2014 Archive

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Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 18 December 2014 in VET

Late last month the OECD released Skills Beyond School (116 pages) which reviews how OECD countries are meeting the demand for skills, or falling short of the mark. And falling short is what most countries are doing.

The image and status of VET is something that the report suggests needs to be tackled with vim. That’s a familiar refrain in Australia. Many of you will be interested to know that the report suggests ditching the title ‘vocational education’ altogether and rebranding everything we do as ‘professional education and training’ – that’s what the Swiss do as one way of countering the appeal of university.

If 116 pages isn’t your cup of tea, there’s a good overview of the report on the University World News website. But before you forego the longer version let’s recommend a couple of sections that might grab your attention.

Figure 1.1 on page 29 is worth a captain. It’s a bar chart that shows the proportions of VET learners in 20 countries who are enrolled in four main industry areas – engineering, manufacturing and construction; health and welfare; social sciences, business and law; and teacher training and education sciences. It’s a perfect picture of how varied well-to-do economies are.

There’s a section titled ‘Strengthening the training workforce’ (pages 60-63) that starts out by saying:

Vocational teachers and lecturers have jobs that in many ways are more demanding than those of academic teachers. They not only need to have knowledge and experience of the diverse package of skills required in particular professions, they also need to know how to convey those skills to others. On top of this, they need to continuously update their knowledge in response to changes in technology and working practices.

Interestingly, the report approaches the question of quality assurance and risk in a way that differentiates between public and private providers. Maybe a little too stark, but here’s a quote from this section of the report (page 44):

While private providers very often play a useful role, issues of quality assurance arise. Of course quality assurance is important for the public sector too, but while in the public-sector the risk is uninspiring programmes run in the interest of the institutions and the teaching profession, the risk in the private sector is of training providers devoting their energies and their innovative capacity to profit-seeking – so a different type of quality assurance is necessary.

No question that this report will make some people very cross, or even everyone very cross for different reasons.

Right at the end (page 112-113) there’s a very short section titled ‘Supporting conditions: The policies, practices and institutions that underpin vocational education and training’. Four supporting conditions are nominated:

1.    Vocational programs developed in partnership and involving government, employers and trade unions

2.    Effective, accessible, independent, proactive career guidance, backed by solid career information

3.    Strong data on vocational programmes, including information on vocational programmes in international categorisations and labour market outcomes

4.    Consistent funding arrangements so that choices are not distorted by the availability of funds

This is a synthesis report that pulls together information from some 20 countries. Australia only gets a couple of specific mentions and we weren’t one of the 20 focus nations for the review.

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Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 in VET Conferences

Date:     29-30 April 2015

Venue:  Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Theme:  People – Place – Technology

Melbourne University’s Centre for Workplace Leadership is holding its second conference on the Future of Work – a topic that matters greatly to the VET sector given its specific brief to be ahead of the curve in readying vocational learners for the workplaces of today and tomorrow.

This is a general heads up about the conference as it’s a wee bit early to expect a fleshed out program. However, the suite of keynote speakers is filling out – here’s a sample, along with Twitter handles:

·         Dan Pink (@DanielPink) will beam in. Pink is a best-selling author on business, work and management. In 2013 he was named one of the world’s top 15 business thinkers by Thinkers 50.

·         Bernard Salt (@BernardSalt), an Australian demographer who keeps a close watch on what population change means for the way we organise work, family, and society.

·         Angela Ferguson (@futurespace____), Managing Director of futurespace, a design team that has a special interest in creating workspaces that work.

For a taste of the 2014 conference, there is a selective summary of presentationsavailable (7 pages).

The conference website is here.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 December 2014

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Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 15 December 2014 in VET

This is the title of an e-brief released in November e-brief released in November (28 pages) by the NSW Parliamentary Research Service. While the brief examines the NSW policy context closely, its scope is national as it explains how the current policy settings for TAFE and VET more broadly have emerged over time. It charts in particular the increasing prominence of private providers in VET delivery.

The e-brief starts out with three scene-setting quotes:

… the more dynamic is the technological pace of an economy, the more human capital is required relative to physical capital … Our central finding is that 1 extra hour of vocational training per employee … generates 0.55 additional percentage points of productivity growth – from Hector Sala and Jose Silva’s 2011 research paper Labour Productivity and Vocational Training: Evidence from Europe

[TAFE institutes] are more than the sum of their courses – they are an important part of our economic … infrastructure – Innes Willox, chief executive, Australian Industry Group

In the 10 year period from 2006 to 2016 a total of four million people will need to acquire higher education or vocational education and training qualifications to meet expected skill needs arising from employment growth, retirements and skill deepening … primarily due to an overall rise in the level of skill and qualifications within occupations … Of the four million … 2.474 million will be vocational education and training qualifications … That is, on average, each year there will be a need for … 247,000 vocational education and training completions – Centre for the Economics of Education and Training, Monash University

The e-brief proceeds with a statistical overview of TAFE in NSW before turning to the history of public vocational education provision in NSW – all the way back to the 19th century – before turning attention in section 5 to path of national policy from Whitlam government to the present day. On that history tour we stop at a couple of important stations – the introduction of competition for public VET funding in Victoria and South Australia, followed by section 6 which dwells on changes in NSW policy from the Greiner government’s introduction of fees in 1988 to the introduction most recently of the current NSW government’s ‘Smart and Skilled’ policy.

The e-brief is admirably non-partisan and gives equal billing to views about current policy setting and policy directions held across the political spectrum. The conclusion does raise a number of questions, indirectly, about what the impact and course of policy changes.

It’s a good read for history and VET buffs, and its reference list is a goldmine.

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Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 12 December 2014 in Research

Our sturdy VET research hub, NCVER, never ceases to supply several riveting reads each month. This month – December – you can expect to see all of these:

·         Does scored vocational education and training in schools help or hinder access to higher education in Victoria?

·         Entry to vocations: building the foundations for successful transitions

·         Young people in education and training 2013

·         VET in Schools 2013

·         Key performance and program measures for school-aged youth in vocational education and training 2013.

How about we cycle back to October and pick, let’s see, this one – Readiness to meet demand for skills: a study of five growth industries (42 pages) by Francesca Beddie, Mette Creaser, Jo Hargreaves, and Adrian Ong.

This report comes about through the Commonwealth Department of Industry’s interest in knowing how well set the education sector was ‘to meet demand from five industries where potential market opportunities have been identified: food and agribusiness; mining equipment, technology and services; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; oil and gas; and advanced manufacturing.’ The report suggests that the findings from the research have wide application to other industry areas.

There are many valuable parts in this report. It’s a good choice for that long, lazy week between Christmas and New Year. But if you want to fit it in before you start the Christmas break, then you might want to zero in on the sections to do with existing workers and the teaching workforce.

On existing workers the report notes that:

There is no one-size-fits-all way to help existing workers to gain additional skills or to retrain for different industries. In agriculture, for example, the learning culture ‘is typically, incremental, socially embedded and occurs over a lifetime’ (Agrifood Skills Australia 2013, p.iv), demanding that interventions are tailored not only to filling gaps but also to the way learners learn. For those forced to find new jobs, their options will depend on skills as well as on personal circumstance and the availability of work in their local area or on their willingness to move. When faced with the prospect of unemployment, some affected workers will move into lower-paid and/or part-time jobs requiring lower skills.

This section of the report goes on to list, for each of the five industry sectors, the key characteristics of skills gaps and skill demand for existing workers, and the workforce issues impacting on the way the education and training system responds. For example, items in the list for advanced manufacturing include:

·         Emerging university graduates tend to lack practical competencies

·         Both VET and the higher education sectors need to emphasise employability skills and to foster agility and adaptability.

·         It is estimated that almost 50% of workers in the manufacturing industry have language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills below the required functional level

·         The skills of manufacturing workers may not be easily identified as transferable

For existing workers, the report puts strong weight on the value of skill sets and RPL.

Moving to the second section mentioned earlier – the teaching workforce – it’s worth taking a trip to page 26. One point in particular is worth retailing here, and that’s about professional development for VET practitioners:

Professional development opportunities are essential if VET practitioners are to maintain their industry currency, further upgrade their own skills and engage constructively in the innovation cycle. The Manufacturing Skills Australia scan reported (2014, p.38) that 45% of registered training organisations claimed to suffer from skills shortages, while enterprises increasingly report that training providers are not able to add any value to training programs by way of technical expertise, especially in niche skill areas.

Getting to grips with systematic maintenance of industry currency is actually a priority for the economy. It would be good to paint the picture in those terms rather than discuss industry currency, as so often seems to be the case, as primarily a regulatory requirement related to the RTO standards.

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Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 12 December 2014 in VET Conferences

Date:     25-26 February 2015

Venue:  Victoria University City Convention Centre, Melbourne

Theme:  Driving cost savings & new revenue streams

The conference focus will touch a chord with many in the VET community. Among the keynote players are:

·         Malcolm White, Acting Chief Executive Officer, TAFE Directors Australia, speaking on ‘Understanding the reform process & its impact on VET’

·         Jodi Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, TAFE QLD, speaking on ‘The impacts of higher education deregulation’

·         Mary Faraone, Chief Executive, Holmesglen Institute, speaking on ‘Driving commercial performance from a public provider’.

The conference chair is Gary Cobbledick, Managing Director of Spectra Training, who will speak on the topic of ‘Building partnerships with employers & industry to promote sustainable futures’.

Other speakers include:

·         Jacqueline Bates, Manager – Online Business Strategy, TAFE NSW, Riverina Institute

·         David Windridge, Director & Chief Executive Officer, MEGT Australian Apprenticeships Centre

·         Norman Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Box Hill Institute.

There are two full day workshops associated with the conference.

Workshop A will run on 24th February 2015 – the topic is ‘How to cost programs & projects for profitability’. The workshop leader is Peter Schultz, VET Business Analyst.

Workshop B will run on 27 February 2015 – the topic is ‘How to innovate course offerings & workplace development’. The workshop leader is Melanie Worrall, Managing Director, The Klevar Group.



Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 04 December 2014 in VET

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) held its annual conference in Sydney on 1-2 September.

You can now download conference presentations from this page on the TDA website. They include:

·         ‘Future labour markets: The future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed’, by Mark Cully, Chief Economist, Department of Industry

·         ‘Innovations in learning’, by Tom Bentley, Advisor, Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation on Education & Innovation

·         ‘Technology and student outcomes: what works?’, by Francesca Saccaro, A/Institute Director, Western Sydney Institute

·         ‘VET Regulation – How does Australia compare?’, by Rod Camm, CEO, ACPET.

On 31 October we posted about a Mitchell Institute paper delivered at the conference, titled ‘Expenditure on education and training in Australia: Analysis and background paper’.

Megan Lilly, Director Education and Training, Australian Industry Group, delivered anissues paper to the conference. Lilly identified the following suite of opportunities for VET providers in the changing skills and workforce environment:

·         Expand provision of technical and management STEM skills in tertiary education

·         Orient apprenticeships to new types of skills needed by the growth opportunities

·         Develop LLN and digital literacy skills

·         Strengthen links with schools to encourage work ready individuals

·         Ensure leadership and management programs integrate connections with company culture and work organisation to enable innovation and learning

·         Develop capability in companies by providing relevant higher level qualifications to upskill existing workers

·         Expand implementation of work integrated learning to promote graduate work readiness.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 in Research

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is funded by the Australian government to promote excellence in the teaching profession and in school leadership. Among the array of functions and initiatives in which AITSL is engaged there is a strong emphasis on professional learning.

AITSL commissioned the UK’s Innovation Unit to undertake a scan of international practice related to innovative professional development for teachers. A few months back the report on this investigation was released, titled Global Trends in Professional Learning and Performance and Development: Some implications and ideas for the Australian education system (36 pages). The reflections and ideas are pertinent for teachers in all sectors, including VET.

It makes for fascinating reading. Among the many observations of note in the report are these:

·         There is an emphasis on personalisation of and informality in professional learning and performance and development in the examples.

·         Professional learning and performance and development are offered, and incentivised through recognition and sometimes tangible reward, usually within a culture of high expectations.

·         Social media and other online platforms are providing new (remote) environments for professional learning and performance and development. Communities of educators are finding each other online in spaces where they can learn and develop their practice together.

·         While there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ features of professional learning and performance and development, we can start to notice that some features are more likely than others to appear in the most powerful examples. In particular, the features associated with agency of the individual in the choice of focus and the design of their professional learning and performance and development are well represented. Opportunities for self-direction, to see professional learning and performance and development as offers, and for learning to be personalised appear to be very important.

The report identified five main trends in innovative professional learning and performance and development:

1.    Integrated. Professional learning and performance and development are closely connected, and are embedded within organisational culture and practice.

2.    Immersive. Intensive, holistic experiences that challenge beliefs and values, and radically alter practice.

3.    Design-led. Disciplined, problem-solving processes that require deep understanding of and engagement with users.

4.    Market-led. New providers stimulate demand and grow the market for new products and services.

5.    Open. Ideas and resources are freely exchanged in unregulated online environments

AITSL has provided, via this webpage, a number of ways into exploring the findings. They include:

·         There are drop down lists of 50 examples of innovative approaches to professional growth from across the world, like Long distance observation (low cost, online alternative to face-to-face observation and feedback), MyLivePD (Immediate, personalised online feedback and coaching), Student Commission on Learning (teachers and students work together to research what makes good learning, and then apply and evaluate new practices), Hyper Island (Experiential, problem and team-based learning), and Showcase (Immersion experiences designed to create debate and test new models/approaches).

·         You can also access the 50 examples in a single document here.

·         Six case studies of innovation in professional learning and performance and development (26 pages), which include:

o    Bringing HR into the 21st Century: U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Personnel Demonstration (Lab Demo)

o    Organization-specific, career-long learning: Infosys

o    Design-led models: Me PD + Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit.

·         A six page infographic that introduces the main elements of the six case studies.

·         A short video that introduces the findings in summary form.

Of the 50 examples that are presented, about half come from the education sector. The remainder come from industry, the public sector, and non-profit agencies.

This scan of professional learning provides a great resource for prompting conversations among managers, teachers and providers of professional learning about priorities for and design of professional learning.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 01 December 2014 in VET

Like all the Industry Skills Councils, Innovation & Business Skills Australia (IBSA) produces an Environment Scan which sets out the emerging skills and workforce development needs for the industry areas it covers. In addition to the full 2014Environment Scan (82 pages) which overviews all industry sectors in a summary document, IBSA released detailed scans on each sector.

The Training and Education Environment Scan 2014 (48 pages) scopes in pre-school, school and post-secondary education and training – this post picks up a number of items that relate to VET.

The Scan provides a list of occupations and job roles that are reported to be in demand, including:

·         trainers with foundation skills expertise, particularly LLN

·         instructional designers, in particular content developers for online delivery

·         people competent to deliver TAE

·         quality auditors

·         compliance consultants

·         workforce planning and development specialists

·         coaches and mentors

·         business development managers

·         curriculum writers

·         market researchers.

In 2012, the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment had a total of 42,157 enrolments across Australia. It is interesting to note that the number of completions in training and education qualifications (to which the TAE contributes around 90%) grew dramatically from 2009 to 2011, but dropped in 2012, as the Scan illustrates.

So far as age is concerned, the Scan observes that enrolments in education and training qualifications continue to show an upward trend for all age groups over 30, peaking in the 40-49 age group.

The Scan presents a list of areas in which activity seems necessary if the education and training sector is to respond effectively to the emerging environment. IBSA’s view is that professional development is particularly important in the following areas:

·         LLN skills and Foundation Skills and embedding into training delivery and assessment

·         assessment skills

·         use of RPL and RCC to recognise existing skills and knowledge and to customise training to meet the needs of the learner and employers

·         ICT and instructional design skills to better integrate technology into training delivery and assessment

·         strategies to maintain industry currency

·         developing policies and procedures that embed standards and ensure compliance.

The Scan suggests that it is important to deepen the sector’s workforce capabilities in partnering with:

·         higher education providers to provide career pathways, establish articulation arrangements and develop strategies to address industry demand

·         other vocational training providers to provide industry with a total workforce solution.

IBSA’s 2015 Environment Scan will be released in early 2015. You can register your interest in receiving a copy of the Scan, including the Training and Education Scan, here.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 28 November 2014 in Research

This state of the art leadership and strategic program is available to 45 women in science. Come on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Antarctica — and a new future for our planet.

• Elevate the role of women in leadership globally • Clearly demonstrate how polar science tells us what is happening with the planet • Explore how women at the leadership table might give us a more sustainable future

HOW? Come aboard a ship set for Antarctica on a 30 day trip of discovery, learning and connections.

On board you’ll be given state of the art strategic leadership education. Joining this program will be people such as:

•   Jane Goodall (World famous primatologist and environmentalist)

•   Franny Armstrong (Filmmaker, the Age of Stupid, 100 most influential women in the world)

•   Dr Susan David (Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Coaching, awarded coach)

Along the way, a team of globally acknowledged scientists will share valuable insights into the complex environmental systems our world relies upon.

The whole process — from selection to induction, the voyage to the return into the waiting world — will form the content for a companion feature length documentary. Captured by a team of leading Australian documentary makers, this film will shine a light on the global crisis that is the profound shortage of women in leadership, encouraging a ripple effect of change to address this imbalance once and for all.

Share your voice and ideas, revealing how you take the Homeward Bound experience and translate it in to everyday life — and inspire countless others along the way.

To hear Fabian Dattner (project leader) of Dattner Grant speak about the program:http://youtu.be/SN6IgXK73GE


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 20 November 2014 in Industry

Austrade is the handle for Australian Trade Commission, an arm of the Australian government that supports offshore business development for Australian industries.

International education is Australia’s largest services export and Austrade keeps a pretty tidy Education website that you may be interested to browse around. Among the resources you’ll find on enrolments are:

·         an interactive map of key education markets – select one which leads you to a description of market along with business opportunities and other news

·         one page monthly data summaries showing enrolments in each education sector, the top five nationalities for enrolments, and other analysis

·         enrolment graphs that allow to follow month on month changes in enrolments in each education sector, and overall

You can follow Austrade’s International Education operations on Twitter: @Austrade_Ed

The VET Development Centre produces occasional podcasts. The fourth in our podcast series is a conversation between the Centre’s CEO, Denise Stevens, and Marie Hill, AUSTRADE’s Manager of International Education. You can listen to or download the podcast here.

Visit this Podomatic page to see all VET Development Centre podcasts.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 in VET

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plays an important role in bringing together resources that are applied to assisting Asian nations to reduce poverty. It has a presence in projects as diverse as energy, transport and water infrastructure, improving school education systems, and tackling environmental challenges.

The ADB has a strong interest in VET. The Bank notes a number of priorities for VET system development in the region:

·         strengthening TVET’s links to industry and workplace training

·         basing TVET on standards that are set or validated by industry

·         making learner placement, internships, and on-the-job training programs regular features of TVET delivery

·         coordinating TVET development with government departments responsible for trade and industry, workplace relations, and science and technology, to align skills being taught with government policy directions

The ADB publishes regular reports, articles and blog posts on VET which can be accessed via its dedicated Technical and Vocational Education webpage. Publications over the past year or so include:

·         ‘Sustainable Vocational Training toward Industrial Upgrading and Economic Transformation’ (a joint initiative of the People’s Republic of China and ADB) – report

·         ‘Linking Vocational Education to Better Jobs in Indonesia’ – feature article

·         ‘Vocational Education in Timor-Leste Boosts Employment Opportunities for the Youth’ – video

·         ‘Skills for Competitiveness, Jobs, and Employability in Developing Asia-Pacific’ – policy brief.

Education is one of the ADB’s five main areas of focus in the period to 2020. A broad overview of the ABD’s work in education is available here. The Bank’s plans in education are detailed in Education by 2020: A Sector Operations Plan (34 pages) which includes specific reference to VET. The ADB’s blog is a useful resource for getting to know what the Bank is doing. Posts on education come along from time to time and can be tracked by dropping in to the listing of the Education Team’s posts.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 17 November 2014 in Industry

Consultation now open: 17 November – 12 December 2014

Have your say and make a difference to the future of training and workforce design in your industry

The public consultation of draft components for HLT Health and CHC Community Services Training Packages is now open until 12 December 2014. This is your final chance to view and provide comment on components for Direct Client Care, Community Services, Community Development and Cross Sector Units.

Following this review these components will be submitted for final endorsement to theIndustry and Skills Council Advisory Committee in June 2015.

Sectors included in this review are:

Direct Client Care (Draft 4): Aged Care, Home and Community Care, Disability, Leisure and Health, Health Service Assistance, Allied Health Assistance, Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health

Oral Health (Draft 1): Oral Health and Dental Assisting

Community Services (Draft 4): Community Services General, Advocacy, Advanced Children Services, Community Sector Coordination and Case Management

Community Development (Draft 3): Community Development and Education, Social Housing and Volunteering

Cross Sector Units (Draft 4)

For full details on how to submit your feedback please visit the Training Package Public Consultation webpage.

For all general enquiries please contact:

Training Packages Team – Tel: (02) 8226 6600  Email: cip@cshisc.com.au  Website:www.cshisc.com.au


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 17 November 2014 in VET

Feedback is now open for the Validation Draft of the SIS Cross-Sector Training Package Components.

To review and provide feedback on the content, please visit Service Skills Australia’sFeedback Register and access the project titled SIS Cross-Sector Training Package Components.

Feedback on the Validation Draft closes Wednesday 7 January 2015.

Find out more about the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package review by visiting the project webpage or by contacting Elly Snyder on 02 8243 1200 oresnyder@serviceskills.com.au

You can also keep up to date with the Training Package review, and with Service Skills Australia’s activities by registering for news alerts and the monthly eNewsletter.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 10 April 2014 in TAFE

Among the four finalists for the NSW Premier’s 2014 Award for Woman of the Year was TAFE teacher Fiona Shewring. Since 2000, Fiona has taught Painting and Decorating at the Wollongong campus of TAFE Illawarra.

On the night, the Award went to mining engineer and burns survivor, Turia Pitt. Fiona might not have been too surprised – in this NSW TAFE media release Fiona said her hunch was that Turia might be the Premier’s pick, saying she has followed Turia’s journey of strength and courage.

Congratulations, Fiona, on your nomination for this prestigious Award.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 in Research

A recent NCVER research report, Refining models and approaches in continuing education and training(52 pages) provides important insights about the kinds of learning opportunities and delivery models that are favoured by workers and employers. Views were gathered from people in four industry sectors: mining, services/hospitality, financial services, and health and community services.

The Executive Summary sets out workers’ and managers’ purpose and preferences for engaging in continuing education and training.

Among key points from the perspective of workers are:

·         preferring learning experiences that are based in the workplace and involve the support of experienced others

·         effective ongoing learning is achieved through a combination of engagement in work tasks they were learning about, guidance by more knowledgeable and locally informed partners, and training interventions related to immediate work and future work life plans

·         group learning activities, whether on or off site, are effective when the instructional quality is high, learning fulfils immediate needs, and there are immediate opportunities to practise what is being learnt.

The research also found that when a worker’s objective is to change occupation or jobs then they preferred ‘structured courses, assessment and certification available through the formal education and training system.’

From the perspective of managers, key points are:

·         workplace-specific factors drive their preference for and approaches to continuing education and training

·         the effectiveness of training programs in meeting enterprise goals

·         the need for learning experiences to focus on workplace issues and goals.

For training providers, the practical implications are that varied learning designs and models of delivery are necessary if the VET system is to meet the diverse needs of workers and enterprises. The report observes (p. 20):

… despite its prominence in Australian vocational education and training, across the workers interviewed, structured off-the-job training is generally not the preferred means for maintaining workplace competence, although such provision was reported as an important element of this learning when local experience and expertise are insufficient. However, structured accredited training plays particular and important roles for those wishing to learn to secure a new job or occupation, with instances in the interviews of workers intending to advance their careers through future study.

Managers are reported to believe that (p. 22):

… work-related learning is best when registered training organisations are familiar with and supportive of the work requirements in particular workplaces. Significant here is the managers’ view of assistance for learning as largely comprising training programs. This view is dominant across the managers’ responses and applies to group and individual training and in-house or off-site provision. Learning is assisted, in this view, when structured training is targeted and efficiently enacted. Generally, the managers claimed, highly skills-based training is facilitated through small groups, instructed by experts in the field. In contrast, more conceptual, foundational knowledge-based training is facilitated by prolonged one-on-one interaction with experienced supervisors.

The research also investigated the views of workers and managers about the obstacles to learning.

The report is likely to be very useful as a resource for those responsible for energising partnerships between enterprises and training providers.

The words of workers and managers are quoted throughout the report. Here is Fletcher, who works in the services sector:

Kevin is my supervisor and we discuss things regularly and Kevin has a wealth of information regarding the industry … he’s also a life balance mentor as well. He makes sure that you’re not doing excessive hours and killing yourself over it all.

Excellent. The more Kevins the better!

Part of a three year research program funded through the National Vocational Education and Training Research (NVETR) Program, this is the second report from the Griffith University research team (Stephen Billett, Sarojni Choy, Darryl Dymock, Ray Smith, Ann Kelly, Mark Tyler, Amanda Henderson, Jason Lewis and Fred Beven).

You may be interested in two earlier posts related to this topic:

·         Encouraging industry co-funding of training

·         Tracking employer engagement with the VET system over time.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 03 April 2014 in TAFE

Pretty soon, Central Queensland TAFE (CQ TAFE) and Central Queensland University (CQU) will merge – on July 1 to be precise, as this CQU media release explains.

Before celebrating the merger, we should celebrate CQ TAFE’s 125th anniversary. The Institute began life in 1889 as the Rockhampton Technical College.

As we’re focussed on good news from CQ TAFE, let’s continue with this story about Mick Schinkel, who teaches electrical apprentices at CQ TAFE’s Mackay campus. In February, Mick did a round trip to Phillip Island in Victoria to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s support, research and awareness programs. Mick joined 60 other Rumble Riders on the journey.

What’s really remarkable about Mick’s ride is that it was his first time back on the bike for a long trip after a bike accident three years ago that left him seriously injured.

Happy travelling, Mick.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 03 April 2014 in VET

If you’re interested in how VET works and performs in other countries, this is a good starting place. The European Centre for Development of Vocational Training, or CEDEFOP, has recently released On the way to 2020: data for vocational education and training policies – Country statistical overviews (130 pages).

The report presents statistics and a bit of commentary on 28 European Union (EU) member states, and five countries that are seeking EU membership – so from Iceland to Turkey, and Finland to Malta.

