Free TAFE short course for late stage apprentices

FREE COURSE: TAFE is offering late stage apprentices and early trades people the chance to upskill for free from now until December.
FREE COURSE: TAFE is offering late stage apprentices and early trades people the chance to upskill for free from now until December. HVIA

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) is one of four peak automotive industry bodies that have partnered to offer the Automotive Industry Ambassador Program for late stage apprentices and early trades people.

The free short course will provide leadership and communication skills to attendees.

The five-part workshop will commence on Wednesday, October 9 and will continue every second Wednesday until December.

The program will be delivered by TAFE Queensland SkillsTech to late stage apprentices and early trades people employed by member companies of the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association, The Construction & Mining Equipment Industry Group, MTA Queensland and the Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers.

Seats are limited to a maximum of two late stage apprentices/early tradespeople per member company.

Nominations must be received by TAFE Queensland SkillsTech by Friday, October 4. You can download the nomination form here.

The five-day program promises to provide apprentices with the skills to:

  • Communicate effectively with clients and colleagues
  • Manage small teams
  • Negotiate effectively

Implement more efficient and effective workplace processes

The units of competency are:

  • BSBLDR403 – Lead team effectiveness
  • BSBLDR402 – Lead effective workplace relationships
  • BSBSMGT402 – Implement operational plan
  • BSBLDR401 – Communicate effectively as a workplace leader


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.


Scott Morrison’s TAFE for the rich

(Caricature courtesy Bruce Keogh /

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”.


GoogleVET:PM declares ‘TAFE is as good as uni’ as vocational training placed on COAG agenda – The New Daily 

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 

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 […]

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? 

“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?


Thinktank: Australia has too much uni and not enough TAFE

The Mackenzie Institute believes that Australia’s economy has become “hollowed out” by a misguided belief that universities must be research intensive, as well as policies that preference higher education over vocational alternatives:

In a paper coinciding with its launch, the institute condemns the 2008 Bradley review – which spawned Australia’s recently abandoned demand-driven system of higher education funding – for producing a glut of graduates and exacerbating the funding decline in vocational training, particularly among public technical and further education colleges.

The paper blames the Bradley review for cultivating one of the worst skills mismatch profiles in the world. It cites figures showing that Australia ranks sixth among 33 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development nations for “high skills” development, but 27th for technical skills.

Read the whole article at:

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

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:; 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
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
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


TDA Newsletter- Educational inequality sees VET students stuck in a ‘bygone era’, university vice-chancellor says

In this edition

  • Commonwealth for the common good – comment by CEO Craig Robertson
  • Government-funded training activity falls to a decade low
  • ASQA says college cancellations the result of deliberate refusal to meet obligations
  • Educational inequality sees VET students stuck in a ‘bygone era’, university vice-chancellor says
  • Grattan Institute axes higher education program after director’s departure
  • Seminar on the future of universities to mark Zelman Cowen centenary
  • Employment Minister Senator Cash says deleting tweet after college meeting was the right thing
  • Tasmania offers grants to grow apprenticeships
  • Google’s expansion into training kicks off with free digital lessons
  • Diary

Commonwealth for the common good – comment by CEO Craig Robertson

Whether it’s planning or luck, the international speakers for this year’s TDA Convention in September in Brisbane present a distinct Commonwealth flavour – England, Canada and New Zealand. Accompanied by a panel of Australian experts, we’ll be ready for our very own Commonwealth Games!

David Hughes, the CEO of the Association of Colleges in England is returning to Australia following high praise for his presentations at the World Congress last October in Melbourne. Since then he has led a hugely successful campaign – Love Our Colleges – which has engaged local politicians and even had marches in the streets. It seems to have paid off. The Augar report, headed by Dr Philip Augar, released by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year points to the disproportionate focus on higher education at the cost of those needing alternative educational pathways. I count David as one of the leading thinkers in the world on TVET and the intersect with politics. You’ll love his presentation, just as many of you did last October.

