VET Blog

Your biggest frustrations around Vocational Education and Training in Australia

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | 3 Comments

On the 18th June 2013, I sent out an email to selected contacts in Vocational Education and Training (VET) and those interested in workforce development more broadly asking the following question – What is your biggest frustration in VET?

Your responses came thick and fast (and they are still coming in) so thank you for taking the time to reply.

There are many similar ideas and themes in the feedback and I thought you’d like to hear that you are not alone.  So what came through loud and clear?frustration

Here are the themes and a selection of some of the comments as I have aimed to stay true to what you said.

Please let me know what you think and post your comments, share with your colleagues, and consider how these insights relates to your work. Read More

Skills for All gets $27 million (catch up) in the South Australian State Budget

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | 4 Comments

In the recent South Australian State Government Budget, $27.0 million over two years (in addition to $38.7 million in 2012–13) was announced to support additional training under the Skills for All initiative.  The government says that this accelerates their commitment to creating 100,000 training places.

The 2012–13 estimated result (12.7%, 44 800) is an outcome of the significantly increased demand in VET through the commencement of Skills for All in July 2012.  The 2013–14 target (12.5%, 39 400) reflects a “levelling out in the demand in Skills for All places” aka a year to catch up and control spending.


This is because the Tertiary Education: Budget for 2012-13 was $526 million; with an estimated result 2012-13 $559 million (difference of $33 million); and for 2013-14 $523 million.

So how will this overspend be addressed?  Well quoted from the budget paper, “Changes in operating expenses: Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology ? projected to decrease by $132.5 million primarily due to the profile of Skills for All expenditure and the implementation of budget savings measures.” Read More

Investing in Skills for Queensland – practical or too complex?

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | One Comment

This seems to be a sensible mix of strengths from the South Australian and Victorian system plus Queensland practicality but elements of pricing and priorities could be complex and difficult to understand, particularly from a client point of view.

Starting on 1 July 2013 we’ll see Queensland’s response to reform and changes in Vocational Education and Training (VET) – Investing in Skills for Queensland – with the introduction of the entitlement model with an additional $42 m of contestable funds.

Building upon the Government response to the Skills and Training Taskforce final report this next step aims to target the key sectors in the four pillar economy and reduce Queensland’s unemployment rate to 4% in 6 years.


Read More

Skills for All Funded Training List 6.0 – right or wrong questions?

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | 7 Comments

South Australia’s Department of Further Education Employment Science and Technology (DFEEST) has released the Skills for All Funded Training List 6.0 Consultation Paper for review and comment.  I appreciate DFEEST has publicly asked for feedback and I am taking the opportunity to share my opinions, particularly on the persistent issues of matching workforce demand with funded training priorities.


Are they asking the right questions? Read More

Next steps in VET reform for Victoria – spin squeezing

By | Reform, Vocational Education and Training | No Comments

Spinning girlThe next steps in in vocational training reform, relating specifically to the state’s 14 TAFE institutes and four dual-sector universities have been announced.  19 recommendations were outlined in TAFE Reform Panel’s final report: A Strong and Sustainable Victorian TAFE sector.

Grappling with changes in the economy and identifying the demand for skills into the future, workforce capability needs and learner’s expectations have major implications for Victorian TAFE Institute’s and Registered Training Organisations. Read More

Implementing Apprenticeships, Industry Partnerships and TVET in Maldives

By | TVET International, Vocational Education and Training | 3 Comments

Implementing a National Apprenticeship Framework, strengthening industry and institute linkages, working models of partnerships, youth mentoring, workforce planning and development were all on the agenda for 2 day workshops with the government and stakeholders in Maldives and Bhutan.

STEP program

QUT and Workforce BluePrint

At the invitation of Nelson Salangsang, Manager-International Projects, Office of Commercial Services, Queensland University of Technology, Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint spent a week in Male, Maldives and then in Thimphu, Bhutan working with their respective governments. Read More

Skills for All Funded Training List – Views on the Consultation Survey

By | Funding, Vocational Education and Training | 5 Comments

Note: this blog post is quite long (and so is the survey), the headings should help you get to the bits you are interested in, the post mirrors the survey and I’ve included my responses representing WPAA and Workforce BluePrint and based upon our practical experience.

Please let me know what you think, do you agree, disagree or have you got an entirely different perspective?

On the back of the South Australian State Government 2012-13 Mid-Year Budget Review outlining major employment, training and skills savings,consultation about the composition of Skills for All Funded Training List in Feb 2013 is underway from 19 December 2012 to 21 January 2013.

The main activity for the consultation is by completing the Funded Training List Consultation Survey but first you must read the proposed changes to Funded Training document and the Proposed changes to Skills for All based on demand? blog post.

Starting the survey

Weird is one way to describe the survey, there isn’t an intro to it at all or an indication as to how many questions there are or what will actually happen with the information you provide.

