have defended their graduates’ employment outcomes in the light of the Grattan report.

Universities Australia chief Catriona Jackson said a low ATAR can be a sign of disruption during a student’s Year 12 studies, or which postcode they came from.

“It doesn’t predict the destiny of every student, and the vast majority of students who enter university go on to successfully complete their studies,” she said.

On graduate jobs and salaries, she said: “University graduates earn up to $1 million more over their lifetimes on average and are 2.5 times less likely to be unemployed than those without a higher qualification.

“Nine in 10 university graduates are in full-time work three years after graduation, and four out of five undergraduates work in professional or managerial roles.

“And the median salary of university graduates three years on from finishing their studies is $70,000.”

SOURCEAAP:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-12/university-vs-tafe-what-will-lead-to-a-higher-income/11399662

Improvements to TAFE top of COAG agenda

Improving the nation’s vocational system is at the top of the agenda at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Far North Queensland. The nation’s leaders were met by a group of protestors on Friday as they came together for the first time since the federal election in May. The leaders are expected to consider the recommendations of a recent review that identified a spate of challenges in the education and training sector. The Australian Industry group called for reforms to ensure there were enough skilled Australians to support the government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline. The group also raised concerns about a growing skills shortage and a struggling training system. Image: News Corp Australia

SOURCEAAP:https://www.theaustralian.com.au/video/id-5348771529001-6070193432001/improvements-to-tafe-top-of-coag-agenda

Exclusive: TAFE NSW staff details stolen after computer systems allegedly hacked

Tafe
Around 30 employees have not been paid on time after having personal information stolen in what TAFE NSW said was a “targeted phishing attack”. (AAP)
A TAFE NSW spokesman said the organisation was working with the NSW Police Cyber Crime Unite to identify the source of the data breach and “to ensure it does not happen again”.
Payroll staff were urgently processing payments manually for affected workers, he said.
One employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she only learned of the hack when she received a phone call from TAFE’s payroll department.
“They asked me if I had changed my bank account details,” the woman told nine.com.au. “My account had been compromised, my bank account details had been changed.
“She (payroll) said it was being investigated, that my pay would be late.”

TDA Newsletter – TAFE Queensland reviewer, Michael Roche, dies suddenly

In this edition

  • The Yin and Yang of international VET – comment by CEO Craig Robertson
  • New federal skills minister outlines his VET reform plans
  • Backbench coalition MP unloads on ASQA
  • Search commences for new skills commission chief
  • ASQA invites input to annual training provider survey
  • TAFE Queensland reviewer, Michael Roche, dies suddenly
  • Diary

The Yin and Yang of international VET – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

ASQA released a very important report this past week, but it seems other matters were occupying the mind of Ministers.

The strategic review of international education in VET[1] and its recommendations may appear unremarkable but data from the report itself and elsewhere suggests it is critical and must be handled urgently. We are still waiting for ministers to respond to ASQA’s recommendations to abate unduly short courses following consultations in early 2018, so my hope could be misplaced.

When we think of international education we are drawn to headline figures – Australia’s third largest export and over $34bn in revenue.

But it’s also full of hyperbole, sophistry and danger.

As new minister, Dan Tehan in October last year in his first speech on international education claimed mutual trade benefit with the countries from which our international students flowed, only to then spend the rest of the speech crowing the benefits to Australia.

Treasurer Frydenberg’s promises of surpluses built off the back of robust economic activity rely largely on continued growth in international students and other temporary entrants. While capping permanent migration to argue congestion busting, targets for international students were increased. Apparently they mustn’t congest.

In figures released coincidentally this past week, the ongoing growth in international enrolments is spectacular, including for VET.

International Student Enrolments by Sector
Source: Department of Education

At a time when the VET sector is chasing stability and balance across most aspects of its operation – the figures appear encouraging but hide some imbalances. Balance and harmony – a recognition of the Yin and Yang of things – are hard to find when it comes to international VET.

For VET student growth, the Yin of international student enrolments growing at around 15 per cent per annum over the past three years far from balances with the Yang of domestic enrolments, which continue to decline.

When it comes to VET providers, the Yin is represented by 94 per cent of students at private vocational colleges while the Yang has just 6 per cent of students enrolled in TAFEs.

For Yin, over 70 per cent of students prefer business and general training, when Yang expects enrolments across the broad portfolio of VET courses. Yin also struggles to have students meet their minimum 20-hour per week attendance requirements.

When it comes to its older cousin, the tables are turned. The publicly inclined Yang has the far greater proportion of enrolments, unhealthily so. Oddly enough, most are in general studies similar to the Yin of its younger cousin.