Our Canadian speaker hails from George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Rick Huijbregts is Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation and comes to the convention loaded with impressive credentials and experience. Prior to joining George Brown, Rick spent 12 years with Cisco, most recently as Vice-President of Digital Transformation and Innovation at Cisco Canada. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his transformational work in municipal innovation. Several TAFE leaders met Rick as part of the CISCO-Optus TDA study tour in May. It’s learning about his practical experience in serving local industry growth through technology and innovation which excites me about Rick’s attendance.

And to finish off the friendly invasion, I am pleased that the Hon Steven Joyce, author of Strengthening Skills, the review of Australia’s vocational education system will be the final of our keynote speakers for the convention. This will be an opportunity to get underneath the report and the approaches he has proposed. Don’t book flights home too early, as this is one of the key sessions of the convention where we can set up the TAFE agenda for the year ahead based on Steven’s insights. We will also wrap other events around Steven’s time at the convention.

The Commonwealth flavour is pertinent. Often referred to as the Common Weal at the time the term arose, it means ‘for the common good’. It’s often related to the political writings of John Locke which were hugely influential in the English Revolution in the mid-1600s when the parliament wrestled control of the treasury and armed forces from the Crown. Wealth to the realm switched to wealth to the people.

It’s pertinent to contemplate the rationale of the authors of our Constitution who called the collective force of the colonies the Commonwealth of Australia. I suspect the common good was clear in their mind and since has been the motive for most of the advances in the way we live – our progressive tax and welfare systems, universal health, postal services to all parts of the continent, distribution of GST revenues to states and territories based on need, and public education so all citizens can access opportunity upon which our fair go ethos depends.

Growing the common good is broader again in the Commonwealth of nations.

The Augar report has messages for us about rebalancing our post-school education system as commentators and citizens alike are perplexed about the poor treatment of TAFEs in national policy.

Canada represents a powerful message about alternatives to higher education. The previous conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, writes:

“In my government, we came to believe that a greater focus on technical and polytechnic education is advisable. First, it is easy to forget that only a minority of people in our societies possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Policy-makers cannot afford to be disconnected from the majority of the population. But second, the elite consensus in favour of university education is not justified by the data. The numbers indicate pretty clearly that the job and income prospects of many vocational or technical careers are much better than believed. It is simply social bias that presumes otherwise.”[1]

And it will be critical that we reflect on how the finding of Joyce’s review build our VET system.

Let’s hope we can learn from all three countries and our Australian speakers about a new world for VET in Australia – one focused on the common good.

Locke’s influence is deeper still. His political philosophy is regarded as the foundation of liberalism and was cited as the underpinning rationale of the French and American revolutionaries. And in his A Nation at Risk he connected a flourishing educational system to a country’s security and prosperity, themes I’ll return to one day.

In good news to finish. Australia leads the all-time tally of medals of the Commonwealth Games, followed distantly by England, with Canada a lap behind and New Zealand out of sight!

Early-bird registrations extended by a week

Early-bird registration for the TDA Convention, ‘The Power of TAFE’, in Brisbane on 3 – 5 September has been extended to this coming Friday, July 26 in recognition that staff may have been on leave the past fortnight.

Get you plans together now!Register here.

To view full details on the convention and confirmed keynote speakers, visit here.

Australia makes an appearance in the US Congress to talk about apprenticeships

In a first since 1994, an Australian representative appeared before the US Congress last week and the topic was Australia’s apprenticeship system. Australia’s Education Counsellor in the US Embassy, Tim Bradley joined representatives from Germany and Switzerland to share about apprenticeship.

See the article. Those with a deep interest in apprenticeship are encouraged to view the two-hour hearing.

[1] Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption

Government-funded training activity falls to a decade low

The amount of government-funded vocational education and training delivered last year dipped to its lowest level in a decade, according to the latest statistics from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

NCVER’s Government-funded students and courses 2018 shows that hours of delivery – the actual teaching and training output from TAFEs and other providers – fell 6.4% to 336,400 hours in 2018 – the lowest level since 2008, and almost 31% below the peak in 2012.

