Claire Field present for an important step for VET


Federal minister Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor’s address to a CEDA forum yesterday saw VET reform take another important step forward as he announced new industry engagement arrangements

The former government was looking to introduce nine new Industry Clusters. Instead ten new Jobs and Skills Councils will work closely with Jobs and Skills Australia across:

* agribusiness * arts, personal services, retail, tourism, hospitality * energy, gas renewables * finance, technology, business * manufacturing * mining and automotive * transport and Logistics * public safety and government * early educators, health, and human Services * building, construction, property

At deadline last night, the Department of Employment and Work Place Relations’ website had no detail on successful bids to run the new councils, but it appears that some existing organisations may not have been successful.

While the sector awaits further details – industry and training providers will be hoping for improvements to the current arrangements which have significant flaws, as a recent training package update identifies.

While the Australian Skills Quality Authority  is to be commended for listening to feedback from RTOs requesting an extra extension to the transition period for five qualifications from the Community Services Training Package, the problem is timing: ASQA is seeking feedback with a closing date of 23 December 2022. They will only then determine which version of these qualifications will be taught on 20 January 2023.

One provider explained that “we stopped offering the Diploma ten months ago to avoid transitioning students to a non-equivalent qualification (the new Diploma specifies a Certificate III as an entry requirement) … this means we have lost close to a whole year of potential revenue that we could have had to help bounce back after COVID and the industry has lost a larger pool of qualified workers.”

Industry on the other hand is still waiting for graduates with the updated skills they first identified years ago.  Getting the new arrangements right is crucial.

Also crucial is the 2023 funding for Fee Free TAFE and other VET places. Mr O’Connor said yesterday that the only funding agreement still to be signed is with the Northern Territory, however the DEWR website  has no announcement of the additional funding Victorian providers will get in 2023. The sector looks forward to the details on both these agreements being finalised and published.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector and wishes to thank everyone who has provided feedback on this column this year