For the little cousin, over two-thirds of enrolments are sourced from temporary entrants already in in Australia. For the older cousin most international students come to Australia intent on studying. Is the Yin of the younger cousin simply a convenient way to stay and work in Australia?

Confusing?  Maybe. One thing that is clear though is the Yin and Yang are out of kilter.

For the younger cousin, it’s eerily similar to the situation in 2009. For those new to international education this was the time that favourable residency conditions created a boom in private colleges offering commercial cookery and hairdresser training, only to come tumbling down when student exploitation was exposed coinciding with the tragic death of several students.

International education should be more than a quick source of cash. It’s a path for diplomatic relations and economic collaboration. I must say, though, that every time we at TDA are consulted from the Council for International Education the conversation ultimately, and too quick for comfort, turns to benefit for Australia.

The task for TAFEs and TDA is to demonstrate the benefits of international education for students, institutions, the countries to which they will return, fuelled by deep friendships stretching across the globe. TDA operates a network of TAFE leaders engaged in these matters and seeks to demonstrate the power of TAFEs working together. This theme is being explored in the TDA convention in September in Brisbane, not only on International Education but other important matters for TAFE, such as teaching and learning, regulation and quality and higher education.

ASQA, in a measured way, is suggesting action now to avoid 2009 which entrenched views in other countries that we are often no better than education mercenaries. Other commentary pointing to dissatisfaction with the actions of ASQA in upholding the integrity of the sector shouldn’t distract from responding to this report, otherwise the whole sector sinks one step lower in its global standing.

Dan Tehan and Michaelia Cash may be the power team of tertiary education here in Australia but when it comes to the administrative orders the buck stops with Tehan on International education. Tehan carries ultimate accountability but Cash is responsible for oversight of ASQA and the carriage of the recommendations ASQA is proposing. That will test their Yin and Yang.



New federal skills minister outlines his VET reform plans

Australia’s new skills minister has committed to sweeping reforms to the VET system in the wake of the Joyce review, with a strong focus on industry engagement.

In his first major address since taking the portfolio, the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons (pictured) has highlighted the central place of VET reform in the government’s policy agenda. 

“This government is really keen to make sure we get this right.

“We’re not going to rush to failure – we’re going to make sure the community and industry gets involved as we make the changes,” he told the National Apprentice Employment Network conference in Queensland on Friday.

The former electrical apprentice revealed the role of his “good mate” and former Canberra housemate, Prime Minister Scott Morrison in pushing for a fresh look at the sector.

“He’s really focused on the education of apprentices.

“He picked me because he said ‘You’ve been there, you’ve done it, you know how to do it and you’ve run a small business’.”

“He’s focussed and he wants me to get the job done and to make sure we do it with an industry focus,” he said.

“Personally, I’ve looked at it over the last 30 years and I think the sector’s been captured a bit by trainers, educators and academics, and I think that, going forward, changes need to be made with industry-based support.”

He said that the implementation of the Joyce review recommendations would be based around industry engagement.

As an example, he cited Holmesglen’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Centre of Excellence, established in partnership with the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association (AMCA).

“They’ve put in equipment which is current, not 30 years old, and they’re putting in training programs which are actually happening in buildings today, not 30 years ago.”

He said that during his time in parliament, he’d seen many governments “over-reach” with reforms not supported by industry that needed to be wound back.

He urged steps to get into schools earlier – around Years 8 and 9 – to build greater awareness of vocational choices.

“I think the department, after the meeting we had during the week, have got that message and I think they’re doing a great job and trying to create some packages that will get into schools,” he said.

He also called for  harmonisation of curriculums and licensing across the states and territories, urging “a national curriculum with national licensing to give people portability across the whole of Australia with their vocational licensing or skill sets”.


Backbench coalition MP unloads on ASQA

The chair of a federal parliamentary committee has launched an extraordinary attack on the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), claiming its audit activity is being misused to damage and, ultimately, wipe out some private training colleges.

Queensland Coalition backbencher Andrew Laming (pictured) told parliament his “nationwide investigation” of ASQA has revealed “aggressive and adversarial conduct” toward private RTOs, forcing many to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) over trivial matters.

“It appears to me ASQA is increasingly using the AAT as a vehicle for extinguishing RTOs simply by legal cost, reputational damage and delay,” he said.

He cited several cases where the evidence he had to hand appeared to be over-reach by ASQA.  TAFEs, he said, had the opportunity to “shuffle things between units, close a module down and shift students across to something else”.

Mr Laming chairs the House of Representatives Employment, Education and Training Committee.