Updated to 2013, the run down on each country includes:

·         a chart showing indicators relating to: Access, attractiveness and flexibility; Skill development and labour market relevance; Overall transitions and employment trends

·         a brief analysis of each of country performance in each of these categories

·         a chart on select indicators showing how each country compares to average performance across the EU.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 28 March 2014 in Research

Whatever field of education you’re in, John Hattie’s book, Visible Learning, is a great resource. In Visible Learning, Hattie (who is Professor of Education at Melbourne University and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute) has analysed thousands of studies involving hundreds of thousands of students and teachers.

The Visible Learning website has a host of resources about ‘what works best for learning’. Hattie’s breathtaking research has identified high impact teaching practices to which he has allocated a rating. On this webpage is a ranking of teaching practices that have the greatest influence on student achievement. Here are the top five, noting that the closer the effect size is to 1.0 the greater the impact on learning:

1.    Providing formative evaluation of programs – 0.9

2.    Comprehensive interventions for learning disabled students – 0.77

3.    Reciprocal teaching – 0.74

4.    Feedback – 0.73

5.    Spaced versus mass practice – 0.71

Some of these terms may be unfamiliar. Hattie’s book, Visible Learning, explains all. For example, as Hattie explains (Visible Learning, p. 185-186), in spaced versus massed practice:

It is the frequency of different opportunities rather than merely spending ‘more’ time on task that makes the difference to learning … Nuthall (2005) claimed that students often needed three to four exposures to the learning – usually over several days – before there was a reasonable probability that they would learn. This is consistent with the power of spaced rather than massed practice.

True, the vast majority of studies that Hattie has analysed come from the pre-school and school sectors, though there are studies from post-school settings represented in the analyses. However, many of our learnings about learning are pretty portable across education sectors, remembering that we make more of the sectoral divides for administrative reasons rather than learning reasons. So far as learning is concerned in pre-school, postgrad or VET, whether you are six or 56, feedback is royalty among teaching practices. Hattie’s analyses can help us zero in on which teaching practices deserve a chair in the teacher’s lair.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 in Workforce Development

Starting a new career as a teacher comes with great expectations, butterflies and uncertainties. Providing new teachers with experienced mentors is a great way to smooth the way into their new profession, to boost their confidence, and to resolve the unanticipated problems that the old hands have already thought through or even solved.

Edudemic has assembled in an infographic 27 tips for mentoring new teachers: nine for mentors, nine for new teachers, and nine for managers/administrators.

Among the tips for mentors are:

·         Find the strengths of the new teacher. Work together to find ways to implement and enhance these strengths.

·         Allow the new teacher to shadow and observe you for the day. Explain why you do what you do.

·         Debrief regularly. This is a discussion, not a report. Discuss what was done that day, how it may be improved, and how the teacher felt.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 March 2014 in VET

On March 4, Queensland’s Minister for Education, Training and Employment, The Honourable John-Paul Langbroek, introduced the Further Education and Training Bill 2014into the Queensland Parliament.

You can read the Minister’s media release here, in which Mr Langbroek indicates that ‘the Bill had already received positive feedback from industry and was a key milestone in the implementation of Great Skills. Real Opportunities. – the Queensland Government’s significant reform agenda for VET.’

The Bill is accompanied by a set of Explanatory Notes (29 pages) which works through the provisions of the proposed legislation. Among the changes identified in the Explanatory Notes are:

·         a new regulatory framework for apprenticeships and traineeships which seeks to reduce regulation and resolve overlap in regulatory arrangements

·         reduced legislative barriers to employment and training opportunities, such as enabling young people to access more flexible pathways to becoming a tradesperson, including using training packages to gain a necessary qualification rather than working as an apprentice or trainee.

One outcome of the new legislation is that it will allow the merger between Central Queensland University and Central Queensland TAFE to take place as planned on July 1 this year.

In June last year we posted about Queensland’s new legislation for TAFE.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 21 March 2014 in VET in Schools

Susan Ley is Commonwealth Assistant Minister for Education, assisting the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne. Ms Ley has special responsibility for VETiS. And she is giving the future of VETiS quite a lot of time and thought.

There are two documents you might like to peruse that give a strong sense of what might turn up the VETiS agenda when the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (comprising relevant ministers from around the country) meets on 11 April. The headline agenda item is to review the New framework for vocational education in schools, which was new in 2001 when it was introduced.

So if that’s the headline agenda item, what are the dot points? Back to those two documents you might like to peruse:

·         Minister Ley’s media release of 20 February, issued before a meeting with 40 VETiS stakeholders to discuss what a new new framework ought to look like – the media release is titled ‘Ley brings together industry & schools to talk Voc Ed reform’

·         the Minister speech on 7 March at the launch of launch the TAFE National Achievement Scholarships – the speech is titled ‘State of VET in Australian schools and the need for greater links with industry and training providers’.

Those titles begin to fill out the picture. There’s more detail than you might expect in the text.

A couple of excerpts from the media release help to set the scene:

·         the Minister is ‘concerned about the “growing inconsistency” between the quality of training being delivered in schools and the expectations of employers, particularly traditional trades

·         the Minister is quoted as saying that ‘the pathway for vocational education students needs to be as clear as the pathway for those heading to university – they shouldn’t be treated like the “B team”.’

There’s much more in her speech of 7 March. The Minister draws attention to some statistics and feedback before going through a long list of changes she’d like to discuss with ministers from state and territory governments. There are two statistics and one piece of feedback that give us further perspective – to quote from the speech:

·         ‘More than 240 000 school students were enrolled in one or more VETiS subjects in 2012. That’s around 30 per cent of year 10, 11 and 12 students – a terrific result, but one we can improve.’

·         ‘22,500 of these students were in school-based apprenticeships and traineeships – that’s only around 9% of VETiS students – a figure we can, should and must increase.’

·         ‘Successful VETiS programmes require collaboration between what I call the three pillars of the system – schools, the training sector and industry.’

Alright, alright. The details. What is the Minister proposing? There are nine substantive points in her speech – space here just to cover four of them. Quotes directly from the speech again:

·         ‘Firstly, we need to be very clear on what VETiS is. There is a clear distinction between “vocational learning” and “VETiS”. The updated Framework needs to recognise that vocational learning – which is important for all students for life – is different to VETiS – which is linked to skilling an individual for a job.’

·         ‘All trainers, including those in the schooling sector, need sufficient workplace practice to acquire and maintain current industry knowledge.’

·         ‘I also want to be sure we have a system which makes it clear to our kids that they no longer have to choose between school and a trade – that they can graduate Year 12 with the necessary skills to successfully continue their training with an employer.’

·         ‘VETiS courses should be equivalent to academic courses in rigour and in their expectations of students, even while emphasising an applied learning approach.’

It looks like there could some heavy VETiS lifting for schools, school systems and VET providers involved in VETiS delivery.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 20 March 2014 in VET

The Indigenous Jobs and Training Review, chaired by Twiggy Forrest, is weighing the best options for creating sustainable employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

There is a swarm of idea in the submissions which you can download from this page, including those from:

·         Aboriginal Training Programs, TasTAFE

·         Adult Learning Australia

·         Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency

·         Group Training Australia

·         MEGT

·         Ratep: Community-Based Indigenous Teacher Education Program (Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE, Education Queensland, and James Cook University)

·         RMIT University

·         Service Skills Australia

·         TAFE NSW Riverina Institute

Unsurprisingly, many submissions place great emphasis on education from early childhood to adulthood, and VET is seen to have a central role.

The National VET Equity Advisory Council underlines the importance to sustainable employment outcomes of cultural awareness among trainers and in workplaces:

VET institutions and workplaces can create a safe, culturally-responsive environment that capitalises on the knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous people. One way to support this is through developing sector-wide approaches to building cultural competence, and to encourage the employment and career progression of Indigenous staff.

In addition to expanding VETiS in remote schools, the National Native Title Council submission suggests the Review considers developing ‘a strategy for compulsory apprenticeships for young Aboriginal school leavers in remote and regional centres.’

Rio Tinto Australia, which has a longstanding commitment to training and employing Indigenous Australians, notes that:

Ongoing skills development, provision of vocational education and training and talent management beyond the initial placement in a role should be pursued to support career progression. This will be critical to long-term, sustainable employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians and will support the development of skills in emerging technology-driven areas.

NUDJ Plumbing (Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation, the Victorian Plumbers Union, Cooke & Dowsett Pty Ltd and the Jarlmadangah Burru Aboriginal Corporation) suggests that sustainable employment outcomes rely on a kind of end-to-end support:

The NUDJ Plumbing Services model of engaging local youth in pre apprenticeship programs and then into apprenticeships whilst keeping it real for the apprentices as they complete their training away from local communities and family is delivering sustainable employment outcomes. The methodology NUDJ has adopted is rigorous and engages the apprentice from the beginning of the process to not only completion of the apprenticeship but to ongoing employment and career paths and the return to communities on occasion.

Crafting good strategies to improve Indigenous workforce participation is a knotty task, but an important one given that unemployment for Indigenous Australians is about three times that for the community as a whole. Keep an eye out for the Review report, which is due to land in the Prime Minister’s hands on 7 April.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 in Research

Take a moment to look at some of the ten case studies on good practice in VET jointly produced by England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), and theEducation and Training Foundation.

Released in late January, the brief case studies (around six pages) showcase learning outcomes and teaching practice. The case studies are written as a resource for VET teachers to apply in their own teaching. The case studies include:

·         Developing an entrepreneurial culture

·         Engaging employers in designing a vocational curriculum

·         Using technology creatively to develop students’ understanding

·         Flexible learning programmes for childcare practitioners

·         Developing high-level skills in upholstery and soft furnishings.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 17 March 2014 in Workforce Development

Over time, the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (T&L ISC) has assembled a swag of case studies about enterprises that have implemented workforce development strategies. The latest set of case studies, simply called Skilling Transport, became available in December last.

There’s a real spread among these six case studies, from Navigators (a Hobart cruise and ferry operator) through to Sharp Airlines (based in Hamilton, Victoria), and Toll HoldingsGlobal Logistics Division. Each case study includes a company profile (downloadable, 4 pages), a profile of a trainee (downloadable, 4 pages) and a video of the trainee (a minute or so), and a video of the CEO talking to the benefits of workforce development (around a minute each).

The T&L ISC has made the Skilling Transport case studies available via an iTunes app for iPad. You can download the app here.

T&L ISC case studies produced earlier in 2013, available on this webpage, cover a range of stories about good outcomes from activities that attracted funds from the National Workforce Development Fund.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 17 March 2014 in Research

The VET Blog occasionally dips into the past to look at reports that have illuminated important issues in VET. In April last year we posted about a 2007 NCVER report entitledWhat is a skills shortage?> This post is concerned with a 2006 Australian Industry Grouppaper, World Class Skills for World Class Industries: Employers’ perspectives on skilling in Australia.

The report had a stark starting point – only 18 per cent of over 500 employers surveyed for the report said they were currently world class, and a substantial majority said it was important for them to become world class in the near future. The report noted that employers were ‘facing both skill shortages (difficulties in recruiting) and skill gaps (inadequate skills in some of their existing employees).’

A large part of the problem identified in the report was that:

Australia is not yet skilling in a world class way. Our research suggests that from employers’ perspectives, there is room for improvement against all the criteria for a world class skilling system suggested by recent OECD work — shared responsibilities, transparent and flexible arrangements, flexible and high quality delivery, and good co-ordination.

For industry, then as now, productivity shapes thinking about workforce training. The link is strong and critical for national and enterprise competitiveness. As the report notes:

Skills influence productivity in a number of ways:

·         directly, because more highly skilled employees tend to be more productive;

–     British evidence suggests that the impact of training on company productivity may be considerably larger than the effect on earnings;

–     at a national level, the skill level of the workforce is one of the prime determinants of labour productivity;

·         indirectly, because skilled workers are often better able to adapt quickly and effectively to change and can be better at implementing new investments and innovation;

  –     without an adequately skilled workforce, firms will be unable to take full advantage of new  technologies and production techniques and nations will have difficulty adapting to structural change.

The report set out a string of conclusions we are still working with. The primary conclusions were that a modern adult learning and skilling system must have five characteristics – a set of principles that seem as relevant now as they did in 2007:

 ·         responsibilities for learning are shared among individuals, employers and governments, recognising the considerable private benefits that result but also the case for targeted government incentives in some cases;

·         arrangements are transparent, with information available to all parties about courses, the quality of providers and the nature of qualifications;

·         arrangements are flexible and allow, for example, for the recognition of skills acquired in different ways;

·         delivery of training is flexible, tailored to specific needs and of high quality, encouraged through appropriately regulated competition among providers; and

·         there is good co–ordination across institutional boundaries and with the various stakeholders in the system.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 in VET Reforms

In November 2013 the Federal Government established a VET Reform Taskforce within the Department of Industry. The Taskforce has the job of establishing a consensus about VET reform through consultation during 2014 with state and territory governments, Registered Training Organisations, industry groups, employers and other stakeholders. The consultation is proceeding under the banner of ‘Building a better training system’.

In early February, the Taskforce conducted a series of workshops with representatives from industry, registered training organisations (RTOs), Industry Skills Councils and Australian Apprenticeships Centres. A summary of the workshop outcomes was released on 21 February. The agenda for reform is far from settled at this stage. However, the summary provides an inkling of what might come.

Stakeholders were asked to identify key ideas for reform. The following are selected items from the summary of outcomes: 

Industry stakeholders

·         industry needs to be more involved in targeting government funding, policy development, delivery, the moderation of training and assessment, and in determining where additional support is required

·         a stronger focus on training outcomes and assessment standards in the regulation of training and the design of training products

·         focus the regulator on quality outcomes rather than compliance, and introduce a national ‘tick’ or ‘endorsed provider’ system led by industry to inform consumers about the quality of training providers.

Industry Skills Councils

·         improve the quality of the assessment of training by setting clearer standards for the assessment of training, developing common assessment instruments or involving industry in the assessment process as a form of external validation

·         increase the voice of industry in determining funding priorities and policy development of VET.

Registered Training Organisations

·         better communication with the sector to clarify government policy and the roles and responsibilities of different players in the system

·         implement a risk-based approach to regulation to minimise regulatory burden for high quality providers, reduce duplicative arrangements and free up the regulator to investigate poor quality providers

·         increase access to VET, including extending VET FEE-HELP to Certificate IV qualifications and streamlined visa processing arrangements for international VET students.

Australian Apprenticeships Centres

·         review Australian Apprenticeship Incentive Payments to ensure they align with the needs of the economy and meet their intended outcomes

·         reduce inconsistencies in administrative and cost requirements across jurisdictions to enhance labour mobility.

Among issues commonly raised were: the need to improve confidence in assessment outcomes; the need for a stronger industry voice in VET policy and the VET system; and the importance of lifting the esteem of the VET system in the eyes of the community.

The next phase of consultation involves the conduct during March 2014 of Stakeholder Engagement Workshops. More information about the workshops, including the workshop timetable, is available here.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 in Research

John Croucher is Professor of Statistics at Macquarie Graduate School of Management. In 2013 he picked up the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year. In an article in The Conversation, ‘What makes a good teacher?’, Croucher looks back over his years as a student and a teacher.

He has also conducted research into students’ views about what makes a good teacher. He writes that:

… “there was one question that was consistently most highly associated [with good teaching] across all subjects areas over all the years.

This was the one that asked whether the teacher was able to explain the course material clearly. There were a number of instances where a teacher was rated enthusiastic, knowledgeable and well-prepared, but still was considered a poor teacher overall.

 The conclusion from this study was that if you cannot explain the concepts in a way that the audience can understand, it doesn’t matter what else you do. In this case, they will not enjoy the experience but leave frustrated.”

Maybe this is a variation on Albert Einstein’s view that ‘If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself’!

Croucher ends his article with an observation that is perhaps best tested by thinking back on our own teachers:

“Although students may not always remember what you teach them, they will always remember their outstanding lecturers and how good they made them feel about the subject. That is their greatest gift and the mark of a good teacher.”


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 03 March 2014 in Research

Late last year, Inside Story ran a fascinating article by Dean Ashenden, titled ‘Coming, ready or not’. It’s long, at around 4500 words, but worth your time. You might think that technology has already up-ended education, but Ashenden makes the case that technology has only just begun to revolutionise learning and teaching. The real impacts are still emerging.

The article focusses on school education. That said, the lessons are for all educators. Ashenden claims that:

Digital technology has no precedent in schooling except, perhaps, the invention of the printing press and the development of writing millennia before that.

He provides many examples and insights that bear contemplation. Ashenden writes that blended learning is beginning to influence the economy of schools:

Early evidence suggests that at least some blended schools may be improving “effectiveness,” particularly for disadvantaged students, while keeping costs lower. As in virtual schools, both staffing and budgets are differently arranged, with more money spent on digital technology and content, less on staffing, and greater differentiation in responsibilities and terms and conditions for staff. One much-reported case is Rocketship, a group of publicly funded charter schools. Blending in a 450-student Rocketship school saves around half a million dollars a year, the savings “repurposed” in ways including professional development, and 20 or 30 per cent higher pay for leading teachers.

Ashenden suggests that education could borrow from one idea that has been around for a very long time – workplace reform. But it isn’t the teachers he focusses on. Workplace reform has to do with the real producers in education – the learners:

The first is the idea of workplace reform. That reform should start not with the work of teachers, as is so often assumed but with the work of the real producers, the students who comprise well over 90 per cent of schooling’s workforce. “Workplace reform” is an embracing concept, and a strategic one. Beginning from a view of how students can best be enabled to produce learning of the most valued kinds, it takes in everything from the content and organisation of the curriculum to workplace architecture to staffing structures and industrial relations to budgets. It makes possible thinking about an orderly, coordinated and sequenced process of change – big plans, small steps.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 28 February 2014 in Research

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) uses Volume of Learning (VoL) as one primary means of distinguishing qualification levels in the Framework, including certificates, diplomas and degrees.

The National Skills Standards Council (NSSC), which endorses Training Packages, is transitioning to new Training Package standards and policies responding to the AQF’s requirements for VoL. You can read the NSSC’s perspective on VoL at the bottom of this webpage. In part, the NSSC observes that:

… evidence of validation against sufficient volume of learning for qualification types may include a range of approaches, for example the following:

·         allocation of measures that express an aspect of volume of learning to units of competency used to construct the qualification. The summation of measures allocated to units can then be used as a source of validation of the volume of learning range for the qualification.

·         taking into account all aspects of the learning and assessment required to complete the qualification, calculate the overall volume of learning for the qualification verified through the Training Package development and endorsement process (Standard 3).

Apart from what is required for NSSC endorsement of Training Package qualifications, VoL also has implications for RTO compliance. It’s worth noting that ASQA’s website has an FAQ on VoL, on this page under the heading Training and Assessment. In full, it reads as follows:

Does ASQA audit RTOs for compliance with the suggested volume of learning for AQF qualifications?

ASQA does not specifically audit RTOs for compliance with the AQF-suggested volume of learning for a qualification type.

However, RTOs should have regard to the guidance provided in the suggested volume of learning when designing training and assessment strategies. Arrangements for delivery must support learners in achieving competence in accordance with the requirements of the relevant Training Package or accredited course.

In a recent post, we provided a quick overview of an ASQA report, Marketing and advertising practices of Australia’s registered training organisations. One of the concerns raised in that report is that:

… over half of the RTOs (53.9%) [reviewed] had websites that were marketing qualifications that they claimed could be achieved in unrealistically short time frames or time frames that fell short of the volume of learning requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). (It is, of course appropriate, for RTOs to match the duration of training to the learning needs of clients and where clients have prior experience relevant to the competencies being assessed to deliver training in periods shorter than the guidance provided in the Australian Qualifications Framework).

VoL is often confused with nominal hours. Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) asked Suzy McKenna to write a brief paper about the role that VoL plays in VET qualifications. (Suzy previously worked for the AQF Council, and, for VET professionals with longer memories, Suzy was closely involved with Reframing the Future.)

Suzy’s paper, Volume of Learning – a handy tool in the system (4 pages), includes a very helpful table that distinguishes VoL from nominal hours.

You can download Suzy’s paper from a link at the bottom of this webpage. You may also be interested in reading this discussion thread which preceded an online discussion on VoL held in January. The AQF document that defines and explains VoL can be found here.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 27 February 2014 in Industry

In January we posted a couple of items about Women in Trades – here and here. This post follows up with a little more on the subject.

We mentioned Fanelle Apprentice and Tradeswomen Network. What we didn’t mention is that Fanelle captured a bit of media attention in December and January. Auto Skills Australia has two clips on its website that you might be interested to watch:

·         The Today Show ran a piece on Fanelle in December

·         The Project ran a piece in mid January.

The Mentor Adviser Apprenticeship Program, or MAAP, is a joint activity between the Australian Motor Industry Federation, Auto Skills Australia, the Motor Trades Associations of WA, NSW, SA, the VACC and the Tasmanian Automotive Chamber of Commerce. It aims to lift the completion of apprentices in the automotive industry. MAAP also aims to attract more women into auto trades apprenticeships, and to support them through to completion. The MAAP website has a webpage devoted to a long list of media activities that have promoted women in trades.

Building a Better Future is a website that features the stories of more than 80 women who work in Australia’s construction industry. Among them are the stories of several female tradies, including apprentice bricklayer Sheree Adams, painter and decorator Karen Tucker, and Construction Training Queensland Project Officer Radmila Desic. The website is maintained by the National Association of Women in Construction.

The push to involve more women in the trades is one that goes beyond Australia. As just one example, you might like to drop in on the website of Nigeria’s Lady Mechanic Initiative.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 in E-Learning

In December, the successful tender bids for 2014 e-learning research projects were announced. Funded through Flexible Learning Advisory Group’s (FLAG) National VET E-learning Strategy, the four projects are:

·         ‘Supporting effective delivery of foundation skills to indigenous, remote & disadvantaged learners’, with WA’s C.Y. O’Connor Institute leading the way

·         Polytechnic West will undertake ‘Verification of e-assessment and authentication of user identity’

·         Elan Projects will produce ‘Bring your own device (BYOD) guidelines for registered training organisations’

·         Canberra Institute of Technology will explore ‘Capturing information to improve learner retention and completion of courses’.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 20 February 2014 in Industry

Seven South Western Sydney Institute (SWSI) students enrolled in the Diploma of Interpreting participated in the production The Rocket, of an award winning Australian-Lao film. Their starring role was to provide post-production voice-overs.

The central figure of The Rocket is Ahlo, a ten year old boy who is battling perceptions that he brings bad luck. Ahlo proves them wrong by a daring journey to participate in, and win, a competition at the Rocket Festival.

The Rocket has picked up an impressive number of awards – you can read the long list of awards on the film’s website. They include:

·         Amnesty International Film Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival 2013

·         Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature, at both the Sydney and Melbourne 2013 Film Festivals

·         Best Original Feature Screenplay at both the Australian Writer’s Guild Awards 2013 and the Australian Academy of Cinema Television Arts Awards 2014.

As SWISI’s media release points out, the industry connections of VET teachers enlarge opportunities for VET learners to test their developing skills and knowledge. Pauline Phoumindr, a TAFE SWSi Teacher of Interpreting in Lao was an assistant producer of The Rocket.

The Rocket is also on Facebook.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 in Industry

AgriFood Skills Australia

·         Twitter handle – @AgriFoodSkills

·         Website

·         Subscribe to newsletter from this page (you need first to sign up as a member of AgriFood’s online community)

Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council

·         CPSISC Newsfeed

·         Website

Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

·         Twitter handle – @CSHISC

·         Website

·         From this page you can get yourself on the mailing list for cs&h Matters eNewsletter, and access back copies of the newsletter

E-Oz Energy Skills Australia

·         Twitter handle – @EOZenergyskills

·         Website

·         Subscribe to the E-Oz e-Bulletin

ForestWorks ISC

·         Twitter handle – @ForestWorks

·         Website

·         Subscribe to the newsletter here

Government Skills Australia:

·         Twitter handle – @GovtSkillAus

·         Website

Innovation & Business Skills Australia

·         Twitter handle – @IBSATweets

·         Website

·         Subscribe to the newsletter here

Manufacturing Skills Australia

·         Twitter handle – @MSA_ISC

·         Website

·         Subscribe to the mskills newsletter here

Service Skills Australia

·         Twitter handle – @ServiceSkills

·         Website

·         Sign up here for the newsletter

Skills DMC

·         Website

·         Subscribe to newsletter here

Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council

·         Twitter handle – @TLISC

·         Website

·         Access the newsletter here


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 17 February 2014 in Industry

In December, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) forwarded to the Minister for Industry a report titled Marketing and advertising practices of Australia’s registered training organisations (64 pages). The report follows a review initiated by ASQA ‘because of persistent concerns raised within the training sector about RTOs and other bodies providing misleading information in the advertising and marketing of their training services.’

There are four key messages from the review which are listed at the beginning of the report:

1.    Marketing practices of up to half of registered training organisations are potentially misleading to consumers

2.    Some marketing is also in breach of the national standards governing registered training organisations

3.    Organisations that are not registered training organisations are acting as brokers, with such arrangements potentially misleading consumers

4.    The national training standards relating to consumer protection need to be strengthened.

ASQA reviewed 480 websites. Details about how this sample was arrived are provided in chapter 2 of the report. ASQA reports that:

Within the limitations of a desktop analysis approach the review found that 230 of the 421 RTO web sites reviewed (54.6%) were compliant with the relevant Standards for NVR Registered Training Organisations 2012 in relation to their marketing, advertising and information provision practices. The remaining 191 web sites (45.4%) were identified as having one or more areas of possible non-compliance concern…

(ASQA states in the report that it ‘is in the process of writing to RTOs identified as having compliance concerns directing them to amend the content on their web sites so that they are compliant with the standards.’)

Among the main findings of the review are:

·         a small but significant number of RTO web sites (8.6%) were considered to be using potentially misleading and/or deceptive marketing

·         some 11.8% of RTOs are advertising superseded qualifications, past the one year’s transition period that is allowed, which are posing risks to consumers who may be disadvantaged by completion of out-dated qualifications

·         over half of the RTO web sites use marketing headlines that advertise what many consumers and complainants to ASQA view as unrealistically short-duration courses.

As ASQA points out, practices such as these have considerable potential to undermine stakeholder confidence in the VET system.

