Tasmanian vocational education providers welcome Australian Government investment

Picture: Shutterstock

 Picture: Shutterstock

The Coalition will spend $523.3 million over five years from this year to provide a suite of funding initiatives, aimed at addressing the skills shortage experienced across the country.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled the package as part of the hand down of the budget in Canberra last week.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a plan to make VET courses fee-free as he spruiked funding for Tasmania’s flagship Battery of the nation project.

Mr Frydenberg said the funding package was aimed at addressing the skills shortage, to try and get more people into vocational careers and also to support employers when they take on apprentices.

Key points to the investment in vocational education are:

  • $67.5 million over five years to establish 10 industry training hubs to support school-based VET
  • $44 million over four years for a streamlined incentives program for employers
  • $156.3 million over three years for skills shortage payments for employers and apprentices in the top 10 occupations experiencing skill shortages, to support 80,000 new commencements.
  • $48.3 million over four years to establish a National Skills Commission that will develop efficient pricing for training, informed by the work of the Productivity Commission
  • $15.8 million over four years to extend the Unique Student Identifier service, currently only available to VET students, to all higher education students
  • $2.2 million in 2019-20 to develop the first stage of a tertiary learning repository in 2020 to record an individual’s higher education and training records.

Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff welcomed the news of the VET funding package.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.

 Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.

“We particularly welcome the additional incentives for employers to help encourage them to take on apprentices,” he said.

The Tasmanian Government already offers incentives for employers through its payroll tax scheme and small business grants, to encourage businesses to take on apprentices.

“It is also good to see a focus on improved careers advice and a continued raising of the profile and value of vocational education and training,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Importantly for Tasmania the $62.4m investment on foundation skills will help us support individuals to gain skills needed to move into further education or employment.”

Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showing there were 8330 apprentices in Tasmania in 2018.

However, commencements for trade training in Tasmania has steadily declined since 2014, with 4850 in 2018, which is a slight increase on the year before.

TasTAFE's Alanvale campus.

 TasTAFE’s Alanvale campus.

The Examiner highlighted this issue in 2017 as part of its Pick up the Tools campaign, which aimed to shine a light on the skills shortage and how investment in TasTAFE would help address it in the state.

As part of the series, a new national partnership agreement was signed between the federal government and Tasmania, to assist the state in funding TasTAFE and other vocational education providers.

That national partnership agreement, the Skilling Australians Fund, will be boosted by $34.2 million to be divested between the six state signatories of the agreement under the new budget funding package.

TasTAFE chief executive Jenny Dodd also welcomed the “strong focus” on vocational education.

“It’s great to see a budget which has a much greater focus on supporting vocational education and training than we have seen in the past,” she said.

“As the state’s major trainer of apprentices, this is great news for TasTAFE. We train apprentices once they are employed, so work in partnership with employers to meet training needs and encourage more people to take up apprenticeships.”

Ms Dodd said TasTAFE worked closely with the state government, Skills Tasmania and industry to address training demand and skills shortages now and in the future.

The federal budget was handed down in Canberra on April 2. A federal election is also impending, to be held in May. A date for the election has not yet been set by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Have you had your say in The Examiner‘s election survey?


The international student boom has destroyed higher education

By Leith van Onselen

Earlier this year, the Victorian Government called for a review of entry requirements into Australian universities after growing evidence that foreign students with poor English language proficiency are badly eroding education standards as well as placing undue strain on university teaching staff.

Immediately afterwards, academics admitted to Fairfax that they had lowered teaching standards and wrongly given passes to international students in order to maintain the foreign student trade.

Even the international student association called for greater regulation of overseas migration agents amid widespread cheating on English tests to gain access to Australian universities.

Yesterday, ABC business editor, Ian Verrender, penned a telling article arguing that Australia’s degraded higher education system is leaving graduates overqualified and undersupplied:

Missing from the same lengthy plan for our future [in the Budget], however, was anything that might help shift the focus of our tertiary education system from a dollar-driven export industry back towards its original intention: institutions for higher learning to equip Australians for the future…

On paper, it sounds like an unmitigated success story. Our education system is now our third-largest export industry, behind iron ore and coal.

Last year, more than half a million foreign students — 548,000 to be exact — clamoured for a spot at our universities. A further 220,000 attend other vocational education institutions.