Craig Robertson, CEO of TDA said that the claims by Mr Laming should have the opportunity to be verified and recommended dialogue with ASQA.

Don’t forget to register
ONLY 29 DAYS TO GO

Register here.


Search commences for new skills commission chief

The federal government has commenced the search for its new National Skills Commissioner who will lead the mega agency that will oversee the country’s VET sector.

Advertising has started for the “Interim Commissioner” who will oversee consultations, design and the initial work ahead of deciding the role and functions of the National Skills Commission (NSC), which will need to be legislated.

The government committed $48 million in the last Budget to creating the new national body, as recommended by the Joyce Review of VET.

The contender will require “senior level experience in government or the private sector, together with an impressive record of success in organisational leadership and innovation.”

The initial engagement is for approximately one year, with a “substantial remuneration package” and flexible location.

Applications close August 18.

Selection documentation and further information is available through Ian Hansen and Associates: email: admin@ianhansen.com.au; or phone: Ian Hansen 0408 306 769.


Mixed signals confounding the VET sector, says Stephen Joyce

The author of the federal government’s VET reform blueprint, Stephen Joyce, says “confusing signals” coming from the sector were contributing to the lack of confidence on the part of employers and governments.

He told the National Apprentice Employment Network conference in Queensland last week that Australia was experiencing high employment growth and skill shortages, but also declining VET enrolments.

“We’re also seeing declines in government funding, both at the state and Commonwealth level, particularly at the state level.

“On the other hand, employment outcomes from vocational education are positive, yet employer satisfaction with vocational education is dropping, so there are some confusing signals being sent from the market about where we are at with vocational education,” he said.

“Meanwhile universities continue to grow, they continue to take on more students.

“And with the school leaving age being lifted, more students are staying at school, so not surprisingly, TAFEs and other providers are finding less enrolments because they are being squeezed at both ends.”

The lack of confidence was apparent among employers, RTOs and “funders”, he said.

“If governments were confident in the outcome of the VET sector generally they’d be investing more in it, but they’re not.”


ASQA invites input to annual training provider survey

ASQA is currently running its annual provider survey which allows RTOs, CRICOS providers and course owners to have their say about how the national regulator performs its functions.

The survey is closing shortly – midnight tomorrow.

This year, the survey also provides the opportunity to give feedback on the audit experience.

See here for more information.


TAFE Queensland reviewer, Michael Roche, dies suddenly

The chair of a landmark review into the operations of TAFE Queensland, Michael Roche, died suddenly last week.

Mr Roche, 64, was the former CEO of the Queensland Resources Council.

He chaired the 2012 Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce which recommended extensive restructuring of campuses and a more commercial focus by TAFE Queensland.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Roche contributed to many of the economic reforms that Queenslanders today take for granted.

TDA extends its condolences to Michael’s family and colleagues.


Diary Dates

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
More information

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

SOURCEAAP:https://www.tda.edu.au/category-newletter/tda-newsletter/

TAFE vs Uni: ‘University Is For Learning, Vet Is For Earning’ Says Skills Minister

What’s better, uni or TAFE?


In short, VET Vocational Education and Training is better than uni if your aim is to find a job and make good money.

 ‘University is for learning, VET is for earning‘ said Skills Minister Michaela Cash recently at a business breakfast, and it makes sense, according to the statistics. VET graduates earn higher salaries and have better job prospects while spending less time and money getting qualifications.

If your aim is to make money and achieve financial success, TAFE courses and VET  courses are the way to go, and following the Joyce Report government spokespeople have been highlighting TAFEas the better option for many people.

Senator Cash encouraged more people to take on VET qualifications like Diplomas, Certificates III and IV, and Advanced Diplomas, saying that it’s a better path to a good income – since the skills taught in VET and TAFE are in high demand in Australia.

‘University is for learning, VET is for earning’Michaelia Cash, Skills Minister

VET makes economic sense for Australia, too. Australia’s national skills shortages in jobs like bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and bakers, occupations demanding practical skills that are best learnt in vocational courses, or in care sectors like healthcare and community service.

By choosing a field in demand, you become a more valuable employee, enjoying higher salaries and benefits as companies compete to hire and keep you.

How is TAFE different to university?


TAFE and VET qualifications take from 6 months to 2 years, unlike university degrees which take 3 years minimum full-time. And while bachelor degrees can often cost over $30,000, TAFE and VET courses are usually much cheaper, especially as the fees for government-subsidised students are often heavily reduced.

Let’s not forget that courses in skill shortages are eligible for free TAFE – meaning that the student pays zero, zip, nada.

IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH, YOU’LL ACTUALLY EARN ON AVERAGE A

$2000

HIGHER STARTING SALARY THAN A UNIVERSITY GRADUATE


and you don’t even need an ATAR to get in. In fact, often you don’t even need to have finished high school.

Of course, university education has its place, but it’s not for everybody. For those who are truly interested in learning and pursuing a field of knowledge for its own sake, becoming a university student and pursuing higher education can be a gateway to a wider world of education.

Further, employment prospects are not solely determined by whether you choose VET or university, rather they depend upon the subject you choose: in-demand industries like IT and health will always have better job prospects than low-demand ones with high competition.

The problem lies in expecting that the traditional path – from high school to university to a job – still applies, or that it’s the best way to a good career path.

But generally, if you’re looking to graduate with work-ready skills, VET qualifications are the better option.

“What we are hearing from employers is that we need to ensure that you have work-ready employees from day one… that is exactly what vocational education is going to give you – for both the employee and yourself as the employer.”

– Senator Cash

Job-ready Skills


The expectation that going to uni guarantees you a good job (and a decent income) doesn’t reflect the 2019 work reality. University alone often isn’t enough to equip you with the skills to be job-ready when you graduate.


2/3

of University graduates surveyed in 2015 said their degree didn’t prepare them enough to find a job in their field.

Compare this to

78%

of VET graduates who find employment after graduating.


Once a few years have passed and you’ve got your first full-time job, employment and levels even out to be about the same for TAFE and uni grads. Right out of the gate, though, TAFE qualifications are paid more and have a better chance of finding jobs.

Most employable degrees and qualifications


Projections from the Department of Education show that most jobs in the next 5 years (2019-2023) will require a post-secondary qualification. Out of the 10 fastest growing occupations, 7 require a TAFE or VET qualification such as a diploma or certificate.

So perhaps we should be talking about ‘most employable diplomas’ rather than degrees. The Australian industries with the highest job growth in the next four years are:


  • Medical and healthcare services: 116,000
  • Food and beverage service: 91,000
  • Construction services: 77000
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (Excl Computer System design): 72,000
  • Social assistance services: 66,000

  • Public administration: 64,000
  • Preschool and school education: 57,000
  • Computer system design and related services: 54,000
  • Adult, community and other education: 40,000
  • Building and construction : 39,000

The specific jobs set to boom are:

  • General Clerks +22,200
  • Truck Drivers +16,200
  • Software And Applications Programmers +15,100
  • Advertising, Public Relations And Sales Managers +14,800
  • General Practitioners And Resident Medical Officers +14,500
  • Aged And Disabled Carers +77,400
  • Registered Nurses +65,300
  • Child Carers +25,800
  • General Sales Assistants +24,900
  • Education Aides +21,900

Source: Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business: National, State and Territory Skill Shortage Information

How much does it cost to go to TAFE? Is TAFE cheaper than uni?


TAFE courses usually cost significantly less than university degrees. And with high HELP debts on the rise, students are considering whether university is worth it, when they’re graduating with considerable debt.

High HELP debts are on the rise. The average owing HELP (formerly HECs) debt in Australia is $21,557, but debts over $50,000 have increased 30% from 2018’s data, and there are now 9x more debts over $100k than there were 10 years ago.

If you’re a government-subsidised student, TAFE courses may cost you anywhere between a couple of hundred dollars a few thousand, though it varies by course.

After the 2018 introduction of Free TAFE in Victoria, you may not even have to pay for your course at all if you meet the criteria of age, location, citizenship and education history. Eligible courses in skill shortage areas are fully subsidised by the government – meaning you pay nothing and have no HELP debt when you graduate.

Eligible courses fall into the following areas:

  • Nursing
  • Accounting
  • Agriculture
  • Building & Construction
  • Automotive
  • Aged Care & Disability Care Support
  • Hairdressing
  • Signage & Graphics
  • Food
  • Services

So, what’s the best choice? It depends what you want out of your study.

If you’re interested in learning for its own sake, and working with knowledge in a more abstract sense; or you have a particular interest in a field that requires a degree, a bachelor degree could be the first step on a fulfilling journey and an engaging career.

Some people aren’t suited to the classroom, however, and do much better learning practical skills on the job. If that sounds like you, consider VET qualifications as your pathway to a great income and employability.

You can even use them as an entry pathway to a course later on if you want to dive deeper into the theory. You’ll come out with work-ready skills and good earning potential straight away, and your job prospects will be solid, especially if you choose an in-demand field.

Wondering if uni is really for you? VET and TAFE are fantastic options and better suited to many people.