The report makes eight recommendations, several of them very detailed. Recommendation 5 notes that ‘RTOs need clearer information about what appropriate marketing and advertising involves.’ The recommendation in full is as follows:

It is recommended that the National Skills Standards Council should give consideration to convening a group involving industry skills councils, the Australian Qualifications Framework Council, Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Victorian and Western Australian VET regulators, and appropriate Australian and state and territory training officials, to develop an overall benchmark on and/or clarify:

·         the minimum volume of learning for different AQF qualification

·         the minimum volume of learning for different types of units of competency and skill sets

·         the different teaching, learning and assessment activities that should be included in the volume of learning

·         the appropriate variations to any minimum volume of learning requirements to reflect the acceptability of shorter programs when learners already have considerable industry experiences

·         any requirements around learning methodology to support variations to duration

·         how these requirements should be expressed in the revision of the national standards for the registration of RTOs

·         how any such benchmarks should be systematically incorporated into the revision of training packages that is currently underway, and

·         appropriate guidance for RTOs about how to incorporate such benchmarks into their training delivery.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 in Workforce Development

In December we mentioned the Parliamentary Library’s very useful guides to Australian education internet links. The post is here.

In January, the Parliamentary Library issued Higher Education Loan Program (HELP): a quick guide (4 pages). Once again, very useful. The guide offers some history (how HECS became HELP), describes the operation of the scheme, and includes a brief description of VET FEE-HELP. There are also links from the guide to related legislation and statistics.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 in Research

Why not vary your audio diet with a selection of NCVER podcasts?

You can download 26 podcasts from the NCVER website, including:

·         Interview with Berwyn Clayton on ‘Industry currency and professional obsolescence: what can industry tell us?’ (13 minutes)

·         Interview with Kaye Bowman on ‘Workforce skills development and engagement in training through skill sets’ (12 minutes)

·         Interview with Roger Harris & Michele Simons ‘Two sides of the same coin: leaders in private providers juggling educational and business imperatives’ (17 minutes)

·         Interview with Cain Polidano on ‘The role of vocational education and training in the labour market outcomes of people with disabilities (12 minutes).


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 10 February 2014 in VET Conferences

Date:     26-27 March 2014

Venue:  CQ Functions, Melbourne

Theme: Innovative strategies to achieve your institution’s goals

The conference will address how to:

·         Become a thought leader in social media

·         Recruit and engage students via innovative use of platforms

·         Measure ROI to improve your social media business case

·         Align content and platforms to strengthen your institutions brand

·         Manage multiple platforms through strategic resource management

Conference speakers include:

·         Karen Lee, Social Web Strategist, Stanford Graduate School of Business, California

·         Brendon Walker, Social Media Manager, TAFE NSW

·         Alison Linklater, GippsTAFE

·         Cameron Bailey, Digital Marketing Coordinator, NMIT

·         Ailsa Leacy, Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE

·         Jil Hogan, Social Media Coordinator, Canberra Institute of Technology

There are three workshops associated with the conference:

·         Implementing your social media strategy in a decentralised landscape

·         How to build an effective ROI evaluation framework

·         Using innovative social media to recruit & engage students.

Further conference details available here.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 06 February 2014 in TAFE

In 2014, Diploma of Hospitality students at Tropical North Queensland TAFE (TNQT) will have the option of travelling to Shanghai to study and immerse themselves in Chinese culture and language.

In a media release issued in December last, TNQT’s Trevor Jewell described the components of the initiative:

“The Shanghai Experience includes sessions in language skills and workshops ranging from Chinese etiquette and cultural history to musical appreciation, while studying at the Shanghai Second Polytechnic University. The students will also have the opportunity of putting their new skills into practice with work experience at the Shanghai Intercontinental Hotel”.



Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 03 February 2014 in Research

In October last year, the OECD launched Education GPS. It’s a natty way of exploring international data on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes.

From your desktop, you can run an analysis by country, and you can run a comparative analysis between countries.

For example, if you select the ‘Analyse by country’ button and choose Australia from the drop down list you have access to data on the Survey of Adult Skills. Selecting the Survey data set leads you to an overview of Australia’s outcomes on the Survey, and to a list of indicators. Selecting one indicator brings up a spreadsheet showing the data.

If you select the ‘Explore data’ button you can pull out data on Australia and see how it compares to the OECD average for any given indicator. We chose to compare the mean numeracy scores for 16-24 year olds in Australia, Canada and Germany and asked for a bar chart. Good news – Australia’s mean numeracy score is higher than the other two countries and the OECD average. Then we changed the comparator countries to Finland, Korea and Denmark. Not so good news – Australia’s score is below each of them.

Worth a quick visit.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 31 January 2014 in TAFE

You might recall that in March 2013 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment commenced an inquiry into the TAFE system. We wrote two posts about it – one in April, and a second in June.

The Federal election was called before the House of Representatives inquiry was completed. The inquiry has been launched in a different guise, this time in the Senate. In December, the Senate asked its Education and Employment References Committee to hold an inquiry into technical and further education.

The Committee’s terms of reference include a specific statement that its inquiry ‘consider any public information provided to the 2013 House of Representatives inquiry by the Standing Committee on Education and Employment on the role of the technical and further education system and its operation’.

The Committee is receiving submissions until 7 March.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 30 January 2014 in Research

In November last the NCVER released a fascinating research report, A half-open door: pathways for VET award holders into Australian universities (40 pages). The report assessed the performance of Australia’s 39 public universities in the admission of VET learners to higher education programs.

The research team of Louise Watson, Pauline Hagel and Jenny Chesters from The Education Institute at the University of Canberra, divided universities into three groups or clusters. Cluster 1 comprises universities that have the highest level of admissions, Cluster 2 comprises the middling performers, and Cluster 3 comprises the low performers.

The table below is taken from the report. Just to get the bearings right, here’s what the information in the column headings tells us. There are seven universities in Cluster 1 (n=7) and these universities have 24% of all undergraduate students in Australia. The average rate of admission on the basis of a VET qualification is 19% per the universities in Cluster 1.

Cluster 1 Cluster 2 Cluster 3
(N=7, student load: 24%) (n=16, student load: 38%) (n=14, student load: 38%)
19% 10% 3%

Charles Sturt University 26% La Trobe University 15% Flinders University 7%
RMIT University 21% University of Canberra 13% University of Southern Qld 6%
Swinburne University 20% Charles Darwin University 12% Australian National University 5%
University of Western Sydney 17% University of SA 12% James Cook University 4%
Victoria University 16% University of Ballarat 11% University of Sunshine Coast 4%
Edith Cowan University 16% University of Tasmania 11% Monash University 4%
Deakin University 16% Griffith University 11% Macquarie University 3%
University of Wollongong 11% Curtin University 3%
Central Qld University 11% University of NSW 3%
Murdoch University 10% University of Sydney 2%
Australian Catholic University 10% University of Adelaide 1%
University of Newcastle 10% University of Melbourne 1%
University of New England 9% University of Qld 1%
Southern Cross University 8% University of WA 0%
University of Technology Sydney 8%
Qld University of Technology 7%

Within Cluster 1, the rate of admission varies between 26% for Charles Sturt University and 16% for Deakin University – in itself quite a big spread from 1 in 4 to 1 in 7. As the report notes, dual sector status is not a guide to performance on pathway admissions. There are four dual sector universities in Cluster 1, though Charles Sturt has the highest pathway admission rate and is not a dual sector provider. In addition, there are several dual sector institutions in Cluster 2.

There is a view about that some fields of study are more likely to have strong admissions pathways than other fields of study. The research findings don’t bear that out. Admissions tend to be consistently high for all fields of study offered in Cluster 1 universities and consistently low for all fields of study offered in Cluster 1 universities.

The report does two other things worth noting.

First, it explores the institutional policies and practices that facilitate, or impede, admissions to degree programs for VET graduates. The report explores credit transfer policies and practices, admissions policies and practices, systems for monitoring student progression and achievement, and early intervention practices for students at risk. A fundamental characteristic of universities that perform well on pathway admissions is that they have a strong institution commitment to pathways that is

… ‘manifested in policies and practices that influence VET to higher education pathways at all levels of the university. Through strong central leadership and line management, as well as close monitoring of student admission and progression, these universities ensure that the appropriate policies and practices are implemented both to attract VET award holders and to support them in their studies.’

Second, the report stacks up policy expectations against performance on admissions rates of VET graduates. Take this passage for example:

‘In the field of engineering, for example, the 14 universities in Cluster 3 account for well over half of all undergraduate commencements; yet, these institutions admit only 3.3% of students on the basis of a VET award. In contrast, the Cluster 1 universities, which enrol one-fifth of all undergraduate commencing students in engineering, admit over 17% on the basis of a VET award and universities in Cluster 2 (which account for one-quarter of all engineering undergraduate commencements) admit over 10% of engineering students on the basis of a VET award. To the extent that the creation of strong VET to higher education pathways serves to increase the output of higher education graduates, the high enrolment share of Cluster 3 universities in fields experiencing national skills shortages, such as engineering, should be of concern to governments, industry and employers.’

A further point made on the policy front is that ‘the financial burden of supporting VET award holders during their first year of study falls more heavily on some universities than others.’


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 in TAFE

A number of people with links to TAFE were recognised in the Australia Day Honours.

Kaye Schofield was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to vocational and adult education and training, as a researcher and commentator, through contributions to policy development and regulation, and to the community. She is a former Member of the NSW TAFE Commission Board and played a key role in the establishment of the Australian Skills Quality Authority as Interim Executive Chair.

Professor Stephen Parker, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra was also made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to tertiary education. He established a MOU with the Canberra Institute of Technology to create improved opportunities for vocational students to continue their studies at university.

Dr Moira Scollay was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to vocational education and training and to public sector management reform. She was CEO of the Australian National Training Authority from 1999-2003, a Board Member of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a former Chair of the Docklands Skilling and Employment Group.

John Blandthorn was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to workforce training and development in the retail, wholesale and personal services industries. As National Assistant Secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), he was a Board Member of TAFE Victoria University and a Member of the State Training Board of Victoria.

Janice Nitschke was also made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to librarianship in South Australia, where she was a Board Member, South East Committee, TAFE South Australia and a member of the Millicent TAFE Area Committee.

A Medal of the Order of Australia was awarded to Kumarasamy Sivakumar , a longstanding TAFE teacher, Principal, and Deputy Director, Northern Sydney Institute (TAFE) from 1995-2000.

Also awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia was Lyndey Milan for service to hospitality, particularly the food and wine industry. She is the co-founder and Patron of Tasting Success, a female chef mentoring program run in collaboration with the Sydney Institute of TAFE.

Kendal Ferguson was also awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. He was Teacher of Engineering Trades, Ultimo College, TAFE NSW for more than 20 years up to 2003.

See the full Australia Day Honours.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 23 January 2014 in E-Learning

A very short introduction to a couple of resources on andragogy.

The eLearning Industry website has a page devoted to Malcolm Knowles’ adult learning theory. At the foot of the page is a list of links to other resources on Knowles’ theory.

On the TED-Ed website there’s a video simply called Andragogy that provides a very good 8 minute overview of the theory, and even has time to air some criticisms of the theory.

The Health Libraries wiki (HLWIKI International) has a quick wiki entry on adult learning theory, again with links to resources.



Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 in Research

In about November each year the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases the latest update in its series on Education and Work in Australia.

The 2013 data release contains lots of interesting information. Here’s a selection:

·         In May 2013, it was estimated that, of the 15.5 million people aged 15-64 years in Australia, 2.9 million, or 19%, were enrolled in formal study. This comprised 2.1 million people undertaking a non-school qualification and 813,600 undertaking school level study.

·         More females than males were studying in the fields of Society and culture (288,000 and 128,000 respectively) while one-fifth (22%) of males were studying Engineering and related technologies, compared with 2.0% of females. Of the 161,200 people aged 15-64 years enrolled in the field of Education, 77% were female.

·         96,200 people had commenced their apprenticeship or traineeship in the last 12 months.

·         The highest number of apprentices and trainees were working in the Construction industry (71,300).

·         Of those people who had left school in the last year, 59% were enrolled in further study.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 in E-Learning

Supported by the University of New England (UNE), dehub acts as both a research centre for online learning, and as a networking hub. It acquits its networking role thoughtfully, providing access to a range of publications and resources, events listings, a twitter feed and other social media services.

dehub’s monograph series includes a research report by Associate Professor Marcus Bowles from the Australian Maritime College – Realising the full socio-economic promise of the National Broadband Network in preparing all regions of Australia for participation in the Digital Economy.

DE Quarterly offers insights from distance education researchers. There is also a searchable database of distance education research, a news feed and ready updates about dehub’s projects.

You might also be interested in listening to Jim Barber, UNE’s Vice Chancellor, musing for 15 minutes on ABC Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor program about The end of university campus life. Jim’s musings apply just as much to campus-based VET delivery. The program blurb puts it like this:

The university as the institution of learning is under threat from digital challengers offering MOOCs— Massive Open Online Courses. Professor Jim Barber says this confirms what we already know, that information is more or less valueless and universities might as well give it away.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 20 January 2014 in Workforce Development

In our first post on women in trades we mentioned a research report called The female ‘tradie’ – that was written by Fiona Shewring, who teaches painting and decorating atTAFE Illawarra. Fiona has a guest blog post on the Women in Trades Video Channel. It’s a brief, no-nonsense post that says, in part:

I am no different to the men. I like to make things; I am hands on and practical. I get a buzz out of looking at what I have done at the end of the day or week or project. I show my family what I have done – that’s the house I painted, I designed those colours, I did that job. I check to see how old jobs are holding up and I learn and appreciate the skill of other tradies. When I’m painting being a female doesn’t come into it – I am a person who loves what I do and wants to produce work that’s skilled and appreciated by others and I enjoy working with others who feel the same.

Fiona was the winner of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) 2009 International Women’s Day Scholarship. The outcome of her scholarship was ‘The future’s Rosie: Initiatives and pathways for tradeswomen in the United States of America – an Australian perspective’. You can find the papers relating to Fiona’s scholarship at the bottom of this page on NAWIC’s website.

There are industry initiatives focussed on building the presence of women in non-traditional trades. In August last year, John Holland introduced its Women in Tradesprogram which aims ‘to encourage women to take up entry level apprenticeships and traineeships in non-traditional trades with the business.’

Industry and enterprise level approaches are the gold standard in many ways because it involves a planned approach across the organisation. The ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority (TFA) takes an industry-wide approach through itsTradeswomen in Building and Construction program. Group Training Organisations are also active supporters of structured approaches. WPC Group‘s Women in Non Traditional Trades program looks to create opportunities for women in trades in Melbourne and Geelong. And as The Age article we started these posts with reported:

A newly funded initiative by Northcote’s APlus Apprentice and Trainee Services called ‘Why should the boys have all the fun jobs’, will see 40 female students in years 10 to 12 placed in non-female traditional trades over the next year as part of a Victorian government push for women to take up trade apprenticeships.

There’s a lot to do yet. Women NSW has a Women in Trades programThe program has produced a flyer titled: Why increase the participation of women in trades? It offers a range of good reasons for sticking with the task, including:

·         Increasing female participation in non-traditional trades provides an opportunity to reduce disadvantage, break cycles of inter-generational welfare dependency, increase family incomes and increase superannuation savings.

·         Promoting a more even education and employment profile between females and males is not only sensible but it is also equitable.

·         Several trades in NSW, including electrical, plumbing, motor mechanics and cabinet makers, are experiencing skill shortages. One response to these shortages is to encourage women to seek relevant qualifications and employment in these trades.

·         Trade-based employment represents an opportunity for women to:

a.    earn considerable income

b.    create employment by running their own businesses

c.    manage their time around other commitments.

Can’t say fairer than that.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 17 January 2014 in Workforce Development

In early January, an article in The Age caught our eye – ‘Female tradies follow their dreams in a man’s world. Partly it caught our eye because it mentions Fanelle Apprentice and Tradeswomen Network, which VET Development Centre is proud to sponsor. Fanelle is the smart work of Fiona Lawrie, an apprentice mechanic who wants to encourage more women to pursue a non-traditional trade. In this context, non-traditional means those trades in which women are underrepresented – electrical, carpentry, plumbing and so on.

A bit of background helps to explain why it matters to encourage more women to take up an apprenticeship as the gateway to being a tradie. In May 2012 Manufacturing Skills Australia produced a background research paper, Women in the Manufacturing Industry. The paper tells us that:

·         There is little hard data available regarding the percentage of tradeswomen in the manufacturing trades; however, it is estimated that it is probably less than 2%.

·         As at the end of December 2010, there were 654 women undertaking apprenticeships in the non-traditional trades covered by MSA Training Packages.

(The MSA research paper is a handy reference. At the end of the paper there are listings of relevant Australian and international research along with a list of organisations and funding programs interested in women in trades.)

Low rates of female participation are common across the trades, with the longstanding exception of hairdressing. If we need tradies in the workforce, it makes sense to have as wide a pool of entrants as possible. At the moment we are limiting ourselves to one gender, which is a bit daft.

A 2009 NCVER report – The female ‘tradie’: Challenging employment perceptions in non-traditional trades for women – made a couple of observations about what factors helped women enter and remain in the trades. An important factor was the support and encouragement of school and trade teachers:

Some women found teaching staff instrumental in encouraging them on their pathways. Adrianna, a boilermaker, talks about a school teacher who took her to a TAFE trade taster and TAFE teachers as being really supportive. Shandi, training in automotive spray, gained her apprenticeship through her TAFE teacher, but not until her third year of training.

So don’t underestimate your influence in smoothing the way for women to get into the trades. You may be the one who makes the difference. The main challenge, though, is retaining women in trades after they have qualified, as the NCVER notes in its 2011 newsletter article, Steady as she goes: how do we get more women into trade training?That’s where networking among female tradies plays a role, along with dedicated programs run by government, industry bodies and enterprises.

Fanelle emphasises networking among women in the trades. So does Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT). SALT’s objectives are worth reading because they capture the suite of activities that are necessary to bring a better gender balance to the trades. SALT’s objectives are to:

·         Provide support to tradeswomen in Australia including apprentices and women seeking to work in the trades

·         Provide avenues for women to meet other tradeswomen, apprentices and share experiences

·         Promote women in the trades to the general public and industry

·         Advocate for change to attitudes to women working in the trades

·         Campaign for changes which enable women to train and work in trades

·         Promote diversity and acceptance for all people in the trades

It’s important to make information accessible to girls and women about the opportunities that apprenticeships offer. That kind of promotional work is ably done, for example, bySkillsOne’s Women in Trades Video Channel.

It’s also important to get sensible messages to industry about the benefits of a workforce that is diverse and balanced. A good example of this is the January 2014 edition ofConstruction Digital magazine which leads with a story on ‘Building a brighter future for women in the sector’. The story itself is on pages 15-23 and makes particular mention of the devoted efforts of the Buildmore Women into Building Housing Showcase and Industry Women Central (which has a very lively Twitter feed – @IndustryWomenC.)


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 17 January 2014 in Research

In September the Foundation for Young Australians launched the 2013 edition of How Young People are Faring which examines the learning and earning of young Australians.

The report covers:

·         young people’s participation and attainment in education and training

·         young people’s employment and transitions

·         the nature of young people’s jobs.

The report indicates that there is a change in the skill sets young people need for work. There is now more emphasis on:

·         technical and specialised skills

·         on skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, critical reasoning and analytical skills, and personal drive and commitment.

The good news is that:

There are more young people participating in education now than at any time in the past. The increase in educational participation has occurred across all three education sectors. The increase in participation has also occurred among Indigenous young people, and to some extent young people from remote areas, although they still lag behind the general population. Educational attainment is also on the increase. Year 12 completion rates have been rising, as have the proportions of young people with vocational qualifications and higher education qualifications, with rates of attainment being higher for females than males.

The data presented shows a big increase in VETiS participation, up from about 12.5% in 2005 to just over 16% in 2011.

It’s interesting to ponder this chart which shows that for those aged 25 years and older, casual employment is a steady proportion of all employment. Not so for those under 25.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 16 January 2014 in TAFE

TasTAFE and the University of Tasmania will share teachers and facilities. For more information, read the brief report in the Hobart Mercury, or the University of Tasmaniamedia release.

Under the guidance of TAFE SA lecturers Bob Ford and Paul Smith, indigenous students have worked together to landscape the grounds of Indulkana School. Here’s the TAFE SAwrite up.

Back in July, Tanya Beech, a Darwin-based Conservation and Land Management trainer with BCA National Training Group, was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship to study vocational training courses in South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania. BCA’s blog has the details.



Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 in Research

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is hosting a national research forum on social inclusion, which will showcase work from across three consortia research programs.

It’s titled Realising our potential: widening participation through education and training; and is being held on Thursday 3 April 2014 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The program will focus on three projects:

• Promoting social inclusion for disadvantaged groups through education and training

• The role of training in social inclusion: geographic and regional aspects

• Social and economic outcomes for apprentices and trainees with disability.

You can access further information at:http://www.ncver.edu.au/newsevents/events/realisingourpotential.html



Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 13 November 2014 in Research

In September this year, England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted*) released a very useful report entitled Teaching, learning and assessment in further education and skills – what works and why (24 pages).

The report presents a summary of what outstanding teaching looks like in the context of teaching those who are aged 16 years or older. The signature features of outstanding teaching seem universal. The report also spots up areas for improvement and these too will be familiar to Australian readers.

The report lists seven key findings about the most significant characteristics of outstanding teaching, learning and assessment. A trimmed down version of those characteristics is as follows:

·         Managers and leaders are ambitious and well-informed and take responsibility for the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. Management structures and capacity at all levels support fully the emphasis on high quality teaching and learning.

·         Teachers understand the purpose, and are very flexible in their use, of a particularly wide range of teaching strategies and approaches that very successfully enhance all learners’ development, regardless of their ability levels.

·         Teachers … understand clearly the importance of assessing learners’ progress frequently to help them plan and adapt each learning activity to make them most effective. Teachers structure and manage learning very effectively, including when facilitating remote learning or learning in vocational workshops or work placements.

·         Teachers use assessment frequently and very effectively to ensure that all learners receive constructive feedback on their progress in each session and towards achieving their main learning goals or qualifications … They provide high quality feedback that is focused sharply on further skill development.

·         Vocational teachers, subject teachers and specialist teachers work closely together to develop and implement learning activities and approaches that improve learners’ skills in English and mathematics.

·         Teachers use their subject or vocational expertise very well to inspire and motivate learners and to underpin the high expectations they demand of them. Teachers are excellent role models and understand the significance of the influence they have on learners’ aspirations and potential for success.

·         Trainers and assessors in work-based learning provision have significantly increased their focus on learning and raised their expectations of what apprentices and other work-based learners can achieve. Managers have strengthened quality assurance arrangements, including using them in subcontracted provision. They involve employers fully in contributing to planning and implementing learning programmes.

These areas are explored in further detail in the report.

Ofsted’s inspectors also identify a number of enabling actions that have the greatest influence on achieving and maintaining outstanding teaching, learning and assessment. They include:

·         high involvement of all stakeholders, including learners, apprentices, other work-based learners and employers in contributing to getting teaching, learning and assessment right

·         significant investment in high-quality staff development that focuses sharply on the priorities and actions identified to improve teaching and learning for individual teachers

·         ensuring highly effective sharing of good practice within and across teaching teams.

*Ofsted inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. Ofsted’s remit includes community learning and skills providers, employers providing staff training, further education and tertiary colleges, and schools and other providers of skills training for young people.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 in Workforce Development

The European Union has released Guiding principles on professional development of trainers in vocational education and training (52 pages). The focus is on PD for in-company trainers, remembering that in-company trainers often work with apprentices and other recent school leavers.

If 52 pages seems like too many, you could try the six page summary with the engaging title of EU, be proud of your trainers: supporting those who train for improving skills, employment and competitiveness.

The principles were pulled together by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Some of the text will resonate with Australian readers though clearly the EU is a rather different context with 28 member countries. The document identifies four groups of competencies that are important for VET trainers, including in-company trainers:

·         competencies related to their specific technical domain

·         competencies related to serving a company’s strategy and improving its competitiveness through training

·         pedagogical/didactical competence, training-related competencies

·         transversal competencies that help trainers support the learning process (for example, social and interpersonal competences, conflict management, multicultural awareness, critical thinking skills, communication skills, ICT skills).

There are interesting insights into how different national systems manage trainers’ professional development. For example:

·         In most countries, trainers’ attendance at continuing professional development (CPD) is voluntary (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary (CVET), Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia) while teachers and trainers in school-based schemes have to update their competences regularly

·         In Wallonia (Belgium), teachers and trainers in IVET [Initial Vocational Education and Training – essentially school leaver training] are obliged to update their vocational knowledge and competence. A tutor needs to have at least five years of professional experience and a 40-hour training from an external public provider.

·         In Lithuania, each teacher in IVET must upgrade their qualifications and is entitled to five days of continuing training per year.

·         In Bulgaria, all teaching staff, including trainers, should participate in CPD; they have the right to use 30 calendar days every third year for professional development as paid training leave.

·         In Hungary, teachers and trainers in public institutions have to undertake in-service training at least once in seven years (80% of costs covered by the State).

·         In Czech Republic, continuing vocational training of IVET instructors is compulsory within the company in which they are employed and for the qualification which they need for the job but not for trainer’s activities.

·         In Germany, receiving certification from the BDVT [Germany’s largest association of trainers and coaches], trainers working mainly in CVET [Continuing Vocational Education and Training – essentially training for the existing workforce] adhere to constant updating of competences (though it is not required by any regulation).

The document proposes as a principle that in-company trainers

… should have access to varied and flexible training programmes that provide opportunities to develop their competencies, update existing ones to the required level or close competence gaps. This is especially needed if requirements are set at regulatory level. In this case, training programmes should be provided by the State or relevant social partner. Competence development should cover all areas of competence. CPD programmes should be closely linked to real working contexts and tasks of trainers in companies.

Lots of interesting policy ideas in the guidelines. Here’s one:

In the Netherlands, centres of expertise accredit companies that provide work placements for students, applying a common set of quality criteria agreed among the sectors. Availability of a competent trainer is one of them. The accreditation system is rather informal and self-regulatory. Centres develop their own qualifications for in-company trainers. But as all qualifications in the country have the same structure, they are easy to communicate among students, schools, companies, centres of expertise, sector organisations and the government. Centres of expertise provide training and instructional materials to trainers in accredited companies or those seeking accreditation. Currently, a reform is under way to transfer all legal tasks of the 17 centres of expertise to one organisation, the Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB), in which employers and schools have a 50-50% say on formulating the requirements for qualifications in apprenticeship companies and training of trainers in companies. SBB is responsible for cross-regional and cross-sector management and compatibility between vocational education and industry.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 10 November 2014 in VET Reforms

In recent months The VET Blog has posted frequently about policy debate, new policy directions, and new programs that are influencing day-to-day operations and the strategic outlook for VET and the wider tertiary sector. Our posts have included:

·         Federal Government consultations on VET reform – posted on 4 March

·         Changing the shape of tertiary education – 5 June

·         House of Representatives TAFE inquiry and student survey –27 June

·         First June speechmaker – Jennifer Westacott (CEO, Business Council of Australia) on ‘Redefining Vocational Learning in the Global Economy’ – 8 July

·         Third June speechmaker – ‘National Skills Summit Address’ by The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry – 14 July

·         Independent Review of Western Australia’s VET Sector – Final Report – 22 July

·         Australia’s new Industry Skills Fund – under design and seeking your ideas – 6 August

·         VET policy and VET reform – what’s the latest? – 22 September

·         VET policy and VET reform – what next? – 24 September

·         Changing the Education Services for Overseas Students framework – 21 October

·         Outcomes from September COAG Industry and Skills Council Meeting – 27 October

·         Rethinking education policy and funding in the Australian federation – 3 November.      