This was accompanied by a 1.9% fall in student numbers and a 5.7% drop in subject enrolments during the year.

For TAFE, there was a 3.4% fall in total hours of delivery in 2018, but virtually no change over the three years since 2015. For private providers, hours of delivery were down 6.4% last year and almost 32% below the level in 2015.

The Chief Executive of TAFE Directors Australia Craig Robertson told Nine newspapers there had also been large declines in the 15 to 19 age category, which fell 3.1 per cent.

He said the decrease in the number of people seeking diplomas and advanced diplomas was a direct result of the ineffective and overly complex VET student loans program.

Advanced diplomas fell 7.5 per cent and diplomas fell 4.8 per cent, while there were also drops in Certificate IV (down 0.7%) Certificate III (7%), Certificate II (10%) and Certificate I (8.2%).

Mr Robertson was quoted as saying, “Possibly what’s going on is that people are just not seeing the qualifications as attractive enough either as a learning pathway or leading into jobs that are attractive in terms of conditions and salary.”

He said the sector needed to be revamped and providers needed more control to deliver training that students wanted.

See ‘Cultural bias’: Business calls for action as vocational education enrolments fall again in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age

ASQA says college cancellations the result of deliberate refusal to meet obligations

In last week’s newsletter we reported the large number of training colleges that had their registrations cancelled by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) in late June.

We stated that “Some of the cancellations appear due to relatively minor oversights.”

ASQA Chief Commissioner and CEO Mark Paterson has responded to make it clear that ASQA does not cancel the registration of providers on the basis of such oversights.

“While some recent cancellations were triggered by failure to submit Total VET Activity data, this is neither an oversight nor is it minor,” he said.

“This data is of a critical nature to the VET sector, being the only information on delivery that exists and it is imperative that this information be complete, given it is the basis for policy decisions that have a significant impact on the sector and on providers.

“Where a cancellation decision has been made, it is preceded by numerous reminders to providers collectively and to individual providers, including notices of intent to impose a sanction and opportunities to respond,” Mr Paterson said.

He said that a provider that fails to submit data has not done so on the basis of an oversight, but “a deliberate refusal to comply with regulatory obligations”.

Mr Paterson said a small number of the cancellations were due to failure to submit the Annual Declaration on Compliance required by the Standards for RTOs.

“The same reminder and notice of intent process was followed in these cases and many had also failed to submit the required data. It is ASQA’s experience that, in many of these cases, the provider has effectively closed, but has failed to notify ASQA that it is no longer operating as an RTO,” he said.

Educational inequality sees VET students stuck in a ‘bygone era’, university vice-chancellor says

An educational “caste system” that discriminates between VET and university students has been graphically exposed by the recently appointed vice-chancellor of CQUniversity Professor Nick Klomp, pictured.

As head of a dual-sector university delivering TAFE courses alongside degrees, he says he’s one of a handful of educational leaders “who sees first-hand how our educational inequality manifests on both sides of the wall”.

In a column in The Australian, he depicts the divergent fortunes of two fictional students – Pete who chooses university and Rebecca who opts for an apprenticeship.

Pete enrols in a bachelor of engineering with a guaranteed spot within weeks. He is entitled to a low interest HELP loan with a generous repayment threshold, covering 100 per cent of the student contribution component of his tuition fees with the Commonwealth funding the remainder.

“For those who choose an apprenticeship, however, the system retreats to a safe distance to watch the sink-or-swim spectacle of the vocational hunger games,” Professor Klomp says.

Seventeen-year old Rebecca is expected to scour the industry for a potential employer and negotiate the terms of her employment and training package.

“She has zero room for error here; if Rebecca doesn’t nail this step, someone else will get her spot.”

There is no student loan available to Rebecca unless her apprenticeship is at the diploma level or higher, and even if she is eligible there is an upfront loan administrative fee.

