What and Who Are “Big Deals” in VET

Catching you up on news in Australia with who you might need to connect to as from 1 July 2022 the Department of Education, Skills and Employment changed to The Department of Education, and the new Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has been created.

Ministers include:

Secretary and deputy secretaries:

Department of Education – Secretary – Dr Michele Bruniges AM

Deputy Secretaries – Brenton Philp, Deputy Secretary Early Childhood and Child Care Group; Dr Ros Baxter PSM, Deputy Secretary Schools and Youth Group; Tony Cook PSM, Deputy Secretary Higher Education, Research and International Group; Marcus Markovic, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer for the Corporate and Enabling Services Group.

Department of Employment and Workplace Relations – Secretary – Natalie James

Deputy Secretaries – Nathan Smyth, Deputy Secretary Employment and National Workforce Group; Nadine Williams, Deputy Secretary Skills and Training Group; Martin Hehir, Deputy Secretary Workplace Relations Group; Belinda Casson, A/g Deputy Secretary Corporate and Enabling Services, Chief Operating Officer.

This structure puts Higher Education into the Department of Education, with Skills and Training in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.  Key people here are:

  • Renae Houston, VET Quality and Policy
  • Tiffany Blight, National Careers Institute
  • Mary McDonald, Skills Reform Taskforce
  • Natasha Ryan, Skills Reform
  • Adam Boyton, National Skills Commissioner

Skills councils and committees include Commonwealth-state relations (Skills Ministerial Committee and Meetings); The Australian Industry Skills Committee; and the National Careers Institute Advisory Board.

Skills reform and consultation is an ongoing feature of the Australian VET system with skills reform priorities under the National Skills Agreement but it will be interesting to see what the new Australian Government does next particularly where Microcredentials have been emerging.

For example, the VET Reform Roadmap which aims to:

  1. Simplify, rationalise and streamline national VET qualifications currently with 1221 qualifications; 15352 units of competency; 1556 skill sets; 672 accredited courses; and 9023 accredited course units/modules
  2. Strengthen quality standards

In October 2021, Skills Ministers agreed to reform the current industry engagement reforms. These reforms include the establishment of Industry Clusters which will replace the 67 IRCs and six SSOs and are expected to be fully operational by 1 January 2023. Skills Ministers also agreed that the AISC will continue to review proposed changes to national training products until the end of 2022. Skills Ministers also agreed that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will provide training product assurance initially from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2024.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector, responsible for regulating approximately 90% of Australian vocational education and training (VET) providers.

CEO Saxon Rice has extensive experience across the VET and employment services sectors as well as the public policy process.  Christina Bolger was appointed to the newly created role of Deputy CEO in September 2020.  The Senior Leadership team includes Greg Simmons, A/g Executive Director, Regulatory Insights and Impact; Steve Maillet, Executive Director, Regulatory Engagement and Education; Ty Emerson, Executive Director, Corporate; and Carmen Basilicata, Executive Director, Quality Assessment and Compliance.

Speaking of Microcredentials and VET regulation, check out the work of Matthew Dale, Kevin Ekendahl and Katrina Higham at Audit Express and Educonomy; Jacqui Verrall; and Angela (RTO Consultant) Connell-Richards.

NCVER’s recent No Frills conference saw a discussion paper titled ‘VET’s role in transforming the future’ released.  Highlighted presentations included lifelong learning (Sarojni Choy); pathways from VET courses (Damian Oliver); delivery of VET online (Deniese Cox and Sheila Hume); delivering high-quality VET (Hugh Guthrie with Melinda Waters); and changes to VET teaching following COVID (Erica Smith).  The NCVER company structure has a Board, Executive and Management Teams with Lynne Austin, Simon Walker, Phil Loveder, and Joy de Leo.  Vocational Voices is their podcast, hosted by Steve Davis, with interesting conversations on topical issues in VET.

Upcoming conferences include the TDA Convention 2022 on Tuesday 15 – Thursday 17 November 2022 at the Hilton Hotel, (Rad) Adelaide, South Australia, with a theme of Courage, Change and Challenge: The Future of TAFE.  Jenny Dodd is the Chief Executive Officer at TAFE Directors Australia with a session at #EduTECHAU (10-11 August 2022 in Melbourne) where 10,000+ education leaders will gather at Australia’s biggest meeting for the education sector to learn, exchange ideas & network.

A stronger connection with VET and Australian EdTech, through organisations such as EduGrowth should be a priority, alongside economic development, employment, entrepreneurship and innovation and opportunities for VET.  This links to industry relationships, state/territory collaboration and international partnerships with people leading these connections such as:

  • Troy Williams, Chief Executive Officer at the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA)
  • Don Perlgut, Chief Executive Officer at Community Colleges Australia
  • Andrew Shea, Builders Academy Australia
  • Michael Claessens, Chief Executive Officer at Regional Development Australia ACT & Executive Director Canberra Region Food Collaborative
  • Kris McCreath, Director, Skills Promotion & Support, Skills Canberra
  • Trevor Schwenke, Chief Executive Officer at WorldSkills Australia
  • Dominic Schipano, NEO, Communications and Information Technology Training Ltd (CITT) Australia
  • Callan Markwick, Director, Skills and Workforce Projects at Department for Innovation and Skills – South Australia
  • Heidi Kemp, Manager Training and Skills at Department of Employment, Small Business and Training
  • Michael Krafft, Manager – Metropolitan Region at Department of Employment, Small Business and Training
  • Gavin Leckenby, Executive Director, Department of Education, Training and Employment (Queensland)
  • Mary Campbell, Chief Executive Officer at TAFE Queensland
  • Nik Babovic, Executive at TAFE Queensland
  • Nelson Salangsang, Director, International Projects Unit

Labor will establish Jobs and Skills Australia as a national partnership to drive VET education and strengthen workforce planning by working together with employers, unions and the training and education sector.

The Albanese Labor Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit will be held at Parliament House in Canberra on 1–2 September.  Read more here>

Let’s see who receives an invitation to get involved, hopefully a spread of people from different ages and backgrounds, with insight and experience, who have an appreciation for VET and an innovative, global take on the future.

And feel free to add who you would suggest are “Big Deals” in VET plus what are emerging VET issues and priorities.

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