There’s a lot happening, isn’t there?

In the past fortnight, key private sector peak bodies entered the fray with a new approach they intend will both encourage quality provision and push unscrupulous private providers out of the sector.

On Thursday 30 October, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training(ACPET) convened a meeting to respond to concerns about the actions of a small number of private providers that have sullied the reputation of the sector through unscrupulous practices, such as ‘distributing misleading advertising, delivering poor training, and soliciting students for courses they are possibly not suited to’ (see ACPET’s 28 Octobermedia release).

Represented at the 30 October meeting were private provider peak bodies and industry representatives:

·         Australian Chamber of Commerce and IndustryCareers Australia

·         English Australia

·         Group Training Australia

·         International Education Association of Australia

·         JMC Academy

·         Navitas

·         Restaurant & Catering Australia, and

·         Study Group.

The newly created Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, which provides an industry voice on VET to the Federal government, was also represented at the meeting.

The new approach outlined in ACPET’s 3 November media release has three parts:

·         Enhanced engagement with regulators (including TEQSA, ASQA, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, and the WA Training Accreditation Council) with a view to ensuring regulators target high risk areas, and that government purchasing of training is designed to maximise quality and minimise bad practice

·         Code of conduct and code of ethics for members and brokers/third parties, which will emphasise marketing and recruitment practices – the media release notes that ‘external validation, educational practices, and quality checks could all be elements of a provider code of conduct that would include industry sanctions for non-compliance’

·         A framework to support and reward educational excellence – a quality mark that would convey high standards of conduct and provision.

In a 4 November article in The Australian, ACPET’s CEO, Rod Camm, indicated that he hoped the new framework would be in place before the end of 2014.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 03 November 2014 in VET Reforms

The Commonwealth government is gathering views on how to make the Australian federation work more seamlessly and productively. This is something we have to keep working at as circumstances change, so it’s no surprise that fiddling with federation arrangements is on the agenda again.

The change process will take a little while to work through. The end point so far as consultation is concerned is a White Paper on Reform of the Federation which is planned for the end of 2015. Before we get there, the government will release a number of Issues Papers, the very first of which, ‘A Federation for Our Future’ (70 pages) made its way into the public arena on 12 September.

This is a scene setting paper in many ways. It will be followed by three other Issues Papers, one of which will deal specifically with state, territory and Commonwealth roles and responsibilities regarding education. Adult and community education, and youth transitions, are likely to be considered in the Issues Papers.

There is quite a lot of discussion about education in ‘A Federation for Our Future’, primarily about school education though VET is referred to indirectly. For example, from page 46:

Australia faces an abundance of opportunity in Asia. But we also face many competitive challenges to realise these opportunities. Improving Australia’s international competitiveness means raising productivity growth performance, so that we can compete on the global stage for Asian demand for agricultural produce, services such as education, and high-end manufacturing goods, on the basis of both cost and quality. Education, research and innovation play key roles in national productivity growth.

The Issues Paper on education is likely to influence the future policy and funding arrangements for VET. It’s due for release in the next month or two.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 31 October 2014 in E-Learning

Laura Overton Masterclass

Melbourne Wednesday 19 November & Sydney Monday 24 November

ElNet is excited to present an exclusive masterclass in Melbourne and Sydney with Laura Overton from the UK’s Towards Maturity, for learning & development (L&D) leaders to actively apply the internationally recognised Towards Maturity Benchmark to their organisation to prepare for future success of L&D.

This practical masterclass draws on the insights of over 3,500 L&D leaders around the globe to identify what works and what doesn’t.

Laura has over 25 years experience in supporting organisations who are seeking to add bottom line business value through learning innovation. She is a recipient of 2 awards for outstanding industry contribution and currently voted the #1 ‘mover and shaker’ in Elearning in the UK.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 31 October 2014 in Research

The relatively new Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy has VET among its priorities, as you can seem from the list of publications at the top of this webpage. On 16 October the Institute added to the list Expenditure on education and training in Australia: Analysis and background paper. It’s brief, just 15 pages, and answers a small bundle of questions we’ve long wondered about.

The paper looks at the history of government funding levels over 10 years to 2012-2013 for the VET, higher education and school sectors. Among the four key findings are these:

·         Total expenditure grew only 15 per cent for VET over the ten years to 201213, while schools and higher education experienced growth of 23 and 40 per cent respectively over the same period

·         Analysis of expenditure per student also saw VET falling short. In higher education, expenditure per student has been relatively stable, while spending per student in government secondary and primary schools has increased 20 per cent 30 per cent respectively. Meanwhile expenditure per hour of training in VET actually decreased around 25 per cent over the same period.

One of the great strengths of the Mitchell Institute’s approach to education is its intent to gather the policy threads across the education sectors into a coherent weave. The usual approach is to tackle each education sector separately with a nod and wink to the other sectors. Yet we all know that the education sectors – school, VET, higher education, and adult education – are all joined up in very direct and important ways.

The Mitchell Institute’s funding analysis reports on the varying VET funding outcomes in each state and territory. In doing so, it promises future work that will do some joining up:

Future work will investigate the inconsistences and distortions in investment in education and training nationally and in each jurisdiction. It will critically examine the different funding and entitlement models across the spectrum, from early childhood to higher education, including the various policy objectives and principles underpinning their design.

Taking a quick spin to the UK. On 13 October City & Guilds released Sense & Instability: three decades of skills and employment policy (70 pages). The report suggests that constant change, and lack of focussed attention, has had a negative effect on the UK’s skill system. For example, the report notes that VET has been situated in 10 different government departments since 1980s, and that there have been 61 Secretaries of State overseeing skills policy during the last 30 years. With the Commonwealth and eight state and territory jurisdictions, it seems likely that Australia would exceed those numbers by a good margin. The report makes a strong case for a more coordinated and coherent approach to skills policy.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 30 October 2014 in VET

You’re right. The VET Blog is posting a lot lately about what Parliaments around the country are up to. This post is slightly different – the work we’re referring to comes out of the Parliamentary Library.

‘Tertiary education: a quick guide to key internet links’ (5 pages) was updated on 3 October. It covers:

·         general tertiary education resources

·         higher education

·         vocational education and training (VET)

·         international students

·         adult and community education and

·         international organisations.

Each heading provides links to government agencies, representative organisations, and organisations that hold statistics of relevance.

In February we posted a link to the Parliamentary Library’s Quick Guide to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). Well, HELP has changed quite a bit since then. Always up to the mark, on 9 October the Parliamentary Library updated its HELP Quick Guide (5 pages). The updated version covers the various types of HELP loans:

·         HECS-HELP

·         FEE-HELP

·         OS-HELP

·         SA-HELP

·         VET FEE-HELP.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 in VET

The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 which was introduced to the Senate on 4 September. The inquiry is due to report to the Senate on 28 October.

The Bill is a sprawling piece of legislation that has many implications for VET providers, such as:

·         providing demand-driven funding to diploma, advanced diploma, and associate degree courses

·         extending government subsidies to bachelor and sub-bachelor courses at private universities and non-university higher education providers

·         removing the lifetime limits on VET FEE-HELP loans and the VET FEE-HELP loan fee.

Perhaps the easiest way to get a sense of the breadth of the Bill’s coverage is by taking a tour of the Explanatory Memorandum.

The Committee held public hearings as follows:

·         23 September, Canberra

·         7 October, Brisbane – witnesses included Helen Zimmerman from Navitas, a number of students enrolled with private providers, Peter Shergold in his guise as TEQSA Advisory Council Chair

·         8 October, Canberra – witnesses included Jenny Lambert (Director of Employment, Education and Training, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Martin Riordan (CEO, TAFE Directors Australia)

·         9 October, Canberra – witnesses included Mary Faraone (Chief Executive, Holmesglen), Charlotte Brack (Acting Deputy Director, North Melbourne Institute of TAFE), Maria Peters (CEO Chisholm Institute) and Anne Deschepper (Chisholm’s Manager, Education Development and Partnership)

·         10 October, Melbourne – witnesses included David Battersby (Vice Chancellor, Federation University), Linda Kristjanson (Vice Chancellor, Swinburne University), Cathie Brown and Sharon Guscott from TAFE SA, and representatives from a number of student associations.

You’ll find the transcripts from the hearings here.

The Committee also invited submissions – you can view all 164 of them here. The following excerpts from just a few submissions provide a bit of the flavour of what the Senate Committee is hearing.

From Holmesglen’s submission:

The extension of the demand-driven system to sub-degree places (particularly as universities would be funded at 100 per cent of the bachelor degree rate) has the potential to do irrevocable damage to the vocational sector.

The differential funding rates proposed will have particular impact in situations where Commonwealth support was equally distributed in the past (in Holmesglen’s case in nursing and early childhood education). If the Bill is passed in its current form, Holmesglen would receive a funding cut of 36 per cent from programs it currently delivers with Commonwealth supported places. It would need to increase student tuition fees by $3,700 for early childhood and $4,800 for nursing to maintain its 2015 contribution rates. It is unclear, how the government can justify to students who elect to study at Holmesglen, why their fees should be raised far in excess of their peers studying at a university. CSP funding needs to remain the same university and non-university providers. If not, arrangements for these programs should continue to be funded at the same level as currently received (ie 100 per cent of the relevant cluster) and be part of the demand-driven system.

The redesign of the HELP scheme in the manner proposed by the Bill will fundamentally change the affordability and equity of the program’s architecture. Holmesglen does not support the proposed indexation rate or the lowered threshold for repayment. Fee deregulation should only occur if the system remains fair to all students, regardless of their access to financial resources to quickly repay higher debts incurred.

From the submission of the Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE):

We support also the extension to sub-degree programs (diplomas etc) which will advantage those students progressing to bachelor degrees through these pathways, including many from disadvantaged and low SES backgrounds and enhance retention, meaning those students will complete their courses. This measure will also remove many present anomalies and inequities in current funding, enable greater student choice and promote desirable sector diversity.

Member institutions of the Council of Private Higher Education have indicated that whatever they receive in Commonwealth support for students will be passed on to students through reduced tuition and some have already indicated they will hold their 2014 tuition fees through 2016 if reforms are in place.

The indications we now have from our colleagues is that the level of Commonwealth support offered from 2016 will see quality bachelor degrees in education for $9-10,000 pa, health/physical education/psychology/nursing for $11-14,000 pa, humanities for $8- 12,000 pa, science for $17,000 pa and creative arts/design for $12-15,000 per year. Commonwealth support for business degrees at $1263 pa will mean minor change with cost to the students ranging from $13,000 to $22,000 for more specialized programmes.

From Universities Australia’s submission:

Despite strong public support for universities and research, and the recommendation by the Bradley Review of the need to increase per student (or ‘base’) funding by 10 per cent, successive governments have reduced recurrent funding to the point where Australia sits close to the bottom of the OECD ladder for public investment in tertiary education as a percentage of GDP5. While university enrolments have tripled over the past 30 years in response to policies aimed at increasing participation, public funding per student declined in real terms by 16.7 per cent between 1994 and 2012.

The proposed changes are the most significant to affect the university sector for at least 30 years and, in moving to a market environment, assistance for universities, particularly those serving regional and disadvantaged communities, will be required.

From the submission of TAFE Directors Australia:

In this submission, TDA makes three recommendations:

1.    The Committee support the expansion of the demand driven system to non-university higher education providers and sub-bachelor degree programs in order to address funding inequities in the current system. This reform will have significant flow on effects for Australia’s industries, workforce productivity and Australia’s standing in international tertiary education markets;

2.    The Committee support the establishment of a Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme based on clear principles that stipulate how scholarship monies will be distributed;

3.    The Committee review the implications to students should the 10 year government bond rate be applied to their Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt. TDA prefers alternative approaches such as the hybrid of indexation and a loan surcharge on HELP loans proposed by Professor Bruce Chapman and Timothy Higgins.

From Victoria University’s submission:

Implications for Vocational Education and Training (VET)

A risk is that the Vocational Education and Training system will be negatively affected. While the extension of funding to sub-degree programs is welcomed, state government funding for many equivalent courses in the VET sector has been reduced or in some cases cut all together. This raises the prospect of a growing imbalance in provision between VET and higher education at sub degree levels, driven more by funding levels and availability than future labour market requirements.

A consistent approach to funding sub-degree qualifications across the VET and HE sectors is required through agreement between the Commonwealth and the States.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 27 October 2014 in VET

If you’ve got an eye on VET system architecture you’ll be aware that in December 2013 the Standing Council on Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment was replaced by the COAG Industry and Skills Council (CISC). The Council is chaired by the Commonwealth Industry Minister, Hon Ian Macfarlane, and all state and territory ministers who have responsibility for industry and skills make up the remaining members.

The CISC had held two meetings since, and has produced a communiqué after each of them.

After it’s meeting on 26 September, the CISC communiqué made a couple of observations that are worth noting for what they suggest about where policy activity might be expected in the near future.

The communiqué makes a general statement about the need to lift qualification completion rates:

Current completion rates of qualifications are too low and there is insufficient focus on employment outcomes. Ministers agreed to work to achieve higher completion rates of qualifications and greater focus on employment outcomes to support Australia’s future productivity, labour force participation and economic growth.

Ministers agreed on a number of priority actions to achieve a modern and responsive national regulatory system, with less red tape, for providers and training products including:

·         to continue to work on apprenticeship harmonisation

·         revised standards for registered training providers and regulators, noting further work is required regarding the qualification for teachers of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

·         a review of training packages and accredited courses, and

·         streamlining data reporting for training providers.

The September CISC meeting also agreed that the National VET Complaints Hotline will commence operation before the end of this year. The communiqué notes that Hotline will assist

… consumers to streamline and simplify the reporting of complaints. The hotline will be run by the Commonwealth and will direct complaints to relevant authorities, while also acting as a ‘clearing house’ for general feedback. Stronger consumer feedback will help authorities deal with poor quality providers.

The communiqué from CISC’s April meeting is here.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 24 October 2014 in Workforce Development

In March we posted about an Edudemic infographic titled 27 tips for mentoring new teachers. Here’s a slightly different take on the mentoring theme from Education Week in the US. An early career primary school teacher, Kimberly Long, lists Eight Qualities of a Great Teacher Mentor.

The qualities she identifies seem pretty universal for good mentoring: respect, listening, challenging, collaboration, celebration, truth, safety, and empathy. They all speak to a strong, valued, honest relationship. Take yourself back to those early days in the teacher role – the support of wise and experienced teacher colleagues was a boon. Or should have been.

As Kimberly points out:

Mentors may be formally ‘assigned’, or they may informally walk into your life. Mentorship can occur in a mandated mentor program, when one teacher is looking out for another, taking a struggling teacher under your wing, or simply welcoming a new person to the team. Mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal process – but it is a crucial form of support for new and early career teachers.

That’s an important point. Mentoring isn’t always formally organised, and we often don’t think of the support we provide to early career teachers as mentoring. But that’s what it is. And it makes a big difference to teachers who are new to the trade.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 23 October 2014 in Workforce Development

Pearson’s 2014 Learning Curve report is a multimedia delight. This year the report – which you can download from this webpage – has a particular emphasis on adult education in the broad context of lifelong learning. The introduction to the report highlights that

… some conclusions from The Learning Curve can clearly be reached. One is the continuing rise of a number of Pacific Asian countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which combine effective education systems with a culture that prizes effort above inherited ‘smartness’. Another is the significant challenge of improving skills and knowledge in adulthood, for people who were let down by their school system. This is one focus of The Learning Curve report and will become increasingly important to countries around the world.

The report presents four lessons for adult learning, based on analysis of a range of datasets:

1.    Little is possible without the basics: Strong early education is a prerequisite for effective adult learning. Education systems that teach children early how to learn set students up for more effective learning later in life – in part by instilling a desire to learn. For developed and developing countries alike, the best route to good adult education is investment in good initial education.

2.    Skills must be used to be maintained: Even when primary education is of high quality, skills decline in adulthood if they are not used regularly. Greater involvement in reading or number crunching at home or at work appears to correlate with higher overall literacy and numeracy, and may slow the decline of skills as adults age.

3.    Countries must take adult education seriously: Nations which perform better in surveys of adult skills have established some type of adult learning infrastructure outside of the formal education system. And an economy which makes proper use of the population’s skills also reduces the risk of individuals losing their abilities over time.

4.    Technology is helpful in fostering adult learning, but is no panacea: Mobile technology and the internet can remove some obstacles to adult skills education, particularly in the developing world. These and other technologies ease people’s access to adult education, but there is little evidence that their use helps individuals actually develop skills.

The interactive summary of the report is beautifully presented. The League Table at the end of the summary allows you to view the relative performance of 40 countries on Cognitive Skills, Educational Attainment, and an overall index. On the overall index, Australia comes in at 14, and chimes in at 13 on the other two.

The Learning Curve’s home page invites you to map the index, do some data visualisation, examine country profiles as infographics, and read case studies. There also a data bank and videos.

The report draws attention to the personal and social importance of adult education:

Participation in adult education brings a range of personal benefits beyond increased understanding of the subject at hand. A 2012 analysis of the results of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), carried out at the Institute for Social and Economic Research of the University of Essex, yields conclusions similar to other work being done in the field. It shows positive links between participation in adult education and physical health, including higher perceived feelings of health and fewer visits to the doctor; improved mental health, including a greater sense of well-being, self-worth and self-confidence; increased satisfaction with one’s social life and use of leisure time; and, although the data is less clear here, higher levels of societal engagement.

You can follow discussion about the Learning Curve on Twitter using the #learningcurve.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 in VET Reforms

On 1 October the Commonwealth Department of Education released Reform of the ESOS framework: Discussion Paper (16 pages). The Discussion Paper emerged from a round of stakeholder consultations held earlier this year. Stakeholders consulted includedAustralian Council for Private Education and TrainingTAFE Directors AustraliaEnglish AustraliaASQATEQSA, and the Council of International Students Australia.

The Discussion Paper proposes specific changes to legislation and regulation in areas covering:

·         Streamlining quality assurance agency processes

·         Reducing the reporting burden

·         Minimising Tuition Protection Service requirements

·         Increasing flexibility in education delivery

·         Transfer of students from one provider to another

·         Welfare of students aged under 18

·         Working with stakeholders to produce a practical and accessible National Code and explanatory guide for ESOS

·         Registration charges.

Education institutions, training organisations, peak bodies and agencies are invited to respond to the Discussion Paper via written submissions which must be received by 31 October 2014.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 in Industry

Okay, bear with us because this is a little bit complicated.

In March this year, consulting firm Deloitte Australia released a report titled Positioning for prosperity? Catching the next wave: 25 reasons to be optimistic about Australia’s growth(108 pages).

The complication is just in getting to it. If you follow this link you’ll end up at the page for the report, and if you click on any links to the report you’ll end up with a registration form to complete. It’s a bit mystifying when it happens and you’re not expecting it. Only takes a trice to fill in and once you do you get an email with a link that lets you open the report in your browser. It’s a bit roundabout, but the report is worth a look.

To the report. It covers the prospects for a swag of industries which are organised in the following groupings – something for everyone in VET:

·         Current wave – mining

·         Next waves or the Fantastic Five – agribusiness, gas, tourism, international education, and wealth management

·         Future waves which divide into several sub-groups that include ICT, food processing, next-gen solar, community and personal care, and reskilling and ageing workforce.

The report assesses the likely growth rate for each industry sector and describes Australia’s positioning in each. Vocational education and training scores a number of mentions on the way through. For example, under reskilling an ageing workforce, the report notes that:

… there is a national need to encourage and enable education and training providers to develop the new skills that will make the best use of these experienced and productive workers.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 20 October 2014 in VET

This post takes a quick look at the New Zealand’s Vocational Pathways, introduced early in 2013. The Pathways are the product of partnerships between government, the training sector, secondary and tertiary education representatives, and industry and employer representatives.

The intent is to provide a better line of sight between education and employment. A primary objective was to lift the profile and perception of vocational education in schools and further work is planned on this marketing task.

In June New Zealand’s Ministry of Education released Vocational Pathways Update 2014: Successes, challenges, next steps (20 pages). The report is available here. The report notes that:

The Ministry and the ITF [Industry Training Federation] are agreed that it is in the interest of industry, and learners, that the choices made at school genuinely and adequately prepare young people for their next steps beyond school, including pathways directly into industry. The Ministry and ITF agree that the NZQF [New Zealand Qualifications Framework] should, ideally, staircase young people to education and training at higher levels where appropriate, since the purpose of Level 2 is to provide foundation skills that make young people ‘work ready’.

The partnerships are sector focussed. There are six Pathways at present:

·         Primary Industries

·         Construction and Infrastructure

·         Manufacturing and Technology

·         Social and Community Services

·         Services Industries

·         Creative Industries.

The Pathways are part of the New Zealand government’s Youth Guarantee program. TheVocational Pathways has a wealth of descriptive information, including a booklet (12 pages) which provides an accessible high level overview of how a Pathway works. Each Pathway comes with its own flyer, like this one for Manufacturing and Technology.

It’s worth having a look at the Youth Guarantee website where visitors can plot their Vocational Pathways. And it’s worth downloading the Occupation Outlook app which offers an overview of dozens of occupations, providing information about demand, education and training fees, and likely income levels.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 16 October 2014 in TAFE

In August, Kangan Institute opened the second of three Youth Foyers planned for Victoria. Kangan’s media release captures the idea behind the Foyers succinctly in the title of its media release, ‘A revolutionary approach to youth homelessness and education that changes lives’.

The first Youth Foyer was opened at Holmesglen’s Waverley campus in 2013, and the third will launch in 2015 at GOTAFE in Shepparton.

The Foyers are a collaboration between the TAFE institutes, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Hanover Welfare Services, and the Victorian Department of Human Services.

Hanover Welfare Services has provided a two page information sheet about the Foyershere. On its website Hanover describes a Foyer like so:

Youth Foyers accommodate up to 40 people … in studio style accommodation with extensive communal living and support service areas that will be supervised by trained staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Key services include accommodation either on site or close to education and employment services, life skills development, mental and physical health support, drug and alcohol support, mentoring and employment assistance.

The Youth Foyers are available for young people aged 16-24 years who are:

·         unable to live at home

·         keen to get into education and training

·         willing to make a commitment to stay in education and/or training.

The 2013-14 annual report of the Department of Human Services provides a real handle on what the Foyer’s mean in practice by sharing Andrew’s story. Here it is, from page 17:

Andrew* is a 17-year-old VCE student who became homeless after some difficult circumstances in his family home. Andrew spent about six months sleeping on friends’ couches while also struggling with depression and anxiety.

Departmental youth worker, Susan*, encouraged Andrew to apply for a tenancy at the Holmesglen Youth Foyer. He says living at the youth foyer has been a huge support to him, especially when his father passed away shortly after he became a tenant.

Andrew has really benefited from the positive environment at the youth foyer and feels like he is part of a small community. In addition to greater support and stability, it has opened up opportunities for Andrew and helped him establish friendships with other young people in the foyer.

Staff at the youth foyer have helped Andrew get back on track with school, work on his mental health and assisted him in contacting specialist workers and Centrelink. They have also supported Andrew in becoming integrated in the youth foyer community, encouraging him to get involved in activities and to make friends among his peers.

Youth foyer staff are delighted with Andrew’s progress. Andrew entered the foyer as a shy, disengaged young person who was struggling with life’s challenges – now he is independent, has more confidence and feels more connected with his local community.

After Andrew completes his VCE, he hopes to study a double degree in art and secondary teaching and pursue his dream to become an art teacher.

*Not their real names.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 29 September 2014 in Workforce Development

Charles Jennings is a wise hand when it comes to learning in the workplace and his reflections are pertinent for VET practitioners who are engaged in designing and delivering training programs to existing workers. A few months ago an interview with Jennings appeared on the Learnnovators website with the grand title of The 70:20:10 Model – Today, Tomorrow & Beyond.

The 70:20:10 model is a point of reference rather than a hard and fast ratio. It suggests that about 70 per cent of workplace learning happens when we do the work, about 20 per cent happens when we get feedback on the work we are doing, and about 10 per cent happens through structured learning and independent learning. This can sound like workplace training has limited value. That’s not what Jennings means. His influential development of the model values training within an understanding of what structured training can be expected to achieve. As he notes in the interview:

A common misconception about the 70:20:10 model is that it is ‘anti-training’. That’s certainly not the case. It simply provides guidance to address performance issues with a full suite of approaches that go beyond the traditional structured model of design, develop and deliver content-rich, experience-poor training and development events.

… I don’t think anyone doubts that formal training can be important. However, many people doubt that formal training is the only, or even the principal, answer to helping solve performance problems on one hand, and to helping people build maximum capability on the other.

The interview with Jennings covers a lot of ground besides the 70:20:10 model. Jennings urges us to think about learning technologies in the workplace in a wider context than training alone. Technology is ubiquitous in workplaces and influencing everything from work practices to organisational structures – learning technologies are just one expression of significant changes in the nature of work itself. In the interview, Jennings observes that:

… we are seeing increasing interest in social and informal learning. Both of these can be supported in the workplace rather than in the classroom or through structured eLearning. Of course, structured learning approaches can support social and informal, but social and informal learning don’t need structured processes to happen. They are happening anyway, and have always happened.

Performance support – providing support to workers at the point-of-need – is becoming more common, too, although most learning professionals have little experience in designing performance support solutions.

VET practitioners need to attend to the performance support demand as part of their workplace training activity, both because that kind of focus offers great benefits to learners themselves, and because employers are looking for a return on their training investment. Jennings says:

The reason it has taken so long for many people and organisations to realise that people learn primarily through ‘doing’ rather than ‘knowing’ is that, for many years, they had the luxury of maintaining learning organisations that may not have been assessed in terms of the tangible outputs and business or organisational value they were delivering. As soon as budgets became tighter, particularly following the global financial crisis in 2008, the more forward-looking Chief Learning Officers, HR Directors and business leaders looked to alternative approaches. Many have found the 70:20:10 model to be a better fit than the almost-total focus on structured development away from the workplace that was used in the past.