They’re willing to pay for the privilege. All up, foreign students spent $32 billion in fees, a more than 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

Should that trend continue, Australia will overtake the United Kingdom as the second most popular destination for international students, possibly even this year.

Almost a third of these students come from China, while India and Malaysia come in a distant second and third.

The rapid growth of Australia as a centre for global learning, however, has not been without cost.

There are accusations among academics that in the race to attract more foreign students, teaching standards have slipped, with lecturers under pressure to pass students, even those with poor language skills who clearly can’t grasp the subject material.

Diligent educators who fail too many students run the risk themselves of being considered failures who quickly are moved on.

In addition, many foreign students enrol here as a soft way to emigrate, swelling the number of local undergraduates competing for jobs and depressing wages, initially in service industries while studying for degrees and later in their professions…

The sad truth is that vast numbers of young Australians are graduating with degrees in fields such as law, journalism and psychology, and there are nowhere near enough jobs to soak up the supply. Would-be barristers instead become baristas…

Well done Ian Verrender for calling a spade a spade. Blind Freddy can see that

Australia’s universities have morphed from “higher learning” to “higher earning”, as evidenced by the massive explosion in full fee-paying foreign students:

Australia’s education system has become an integral part of the immigration industry and the ‘Big Australia’ population ponzi – effectively a way for foreigners to buy backdoor permanent residency to Australia.

After all, the lobby group representing foreign students in Australia – the Council for International Students in Australia (CISA) – point blank admitted that students come here to migrate, not because of the quality of education on offer:

The Council for International Students in Australia said foreign potential students were attracted to Australia by the possibility of migrating here.

The national president of CISA, Bijay Sapkota, said… “For people coming from low socio-economic backgrounds there has to be a value proposition. If they go home they will not get value. So there has to be a possibility of immigration.”

It’s not like these concerns haven’t been raised before. Three recent Australian reports (here, here and here) have similarly raised the alarm about the flood of international students and the degradation of standards, as has lecturer Dr Cameron Murray. And yet all have been ignored and attacked by the rent-seeking Universities Australia.

The sad reality is that Australia’s universities are little more than giant rent-seeking businesses, which clip the ticket on the deluge of foreign students arriving in the hope of transitioning to permanent residency.

Instead of focusing on providing a high quality education and upskilling Australia’s population, the universities sector has become focussed on ramming through as many students as possible in order to maximise fees and profit.

The end result has been the dumbing-down of standards and too many university graduates chasing too few professional jobs.

The main beneficiaries from Australia’s rent-seeking university system are the vice-chancellors, whose pay has exploded to an average of $1 million on the back of the torrential student flood. Meanwhile, university students are stuck paying off expensive and increasingly worthless degrees, taxpayers are stuck writing-off unpayable debts, and the broader population is suffering under the never-ending population crush.

The federal government must put a firm leash on the university sector, beginning with removing the link between international students studying at university and gaining work visas and permanent residency.

Australia’s universities must be made to compete on quality and value alone, not as export businesses offering a pathway to backdoor immigration.


2019 budget reply: Education, TAFE and early childhood

Supplied video obtained Tuesday, April 4, 2019 of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivering his budget reply at Canberra’s Parliament House. Mr Shorten pledges to uncap university places and spend $200 million renovating TAFE campuses. Mr Shorten says Labor will pay the up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students “to get more Australians training in high priority courses”. Mr Shorten says Labor will guarantee universal access to preschool or kindergarten for every three-year-old and every four-year-old in Australia in line with global best practice. (AAP Video/Supplied/ParlView) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY.


Labor’s billion dollar pledge to rebuild TAFE


Labor has promised to cover all upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places in its very first term.

In its Budget reply the Federal Opposition has promised $1 billion to rebuild TAFE and create 150,000 apprenticeships.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, said these places would go to high priority sectors such as engineering and plumbing.

Its a big increase on the government’s $525 million commitment to Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector which includes 80,000 additional apprenticeships over five years.

It is also proof that both sides of politics are committed to addressing Australia’s worsening skills crisis.

Shorten said instead of looking overseas to source skills or relying on temporary visas, employers will have a local workforce that is skilled and ready to go.

“We would expect at least half of these opportunities to go to the women of Australia,” he said.