“Despite countless reviews and attempts to break it down, this wall is still dividing ambitious school-leavers into two distinct camps,” Professor Klomp says.

“Our apprenticeship training system may have served our economy well for a time. But the world has moved on, whereas the way we train our apprentices remains stuck in a bygone era.”

Grattan Institute axes higher education program after director’s departure

The Grattan Institute has decided to end its higher education program following the imminent departure of its program director Andrew Norton, pictured.

Grattan CEO John Daley said “Andrew is truly irreplaceable, and in view of his departure Grattan has made the difficult decision not to extend the Higher Education Program further.”

Mr Norton commenced in the role eight years ago and has been an influential voice in  tertiary education policy debate and media commentary.

“Andrew has made an enormous contribution to the Grattan team,” Mr Daley said.

“His wise counsel and wry observations about the realities of politics, ministers, and all sides of politics have often helped Grattan to steer a better course.”

He said Mr Norton is exploring a number of opportunities beyond Grattan, and his last day at Grattan will be September 26.

Seminar on the future of universities to mark Zelman Cowen centenary

Victoria University is hosting a symposium that is part of a series of events commemorating the centenary of the birth of Sir Zelman Cowen, the distinguished Australian scholar, statesman, and former governor-general.

‘The Role of Universities in the 2020s Symposium’ will explore the role of universities and the tertiary sector in responding to changing labour market needs and a diverse student population.

It is presented by VU’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Dawkins, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre and the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, and builds on the recent Mitchell Institute policy paper, Rethinking and Revitalising Tertiary Education.

It will be facilitated by Professor Glyn Davis. Other speakers include vice-chancellors from the universities with which Sir Zelman was closely associated – the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, University of New England, Griffith University and Oriel College, Oxford – along with senior leaders from business and industry.

Employment Minister Senator Cash says deleting tweet after college meeting was the right thing

The Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator Michaelia Cash said she was not aware that a West Australian training college she met with had its registration cancelled and was the subject of a review.

Senator Cash deleted a tweet congratulating Stirling Skills Training and its chief executive Bala Suppiah for being an “integral part of the vocational education scene in Perth for over 30 years”.

ASQA cancelled Stirling’s registration in April and the decision was put on hold pending the outcome of a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In the meantime, the college has been told it can “neither enrol nor train additional students”.

Senator Cash said she was unaware at the time of the meeting that the college had a matter before the tribunal.

“We actually had a really good conversation. It was all about youth unemployment and the different programs that the government has in place,” Senator Cash said.

“When it was brought to my attention, I thought it was appropriate to take down the tweet, so as not to be seen to be influencing anything before the AAT.”

Tasmania offers grants to grow apprenticeships

Skills Tasmania is seeking submissions from eligible organisations to undertake innovative projects that help lift the number of apprentices and trainees.

The Growing Apprenticeships and Traineeships: Industry and Regionally-Led Solutions Program (GATIRS) program is funded by Department of State Growth and will provide grants of up to $200,000 for projects that lift apprentices and trainee employment.

Applications closes August 6.

See more.

Google’s expansion into training kicks off with free digital lessons

Google’s move into the area of skills training has taken another step with the launch of an Australia-wide program of free digital skills training.

Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva announced that ‘Grow with Google’ will be rolled out next year in all states and territories to provide digital skills training, both online and in-person.

“Grow with Google aims to help everyone – from business owners, to students, teachers, startups, workers, retirees, job seekers and not-for-profits – to build their skills, with lessons for people at all stages of the digital journey,” Ms Silva said.

The initiative was launched in March and includes an online learning hub accessible from any device with hundreds of training modules.

Diary Dates

National Apprentice Employment Network
2019 National Conference
31 July – 2 August 2019
Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast
More information

QLD School VET Conference
Velg Training
9 August 2019
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane
More Information

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

National Manufacturing Summit
21 & 22 August 2019
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
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


3 Australian training providers that connect academics to ambition

Since the expectations of today’s workforce have altered, career makeovers and new-collar jobs have become two major topics.