Jennings established the 70:20:10 Forum to assist organisations to embed the model coherently in the workplace. There’s a Toolkit on the Forum’s website that provides resources for organisations that are at different stages in implementing 70:20:10 – considering, developing, planning, piloting, implementing, embedding. Many of the resources are open access. However, there is member only access to some resources, particularly those relating to later stages in the process. But for example, open access resources for the planning stage include:

·         The 10 Point Approach to Implementing 70:20:10 Learning Strategy

·         A Model For Developing Your 70:20:10 Strategy

·         Explaining The 70:20:10 Numbers.

Jennings also has a blog called Workplace Performance that he posts to from time to time. The posts are pretty nourishing. Take the recent post titled ‘It’s only 65%’ in which he gently pulls the rug from under the survey results of a study about the learning mix in a range of companies. One section of the post is titled ‘Learning ≠ Training’. Here’s an extended excerpt:

Although the terms convey basic concepts, there seems still to be some confusion between the meaning of the words learning and training. This confusion is not isolated in surveys such as the above. It is a common problem and underlies many of the barriers that organisations encounter as they strive to develop and implement effective learning strategies.

‘Learning’ covers a much wider range of activities than training. Learning is a process not an event. Learning is something we’re doing every day.

Training describes a structured set of events that when designed and assembled carefully can provide an effective way to help people accelerate learning (learning = behaviour change). However the words training and learning are not interchangeable.

A good source of further detail on 70:20:10 is Demystifying 70:20:10 – White Paper, first published in 2012 by DeakinPrime (Deakin University’s commercial learning and development arm) and recently updated.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 in VET Reforms

There is plenty of thinking going on about far reaching reform to the tertiary sector which pays heed to the important role that VET plays.

On 2 September, at the TAFE Director’s Australia annual conference, Peter Noonan from the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy delivered an address titled

‘VET funding in Australia and the role of TAFE.’ Noonan points to declining VET enrolments, reduced funding per student (except in Victoria), and the troubling outlook for VET in which the school and higher education sectors are taking students who once would have entered the VET system. Perhaps, Noonan says,

… this is the outcome as a country we want. But if so, it should be a conscious, evidence-based decision and not driven by dysfunctional funding arrangements, a broken national governance model and sole policy preoccupation with schools and universities.

Later in his address, Noonan suggests that:

A new independent assessment of funding trends and funding needs across the tertiary education system is therefore now urgently required.

What might such a review tackle? A recent NCVER discussion paper is full of ideas. It’s called What next for tertiary education? Some preliminary sketches (15 pages). In the paper, Francesca Beddie presents the outcomes of a wide ranging roundtable discussion involving folk from higher education, VET, and industry. The paper proposes the following lines of inquiry for the future of the tertiary system in Australia:

·         Restructure pathways from school into diverse tertiary institutions

·         Lift the reputation of applied learning

·         Decouple funding for research and teaching

·         Unite governance of the system.

The depth and breadth of what these propositions entail is worth careful consideration. A couple of excerpts give you an idea of what could be.

This is from the sketch on ‘Restructure pathways from school into diverse tertiary institutions’:

An alternative structure for mass tertiary education would see a majority attend establishments devoted to adapting students to learning at the tertiary level, with this occurring in the first two years (13 and 14) after completion of Year 12 or a vocational equivalent … Those with a strong idea of their vocational direction might be streamed into institutions that vertically integrate broad occupational training and education in a certain field; for example, in health, teaching or engineering. Such institutions would offer qualifications ranging from the certificate to the doctorate. Their focus would be on teaching and research relevant to their industries. They would employ ‘practical professors’, with sound links to their professions; their research would be cutting edge. Students would have opportunities to move in and out of the workforce and higher learning.

This from the sketch on ‘Lift the reputation of applied learning’:

That industry and the professions have a role to play in shaping tertiary education is a given. The problem seems to lie in the over-prescription of standards, which quickly ossify with the changing nature of work and the economy. That should not, however, cast doubt on the underlying principle of competency-based education, which has, for example, underpinned much of the work of the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition since the early 1990s (Gonczi 1990). That principle, infused with a commitment to adding an element of liberal education to skills instruction, could serve the system well. However, to engender trust across existing tertiary institutions, it must urgently adopt a more rigorous — and graded ― assessment process, one based on external moderation and validation.

And this from the sketch on ‘Unite governance of the system’:

The tertiary system — regulators and funders at both Commonwealth and state levels, the institutions themselves and the professions — needs a new mentality which recognises that not all forms of advanced education have the same purpose or need the same funding. According parity to diverse institutions is an almost insurmountable challenge when the system operates within an established hierarchy of prestige and across a federation … the system must be funded and regulated on a firm community-wide appreciation of individual merits.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 22 September 2014 in VET Reforms

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the world of VET policy and reform. This post doesn’t pretend to wrap it all up comprehensively – just to note a few announcements. A second post will pick up a couple of items that suggest what a VET reform agenda might include.

The Department of Industry’s VET Reform website VET Reform website is a good place to visit for the latest in policy changes from the Commonwealth with links to ministerial announcements, media releases and interview transcripts.

On 8 September, the Prime Minister and Minister for Industry issued a media release on‘Lifting apprenticeship completion rates with better support for apprentices and small businesses.’ From 1 July 2015, Australian Apprenticeship Centres will transition to a new role and a new name – the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network. The media release outlines the Network’s role like so:

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will:

·         connect apprentices and employers through targeted job-matching

·         provide advice about different course options and training delivery options

·         deliver personalised mentoring and support to apprentices

·         provide advice to businesses taking on apprentices, including their roles and responsibilities

·         manage the administration of an apprenticeship including the training contract

·         administer the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program including employer incentives and trade support loans.

The Guardian reported on these changes here.

On 11 September, the Commonwealth Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, addressed VELG’s National VET Conference in Brisbane. In his speech the Minister announced a number of significant changes. RTOs with a quality and strong compliance track record will no longer have to submit to ASQA for approval of proposed changes in scope. The activities of training brokers will be subject to more stringent oversight. The work of updating training packages will become contestable and Industry Skills Councils can bid for the task – there will also be a review of training products to ensure that they are fit for purpose. These changes are prompted by a desire to reduce unnecessary regulation, to focus regulatory activity on bad practices and high risk RTOs, and to increase industry influence in the VET system.

The changes are also prompted by a bigger picture. At The Sydney Institute on 9 September, the Minister delivered a speech titled ‘Australia’s competitive edge in the industries of the future.’ The speech firmly places VET in a broader industry policy context:

We are overhauling the Vocational Education and Training system, with a package of reforms that elevate trades to the centre of Australia’s economy and put the focus squarely on ensuring Australian workers are highly skilled and job-ready. The reason for doing so is simple – if Australia is to fully capitalise on our opportunities and strengths, we must have the skills base to deliver on our potential. This sophisticated, flexible and productive workforce will be an essential component for delivering on our potential in new high value added, advanced industries.

The Government’s reforms will create a new streamlined and effective system to replace the unwieldy and overly bureaucratic system that has become bogged down in red tape. The era of training for training’s sake is over. The most important goal of the skills and training sector is to provide industry with the skilled and productive workers it needs to capitalise on the opportunities of the future and to give young Australians the best opportunity to get a job.

We can anticipate more policy changes.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 18 September 2014 in VET Reforms

In Australia the TAE and its precursors have formed the minimum requirements for VET teachers and trainers. And we do seem to talk about the TAE at considerable length. Just for a change, we thought it might be interesting to talk about qualifications elsewhere. By chance we have to hand the stuff of that conversation in the form of Teaching and Training Qualifications for the Further Education and Skills Sector in England (2013): Guidance for employers and practitioners (23 pages). It was published by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service which was defunded in July 2013 so no link to its website.

The document provides a bit of history about the changes to the qualification requirements over the period from 2001 to 2012 – obviously the conversation about what those requirements ought to be has been as considerably lengthy as our own conversation. The conversation took an unfamiliar turn in 2013 when the government removed a regulated minimum requirement so that it became the responsibility for deciding what qualifications are appropriate was handed to employers of teachers and trainers (including further education colleges, independent training providers, local authorities, the third sector, armed services, uniformed services, young offender institutions, the probation service and prison education).

There are two annexes to the document. The first is an ‘Overview of Education and Training qualifications, which range from a Level 3 Award in Education and Training through to a number of Level 5 diplomas. A few distinguishing characteristics:

·         A level 3 qualification comprises three mandatory credits and 9 optional credits – it has no minimum teaching practice requirement, but there is a minimum microteaching requirement

·         A Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training has 21 mandatory credits and 15 optional credits – it has a minimum practice requirement of 30 hours teaching and 3 assessed observations of teaching

·         A Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training has 75 mandatory credits and 45 optional credits – it has a minimum practice requirement of 100 hours teaching and 8 assessed observations of teaching

·         Level 5 integrated specialist Diploma in Education and Training (English: Literacy) has 105 mandatory credits and 15 optional credits – it has a minimum practice requirement of 100 hours teaching and 8 assessed observations of teaching.

The second annex is very helpful – ‘Pen portraits’ gives us a look at the kinds of circumstances that might lead an employer to select one qualification over another.

Here’s the full pen portrait related to the Level 3 qualification.

Sunil worked as a health-care professional for 15 years before joining the team of a small independent training provider, AOTC, based in Leeds as an assessor. Within the first year of joining the company, Sunil achieved his A1 (Assessor Award) and now works with a case load of approximately 35 learners employed by care providers in the Leeds area who are working towards the Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care.

Although primarily a provider of work-based learning and assessment services, AOTC has recently diversified into classroom-based provision offering courses in social care to the unemployed. Sunil was asked to take on responsibility for delivering the workshops in Infection Control, which involved working at the company’s training centre one day a week. Although he was keen to broaden his role, Sunil was not sure that he wanted to move away entirely from work-based assessment so agreed to take on the new responsibility on a six-month trial basis during which time AOTC agreed to put him through the Level 3 Award in Education and Training.

And here’s an excerpt from the pen portrait related to the Level 5 Diploma in Teaching English: Literacy.

After 10 years of working in the hair and beauty sector, Peter moved into work-based training working as a Tutor/Assessor with a leading national hairdressing provider. Peter works in the provider’s training salon delivering the underpinning knowledge of the NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing (QCF) at Levels 2 and 3. The majority of the learners he works with are apprentices working in salons in the local area and part of Peter’s role involves visiting the salons to carry out work-based assessments. Peter is also responsible for supporting his learners with the development of their Key Skills.

Peter was keen to advance his career and had always enjoyed working with learners on Key Skills in Communication so he was delighted when his application for the new post of Functional Skills Champion for English was successful. During his interview for the position, the requirement for him to have some specialist training in teaching English was discussed so, in his first week in his new role, he arranged to meet the Training and Development Manager, Janet. She discussed the qualification options that were available and they decided that the most appropriate would be the Level 5 Diploma in Teaching English: Literacy, one of the standalone specialist diplomas, as it would allow him to build on his existing teaching qualifications and specialise in his chosen subject area.

We’ve skipped a few important elements in the English system, like the existence of professional standards. Never fear. The Guidance document does a good job at explaining how the system hangs together.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 in VET Conferences

Date:     14-16 October, 2014

Venue:  Bonn, Germany

This Forum is organised by the UN’s International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC). The aims of the Forum are to:

·         contribute to and inform the global debate on the vital topics of youth, skills and greening TVET in the context of the post-2015 development agenda

·         engage multiple stakeholders in identifying concrete and coherent global directions, policy measures and programmatic interventions in the areas of youth employability, skills development and greening skills and competencies through TVET

·         share cross-regional, multi-stakeholder, multi-level perspectives and draw analysis from the progress to map a global TVET outlook beyond 2015

·         elaborate concrete future interventions through Network and partnership platforms, in particular the UNEVOC Network.

The program is diverse – intense even! Among the planned sessions are these:

·         Entrepreneurial skills – can entrepreneurial success be learned?

·         Private Sector Cooperation in TVET – what works?

·         Selected Promising Practices on youth skills

·         Greening TVET – Policies and approaches for meeting skills for sustainability.

The third day of the Forum offers a series of study tours that include:

·         Presentation on the German Dual Training System/Curricula Development, which includes site visits to the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training and a water treatment plant facilitated the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste

·         The role of the Technology Centre Aachen TZA to promote regional entrepreneurship and start-ups, including a site visit to the Vocational Training Centre, Aachen

·         A site visit to Lucas-Nülle.

More details on the Forum here.

You might be interested to visit the webpage on which UNEVOC lists its partners around the world. Our own NCVER is among them. Others include:

·         International Vocational Education and Training Association

·         International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship

·         Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training

·         SEAMEO Regional Centre for Vocational and Technical Education and Training(SEAMO is the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation)

·         CEDEFOP (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training).


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 15 September 2014 in Research

Understanding the non-completion of apprentices is another pearl of a paper from theNational Centre for Vocational Education Research. Written by Alice Bednarz, the paper pulls together what we know about non-completions reported by many sources over the last half a dozen years.

The hard fact is that around 50% of apprentices don’t complete. The paper puts a bit of fine grain on this by sharing data about completion rates for different trades – so individual completion rates in 2007 ranged from 68% in electrotech and telecommunications, to 48% in wood trades, and 39% in food trades.

Completion rates varied between states and territories too – from 66.7% in Tassie and 55.8% in Queensland to 50.7% in Victoria.

The key messages are illuminating – they appear at the front of the paper. Here they are in full:

·         Employment-related reasons are the most commonly cited reasons for not completing an apprenticeship. These include experiencing interpersonal difficulties with employers or colleagues, being made redundant, not liking the work and changing career. By contrast, issues with the off-the-job training are the least frequently cited reasons for not completing an apprenticeship.

·         There is a large difference in completers’ and non-completers’ satisfaction with their employment experience overall. The majority of completers (80%) are satisfied with the employment experience overall, compared with just 42% of non-completers. This provides further evidence that the employment experience, rather than the off-the-job-training experience, carries greater weight in whether an apprentice stays or goes.

·         There is conflicting evidence on the importance of wages. Most studies find that low wages are not the most common reason for non-completion, but they are nonetheless one of the top few factors. An increase in wages alone is unlikely to solve the problem of low completion rates, since multiple factors are often to blame.

·         Apprentices generally leave their apprenticeship contract early on: 60% of those who leave do so within the first year.

·         The influence of the employer cannot be overstated. Employers with the highest completion rates are generally larger, experienced employers with well-organised systems for managing and recruiting apprentices. Employers with lower completion rates tend to be smaller and have less experience.

A good question that the paper burrows into is ‘what happens to those who quit?’ The paper indicates that about 75-80% of non-completers were employed less than a year after they left their apprenticeship. However:

… only 25% are employed in the same occupation as their apprenticeship (NCVER 2009). This is compared with 77% of completers. This suggests that the fit between the occupation and the apprentices may have been poor. More importantly, just 7% of non-completers are employed with the same employer as their apprenticeship, compared with 50% of completers. This suggests that non-completers had a less favourable relationship with their employer than completers.

What’s more:

It appears that many of those who quit do not give up on the idea of an apprenticeship altogether. The NCVER survey found that approximately 22% of non-completing apprentices in a trade occupation had commenced another apprenticeship (NCVER 2009). Cully and Curtain (2001) also found that 44% of non-completing apprentices had recommenced their apprenticeship with a different employer. Two-thirds of those who recommenced did so in the same occupational area as their apprenticeship or traineeship.

Table 9 is a real insight, comparing satisfaction with the apprenticeship for completers and non-completers. The table below lifts some of the data from Table 9 in the report.


Satisfied (%)


Satisfied (%)


(% points)





Quality of off-the-job training




Employment overall




Training provided by employer




Skills learnt on the job








These data suggest, in the words of the report, ‘that the employment experience, rather than the off-the-job-training experience, carries greater weight in determining whether an apprentice stays or goes.’

The report identifies three areas in which policy and practice might smarten up, and discusses each:

·         Assess apprentice suitability

·         Assess employer suitability

·         Provide greater assistance for employers and apprentices

·         Consider alternative apprenticeship models

The report includes three very brief case studies in an appendix which offer ‘examples of trades or businesses with high completion rates and looks at the possible reasons behind these high rates.’ Here is one of the case studies.

The Fairbrother Group, a Tasmanian building and construction company, has implemented an ‘Apprentice Mentor Program’, which has achieved an apprentice completion rate of 98% (Jones & Muthaya 2011). As part of the program, regular coaching and mentoring are provided for all apprentices. Mentors are responsible for making sure that apprentices receive adequate training and supervision and are regularly rotated and experience a variety of tasks, and for regularly ‘checking in’ with the apprentice to see how they are going.

Another feature is that the company provides training for its supervisors — all apprentice mentors undertake the ‘Supervisor and Mentor Skills Training Program’, delivered by the OzHelp Tasmania Foundation. Finally, free counselling for all of the Fairbrother Group’s apprentices is available from the OzHelp Tasmania Foundation.

Never underestimate the power of a good story.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 08 September 2014 in Research

Before we get to the skills leaders need it’s worth saying that The Harvard Business Review‘s Blog Network rolls out a couple of new blog posts every day, and it’s worth checking in from time to time to see what’s new.

On 1 September, for example, there were posts on:

·         Give Your Organization a Work-Life Vision, by Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France

·         9 Habits That Lead to Terrible Decisions, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, from the Zenger/Folkman leadership development consultancy.

And on 20 August, just to pick another date at random, there were posts on:

·         Fixing a Work Relationship Gone Sour, by Amy Gallo, a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review

·         How to Present to a Small Audience, by JD Schramm who teaches communication at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

·         The Most Productive People Know Who to Ignore, by Ed Batista, an executive coach and an Instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Now, back to the skills leaders need at every level, which was posted on 30 July by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman whom we mentioned earlier. Here’s what they did:

… we compiled a dataset in which we asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates what skills have the greatest impact on a leader’s success in the position the respondents currently hold. Each respondent selected the top four competencies out of a list of 16 that we provided. We then compared the results for managers at different levels.

Here’s what they found out:

… there was a remarkable consistency in the data about which skills were perceived as most important in all four levels of the organization we measured.  The same competencies were selected as most important for the supervisors, middle managers, and senior managers alike, and six out of the seven topped the list for top executives. Executives at every organizational level, our respondents reported, need a balance of these competencies. The other nine competencies included in the study were chosen only half as frequently as the top seven.

And here are the top seven competencies that leaders at every level need:

1.    Inspires and motivates others (37%)

2.    Displays high integrity and honesty (37%)

3.    Solves problems and analyses issues (37%)

4.    Drives for results (36%)

5.    Communicates powerfully and prolifically (35%)

6.    Collaborates and promotes teamwork (33%)

7.    Builds relationships (30%).


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 in VET in Schools

Way back when – in June 2013 – we ran a post titled ‘Learning, teaching and … 3D printing?’ A quick check of what’s happening in secondary schools on this score indicates that it’s safe now, 15 months later, to remove the question mark and just write ‘Learning, teaching and 3D printing’. Three brief examples.

Alex Semmens is an ICT teacher in a high school in Adelaide. His blog –Connect. Lead. Change. – has a couple of posts about how he is using 3D printing, along with some videos showing his students working with 3D printers.

Northcote High School in Melbourne’s inner north has a webpage devoted to the school’s VET offerings. If you scroll down the page to the first item under the heading ‘VET student feedback’ you’ll read this:

This year in my VET Engineering course I have fabricated a soft face mallet made of mild steel and aluminium, a sheet metal binder/folder, fashioned a centre punch out of mild steel and a galvanised tin tool box. Through the making of these tools I’ve gained knowledge of how to use metal turning lathes, a spot welder, how to use 3D modelling software, a range of hand tools and metal working machines and the ability to use a variety of CNC machines such as: Mills, lathes, 3D printers and laser cutter. And I am only half way through the course so there is still lots to learn and plenty to make and enjoy!

– Alex Greenwood 10B Engineer

With a strong VET offering, Lesmurdie Senior High School on the eastern outskirts of Perth is making use of 3D printersin the curriculum, as is St John’s Regional College in Dandenong (see page 7 of the school’s May newsletter).


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 28 August 2014 in Research

The NCVER recently released a research report titled Quality assessments: practice and perspectives (58 pages). It tackles one of the enduring questions about VET: is assessment quality up to scratch? It’s an important question because assessment outcomes are central to the credibility of providers and the VET system generally.

The researchers – Josie Misko, Sian Halliday-Wynes, John Stanwick, and Sinan Gemici – focussed on certificate III qualifications in aged care, electro-technology (electrical) and business. The research specifically looked at RPL assessment practices. They report a range of findings that include:

·         The terms ‘validation’ and ‘moderation’ still appear to present some confusion: some trainers and assessors identified as validation practices what are clearly approaches to moderation, and vice versa.

·         Time constraints and inadequate experience or lack of expertise in specific units also work against the increased involvement of employers in assessment validation or external assessments.

·         There is little emphasis on the recognition of prior learning for entry-level certificate III programs across the three sectors, although there is evidence of higher usage in business programs and for electrical apprentices transferring from the defence forces (navy) who already possess extensive knowledge of and experience in communications. Apart from the obligatory formal offer of recognition that all providers made prior to enrolment, there was little encouragement for students to undertake RPL.

·         Providers varied in what they expected from the students who did request recognition of prior learning, with some providers implementing a streamlined approach, while others required extensive documentation to support students’ claims … Generally, the complex approach was used to meet the perceived prospective requirements of quality auditors.

It’s interesting to read about the perspectives that VET practitioners and students have on what constitutes a credible qualification.

For practitioners, the top five characteristics (in order) of a credible qualification were:

·         is achieved via practical workplace training and experience that meets industry needs

·         meets training package and regulatory requirements

·         meets standards of rigorous and robust delivery and assessment practices

·         is awarded by reputable RTOs with skilled trainers and assessors

·         helps holders get a job, licence or move into further training.

Student perspectives are mixed and partly influenced by the provider they are studying with. Their varied perspectives on what constituted a credible qualification included that it was:

·         attained through comprehensive studies

·         wanted by workplaces

·         designed as a higher education pathway

·         a platform for stepping into a qualification in a variety of industry areas.

On the question of what a poor assessment looked like, VET practitioners reckoned that the biggest shortcomings were assessment instruments and processes that were poorly designed, lacked currency, were not relevant to the industry, and used written assessments rather than practical tests of skills. The report also noted a lack of rigour was a bad look, especially

… with regard to effective moderation and validation arrangements and a lack of sufficient evidence and documentation were considered to be other aspects of poor assessment.

The report suggests that the difficulty of securing employer involvement in validating assessment has a number of causes, including:

·         lack of time

·         lack of knowledge of what was involved in the units of competency to be assessed

·         inability to understand the language used in the training packages and by the assessors or trainers themselves

·         the broad industry coverage of the qualification (generally business qualifications)

·         the lack of a strong relationship between employers and providers

·         the limited availability of work placements (especially in regional areas but also in specific sectors)

·         finding the right person to talk to.

While employer involvement has its challenges, the authors observe that:

Trainers and assessors understand the wisdom of gaining employer feedback to ensure that their classroom practices are those required by industry. They also understand the difficulties of getting employers to devote time to the validation of assessment tools. Where practitioners already have good networks with employers, getting this involvement seems to be less difficult.

This report is worth a careful reading. It also picks up questions around the duration of courses of study and validation designs. Its scope is broad and its relevance is high.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 25 August 2014 in E-Learning

The charmingly named blogosphere has a lot to offer VET practitioners. There’s much more besides the VET Blog to pique your interest.

In September last we posted about the Industry Skills Blog that comes to us via the Higher Education and Skills Group at Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Definitely worth dropping in – posts this year have included:

·         Women in auto trades

·         Supporting a culturally diverse workforce

·         An apprentice evolves into an industry spokesperson.

And we’ve mentioned TAFE Bytes before when we posted about TAFE Illawarra teacher Troy Everett who wrote about his extraordinary visit to a remote village in Bangladesh. You can subscribe to TAFE Bytes via the website. Recent TAFE Bytes posts include:

·         How to become an engineer

·         My brilliant < IT > career

·         How many is too many? (This one is about global population growth.)

There’s a good post titled ‘The e-learning curve’, written by Kathryn McGilvray who is an English teacher with TAFE NSW. She writes:

E-learning can be incredibly creative and I don’t know a TAFE teacher who doesn’t have the ability to improve, develop and create interesting and engaging lessons for students. In fact, e-learning has endless possibilities in terms of delivery and I find this extremely exciting.

Living up to her own enthusiasm, Kathryn has her own blog, Techno in the Classroom. Highly recommended is her post titled ‘Too scared to share’ in which she says:

I do hope that if you do share using social media to help advocate for students and learning that you would encourage others to do so. It takes just one teacher at a time to help change a culture and recreate a technology revolution.

You can also follow Kathryn on Twitter – her handle is @Kathmcg1.

Another blog that is building up a good catalogue of posts is run by the Centre for Workplace Leadership at Melbourne University. This blog has been running since February and since then has run posts like these:

·         Closer than we think: Cisco’s Dave Evans on the Future of Work

·         Driverless trucks, 3-D printing & virtual reality training: The Future of Work

·         Why aren’t we better at managing people?

·         Is the future freelance?

For an insight into the diversity of teachers who dabble in writing blogs, check out the Ed Blog Register. Be great to see lots of VET practitioners on a list like this!

Finally, a really interesting dwelling place for tech-interested, tech-learning, and tech-savvy teachers is the wonderful and truly remarkable – The Edublogger is a worldwide phenomenon managed by Sue Waters from Perth who also goes under the Twitter handle of @suewaters. Sue’s blogging purpose, as she writes on the website, is the ‘practical application of technologies in education, and most importantly HELPING OTHERS learn how to use these technologies.’

Strongly recommend you browse around The Edublogger. There’s a very useful link at the top of the page – Educator’s Guides – that offers a picklist of resources for teachers who want to start using, or extend their use, of Twitter and Facebook for example.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 in Research

In late July, WorldSkills Australia reported on the results of its national survey into Australians’ knowledge and perceptions about vocational education and training. There is a lot to ponder. Despite recognising for many years that there is limited understanding of VET in the wider community, the survey results reinforce the simple reality: we still haven’t broken through. It seems that universities have done a much better marketing job.