“We’ll get jobs like carpenters, cooks and bricklayers off the national skills shortages list, and we will keep them off.”

As well as creating 200,000 more university places, Labor wants to spend $200 million on rebuilding TAFE campuses and workshops across Australia.

Labor’s $200m building Tafe for the future fund will be used to re-establish Tafe facilities in regional communities that have lost campuses or courses, build new facilities in growing areas, provide new equipment and expand course offerings.

“Labor’s plan for training is crystal clear: we will stop the slide to dodgy private providers and back public TAFE all the way,” Shorten said.

“We will ensure that two out of every three training dollars goes to TAFE and we’ll invest in programs to retrain older workers.

“The government’s federal budget still cuts money from our universities – and it contains a sneaky new $270 million cut to TAFE.”

Shorten said the budget was a “cynical pea and thimble trick” which had cut TAFE skills and apprenticeship programs despite the fact Australia has 150,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than when Labor left government in 2013.

Labor’s total $1bn commitment to vocational education includes funding for policies it has already announced:

10,000 young Australians to do a pre-apprentice program

20,000 older workers to retrain through an advanced adult apprenticeship

One in 10 jobs on all major infrastructure and defence projects to be filled by an apprentice or trainee; and

A guarantee that at least two out of three dollars of public funding goes to public TAFE

An apprenticeship advocate to support skills development

Shorten also renewed Labor’s pledge to tackle climate change by shifting to 50 per cent renewables by 2030, a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 and zero net pollution by 2050.

Source AAP: www.climatecontrolnews.com.au


See who the South West TAFE outstanding student award winners are

SW TAFE chief executive Mark Fidge said the awards night was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate its students’ success.

He said it was particularly pleasing to congratulate and reward all of the outstanding student award winners for 2018.

He said students were nominated by their teachers and then interviewed by a panel to decide winners across six categories.

“It is such a huge honour for these students who have all excelled in their studies and have all gone on to be working in their fields and doing amazing things in the community.”

Among the winners was Youth Student of The Year Adia Quinlivan who is now a head chef, thanks to a move to study the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) in year 10.

Adia completed her Senior VCAL and Certificate III in Hospitality studies last year while also working part-time.

She said it was the best decision she had ever made and led her to her current job and furthered her hospitality industry knowledge.

Adia said she realised she was a hands-on learner and the VCAL style of study really suited her.

She said she never dreamed of being a head chef at such a young age, enjoying the top job at Portland café Bahloo.

Adia said the life skills she received as part of her studies were invaluable.

Adia’s teacher said she took on a leadership role within class, always motivating other students to produce a high standard of work.

Koorie Student of The Year Tanya McDonald chose to study a Diploma of Community Services as a way to give back to local services who have provided her with support throughout her life.

Tanya worked as a dairy herd manager, bookkeeper and in administration for Kirrae Health Services before beginning her studies.

She said the community services course appealed to her and she felt that now was her time to give back.

Tanya is the Kirrae Health Services board chairwoman and also spends time mentoring young girls and participating in an Aboriginal dance group.

During her diploma, Tanya completed a Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy, while raising her three children.

Since completing her studies, Tanya has started a role with the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service, supporting women with legal issues arising from family violence.

Tanya is now working at South West Healthcare and is in the process completing its Reconciliation Action Plan.

She plans to continue to develop her skills to eventually work at a policy level where she can have a significant impact on her community and beyond.

Tourism student Skye Henry-Litster created an Aboriginal tour of the city’s Indigenous highlights for visitors to Warrnambool while studying.

Skye received a highly commended in the Koorie Student of The Year Award.

She completed her Certificate III in Tourismworking as a trainee at Flagstaff Hill and the Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre last year and has gained continued employment with the city council.

During her traineeship, Skye helped to create a new database and induction sessions for all new volunteers.

Skye said her training had taught her valuable communication and customer service skills that would stand her in good stead for the future.

She said she loved sustainability and wildlife conservation and was looking into further study that could lead to a park ranger or a role with Landcare.

Trainee of The Year Ashlea Bentham studied a Certificate III in Tourism and thought it would be a great step towards a career in the travel industry.

The skills and experience she received during her traineeship led to Ashlea gaining casual employment at Warrnambool’s Surfside Caravan Park.