In their Future of Jobs report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) clarifies that by 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have presented us with advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Therefore, it has become a pressing requirement for students to upgrade their skills and to future proof their careers with courses that understand and integrate the importance of today’s rapid technological change.

Outlined by Forbes, “New collar jobs span multiple disciplines and you don’t require a college or university degree. To qualify for them, you need vocational training in relevant technical and soft skills.”

A growing category, classic new-collar jobs include cloud computing technicians, cybersecurity analysts, user interface designers, and other IT-based roles.

Regardless of your current career stage, switching over to a new-collar job is possible. By undertaking a career makeover with vocational and niche training courses that equip you with desirable soft skills, you’ll be adding another dimension to your CV by appealing to both emerging and traditional job roles.


Source: Deakin College

“Employers like self-directed learners who update their skills and refresh themselves. You must be agile and resilient to successfully navigate your way in the workplace of today. The good news is that continuous learning will place you leaps and bounds ahead of other professionals when it’s time for a career makeover, “ Forbes notes.

Connecting fresh academics to inner ambition is an equation for career success. Yet, you must ensure that the training provider you opt for has an open-minded outlook on the future of workplaces and caters for 21st-century career changers.

That’s why flexible programmes are becoming more popular as students want to learn at their own pace or further their studies while working.

Driven to keep up with the digital transition, students that opt for additional vocational courses speed ahead of those that are staying put in the third industrial revolution instead of evolving alongside the fourth.

Here are 3 Australian training providers that connect academics to ambitions…


An integral partner of the global higher education pioneer, Navitas Group, Deakin College is known as a melting pot of cultures, attracting students from all over the world and preparing learners for a globalised workspace.

Deakin-College-2  Deakin-College-1

Source: Deakin College

It doesn’t matter if you doubt your education or job history, because this College provides a direct pathway to future success through its three diverse campus locations and supports a successful transition to further studies at Deakin University.

In Australia, you can choose to study from three different campuses in the state of Victoria; Melbourne Burwood CampusGeelong Waurn Ponds Campus and Geelong Waterfront Campus.

By connecting programmes and diplomas to your professional aspirations, you can study a variety of disciplines such as foundation studiesbusinesscommercecommunicationconstruction managementdesignengineeringfilm, tv & animationhealth sciencesinformation technology and a Masters Qualifying Program (MQP), which leads to postgraduate studies at Deakin University.

Delivering innovative teaching and learning, positive student experience and engagement with digital learning technologies, Deakin College acknowledges the industry demands and pressures students face, that’s why the Student Learning Advisors are always available to support students in areas such as understanding their assignments, research skills and valuable study skills such as time management, referencing and how to avoid plagiarism.

With a reputation for being unique and visionary, consistently forging new paths both locally and globally, Deakin College is a smart study destination that enables you to achieve your career ambitions and encourages you to kickstart your future.

To find out more or apply to study at Deakin College click here.


Preparing students for the future with the development of soft skills and real-world experience, TAFE NSW is Australia’s largest training and education provider.

Deakin-College-2  Deakin-College-1  International-campus3-181026

Source: TAFE NSW

Standing for Technical and Further Education (TAFE), this education provider has campuses all across New South Wales, meaning international students can choose to study at over 50 locations!

By providing high quality, personalised vocational education and training to build prosperity, sustainability and innovation throughout New South Wales and beyond, more than 500,000 students enrol in TAFE NSW courses and training each year.

With over 230 courses available to international students and flexible English language courses commencing every Monday, 50 weeks of the year, TAFE NSW has always been a trusted choice, connecting you to teachers who excel in their profession and bring their expertise to the classroom.

Passionate about helping you build skills, to be ambitious and become inspired to achieve a brighter future, this Australian training provider offers you widely-recognised qualificationsthat meet national standards and is based on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF).

For international student, Ron Rocio from the Philippines, TAFE NSW allowed him to grow as both a person and a professional.