The survey results are worth a slow read. Here are some excerpts:

·         The VET sector is consistently misunderstood, with one quarter of us admitting to not knowing what is meant by the term ‘vocational education and training’

·         While 37 per cent of Australians have a member of their family employed in the vocational sector, the percentage increases generationally – 46 per cent of people over 70 have a relative in a trade, compared to just 34 per cent of Gen Y (21-30 year olds)

·         Many Australians aren’t able to identify the remuneration potential for key trades, with 51 per cent underestimating what a bricklayer gets paid

·         People with diplomas and certificates are most likely to encourage their child to pursue whatever career option suits them (72 per cent), while 41 per cent of those with a university degree or higher said they would prefer their child complete a degree.

It’s also interesting to see the reported variations in knowledge and perceptions across states and territories. For example, 45.5 per cent of survey respondents in Queensland said a member of their family had been employed in a trade, compared to only 32.5 per cent of South Australians.

And it’s interesting to read about variations between metro and regional areas. For example, 44 per cent of people in regional NSW know someone employed in a trade-based industry. This falls to 33 per cent for Sydneysiders.

While you’re at the WorldSkills Australia website, it’s worth checking out the latest on the2014 WorldSkills National Competition – there’s much more to look at now than when weposted about the Competition in June.

For a bit more good news, have a look at this brief bit of news on the WorldSkills Australia website: RMIT University and WorldSkills Australia bringing safe and reliable water to remote communities in the Northern Territory.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 in Research

There are lots of learning and teaching resources available through the US Community College sector. Here are two.

LaGuardia Community College in New York coordinates a national network of ePortfolio leaders from community colleges, private liberal arts colleges, and research universities. The website for this community of practice, Catalyst for Learning, provides resources and evidence for using ePortfolios. There’s an excellent paper here that describes ePortfolio benefits, pitfalls and opportunities.

Georgian College is located in Toronto, Canada. The College’s Centre for Teaching and Learning has a page of links to resources on Teaching Methods, including teaching critical thinking, problem based learning, student engagement, and tools for online learning. There are also resources on instructional design (under the planning tab), assessment, and technology (like how to use YouTube in the classroom).

Happy browsing. 


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 11 August 2014 in VET Reforms

In Australia we are familiar with rapid changes in the way post-secondary education (PSE) is organised and funded. A couple of our recent posts make it clear that the changes are not over by a long shot – for example:

·         Changing the shape of tertiary education

·         First June speechmaker – Jennifer Westacott (CEO, Business Council of Australia) on ‘Redefining Vocational Learning in the Global Economy’

·         Third June speechmaker (3) – ‘National Skills Summit Address’ by The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry.

We are not alone. PSE is undergoing rethinking and reform across the world. UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) started a research program a few years ago to investigate how PSE was evolving. It completed five in-depth case studies on Azerbaijan, Chile, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and Nigeria.

The diversification of post-secondary education (132 pages) presents the case studies. (When you choose the ‘Free download’ option you’ll be prompted to register if you don’t already have an account – takes no time at all.) As the preface, the report points out:

PSE is a highly diversified segment of education today. This diversification has affected PSE providers, programmes, clientele, and sources of funding. PSE includes all forms of education and study programmes pursued after the secondary level, as well as research universities, teaching universities, professional colleges, polytechnics, and vocational colleges. PSE institutions may offer courses for degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

The case study research led the IIEP to propose four categories of PSE institutions:

·         universities, with high-status universities focusing on research and professionally oriented universities offering courses leading to advanced degrees;

·         colleges/non-university institutions, which offer more practical and vocationally oriented courses and may confer first degrees or diplomas

·         short-cycle tertiary institutions offering technical and vocational training below degree level

·         post-secondary non-tertiary institutions operating above the secondary level but below tertiary education, and conferring either sub-degree vocational certificates or higher education entrance degrees.

It would be brave to suggest that these categories are fixed or that they adequately describe what is happening in every country. It’s a helpful start though. Whatever the mix of institutional settings that a nation has, the IIEP report observes that:

… the employment prospects of non-university PSE graduates are better in the five countries examined, even though traditional earnings differentials between non-university and university graduates may in some cases be widening. All in all, the diversification of PSE results in cost savings for the government, improves employment opportunities for students, and reduces pressure on the university system to expand.

In case you thought change in PSE was a peculiarly Australian experience, this report shows we are not alone! Last modified on Monday, 11 August 2014 Hits: 853


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 in VET Conferences

Date:     27-29 October, 2014

Venue:  Australian Technology Park, Sydney

Theme: Technology and Strategy for Workplace Learning

The conference website puts these value propositions forward for conference participants:

·         Understand the technological demands that new learning practices create within organisations

·         Turn your learning and development department into a profit centre

·         Discover the social technologies that are making the greatest impact on the way we learn and work in the workplace

·         Develop strategies for effective mobile learning

·         Measure your learning results

·         Gain insight into how you can achieve accurate forecasts of your learning results

·         Find out why gamification should have pride of place in your workplace learning strategy.

Speakers include:

·         Jane Hart (Founder & CEO, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies) delivering a keynote on ‘Learning in a Connected Workplace: Doing & Learning is Social’

·         Stuart Chadwick (Solutions Director, City & Guilds) delivering a keynote on ‘5 Key Learning Technology Trends 2014-2015’

·         Natalie Goldman (National Learning and Development Manager, Peoplebank) delivering a keynote on ‘MOOCs 101’

·         Maree Howard (Director, HR & Organisational Development, Optus) speaking on ‘Yes to Learning! Building an organisational culture that values training and development’

·         Cheryl Rae (Head of Organisational & Talent Development, Woolworths) and Rebekah Newman (Learning & Development Manager, Woolworths) speaking on ‘How Woolworths transformed their Certificate Training’.

On 29 October, a Masterclass is scheduled on scenario design. The focus includes designing better instructional material for staff learning on decision-making, and learning simple and repeatable scenario building for workplace training modules.

You may be interested in Jane Hart’s blog, Learning in the Modern Workplace. Recent posts include:

·         Social learning is not something you make other people do

·         Using your Enterprise Social Network for Social Workplace Learning

·         Wearable Learning : the next big thing!


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 24 July 2014 in E-Learning

Most of our students have been learners for a decade or more. It isn’t surprising that some of them come up with great ideas for improving their learning and the learning experience. Jisc in the UK recently announced the winners of its Summer of Student Innovationcompetition. Jisc’s media release explains that the winning ideas will be developed over the summer and presented to universities and colleges later in the year. This will give the students a chance to pitch their ideas and offer individual universities and colleges an early opportunity to adopt these new technologies.

The 20 winners all appear on video here, and there is a link to each of the winning entries on the same page. In the creators’ own words, the winning innovations include:

·         Video CV (VCV) guide that can be ‘run both as a workshop format or online to help students develop their own VCVs. It can be run independently in any location with access to the standard software on a computer and a video camera. There is an introductory presentation outlining the potential for VCVs as employability tools and a sample VCV for each of the four templates we have developed. To ensure that the results are as professional and creative as possible, we provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to help students plan, create and troubleshoot their own VCV. The workshop setting also allows students to confer with each other, offering alternative perspectives, which our preliminary work showed was a valuable source of encouragement.’

·         An app to encourage female students to break gender stereotypes. ‘It will show women already working in male dominated careers. The idea is for these women to become inspirations and role models to the girls, and they will decide to follow in their footsteps. The app gives girls positive role models to discover.’

·         StartWrite was pitched by Josiah Shelley, a Postgraduate student at the University of South Wales. ‘The purpose of this web app is to help students stay organised and get assignments done on-time while meeting assignment requirements. We do not help students write assignments, but we generate a plan to help students succeed.’


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 in VET Reforms

In November last the VET Blog posted a heads up on an Independent Review of Western Australia’s VET Sector announced in October 2013. Last month the Review’s Final Report(107 pages) was delivered to the Minister who is now considering its recommendations and feedback received immediately after its release.

The breadth of matters considered by the Review led to 40 recommendations, among them:

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development monitor the effectiveness of the current concession scheme for low SES students and adjust this where appropriate (Recommendation 3).

·         That to ensure a student-focused VET sector, the Department of Training and Workforce Development in conjunction with the regulators, ensure that providers’ credentials and quality systems are taken into account during contracting, accrediting and registering Registered Training Organisations (Recommendation 4).

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development in conjunction with the State Training Providers consider ways of enhancing management expertise and knowledge exchange across the VET sector (Recommendation 12).

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development convenes discussions with the Department of Commerce to seek a way within the current industrial framework for Government agencies that would provide more flexible and individualised Agreements for each State Training Provider (Recommendation 17).

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development and the Department of Education Services convene a forum with the Western Australian Vice Chancellors and the representatives from the Managing Directors of the State Training Providers, to begin development of a State-wide pathways and articulation framework(Recommendation 24).

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development work with the Federal Government to ensure that My Skills is improved and provides adequate information for consumers in an appropriate format (Recommendation 25).

·         That the Minister for Training and Workforce Development raise with the Minister for Regional Development the potential for Royalties for Regions to fund a five-year project under the heading ‘VET Regional Partnerships Program’ for regional State Training Providers that are looking to embark on new, innovative and long-term partnerships for the benefit of their institutions and their communities(Recommendation 30).

·         That the Department of Training and Workforce Development work with State Training Providers to establish a policy by which private Registered Training Organisations or other parties might deliver training from State-owned campuses. This should include reference to the use of information and communications technologies (Recommendation 31).

·         That the State Training Board’s remit be broadened to include the workforce development implications resulting from the increasing convergence between the VET and higher education sectors (Recommendation 37).

The Review looked at a number of models for the training market in WA, suggesting that whichever model is adopted,

… quality and efficiency of delivery should be the paramount drivers for purchasing of training, not any ideological position about either public or private domination of the system.

An interesting and welcome aspect of the Final Report is its assessment of how best to represent the student voice in the training system. The Report observes that this issue

… is one that has been surprisingly absent from most of the submissions and discussions as part of this review, and that has been the place of the student. In comparison with the university system, for example, where there is a lot of discussion around student issues, the VET system both nationally and in the States appears consumed with discussions around funding and regulation, which is scarcely surprising given the plethora of bodies involved in the system. There is much talk about an ‘industry-led’ training system, and the desired role of industry guiding the system is very clear, but the role and engagement of students in the system is less so. While there would be issues with having students as members of the various boards and committees that make up the training sector in Western Australia (State Training Board, Industry Training Councils, Governing Councils, etc.) there should nonetheless be mechanisms to ensure that student voices are heard at all points within the framework. These may exist, but they were not apparent during the review process, nor at any of the stakeholder discussions. In an industry-led system, it is important that a ‘customer focus’ is at the forefront in all considerations.

The Report also has a something to say about the future of VET in Schools in WA, which we will post about down the track.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 18 July 2014 in VET Reforms

During his address to the National Skills Summit (see our blog post), the Minister for Industry, The Hon Ian Macfarlane, released the draft revised RTO and VET Regulator Standards. Comments on the draft Standards are invited until 23 July – the email address for comments is at the bottom of this webpage.

To explain, there are two draft Standards:

·         one set for RTOs, and

·         one set for VET regulators.

You might also find useful the policy overview paper titled Proposed Standards for Training Providers and VET Regulators.

It’s worth remembering that the Standards were initially revised by the former National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) in 2013, but that initial revision was dropped and a new review process was commenced in late 2013 by the VET Reform Taskforce.

The draft Standards will need editing to ensure consistency, clarity, and readability. That aside for the moment, there are some important variations from the NSSC’s drafts. The notion of renaming RTOs as Licenced Training Organisations is no longer on the table. Also missing is the proposition that each RTO would have an Accountable Education Officer responsible for training and assessment strategies and practice.

There are seven proposed Standards for RTOs. We’ll do a quick tour of some aspects of Standard 1 here.

Standard 1 reads like so:

The RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices are responsive to industry and learner needs and meet the requirements of Training Packages and VET Accredited Courses.

Among the compliance requirements for Standard 1 is that volume of learning expectations are adhered to. This is a good thing. It means providers can’t offer very short programs that fail to develop skills adequately. (We posted about volume of learning herein February.)

Under proposed Standard 1, RTOs that deliver the TAE must meet a number of new requirements, including that all TAE trainers:

·         hold the training and assessment qualification at least to the level being delivered, or prior to 1 January 2016, have demonstrated equivalence of competencies

·         undertake professional development in the fields of the knowledge and practice of vocational training, learning and assessment including competency based training and assessment.

In days of yore, the Standards left a lot open to interpretation. The drafts are considerably tighter about what terms mean. So professional development is defined like so:

Professional development means activities that develop and/or maintain an individual’s skills, knowledge, expertise and other characteristics as a trainer or assessor. This includes both formal and informal activities that encompass vocational competencies, currency of industry skills and knowledge and practice of vocational training, learning and assessment, including competency based training and assessment. Examples of professional development activities include:

a) participation in courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, or formal learning programs;

b) participation in mentoring, professional associations or other learning networks;

c) personal development through individual research or reading of publications or other relevant information;

d) participation in moderation or validation activities; and

e) participation in industry release schemes.

Draft Standard 1 proposes that all RTOs have in place an assessment system that ensures assessment aligns with training packages and is systematically validated. The draft Standard also describes four Principles of Assessment (fairness, flexibility, validity, and reliability) and four Rules of Evidence (validity, sufficiency, authenticity, and currency). An ‘assessment system’ is defined in the glossary of terms as follows:

Assessment system is a coordinated set of documented policies and procedures (including assessment materials and tools) designed and implemented to increase the likelihood that assessments of learners, using many different assessors, in varying situations, are consistent and are based on assessment evidence that is valid, sufficient, authentic and current and assessment practice that is fair, flexible, valid and reliable.

An assessment system is to include grievances and appeals process, validation systems and processes, moderation, reporting/recording arrangements, acquisition of physical and human resources, administrative procedures, roles and responsibilities, partnership arrangements (where relevant), quality assurance mechanisms, risk management strategies and documented assessment processes.

Draft Standard 1 also focusses on industry relevance. Clauses 1.4-1.6 are as follows:

1.4. The RTO’s training and assessment practices are relevant to the needs of industry and informed by industry engagement.

1.5. The RTO implements a range of strategies for industry engagement and systematically uses the outcome of that industry engagement to ensure the industry relevance of:

       a) its training and assessment strategies, practices and resources; and

       b) the current industry skills of its trainers and assessors.

1.6. The RTO documents and maintains current evidence of its industry engagement activities.

Again, the term is defined, so industry engagement … may include, but is not limited to strategies such as:


     a) partnering with local employers, regional/national businesses, relevant Industry bodies and/or enterprise RTOs;

     b) involving employer nominees in industry advisory committees and/or reference groups;

     c) embedding staff within enterprises;

     d) networking in an ongoing way with industry networks, peak bodies and/or employers;

     e) developing networks of relevant employers and industry representatives to participate in assessment validation; and

     f) exchanging knowledge, staff, and/or resources with employers, networks and Industry bodies.

It’s important to note that the emphasis on industry isn’t ‘business as usual’ where different words refer to the same things as the old words. As the policy overview paper states:

… in response to stakeholder feedback that engagement with industry should be outcomes rather than inputs focused, it is insufficient for RTOs to only demonstrate that they have engaged with industry. RTOs will also be required to demonstrate how engagement with industry has informed their training and assessment strategies so they are relevant to the needs of industry. RTOs will also need to demonstrate how industry engagement has ensured the current industry skills of its trainers and assessors.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 in VET in Schools

On 17 June, The Hon Sussan Ley, Assistant Minister for Education in the Australian government, announced the winners of the 2013 Australian Vocational Student Prizes. The Prizes are awarded to students who have demonstrated outstanding skills while completing vocational training in senior secondary years.

The full list of prize winners is available hereby state and territory. On the same page is the list of winners for The Prime Minister’s Award for Skills Excellence in School – brief biographies for each winner are provided. Here’s an edited selection of details about some of the winners – pretty remarkable young Aussies.

Michael Au has a dream – ‘that one day people with a disability will have equal treatment throughout Australia.’ Michael is absolutely determined to help that become reality. His Certificate III in Disability is just a step along the way for this ambitious young man.

Michael’s leadership and advocacy for others has been recognised with a number of awards, such as the Long Tan Leadership Award his school awarded him in 2011. He also received the Order of Australia Community Service Certificate of Appreciation in 2013.

Michael is doing his utmost to advocate for those who are vulnerable, isolated and disadvantaged. This includes volunteer work for St John’s Ambulance, Amnesty International and the Red Cross, just to name a few.

Beau Cubillo has had to grow up very quickly in order to undertake his studies as he moved some 2,600 kilometres from the Northern Territory to boarding school. His maturity and determination were shown by his good grades in his Year 12 subjects, as well as the Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance he achieved in just 18 months.

Along the way, Beau received an Indigenous Youth Leadership Programme Scholarship, participated in the WEX Dare to Lead Commonwealth Government Workplace Program in Canberra, and was shortlisted as a nominee for the Northern Territory Young Achiever Awards in the Carers’ Category.

Emma Hay has just achieved a major landmark – not only is she the first West Australian Secondary School student to graduate with a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, she is also the first in Australia to do so.

At school, she maintained a hectic program of study and out-of-school commitments.

She undertook The Employment Advantage Program, gained Senior First Aid and Surf Rescue Certificates, and completed a Certificate II in Business in 2012 while working 20 hours a week at GEO Vet practices.

Emma also represented Western Australia for three years in the Equestrian Interschool Championship, and served as Vice Team Captain for Western Australia at the Interschool National Equestrian Championships in 2012.

She has also been honoured by the Pony Club Association of WA for her contribution to the sport, culminating in 2014 in her receiving the Young Sports Person of the Year Award at the Australia Day Ceremony in the Shire of Capel.

Lauren Parkinson is someone with a lot of experience providing care to others. She used the illness of a family member to inspire her – to undertake nursing and, in her words, to ‘bring dignity and respect to people’ needing nursing.

She trained in care and assistance for the elderly at the Seymour Memorial Hospital in Seymour, and later at BlueCross Willowmeade. ‘Lauren is a very empathetic carer who is passionate about delivering person- centred care to our residents’ boasts

BlueCross Willowmeade. It was there she picked up a Top 4 Trainee in Aged Care award at the industry annual awards ceremony in 2013.

As she studied for her School Based Apprenticeship in Aged Care, Lauren was equally active on the sports field. She not only completed a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance and a Certificate III in Aged Care, she also undertook a Certificate II in Sport and Recreation.

She starts out on her Bachelor of Nursing at RMIT in 2014.

Mitchell Swinglehurst was the kid who fixed everyone’s bikes. Little did he know that he would one day be fixing heavy diesel machinery – and relishing it. After a rebellious youth, he found, to his surprise that he wanted more than anything to undertake a School-based Apprenticeship and threw himself into his TAFE studies.

Before long Mitchell had earned the respect and admiration of a Skills Tech trainer, who told him he was one of the most outstanding apprentices he had taught in 30 years. Small wonder then that he placed in the top 10% of TAFE students in Queensland.

Mitchell emerged from TAFE with a Certificate III in Business, hoping one day to work in management, and a Certificate III in Automotive Heavy Road Transport. The boy who hated school was suddenly picking up awards as well, including the Busy at Work School-based Apprentice of the Year Award.

Looking back, Mitchell made it as difficult as he could for himself in Years 9 to 10, but once he found his feet, he never looked back. His employer, Logan City Bus Service, is looking forward to having him on board for the rest of his apprenticeship.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 14 July 2014 in VET Reforms

On 25 June, the Minister for Industry, The Hon Ian Macfarlane, addressed the National Skills Summit hosted by ACPET and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Minister’s address is a progress report on the Federal Government’s VET Reformactivities. The reform agenda is informed through consultations conducted by the Department of Industry’s VET Reform Taskforce (and which we blogged about here in March).

The Minister’s address covers a swathe of factors that drive, guide and constrain VET in Australia. He reflects that the challenge before the government ‘is to build a better VET system and to increase industry confidence in it.’ He is clear that reform is needed in response to views put to the Taskforce, in particular:

·         Employers are concerned they aren’t getting the skilled workers they need.

·         Training providers feel weighed down by red tape, endless process and excessive regulation. High quality providers are not rewarded for their hard work, and low quality providers are still allowed to operate.

·         And students, parents and employers tell me they can’t always get the information to make the right decisions about the training they need and to get the most out of the training services that are available.

He has focussed VET reform on delivering four outcomes:

·         A stronger role for industry

·         Better training and employment outcomes for students

·         Simpler systems with less red tape

·         Better targeted and more effective Government funding.

The Minister proposes to extend the influence of employers in a number of ways, saying:

I believe that industry must have a stronger role in defining the content of the training being delivered, including any specific requirements for the delivery and assessment of training.

Soon I will be announcing a new industry-led advisory group to help the Government deliver the broad reform agenda. Industry will chair the committee; and they will have the majority say over decisions.

There is an emphasis in the Minister’s address on apprentices and trainees, with reference to the new Trade Support Loans program, reforms to Australian Apprenticeships System Support Services, a $5m program to ‘to extend mentoring projects to give apprentices the support and guidance they need to stick with it when things seem tough’, and ‘Streamlining and standardisation of apprenticeship and traineeship pathways across Australia.’

The speech also indicates that reducing regulation is a priority. The Minister formally released the ASQA Process Review: Final Report, and the draft revised RTO and VET Regulator Standards. (Note that comments on the draft standards are invited until 23 July.)

A further element of the reform agenda is to ensure that VET consumers – employers and students – have access to better information. The Minister noted that:

·         The Government is putting in place a number of measures to improve information flow and the signals being sent to the market.

·         The revamped consumer information website provides a directory of training providers to help prospective student find a service that meets their particular needs and circumstances.

·         The introduction of the Unique Student Identifier at the beginning of next year will improve the transparency of the VET sector by giving students online access to all their training records across their lifetime.

·         And the new single service delivery centre will provide business with one easy access point to find out about the entire range of Government training and support programs.

There is a lot to digest in the Minister’s 3,300 word speech that surveys where the VET Reform process has been and where it is going. There are other voices to help put it all together – PowerPoint packs for other presentations to the National Skills Summit areavailable on ACPET’s website. They include:

·         Rod Camm, NCVER’s Managing Director, on ‘International benchmarking of VET regulation’

·         Chris Robinson, ASQA Chief Commissioner, on ‘Regulatory reform in a changing VET sector’

·         Andrew Norton from the Grattan Institute

·         Andrew Lalor from the Department of Industry, on ‘Better support for apprentices and employers’

·         Claire Field, former ACPET CEO, on ‘Quality and compliance in a changing RTO landscape: insights from ACPET Member interviews and Health Checks’.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 10 July 2014 in VET

Each year the Productivity Commission hosts the Richard Snape Lecture. The Lecture is given by an international public policy heavyweight. You can review the list of lecturershere, from 2003 to 2014. They have included: Anne O. Krueger of the International Monetary Fund in 2004; Vittorio Corbo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Chile in 2008; and in 2010, Her Excellency Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia’s Minister of Trade.

The 2014 lecturer was Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics. Speaking on 23 June, Stiglitz sketched out the role that learning plays in economic growth and social advancement. He emphasises the importance of ‘learning to learn’, of individuals developing the skills that support lifelong learning. The observations by Stiglitz prompt many thoughts about how lifelong learning, and skill in using learning technologies, are becoming more important for productivity growth (which is what underpins so much of our individual and collective economic prosperity).

Improvements in productivity will emerge from connections between people –passing on skills and ideas, formally and informally, can benefit out work if we have the nous to learn afresh and apply them to what we do. We need to focus on lifelong learning because formal learning, in school or training or university, is only a small component of all the learning we do and need to do.

Stiglitz suggests that we must reconsider our habits of mind when it comes to formal learning. We have to accept that the pace of innovation, and the pace of change in the labour market, mean knowledge or skills we pick up in formal learning have a pretty short half-life, or shelf-life. An orientation to lifelong learning is essential.

And an essential element of lifelong learning is knowing how to use learning technologies well. It’s not enough to know how to use the internet to find things out – important though this capability is. Sometimes what’s on the internet is masquerading as knowledge. Most workers will need to know how to evaluation and analyse what they find. In addition, we all need to know how to use learning technologies to improve our knowledge base over the long term.

There’s a particular strength for vocational education and training in the future that Stiglitz paints because VET takes particular care to facilitate learning by doing. That’s at the heart of a lifelong learning capability. His position suggests that governments play a key role in fostering lifelong learning and ensuring that the spillovers from lifelong learning are captured for individuals, enterprises, and the economy.

Craig Kemp, a New Zealand educator who teaches at an international school in Singapore, recently mused on the teaching challenge that lifelong learning represents. In his Professional Reflection Blog he wrote:

As an educator, I am a role model. I am someone for my students to look up to and be inspired by. I model lifelong learning, I tell stories, I discuss things I have done, mistakes I have made, give examples of my learning but most importantly, I listen. I listen to what my students say, I give them a voice and let them be heard. I don’t preach from the front of the classroom and tell them what is the ‘right’ way to be a lifelong learner. I give examples and let them make decisions. The ‘KEY’ is to Keep Educating Yourself. Stiglitz’ lecture was based on his recent book, co-authored with Bruce Greenwald, titled Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress. The book has attracted many reviews, like this one on The Intangible Economy blogFlagpost, the Australian Parliamentary Library’s blog, recently posted on the notion of dynamic efficiency as a key to lifting Australia’s productivity performance, and highlighted this quote from the book:

… one of the objectives of economic policy should be to create economic policies and structures that enhance both learning and learning spillovers: creating a learning society is more likely to increase standards of living than the small, one-time improvements in economic efficiency or those that derive from the sacrifices of consumption today to deepen capital.

Not everyone agrees with the Stiglitzian view of the world – see, for example, this entry on the Catallaxy Files blog. Economics is nothing if not a field of opposed opinions.

(The VET Blog recently posted on the Productivity Commission paper, Literacy and numeracy skills and labour market outcomes in Australia. The post comes with a second para overview of the Commission’s history and role.)


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 in VET

June gave us a swag of notable speeches with a bearing on VET and this is the first of three posts.

This post looks at the 2014 Swinburne University Chancellor’s Lecture, delivered by Jennifer Westacott CEO of the Business Council of Australia. The full text of her address is available here.

Following posts will pick up:

·         Professor Joseph Stiglitz on ‘Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development and Social Progress’

·         ‘National Skills Summit Address’ by The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry.

Jennifer Westacott’s lecture lays great store in VET. As she says quite directly:

VET is a crucial piece of the national armour we need to protect Australia’s economic competitiveness and social cohesion.