During her traineeship Ashlea developed a successful social media campaign designed to increase caravan park patronage and social media followers.

She also worked with Warrnambool City Council to develop a new television promotion which was screened in the caravan park reception area.

The video she developed included information and greetings in Chinese for the growing Chinese tourism market.

She said her course had helped her gain life skills that she wouldn’t have otherwise received.

Ashlea said she was enjoying her role at Surfside and was also looking at completing further tourism studies.

Ashlea’s teacher described her as an outstanding trainee who was a respected team member at Surfside Caravan Park.

Apprentice of The Year Elijah McLeod‘s passion for fixing things and solving problems has seen him win a swag of awards including apprentice of the Year at the 2018 South West TAFE Trades Award night.

The Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade student is in the final year of his apprenticeship at Midfield Meats and is considering further study.

Elijah’s studies and work at Midfield have helped to develop his leadership skills with Elijah’s enthusiasm and determination rubbing off on those around him.

His teacher said Elijah took on a mentoring role to the younger students who enjoyed having him in the workshop.

Elijah said he was inspired by his teachers to continue learning and push the boundaries, planning to develop his skills in futuristic engineering.

He said it was extremely rewarding to come up with new ideas and see them put into practice.

Plumbing studentLiam Ryanreceived a highly commended in the Apprentice of The Year category.

Liam completed work experience during high school which gave him an insight into the plumbing industry.

He finished his VCE studies in Portland and was offered an apprenticeship with Finchett’s Plumbing in Hamilton.

Liam completed a Certificate III in Plumbing and said the training he received had helped him in every aspect of his work.

Liam said he loved the variety and particularly liked the challenge of drainage work and laying sewer mains.

Last year Liam was awarded the best third year plumbing apprentice at the South West TAFE Trades Awards night and he plans to go on to complete further study.

Liam’s teacher said he was very successful in completing his Victorian Building Authority journeyman’s exams and was always helping out his classmates at trade school.

The Vocational Student of The Year was awarded to Rosemary Wilson who has always had a passion for conservation and the natural environment.

She waited until her children had grown up to follow her passion with a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management landing Rosemary her dream job.

She worked in the education and disability sectors while studying and was thrilled to gain a job as a Conservation Volunteers Australia team leader before completing the course.

Rosemary said the best part of her job was that she was able to care for the environment every day.

Rosemary works with volunteers, including people who have found it difficult to find work, older community members and international visitors, encouraging some of them to return to study themselves.

Rosemary is now looking at how she can combine her conservation work with her previous disability work.

She said she was extremely proud of her achievement and had even been inspired to go on to further study.

Community Achiever of The YearSusan Tate swapped years of working overseas and in international business for developing her passion for arts at South West TAFE.

Susan said she had always enjoyed art and textiles and the Diploma of Visual Arts taught her to combine textile manipulation with dyeing, drawing and painting to enhance her work and bring her own voice to the medium.

In 2017, Susan was awarded the emerging artist award in the South West Women’s Art prize and is now working towards her first solo art exhibition later this year.

She said she loved every minute of the course and had immersed herself in the arts communities in Colac, Lavers Hill and Apollo Bay since completing her studies.

Susan volunteers with the Colac arts event CrossXpollination and was instrumental in starting local Remakery spaces in Apollo Bay and Lavers Hill, where people can bring various items to be repaired and help to create community spaces.

Susan is driving an initiative for a community artists’ space in Colac and is a Colac Otway Arts Trail committee member.

She volunteers her time producing a Lavers Hill College community newsletter and with another graduate of South West TAFE’s arts course, she has formed the Lavers Hill Craft group.

Susan said her course had introduced her to a great network of people and had given her a greater understanding of the arts world.

Deakin University Pathways Award winner Rebecca Cameron has always had a passion for nursing and returned to study as a mature-age student.

It was only after recently moving back to Heywood that she decided it was it the right time to follow her dream.

Rebecca completed her Diploma of Nursing last year and is now employed as a graduate at the Western District Health Service.

She said returning to study had been a big change after so many years but it helped to build her confidence to go onto to study a Bachelor of Nursing at Deakin University this year.

Rebecca has plans to complete a Masters in Clinical Nursing and choose a specialty field to work in.

She said nursing was a rewarding profession and she was really excited to have finished her course and be taking the next step at university.

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