“I gained a practical and efficient education and I’m very excited to show the world what a TAFE NSW graduate can really do!  So, if you want to learn practical I-need-these-skills-to-actually-become-employable skills, go for TAFE NSW!” Ron explains.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s your time to be trained by industry experts, to be job-ready and feel connected to a diverse community with TAFE NSW.

TAFE NSW: Registered Training Organisation 90003, CRICOS Provider Number 00591E, Higher Education Provider PRV12049.


With the slogan, “Learn it. Work it”, TAFE SA in Adelaide takes a direct approach to work-integrated learning and vocational training.

Deakin-College-2  Deakin-College-1  International-campus3-181026  TAFE-SA

Source: TAFE SA

Believing that international students from more than 70 countries choose to study at TAFE SA for their quality of education and the enviable South Australian lifestyle, this training provider has both a location appeal and a learning appeal on their side.

Built in the heart of Adelaide, their English Language Centre (ELC) offers affordable, intensive English language programmes tailored to international students. Taking your employability skills to the next level; TAFE SA intensive English language courses will develop your English skills for future employment.

Understanding what’s required from employees during the fourth industrial revolution, TAFE SA places innovation at the forefront of their ambitions. Boasting a growing list of industry partners, the training provider is constantly updating their courses, facilities and methods of delivery to suit the latest career trends.

To meet industry demands, TAFE SA even has a new Simulated Business Community that operates like a real business with products and brands developed, marketed and traded, but in a no-risk virtual economy where students in business administration, finance, marketing and procurement can gain critical workplace skills in a practical environment regardless of their location.

Pushing student industry insights five steps further, TAFE SA is thinking ahead.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International.



Marshall Govt’s VET plan will privatise TAFE by stealth

The Marshall Government’s new VET plan shows it is determined to sell South Australia’s TAFE system to the highest bidder and allow private training providers to line their own pockets at the expense of TAFE students.

The plan will give profit-seeking private training providers access to TAFE SA sites at the same time that TAFE budgets in South Australia are being slashed.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe warned other states and territories not to follow suit, saying it would severely impact the ability of Australians to access affordable, high-quality vocational education. She said it would leave hundreds of thousands of trainees and apprentices across Australia at the mercy of profit-seeking private training providers.

“The Marshall Government’s agenda on vocational education is clear. It plans to wash its hands of responsibility for VET by privatising TAFE SA and allowing private training providers to line their pockets at the expense of students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It’s clear that big business is aligning with Liberal governments at both a state and federal level in a push to squeeze TAFE out completely and hand responsibility for vocational education to private providers.”

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

“TAFE is one of the crown jewels of the Australian education system. It has proudly provided vocational education for generations of Australians in everything from plumbing to nursing, childcare and IT.”

“The Marshall Government’s plan is a poorly-disguised bid by private training providers to line their own pockets at the expense of TAFE by hiding behind words like ‘choice’ and competition’,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that the Marshall Government’s new plan was the culmination of a years-long campaign to slash budgets and government support for TAFE SA:

  • SA government-funded VET student numbers have reduced from 150,000 in 2013 to just 63,000 in 2017
  • The SA Government’s total recurrent VET funding contribution has been cut by 40% since 2013, with recurrent VET expenditure per person now the second lowest in the country (after NSW)
  • Thirteen TAFE SA campuses have closed and more than 700 jobs have been lost, while moreTAFE campuses were earmarked for closure in the 2018 state budget

Ms Haythorpe said the moves by the Marshall Government to marginalise TAFE SA and favour private training providers were reflected nationally.

“Despite the clear and undisputed benefits that a robustly funded and administered public TAFE and vocational education 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.

“This anti-TAFE push is gathering speed. In its first Federal Budget the Morrison Government included no additional specified funding for TAFE-amazingly, it failed to mention TAFE at all.”

“History has shown that private providers aren’t interested in quality education. ITECA represents profit-seeking private education providers and is focused on taking government TAFE funding and giving it to private providers,” 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.