Westacott sketches out a rapidly changing economic and social context for skills – we can talk about 21st century skills but the end of the century is 86 years away. Westacott is focussed on the realities of a closer future that includes today and tomorrow. To Westacott, the outlook for skills looks like this:

We are moving from an environment characterised by qualifications, awards and jobs to an environment characterised by skills, capabilities and tasks. And they will be as tradeable as commodities, services and products. We are moving to a world where innovation and creativity will be the difference between success and failure – for companies, for governments, for individuals and for educational institutions. For all these reasons, human capital development – that is, developing people to their full potential – is going to be the absolute game changer in keeping countries, and the people within them, productive, competitive and prosperous.

So make no mistake. ‘Countries’, she says, ‘are going to have to invest heavily and cleverly in education and training.’

Her concern is that the VET system in Australia needs to change. The old model, the old system, was designed for a society and economy that simply doesn’t exist anymore. The persistence of that old model, no longer fit for purpose, is demonstrated in a number of ways which are outlined in the lecture like this:

·         VET graduates are not sufficiently equipped to be productive in the workforce. This is largely because of well-known problems with training packages, which define specific occupational pathways rather than broader learning pathways

·         quality is still patchy

·         the system is linear and siloed, when it needs to be modular and seamless

·         the inadequate interface between schools, VET, industry and higher education means we haven’t had the seamless education system we need to adjust to the changes I’ve talked about.

Westacott also sees VET as playing a key role in skilling all Australians to participate in society. Simply put, we have dropped the ball by not adequately building

… foundation skills in both the VET sector and schools system. It should be unacceptable to every Australian that in the 2012 OECD study, one in eight Australian adults was in the lowest band of literacy. One in five was in the lowest band of numeracy. How can we compete in a global world and make the transition in our economy if we cannot address the basics? And why would we, as a decent society, allow people to face the exclusion and humiliation that comes from not having those basic skills?

So change is a must for VET. Not incremental change. Fundamental change is required. Westacott has some specific suggestions about the kind of change that needs to be embraced. She groups those changes into five pillars:

·         the first ‘is to restore the role and status of VET as a national economic priority’

·         second, she believes that we need to ‘make a clear call on who is responsible to get the system working as it should … It’s time to shine a very bright light on the ineffective and out of date Commonwealth-state arrangements on VET’

·         third, we must vigorously pursue integration within the education sectors and between the education sectors and industry, and really ramp up our workplace training capability

·         fourth, we need to sort out what public and private providers are best placed to deliver and let them get on with their knitting – so appropriate rather than burdensome regulation, ensuring that the training market is structured in a way that delivers on skills as a priority

·         fifth, we need to be clear and consistent about who should pay and really focus on getting the funding incentives right.

Westacott then adds two more tasks to the list. If we get the five pillars right then we should be able to:

·         develop a market for online teaching and assessment

·         further develop VET as an export opportunity.

It’s a rousing speech. Westacott leaves no-one in any doubt that VET matters, and that its role needs to be valued, refurbished, and strengthened.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 03 July 2014 in Language, Literacy and Numeracy

At the end of May Australia’s Productivity Commission (PC) released a paper calledLiteracy and numeracy skills and labour market outcomes in Australia (83 pages).

The PC was established in 1998. It was born of three earlier bodies in the Industry Commission, the Bureau of Industry Economics, and the Economic Planning Advisory Commission – each dating back to the 1980s. Whether you take the starting point as the early 1980s or 1998, it’s been around for a very long time compared to most statutory bodies, which suggests that the kind of work it does is highly regarded by government of any persuasion. The PC explains its role like this:

… the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians. Its role, expressed simply, is to help governments make better policies in the long term interest of the Australian community. As its name implies, the Commission’s focus is on ways of achieving a more productive economy – the key to higher living standards. As an advisory body, its influence depends on the power of its arguments and the efficacy of its public processes.

That explanation offers a pretty clear idea about why the PC is interested in literacy and numeracy skills and about what kind of approach the paper takes. The authors straightforwardly state that ‘literacy and numeracy skills are becoming increasingly important for productivity, as they provide the foundation to develop other skills.’ Literacy and numeracy skills form part of an individual’s human capital. The paper points out, drawing on research from many quarters, a number of considerations that have particular relevance for the role of vocational education and training:

People with more human capital tend to enjoy better health, improved life satisfaction and higher levels of social … People with more human capital are also more productive. Investment in education and training increases a person’s productivity and his or her gross returns from working, as measured by wages. As people acquire more human capital, they are more likely to enter the workforce and earn more, all else equal.

The paper is not intended to provide advice to government about what policy options might be pursued to improve literacy and numeracy skills. Policy advice is something the PC often provides – governments frequently commission the PC to do just this. However, this paper sets out only to determine whether literacy and numeracy skills have an influence on employment and wages outcomes. And the paper reports that they do have a significant influence. Indirectly, the research indicates that the work undertaken by VET and adult and community education providers in delivering foundation skills makes an important contribution to individual welfare and national economic performance.

The following table (based on Table 2.2 in the report) shows the distribution of literacy and numeracy skills in the Australian population aged 15-74.


Level 1 or below

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/5











The PC explains the skill levels like this, saying that in 2011-12:

·         14 per cent of the population had relatively low literacy skills (at or below level 1). These people could, at best, read only relatively short texts from which they were able to locate only a single piece of information.

·         16 per cent of the population had high (level 4/5) literacy skills. These people can make complex inferences and evaluate subtle truth claims or arguments in lengthy or multiple texts.

The key research outcomes presented in the paper are summarised as key points (p. vi), which include the following:

·         Compared with other countries in the OECD, Australia performs above average on literacy but average in numeracy.

·         Higher literacy and numeracy skills are associated with better labour market outcomes (employment and wages).

·         Econometric modelling shows that:

o    an increase in literacy and numeracy by one skill level is associated with an increased likelihood of employment of 2.4 and 4.3 percentage points for men and women, respectively

o    an increase in literacy and numeracy skills is associated with a similar increase in the probability of employment, whether a person had a degree, diploma/ certificate or Year 12 education

o    an increase in literacy and numeracy by one skill level is associated with about a 10 per cent increase in wages for both men and women. This positive association is equivalent to that of increasing educational attainment from Year 11 to Year 12 or to a diploma/certificate

o    up to 40 per cent of the association between education and employment is attributable to literacy and numeracy skills. These results are consistent with education providing many other attributes of human capital that are valued in the workplace

o    more than half of the ‘penalty’ that affects the wages of people with a non-English speaking background is explained by their lower literacy and numeracy skills.

These findings provide support for the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults, which has a goal that by 2022, two-thirds of working age Australians will literacy and numeracy skills at Level 3 or above. As the PC report points out:

An increase in literacy and numeracy skills from level 1 to level 3 … was associated with an increase in hourly wages of 25 and 30 per cent for women and men, respectively.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 in E-Learning

In a post a couple of months ago – Teaching practices with the biggest effects on student achievement – we noted that feedback is highly influential for learning. Seven things to remember about feedback is a handy infographic that presents a clutch of observations from eminent educational researchers about feedback practice.

Among the seven observations about feedback are these:

·         If students know the classroom is a safe place to make mistakes, they are more likely to use feedback for learning (Dylan William)

·         Most of the feedback that students receive about their classroom work is from other students – and much of that feedback is wrong (John Hattie)

·         Students need to know their learning target – the specific skill they’re supposed to learn – or else ‘feedback’ is just telling them what to do.

The infographic draws on articles appearing in the September 2010 edition of ASCD’s magazine Educational Leadership, which ran under the theme ‘Feedback for Learning’ (noting that most of the articles are accessible to subscribers only).


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 30 June 2014 in Uncategorized

PowerPoint is a great tool when it’s used well. It’s a regular feature of training workshops, classrooms and lecture halls. It can help to create the frame or backdrop for a learning activity, highlight a theme, capture attention. And when it’s not used well it’s a misery to watch (if you can stay awake).

SlideShare is a good place to pick up ideas about what PowerPoint is good for, what it can’t do, and what it shouldn’t be asked to do.

There’s an energetic slide show by Alexei Kapterev called Death by PowerPoint (and how to fight it) – 61 slides that cover the problems and the possibilities that come with PowerPoint. That might seem like a lot of slides, but take the tips from this SlideShare Blog post titled Slide makeovers: Presentation design lessons from real slides:

·         focus on the essential

·         increase your slide count.

For another perspective on how to keep your PowerPoint presentations lively, ’12 Most’ has words of advice in 12 most foolproof ways to keep people awake during your Powerpoint. The tips include:

·         use images to simplify complex ideas

·         use slides for emphasis, not exposition.

While you’re rummaging around SlideShare, take a moment to check out the presentations on vocational education and training. If you enter ‘vocational education’ in the search box you’ll end up with around 35,000 files, ‘carpentry’ yields around 8,500 files, and ‘carpentry training’ around 5,000. SlideShare is a repository for slide packs, documents and infographics so you’ll get an assortment of these formats.

Searching for ‘VET in Australia’ will bring up more than 4,000 files. It has to be said that many of the search returns don’t really fit the search term, and as always when you drop ‘VET’ in a search box you’ll get a lot on pet care. You can filter in a number of ways – for example, only files for the last year. That filter brings up files like Augmented reality for training and assessment – wearable technology solutions, by Simon Brown from SkillsTech in Queensland.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 27 June 2014 in TAFE

In late February 2014 the Minister for Industry, Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, asked the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment to inquire into, and report on, the role of the Technical and Further Education system and its operation. Further details on the inquiry are available on the Committee’s website.

The Committee’s Terms of Reference will inquire into, and report on, the role played by TAFEs in:

·         the development of skills in the Australian economy

·         the provision of pathways for Australians to access employment

·         the provision of pathways for Australians to access University education; and

·         the operation of a competitive training market.

As part of its inquiry, the Committee is asking former and current TAFE students to complete an online survey that asks about their experience of the TAFE system and the benefits of their study. The survey is open until 31 July – you can view it here.

An analysis of responses received during the first month of the survey was released on 4 June. Based on 3600 responses, the analysis revealed that:

·         at 42.36% Business Administration, Information Communications & Technology are the most studied fields

·         64.52% of respondents indicate that the main purpose for their study was as a pathway for employment, whereas 18.89% indicate that their main purpose was as a pathway for further education

·         Results indicate an average of 80% or above satisfaction rating for three questions about the extent to which a TAFE qualification is valued in the workplace, the quality of the teaching at TAFE, and their satisfaction with TAFE resources.

The Committee received 196 submissions by the submission deadline. You can view the submissions here. Submissions from 101 organisations include:

·         Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers

·         Australian Council for Private Education and Training

·         Australian Industry Group

·         Australian Skills Quality Authority

·         Box Hill Institute

·         Komatsu Australia

·         LH Martin Institute

·         Manufacturing Skills Australia

·         National Centre for Vocational Education and Training

·         NSW Adult Literacy and Numeracy Council

·         Polytechnic West

·         TAFE Directors Australia

·         Uniting Care

·         Victorian Government.

The Committee has held ten public hearings in Bendigo, Redfern (NSW), Launceston, Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne. Transcripts from the public hearings are available here


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 23 June 2014 in VET in Schools

Group Training Australia has completed a fine suite of three reports that come under the collective title of Work exposure and work placement programs in schools involving Group Training Organisations. The three reports cover:

·         Good practice principles (22 pages)

·         Case studies of good practice (128 pages)

·         The views of employers, students and parents (16 pages).

The reports delve into how Group Training Organisations (GTOs) most effectively facilitate work placements for two groups of students – those in Years 9-10, and those in Years 11-12. There is only time here to reflect on a couple of matters the report addresses. The report on Good practice principles presents an overview of the main findings.

The main outcomes from effective work placement programs include:

·         Engagement and retention in school, particularly for disadvantaged students

·         Providing a clear pathway to school-based apprenticeships and traineeships and other vocational options

·         Responding to skills shortages in local areas – engaging with future workers at a younger age provides a longer-term skills pipeline

·         Learning employability skills

·         Improving literacy and numeracy skills

·         Strengthening community partnerships – the work preparation activities have led to the development of mutually respectful and committed ‘partnership bonds’ between schools and GTOs. These bonds motivate the GTO and schools to help each other and support the career development and transitions of the young people.

That’s a spectacular list of positive outcomes, isn’t it?

Eleven good practice principles are proposed, divided into three groups – start-up, implementation, and monitoring and reporting. The implementation principles include:

·         Extensive employer networks enable careful matching of students and workplaces to take place

·         Parents/guardians are involved throughout the program

·         Learning is structured and relevant through contact with real work

·         Classroom work is aligned with the workplace

·         Employer participation is publicly recognised.

The main sites for GTA’s research were 20 high performing programs that are reported as case studies. The programs include:

·         Australian Industry Group (Victoria, NSW, South Australia).

·         Group Training Northern Territory

·         Hospitality Training Network (NSW)

·         MRAEL Group (Queensland)

·         WorkCo Group Training (Victoria).

The essential voice of students was captured during the research through a survey conducted in the 20 case study programs. Here’s a sampling of what the young learners had to say:

·         Structured work placements were considered ‘extremely valuable’ by 58% of students who had tried them, and considered ‘highly valuable’ by a further 25%.

·         Students found the most useful programs to be short-term work experience, visits to workplaces and assistance with learning how to apply for a job. Most students considered each of these activities as ‘very useful’, with short-term work experience being considered ‘very useful’ by 80% of respondents.

·         ‘Hands-on’ was the most common term students used when asked about the value of learning involving employers. Students said they valued the realistic, practical experience, as opposed to just hearing about the theory.

·         The employer can tell you first-hand what goes on behind the scenes and the answers are sure to be true because they know just what happens – Year 12 student.

·         The vast majority of students (83%) felt they were more prepared for work as a result of the program and more than two thirds became more interested in a career.

·         More than half of the students said that as a result of participating in work exposure or work placement activities they feel happier at school and more motivated.

Another spectacular list! Views of parents and employers are also reported, and they are just as encouraging.

(The research and report were originally commissioned by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) – late in 2013, the government redistributed the DEEWR’s functions into the Department of Education and theDepartment of Employment.)


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 19 June 2014 in Research

The Parliamentary Library has produced Migration to Australia: a quick guide to the statistics (6 pages). It’s a quick guide to the numbers of migrants coming to Australia right back to Federation in 1901. Along with a wee bit of history to provide some context.

Readers of The VET Blog may be interested in one table in particular – table 2 shows the number of overseas student and 457 visa holders each year from 1996-97 to 2012-2013.

Over that time:

·         overseas student numbers have increased from 113,000 to 259,278

·         457 visa holders have increased from 25,786 to 126,350.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 in E-Learning

It’s funny how we seem to like lists. Here are two for your delectation.

5 Key Guidelines for Managing Responsive eLearning Projects

This list appeared a couple of weeks ago on the Upside Learning blog. The main focus of the guidelines is on how to manage e-learning resources on a range of devices. The guidelines are:

1.    Decide on content treatment

2.    Consider offline delivery

3.    List target devices

4.    Be prepared for an iterative process

5.    Set client expectations.

Of course, there is more detail on each guideline on the website, including a couple of useful tables and a generic project plan outline.

The guidelines are relevant whether you are engaging in instructional design for a group of campus-based students or for workplace delivery.

7 habits of highly effective digital enterprises

This list from McKinsey & Company isn’t specifically about e-learning. But it merits attention because most training organisations these days do need to be highly effective digital enterprises – among many other things!

The article suggests that, based on McKinsey’s experience, highly effective digital enterprise have seven habits in common:

1.    Be unreasonably aspirational

2.    Acquire capabilities

3.    ‘Ring fence’ and cultivate talent

4.    Challenge everything

5.    Be quick and data driven

6.    Follow the money

7.    Be obsessed with the customer.

At first sight, some of these might sound out of kilter with the focus of a VET provider. However, a little reflection will show that they all fit one way or another with the VET mission. Some of these items are about the back office work, some about organisational strategy, some about frontline work.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 05 June 2014 in VET Reforms

On 22 May, the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, Professor Peter Dawkins delivered the first Mitchell Institute Policy Lecture. Dawkins spoke about ‘Reconceptualising tertiary education‘ – you could hardly pick a more topical topic just now.

Dawkins believes that the old distinction between VET and higher education has run out of puff. It no longer serves a useful purpose – in fact, it gets in the way of students, providers and industry. He recalls an interesting list of skills that the OECD first touted in 1996 as essential in a knowledge economy. Found in a terrific report called The knowledge-based economy, the list comprises just four skills:

·         Know-what – knowledge about ‘facts’

·         Know-why – scientific knowledge of the principles and laws of nature

·         Know-how – the skills or the capability to do something

·         Know-who – information about who knows what and who knows how to do what

About this list, Professor Dawkins makes two observations that make you think:

·         VET needs more know-what and know-why. This would enable those completing VET to be more adaptable in the workforce, and more capable of proceeding into higher education.

·         Higher education needs more know-how and know-who. This would help to make graduates of higher education better prepared for the world of work through programs like work-integrated learning and it would make movements between VET and higher education easier.

The lecture covers a lot of territory, including where and how diplomas and associate degrees fit into the tertiary education framework, how tertiary education is funded and what the implications may be of the funding model introduced in the recent Commonwealth Budget, and how we might measure the success of tertiary education providers.

This reflection on the shape of tertiary education is not a peculiarly Australian concern. You may have looked at a recent post on The VET Blog titled ‘Higher VET – let’s think about that‘. The post introduced a series of think pieces about where VET might be positioned in the English tertiary education system. The rethinking is going along at a pace in the US too – from one among many examples is a Hechinger Report article from early April titled ‘Community colleges increasingly adding bachelor’s degrees‘. (In the US, community colleges are much like VET providers that offer certificates, diplomas and associate degrees).

Or a little closer to Australia, China is rethinking its national university entrance examination, the gaokao. The plan is to split the gaokao into two streams – one for those who have a technical orientation, and those who have a traditionally academic orientation. The changes would involve ‘600 universities changing their teaching programs from academic education to applied technology and professional education.’ You can read more about this in ‘China: Reforming the gaokao‘, a brief article published by the Boston College Center for International Education.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 in TAFE

This is a good news story that is told entirely by Troy Everett from TAFE Illawarra where he is Head Teacher of Building and Construction, Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping. In a series of posts on TAFE bytes (TAFE NSW’s collaborative blog) Scott tells a fascinating story of how, in 2013, he ‘volunteered to help with the construction of new toilets in a remote village in one of the world’s poorest countries.’

The blog posts are based on his journal entries while in Bangladesh. There are five posts, all linked from this page.

There are small surprises in the posts, a nice eye for detail and a confident sense of reflection about his surroundings.

A terrific story.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 30 May 2014 in Industry

This post is partly a way of farewelling the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA). From 1 July this year, AWPA’s staff and work program will become part of the Commonwealth Department of Industry. AWPAs chair, Phil Bullock, explains what’s happening in this statement.

Among AWPA’s last substantial contributions to our understanding of the relationship between training and industry needs was the Manufacturing workforce study, released in April 2014. It’s a big ‘un, at 180 pages. The last 50 pages are made up of appendices – you might often skip these but best not to this time around because the first eight of them are very informative.

The study takes an upbeat view of manufacturing in Australia – we have the skills and know-how to maintain a prominent role for manufacturing in our economy. But we have to do some hard yards to make the most of the opportunities. The role of education and training across the education sectors is crucial.

The upbeat view is validated in part by reference to current data about the manufacturing sector, which show that it:

·         is the fourth largest employer in the country, employing 936,400 people or 8.1 per cent of total employment

·         is the fourth-largest contributor to gross domestic product (6.6 per cent)

·         accounts for 33.5 per cent of merchandise exports

·         invests more than any other industry sector in research and development ($4.5 billion in 2011-12, or 24.4 per cent).

There’s a great deal of focus on the recently announced closures in automotive and aluminium manufacturing. Serious blows to be sure, but the report sets that in perspective by listing Australia’s top 20 manufactured goods by export value. Here are the top ten:





Medicaments (including veterinary)




Alcoholic beverages


Passenger motor vehicles


Milk, cream, whey and yoghurt


Aircraft, spacecraft and parts


Civil engineering equipment and parts


Telecommunications equipment and parts


There are clear conclusions in the study. For example:

·         Non-technical innovations such as design-led innovation, new business models and lean manufacturing will also drive the competitiveness and productivity of manufacturing firms.

·         A strong Manufacturing sector will continue to be founded on a core base of skilled Technicians and Trades Workers, but will also see the creation of new occupations and career paths in creative, high-skill and interdisciplinary manufacturing jobs.

·         The industry will also offer an expanding range of opportunities in non-traditional manufacturing careers as more firms look to add value to their products by bundling services with their goods.

There is one stark conclusion that we’ll need to get a grip on:

·         The industry’s current skills profile suggests that it is facing a challenging transition phase. Currently, just under half of the manufacturing workforce does not have any post-school qualifications. If this is not addressed, it is likely that firm productivity and competitiveness will be severely compromised.

The study comes with eight recommendations, most of which have implications for VET and ACE providers, and for universities. A particular challenge for the education and training sectors is the profile of the industry. As the study notes:

·         Australia’s Manufacturing sector is characterised by a large number of small (employing fewer than 20 people) and medium-sized (employing fewer than 200 people) businesses.

·         Together, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for just over 60 per cent of all manufacturing employment in Australia.

·         As at June 2012, there were 88,079 manufacturing businesses in Australia, more than 37,000 of which were non-employing (42.8 per cent). More than 40,000 businesses employed 1 to 19 people (46.0 per cent); 9,110 businesses employed between 20 and 199 people (10.3 per cent); and a very small number – 666 businesses (0.8 per cent) – employed more than 200 people.

In addition to supporting a very large number of SMEs through providing appropriate skills and knowledge, education and training providers need to adapt to the changing nature of manufacturing work. The study notes that:

While technology and innovation may result in the loss of some occupations, it will also change the scope of job roles and create new occupations. CSIRO considers that lightweight robotics and advanced ICT-based systems will be integral to creating smart, flexible factories of the future. In its white paper on the value of lightweight assistive manufacturing solutions, it argues that assistive information technologies and robotics based technologies will enhance, rather than replace, the roles of some manufacturing sector workers. Lightweight assistive systems will facilitate humans’ work in factories, resulting in jobs with more high value tasks, and fewer repetitive tasks and physically demanding activities such as weight lifting and tool picking. Remote training systems will facilitate continuous on the job training for workers. For other roles, integrating new technologies, such as in mechanical and electrical manufacturing, means that workers will need skills to operate and manage computerised and technologically advanced machinery and equipment. Mechatronics is not new, but as new technology rolls out, the precise skills involved change.

In addition to this change in technology and associated skills, the report also draws attention to the service suite that manufacturing firms now offer – the include design and development, maintenance and support, installation and implementation, transportation and trucking. The skills and knowledge needed for the service side of manufacturing must also be bread and butter for education and training providers.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 in E-Learning

Educators all over the world are blogging. Launched in 2008, the International Edubloggers Directory will help you find them.

There is a Search page that assists you to locate blogs by:

·         keyword

·         multiple keywords

·         educational sectors.

Some listed blogs are no longer posting so you may have to do some sifting if you use the Search function. However, you can view the most recent posts on the Today’s Posts page.

There’s a full list alphabetical list of Directory members which you can access here.

Prefer Twitter? No worries. The Directory also collects Twitter handles from educators who communicate in 140 characters or fewer. The International Edutwitters Directory will also take you to all corners of the globe. You can select tweachers by a number of categories, including country and subjects.

If you’re blogging or tweeting about teaching, perhaps it’s time to list in the Directory – VET and ACE professionals aren’t as well represented as we’d want them to be.

On a similar topic, you might like to nip back to our post from August last year, Finding education colleagues in the Twitterverse.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 in Research

An OECD blog post in early May answers this question very simply. Here’s the last sentence of the post:

The smartest skills strategy a country can develop to improve social inequality is to upgrade the skills of low-skilled adults.

Now there is some data from Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) quoted in the first half of the post, which is titled ‘Poorly skilled adults: a neglected factor in income inequality’. Don’t let the stats put you off. The analysis is explained comfortably enough on the way through.

The post talks about the Gini coefficient, which measures how equally income is shared across a nation. If everyone has exactly the same income, the Gini coefficient for that country would be 0.0. If one person has all the income in a country, then the Gini coefficient would be 1.0.

If you’re interested in the Gini coefficient for Australia, Chart 1 on this page (scroll down for it) from the Australian Treasury shows how the Gini coefficient has changed over the period from 1982 to 2011-12.

Back to the OECD blog post. Here are some of the main points:

·         Countries with high numbers of poorly skilled adults and low numbers of high-skilled tend to be countries with a high income inequality

·         Countries such as Spain, Italy, Ireland and Poland have … many low-skilled and few high-skilled adults

·         The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia … have many low- and many high-skilled adults.

·         A large share of low-skilled adults is associated with a high income inequality. It is not a large skills gap between the low- and high-skilled which seems to be related to high social inequality, but the size of the low-skilled population.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 22 May 2014 in VET

IBSA has produced Frequently Asked Questions related to the TAE Training and Education Training Package (4 pages) – a quick overview of the changes recently introduced to the TAE in the form of 11 questions and answers.

Among the questions answered are these:

·         Why has a prerequisite been established for enrolling in the TAE40114 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment?

·         Why has the new unit TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills been included in the core of the TAE40114 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment?

·         Is the TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment equivalent to the new TAE40114 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment?

It’s anticipated that the new TAE Training Package will be endorsed after 30 June 2014.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 in Research

At the end of April, the Association of Colleges in the UK released Higher Vocational Education: A collection of think pieces (46 pages).

There are 12 think pieces, all of which look at the options of picking up the performance of England’s post-secondary VET provision through increasing flexibility, better designed pathways, and boosting access to qualifications that shape higher level skills. The think pieces cover a diverse array of topics:

·         Bill Esmond’s ‘Higher Vocational Education: Unequal or Different?’ (3 pages). Esmond puts the case for parity of esteem between higher education and higher VET, based on their distinctive purposes and capabilities.

·         Sarah Shobrook’s ‘Inside Looking Out’ (3 pages). The opening sentence is a no-nonsense introduction to her argument: ‘This think piece argues that it is now time to move away from the term vocational and its associated cultural connotations, and move towards imbuing college-based higher education (CBHE) with words that represent what is offered and which differentiate the college experience from that of a university experience.’

·         In ‘Creating a more Diverse HE System’, (3 pages) Paul Stanistreet and Alastair Thompson finish up by making a simple statement about the relationship between universities and VET providers: ‘Greater collaboration and fewer silos would help.’

In Australia we don’t use the term ‘higher VET’ – it’s not a familiar moniker. Nor is it in common usage in the UK. We are still to define it. Never fear. Marina Parha helps out in her think piece, ‘What is Higher Vocational Education and how do we define it?’ This is an interesting read. It doesn’t answer the question, but offers some thoughts about what the answer might involve. Parha writes about how we tend to use the word vocational in three different ways without always being clear about the differences. Here they are:

·         ‘Vocational’ refers to a range of occupations that have in common the performance of manual, practical or technical activities. Vocational education is thus seen as that branch of education that imparts job-related procedural knowledge and skills.

·         A second understanding of ‘vocational education’ relies largely on what it is not – that is by juxtaposition to, and contrast with, academic education. According to this way of thinking, ‘higher vocational education’ is almost a contradiction in terms.

·         The third understanding of the word vocational is that of ‘the true calling’. Vocational education, in this sense is the nurturing of learners who are naturally inclined towards a particular occupation.

Parha then poses some questions about what might characterise higher VET, with particular emphasis on the third understanding just noted. She ends with a rallying call:

Yes, we can have higher vocational education; in fact, we must have it. It should be the type of education which promotes skills identified earlier in a young person’s life, as pertaining to particular practical aptitudes or abilities. But to achieve this we need to have a philosophy of vocational education, a set of positive values which define this type of education. We also need an impartial educational system, which identifies emerging aptitudes and natural talent at an early age, and does so positively.

Leesa Wheelahan (formerly of Melbourne University, now at the University of Toronto) contributes a piece on ‘Rethinking the Purpose and Design of Pathways’ (7 pages). Leesa reports on an NCVER-funded project called ‘Vocations: the link between post-compulsory education and the labour market’. Leesa cites the three main conclusions from the research:

1.    Educational pathways are shaped by the relationship between qualifications and work

2.    The nature and structure of pathways will differ between industries, and

3.    A uniform approach to policy based on one type of pathway from lower to higher level qualifications within the same field of education is unlikely to be effective.

Of use is the categorising of pathways into four types, which will be immediately recognisable even if you haven’t thought about pathways like this before. Pathways can have:

·         Strong links to work and strong educational links

·         Strong links to work and weak educational links

·         Weak links to work and strong educational links, and

·         Weak links to work and weak educational links.

At the end of the think piece, an overview is offered of how each of these kinds of pathways is likely to persist unless there is some close attention given to aspects of the system that governs VET, or to elements of pedagogy. As an example, here is Leesa’s reporting of the research findings about ‘weak links to work and strong educational pathways’:

While preparing students for a broad vocational field (for example, business studies) these types of pathways need to emphasise educational transition. Attention also needs to be given to whether they support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter higher level studies. For example, our research has found that the narrow field of education of financial services as high levels of articulation from vocational to higher education, but does very poorly in providing access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Both qualifications and pathways in these types of fields need to take a broad approach to preparation for work, as well as supporting students to study at the next higher level within their field.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 in Research

The University of New South Wales has a handy overview on its website of eight student centred teaching approaches and strategies. They are:

·         brainstorming

·         case studies

·         debates

·         discussion

·         flipped classroom

·         group work

·         questioning

·         simulations.

For example, the page on brainstorming sets out seven elements that combine to produce effective brainstorming. There are links to additional resources, such as:

·         Brainstorming: Generating many radical, creative ideas, from Mind Tools, and

·         Tools for creating ideas, from Creating Minds.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 16 May 2014 in VET Reforms

Melbourne-based think tank, the Grattan Institute, released in April a report titledUnlocking skills in hospitals: better jobs, better care(60 pages). Written by Stephen Duckett and Peter Breadon, the report considers three ways in which hospitals can get a better match between workers and their work:

The first is using more nursing assistants to provide basic care to patients. The second is letting specialist nurses do common, low-risk procedures currently done by doctors. The third is employing more assistants to support physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Each of these approaches to reimagining the hospital workforce has implications for VET.

With the costs of health care growing, and with the number of older people and the incidence of chronic conditions growing, the authors argue that the old distinctions in the hospital workforce – which they say were set down in the horse and buggy days – need review:

If hospitals use skills better, patients and staff will both benefit. The savings of $430 million from the measures we propose in this report can be reinvested in cutting waiting lists, improving the quality of care, funding primary care to reduce hospital demand, or plugging the ever-widening budget gap.

Regarding an expanded role for nursing assistants, the report notes that given the expected shortage of 80,000 Registered Nurses by 2025:

… nursing assistants are likely to be recruited from groups with low participation in the workforce. With appropriate career ladders and training opportunities, nursing assistants could provide new opportunities for RN recruitment.

Section 6.1.3 of the report is about training. Among other things the report suggests that for the proposed new workforce groups:

·         Training should be competency-based

·         Hospitals should ensure that anyone they hire into the new roles has demonstrated competency by gaining certification that meets the Australian Qualifications Framework

·         Training could take a range of forms, including courses similar to existing certificates III and IV in health care assistance, recognition of prior competencies, or workplace up-skilling programs for existing staff.

The authors recognise that these kinds of changes challenge embedded ways of allocating work in hospitals, of regulating that work, and of remunerating the work. They suggest that transition grants should be made available to hospitals that sign up to the new job role definitions.

We can expect more focus on how to manage the costs of health care over coming decades, and the conversation is already in earnest. For training providers, this is a useful contribution to the discussion because it matches job roles to broad skill requirements, and it emphasises that the new and existing job roles are likely to be much more satisfying as a result.

The report also shows that Australia can borrow from other nations that are ahead of us on the ageing curve. For example:

·         In Japan nursing assistants can engage in indirect patient care such as laundry, general cleaning and clerical work

·         In Brazil nursing assistants and technicians are able to administer medications

·         In the UK, Ireland, and the USA the role of the health care assistant varies, but can include personal care tasks, patient observations, venepuncture, immunisation, ear syringing and wound care.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 08 May 2014 in Research

This post takes us to the UK and a research report published in late February by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). The report is called The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030 (198 pages).

There are lots of options for getting your mind matter around this report. If you follow this link you will find the full report, a summary of the key findings (32 pages), the Trends and Disruptions appendix to the full report (119 pages), and a neat pack of 15 slides.

Obviously, the UK economy is not the Australian economy. That said, there is plenty in these documents to spur some thinking and rethinking about how the world of work will unfold in the next 15 years. For example, the report identifies a shift to Asia as one of the 13 most significant trends that will influence jobs and skills in the UK. The other trends include:

·         demographic change

·         desire for work-life balance

·         digitalisation of production

·         new business ecosystems, and

·         growing scarcity of resources.

Some of these titles may sound like a mouthful. Never fear. The Trends and Disruptionsappendix explains what each trend is about. (We’ll get to the disruptions in a moment.) For example, ‘Digitalisation of Production’ is described as:

The digitalisation of production processes is driving a new era of industrialisation. With real time data exchange between machines, materials, and products-in-the-making, increasingly autonomous production systems and factories become possible. Moreover, additive manufacturing techniques (also known as 3D printing) enable new forms of decentralised, yet complex production processes.

The appendix goes on to offer some instances of recent developments in digitalisation and expected future developments, along with an assessment of the implications for jobs and for skills. Regarding skills, the appendix notes that ‘the jobs that technology will not easily replace are those requiring people to think, communicate, organise and decide.’ It’s further noted that:

The increased use of automation within buildings, for example, requires changes in construction work as well as in installation, maintenance and repair. Digitalised tools such as sensors will also require new skills in order to be used effectively. Additionally, supportive digital technologies, such as digital failure reports or head-up displays that guide the worker in navigating complex work processes will be available. Thus, the technical profile of trades and crafts jobs will increase. There is also an increased role for technical customer support roles to guide costumers in their use and operation of these technologies.

After establishing the trends and their influence, the report then explores ten ‘disruptions that could radically change the future of work.’ The idea is that trends are more predictable – you can see to some extent where they lead. Disruptions are much trickier – if they come to pass then it’s hard to be sure how they will influence jobs and skills, but the influence is likely to be substantial. The disruptions on the radar include:

·         employees’ changing values

·         anywhere, anytime skills delivery

·         artificial intelligence and robots

·         resource conflicts or climate disasters that threaten supply.

Again, the good old Trends and Disruptions appendix provides more detail about what these terms refer to. For example, anywhere, anytime skills delivery is described as follows:

Traditional education and training providers are being challenged by the broad variety of non-traditional learning opportunities. New models of skills delivery are resulting from a rise in online educational opportunities, open universities and peer-to-peer learning.

With that in mind, the appendix notes that:

In corporate on-the-job training and up skilling, MOOCs and similar models make it much easier to reach and involve (in particular older) workers. Bite-sized learning offers a route to developing skills to precisely fit the task, providing ready-to-use new knowledge.

And that:

Teamwork, social skills, and presentation fluency, etc., are more conducive to being taught in a traditional environment and resultantly may suffer in an overwhelmingly online learning environment.

These observations spot up some of the challenges that may lie ahead for training providers – and perhaps not that far ahead.

The main report finishes the body of its work by exploring four scenarios that could be anticipated for the future. In each scenario, the trends and disruptions have different effects. The scenarios are:

1.    Forced Flexibility

2.    The Great Divide

3.    Skills Activism

4.    Innovation Adaptation.

For training providers, each scenario has a different set of implications. These are simplified on page 17 of the summary of key findings like so.


Implications for education and training

1. Forced Flexibility Greater commercial focus and responsiveness to employer needs, although fees are higher
2. The Great Divide Highly competitive and efficient, but also expensive which reduces access
3. Skills Activism Reform of system and expansion of access to all socio-economic backgrounds
4. Innovation Adaptation Significant increase in online provision as a cost-effective option

Importantly, the report considers what required actions are common across the scenarios. For education and training providers, they include:

·         Be prepared to adapt to the continuing disruption of established income streams and business models arising out of the marketisation of learning

·         Invest continuously in new modes and content of provision. Keep abreast of developments and understand the impact of technology on learning delivery.

·         Adapt learning programs to reflect the critical importance of an interdisciplinary approach to innovation in the workplace and the all-pervasive influence of technology.

Necessary actions are also outlined for employers, individuals and policymakers. For example, policy makers are urged to consider the following:

·         Encourage employers to take a greater degree of leadership and control of the education and training system. Foster strategic relationships between business and the education and training sector to ensure agility and cost effectiveness in developing the skills needed for a rapidly changing environment.

·         Develop a coherent and comprehensive long-term strategy for ensuring that the low-skilled can respond to the challenge of a radically shifting labour market.

The report will get you thinking and rethinking about what the years ahead might bring to the VET sector.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 in VET Reforms

The report of the National Commission of Audit (NCA) was released on 1 May. At 5.5 kilograms in hard copy it’s just as well its downloadable here – you wouldn’t want to be carrying it home on the bus.

The report comes in two parts – one completed in February and one completed in March. Across the two reports, the NCA made 86 recommendations. It’s important to be clear that the recommendations are in the form of advice to government, and the government may or may not act on it.

To save you ploughing through the full report, we can lead you directly to section 10.7 on Vocational Education and Training, which appears in Volume 2, Appendix 2, dated February 2014. Towards the end of section 10.7 the NCA suggests there are two areas for potential reform.

The first is to clarify roles and responsibilities among governments. Specifically, the NCA proposes that:

… the States should take responsibility for VET, including the current reform agenda. This simplified governance and accountability would be more efficient than the current arrangements.

The second area of potential reform is in occupational licencing. The NCA report says:

Slow progress on streamlining occupational licensing has been a frustration for business, tradespeople and other professions for many years. The current arrangements hinder mobility in Australia.

Given the COAG decision to abandon a national licensing scheme, it is now incumbent upon the States to quickly settle improved mutual recognition arrangements.

Earlier in section 10.7 the NCA states the case for government involvement in VET like this:

Government intervention in the VET sector promotes the provision of skills training to meet the needs of industry. This contributes to a more productive workforce that is skilled and flexible, leading to higher wages and lower unemployment. Positive externalities flowing from this include higher tax revenues, reduced unemployment expenses and improved international competitiveness.

Other sections of the NCA report that readers of The VET Blog may want to check out are:

·         Schools funding

·         Higher education

·         Industry assistance

·         Employment services

·         The Commonwealth’s role in infrastructure

All submissions to the NCA are also available here. Among those that are potentially of interest to readers of The VET Blog are the following:

·         ACPET

·         AgriFood Skills Australia

·         Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

·         Australian Industry Group

·         Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

·         ForestWorks Industry Skills Council

·         Industry Skills Councils (joint submission)

·         Jobs Australia

·         SkillsDMC (listed as National Industry Skills Council)

·         Regional Australia Institute

·         Service Skills Australia

·         TAFE Directors Australia

·         Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 05 May 2014 in Research

The VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) recently welcomed Professor Thomas Bailey from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, USA, to host a forum in Sydney and Melbourne.

Professor Bailey provided an analysis of low completion at Community Colleges in the United States: Implications, Causes, and Solutions. Community Colleges enrol close to 50 percent of undergraduates in the United States. They play many roles in their communities but their two most important roles include preparing students for the first two years of a four year degree (students transfer to a four year institution after or during their two years at a community college) and direct occupational preparation for work after the two years (or sometimes fewer than two years). While community colleges have been extremely successful at opening postsecondary education to a wide range of students, they have been less successful at getting those students to graduation.

Professor Bailey’s presentation explored the implications of these apparently low completion rates and identified the causes. Community college advocates and researchers argue that some of the non-completion reflects varied student goals rather than unplanned dropping out. He also discussed the policies and practices that are being used to increase completion rates including financial incentives for colleges, performance based financial aid schemes, enhanced student counselling, and major restructuring of college and program organisation.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 in Research

Australian Education International is a website maintained by the Federal Department of Education. The website provides public access to a range of information and statistics, including Research Snapshots.

The most recent Research Snapshot, posted in March, is titled Transnational education in the public VET sector (1 page). Among the data presented are the following:

·         In 2012, there were 37 public institutions delivering Australian VET qualifications offshore to 57,122 students

·         Since 2009, enrolments in both Australian and overseas public VET decreased over the three years to 2012 (an annual average decline of 14% in Australia and 4% for overseas)

·         The top five countries of origin for international student enrolments in Australia were China (15%), Vietnam (9%), the Republic of Korea (8%), India (6%) and the Philippines (5%)

·         Fifty-seven per cent of overseas public VET courses were taught by local teachers in the country of delivery, and 38% were taught by teachers from Australia.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 28 April 2014 in Research

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is famous for its annual meeting held in Davos, Switzerland. However, the WEF is chugging away all through the year running events in various parts of the world and investigating issues as diverse as agriculture and food security, education, health and wellbeing, and sustainability.

In February, WEF released a report titled Matching Skills and Labour Market Needs: Building Social Partnerships for Better Skills and Better Jobs (28 pages). The report was produced under the watch of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Employment. Members of the Council come from a range of countries and international institutions, such as:

·         Pascaline Descy, Head of Unit, Research and Policy Analysis, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), Greece

·         Dong Keyong, Dean, School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University, People’s Republic of China

·         John Evans, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, France

·         Prakash Loungani, Adviser, Research Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC, USA

·         Stephen Pursey, Director, Policy Integration Department, and Senior Adviser to the Director-General, International Labour Organization, Washington DC

·         Brent Wilton, Deputy Secretary-General, International Organization of Employers (IOE), Geneva, Switzerland.

The Council’s report focusses on how societies across the world can ensure that the skills of the workforce are attuned to the needs of employers so that individuals and nations maximise economic and social benefits from the most productive employment.

The report presents five main findings from the Council’s work on the topic of skills matching, and the impact of skills mismatch:

1.    Skills are a critical asset for individuals, businesses and societies

2.    Matching skills and jobs has become a high-priority policy concern

3.    Skills mismatch has become more prominent in the global economic crisis

4.    Many employers report difficulties in finding suitably skilled workers

5.    A more worrying phenomenon is sizeable qualification mismatch.

Each of these findings is relevant to VET systems and the policy settings that govern them.

On the matter of qualification mismatch (number 5 in the list above) the report notes that ‘about 21% of workers in OECD countries [of which Australia is one] report that they have higher qualifications than those required for their jobs, and 13% are underqualified.’

The chart in the report shows the proportion of over-skilled and underqualified people in national workforces – the proportions are determined by comparing workers’ highest qualification with workers’ own assessments of the qualification level they need to do their jobs.

Written in the shadow of the economic doldrums following the global financial crisis, the report suggest that a primary role for policy and practice must be to adopt a ‘matching skills’ approach that drives a closer connection between skills and industry demand. For example:

Apprenticeships and the provision of workplace training can help both young people and the unemployed to build links with the labour market and gain useful work-related skills. Knowledge clusters, in which companies adopt innovative product market strategies and interact with educational institutions, can foster the creation of skill-intensive jobs and a better match with workforce skills.

The report has positive things to say about some aspects of Australia’s VET system. It suggests that the capacity of Australian training providers to partner with enterprises and industries has a positive impact. The report observes that in Australia:

The traditional VET focus on training is complemented by a broader focus on the other drivers of business productivity and growth, contributing to a healthy ecosystem in which skills are effectively developed and used. Development of such enablers may include use of advanced technology, the service-delivery model, how work is organized and managed, and job design.

You may like to drop in on the WEF’s extensive range of blog posts on matters likeeducationtechnology and sustainability.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 24 April 2014 in Research

Melbourne University’s Centre for Workplace Leadership has released a report (2 pages of analysis and 12 pages of data tables) on the Australian Future of Work Poll, which was conducted in March 2014.

The report provides an interesting perspective on how our students may see their future in the workforce. Findings from the survey include:

·         Around half of Australians aged 18-24 (52%), 25-34 (53%), and 35-44 (49%) agreed that they were worried about their future at work

·         One-fifth (21%) of Australian workers reported that their job interfered with their commitments outside of work either all or most of the time. Younger workers were more likely to report that their job frequently interfered with their life, and it became less so with age.

·         Most (79%) of the Australian workforce indicated they were open to change in their workplace in order to improve productivity. Workers in the early stages of their career aged 25-34 were most open to making changes at their workplace to improve productivity, with only 10% wanting their workplace to remain the same.

·         The most common types of change nominated by workers to increase their productivity were more effective leadership and management, and the introduction of new equipment or up-to-date technology (26% and 25%, respectively).

The Centre for Workplace Leadership is also conducting a study for the Federal Department of Industry on how Australia’s small and medium sized manufacturing enterprises can increase their competitiveness. There is more detail here.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 in VET

On 13 April, the Federal Minister for Education released the report of the Review of the demand driven funding system (106 pages).

The Review was established late in 2012. It had a big brief, including assessing whether the funding system (introduced in 2009) is:

·         improving access to postsecondary education

·         meeting the economy’s skill needs

·         reducing the quality of courses offered

·         financially sustainable.

Just to step back a bit, under the new funding model universities could decide how many students to enrol and in which disciplines. This was a change from the former supply driven funding model in which the number of students was capped by the Federal government.

The Review found the new system is working so well that it recommends the government expand it. It’s the expansion that brings challenge and opportunity to Australia’s VET sector. There are 17 recommendations in the report, and those that are immediately relevant to expanding the model include:

·         Caps on the number of undergraduate bachelorlevel places should not be re-imposed

·         All higher education providers should be eligible for Commonwealth supported places when they and relevant courses have been approved by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency [TEQSA]

·         Non-university higher education providers accepting Commonwealth supported places should do so on the same basis as public universities

·         Sub-bachelor higher education courses should be included in the demand driven system

·         Caps on Commonwealth supported places should be removed from postgraduate courses with a combination of clear community benefit and modest financial rewards. Other post-graduate courses should be offered on a full fee basis.

In part, these recommendations mean that:

·         TAFEs and private VET providers would have the ability to enrol students in bachelor and higher degrees provided that TEQSA approves the courses

·         TAFEs and private VET providers would have access to government funding for student in these courses on the same footing as universities

·         sub-degree programs (diplomas, advanced diplomas, and associate degrees) would be included in the courses that are eligible for government funding – currently they are excluded from the demand driven funding system.

The Review also recommends that all students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (in both degree and sub-degree programs) should have access to HELP loans.

All told, the Review recommendations treat all providers in the same way rather than differentiate between public universities and other providers.

There is much else to muse over in the report. Three points in particular are worth noting in this brief summary.

First, the Review has recommended removing the 2025 targets of increasing the percentage of 25-34 year olds with a degree to 40%, and of lifting the percentage of lower socio-economic status students enrolled to 20%. The Review took the view that it is the demand driven system, not the targets, that is making a difference. The Review’s findings include that the demand driven system is responsible for increased higher education access and opportunities for low socio-economic status students, people in rural and remote areas, and Indigenous Australians. Some might be concerned that removing the targets means there is a lack of focus on equity. However, the Review points out that the targets are within reach in any case – for example, it found that ‘Women aged 25–34 have already achieved 40 per cent higher education attainment. Given enrolment trends and continued skilled migration, the attainment rate will grow in coming years.’

Second, the Review makes a strong set of claims for the effectiveness of sub-degree programs in supporting students from lower socio-economic status backgrounds to succeed in higher education – these pathways to degrees make a power of difference.

Third, the Review has found no diminution in the quality of courses offered that is attributable to the expansion in the number of students. So we have enrolled 100,000 more students between 2009 and 2013 while maintaining or improving quality. Cause for congratulations.

Of course, expanding the demand driven system, and increasing the number of enrolled students, is more costly. Who will pay and how? This was strictly outside the remit of the Review panel and so the report contains suggestions rather than recommendations and findings about this centrally important question. Many commentators anticipate, for example, that students will be asked to pay more through an increase in HECS-HELP loan amounts and fees. On this, we’ll have to wait and see.

There were more than 80 submissions to the Review, which can be viewed here, including those from:

·         Australian Council for Private Education and Training

·         Australian Industry Group

·         Minerals Council of Australia

·         Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE

·         TAFE Directors Australia

·         TAFE NSW

·         Victoria University

·         Whitehouse Institute of Design.

The Review was completed by David Kemp and Andrew Norton.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 in Industry

The 2014 World Communication Design Day is on 27 April. The intent of Design Day is to focus attention on the increasingly important part that designers play in the modern world.

As a celebration of our own, we’d like to salute those design students who were recognised in the Graduate of the Year Award conducted by the Victoria-Tasmania chapter of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA).

The award recipients and runners-up in each category are listed on the DIA website.

Eleven providers nominated students for the awards, including: Academy of Design Australia, Box Hill Institute, Grenadi School of Design, Monash University, NMIT, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology, The Gordon, and University of Tasmania.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 in VET

Those of you who have an uncontrollable Twitter passion might like to unpack the:

Unofficial Index to Educational Hashtags

Here’s a sample:

·         #andragogy

·         #digped (digital pedagogy)

·         #flippedtip (daily tweet on flipped teaching and learning methods/ideas/concepts)

·         #mlearn (mobile learning)

·         #pblchat (project based learning)

·         #qrcodes (how educators are using QR codes)

·         #VocEd


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 in Research

In an earlier post we introduced the findings presented in Engineering apprentices: Review of qualification completions in engineering trades apprenticeships (81 pages) – a report commissioned by Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and completed by the NCVER and ACIL Allen Consulting.

The earlier post focussed on the report’s findings about the various characteristics that seem to be involved in low completion rates. And it doesn’t seem that it’s the long term payoff that’s a problem. It might be more about knowing what that long term payoff is. The chart on page 30 shows the income differential that comes with a trade under your work belt.

From an income point of view, it’s worth finishing. A common explanation is that apprentice wages are too low, especially in the early years. So it’s worth taking note of this statement in the report (page 75):

Information gained through the stakeholder consultation phase of this project indicates that wages are not a significant influence on apprenticeship non-completion.

The report goes on to look at the characteristics of apprentices, employers, RTOs and the apprenticeship system to discern which factors influence completion, and what strategies might be most effective in encouraging apprentices most at risk of withdrawing to hang on.

The range of strategies proposed in the report is helpfully charted on page 78 in chronological form.

Each of these strategies is described in the report, and a summary of strategies is presented in a table on page 81.

Appendix H is also worth a glance. It’s titled ‘Australian governments’ support strategies and incentives for apprenticeships’. The list covers the activities of five governments: the Commonwealth, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

You can also watch this report! AWPA has produced a 40 minute video of a presentation by Peter Noonan and Andrew Wade which works through the analysis, findings and strategies.

You may be interested in three earlier posts related to this topic:

·         What is a skills shortage?

·         Keeping an eye on apprenticeship numbers

·         Keeping apprenticeships relevant and attractive.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 11 April 2014 in Workforce Development

Skills shortages in a number of engineering trades are not helped by persistently low apprenticeship completion rates. Such shortages impact on investment decisions and weigh on workforce productivity in a range of industry sectors. Low completion rates are also opportunities foregone for those who decide not finish their apprenticeships. The costs are economic, social and personal.

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) commissioned the NCVER andACIL Allen Consulting to undertake a thoroughgoing examination of engineering completions. The aims were to:

·         establish a detailed picture of completion rates

·         identify the factors influencing commencements and completions, and

·         advise on strategies that would improve completion rates

For many of us, these aims sound familiar – we’ve done this before, talked about this for years. Now that AWPA has released the fruits of the commissioned work it’s worth hanging on for the next chapter. The report, Engineering apprentices: Review of qualification completions in engineering trades apprenticeships (81 pages, or 154 pages if you include the appendices), is comprehensive and instructive.

The chart on page 17 of the report tells us about variations in completion rates for engineering apprentices. (The 3-digit ANZCO code is a standardised way of categorising different kinds of jobs in the economy.)

Already it’s clear that we don’t have a single national picture. The report also tells us that:

·         males have markedly higher completion rates than females (62% versus 50%)

·         apprentices in the 20-24 years age group have the highest completion rates, at almost 80%, while those aged 45 years and over have the lowest completion rates, at 55%

·         school-based apprentices have the lowest completion rates, at just 28%

·         apprentices who have completed Year 12 have the highest completion rates – completion rates then steadily decline with decreasing school level

·         completion rates are about 5 percentage points higher for apprentices in regional areas.

The report drills deeper to show that:

·         government employers experience by far the highest completion rates of close to 80%

·         large employers have completion rates of 69%

·         medium and small employers have completion rates of roughly 60%

·         industries with the highest completion rates (71-75%) are in the categories of ‘Public Administration and Safety’, ‘Mining’, and ‘Transport, Postal and Warehousing’.

All these variables are explored in further detail, along with other factors like: ‘Engineering trades apprentices generally leave early on in their apprenticeship: 60% of those who leave do so within the first year.’

Our next post will pick up the story in this report.

2014 Archive | VDC