Skilled Trade WorkersTo start with you are asked to enter your organisation’s details including name and addresses plus type of organisation which I would have though needed a drop down box to choose a category so data could be analysed from different perspectives.  Contact officer details come next but there’s no statement about what will happen with your contact details, is this for follow up or further communication? Read More

The long awaited announcement from New South Wales – an open VET market from 2014

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | 2 Comments

It’s been a long time coming with Adrian Piccoli MP, Deputy Leader of The Nationals NSW and Minister for Education announcing New South Wales Smart and Skilled, reform of the VET system – read the media release.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli: “We’ve had the advantage of seeing how things went in Victoria and we’ve learnt lessons from that.” Source: The Daily Telegraph.



From 2014 Smart and Skilled will deliver:

  • an entitlement for entry level training up to and including Certificate III
  • support for higher level qualifications
  • informed choice with improved quality measures
  • recognition of the role and function of TAFE NSW as the public provider
  • greater support for regions and equity groups
  • better information for consumers.





In summary this means: Read More

Highlights and controversy from the ACPET 2012 National Conference

By | Funding, Reform, Vocational Education and Training | No Comments

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) held their National Conference in Sydney on 30-31 August 2012 with some of the highlights captured in these tweets:

327 new RTO applications in the last financial year to ASQA with 4900 current RTOs, what number is ideal?

Senator Lee Rhiannon takes questions from a room full of private and enterprise RTOs with a platform that publicly funded VET = TAFE

 @ACPET_national Congrats to winners of the ACPET Awards for Excellence – a great night & great year ahead for best private providers 

As a seasoned conference presenter and attendee I was really impressed with this year’s line-up.  Day 1 included presentations from Michael Pascoe, Phillip Bullock, Chair of the new Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency on the National Workforce Development Strategy and Dave Remer on social media – his hot tip was to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium (I’ve had this level of service for a while now and it does make a big difference) and to view social media as the ultimate CRM.

Interesting models and case studies were presented by Rod Cooke, CEO, Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council and Bruce Callaghan, Managing Director, BCA National Training Group who struck me as a real gentleman.

George Megalogenis, Political Commentator, was great to listen to, with @sussanley tweeting @ACPET @GMegalogenis good point about politicians thinking like journalists and vice versa – ensuing defensive debate not good.

The welcome reception at the Italian Village, The Rocks was an excellent opportunity to catch up with friends and meet lots of new people – ACPET is always great for networking.

ACPET National Conference

Did I meet you at the ACPET National Conference?

Day 2 started with an address by Senator, the Hon Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research identifying areas for further VET reform such as industry engagement, skills development across the AQF including more degree qualified people, apprenticeship system change to suit modern jobs and all with an overarching theme of ramping up VET reform (and perhaps we may think or feel things are changing quickly now because we haven’t actually experienced true reform, more tweaking around the edges of the system to date?).  Now for the controversy…

Read More

What’s wrong with Training Packages – What is wrong with Training Packages?

By | Reform, Research, Vocational Education and Training | 2 Comments

It’s all about emphasis – statement or question?

Training Packages are the bed rock of the Australian Vocational Education (VET) and Training system.  OECD’s Skills Strategy asserts that, “Skills have become the global currency of 21st century economies”.

If you don’t know what they are, Training Packages specify the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in the workplace”.

Debate around a new system goes back over the past 10 years, starting 5 years after they were introduced in 1997.  If you were in the VET sector then, do you remember the massive change we all went through?  I remember teaching and assessing from the first Admin Training Package taking over from the national NOS curriculum!

Recent calls to ‘scrap Training Packages’ with a paper ‘Enrolments in VET Training Packages by Industry Skills Council 2002-10’ highlighting, “within each training package many qualifications have a very small or no student load, and a few qualifications have a relatively high student load,” are far too dramatized.

Industry bodies hit back over changes to training packages, at the suggestion of, “replacing training packages with a system where colleges develop their own qualifications and submit them for national accreditation”.

Discussion in the Australian VET Leaders LinkedIn group, attracted 58 comments in the space of a few days just on this article alone.

I think the purpose of Training Packages is confused.  Some see training packages as outcomes for qualifications and skills sets and others see them as skills for job roles and work.  Undertaking workforce planning and development, and building competency frameworks bring this difference to the fore.

When developing a skills profile for a job role, drawing upon units of competency from all training packages (which is a huge database and great asset) demonstrates that most job roles require 30-50 competencies, which is usually 2-3 qualifications worth.  For highly technical job roles and leadership roles, 50-80 competencies is commonplace.

The format for a job skills profile of 1. core competencies (employability/foundation skills), 2. functional competencies (skills required by many job roles such as leadership, management, IT and administration) and then 3. job specific skills work in an enterprise, industry or regional context.

Competencies for 1 job role are across multiple Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) levels, say Certificate III – Advanced Diploma, and usually from 2-3 different Training Packages, that could be managed by multiple ISC’s.

So, if you take a pick and mix approach to skills, matching competencies to the job role or the person, there are many options and good coverage of types of skills contrasted with matching a qualification to a job role or a person.

Where streamlining most needs to occur, across the whole training package system is in the core or common skills.  Using an online tool, that holds all national training packages for skills profiling, searches on ‘communicate’ and ‘team’ return results of 70+ and 120+ units of competency.  Whilst the levels of these units may be different it still seems significantly way more competencies for the same skills.

Taking the next layer in a job profile, functional competencies, again significant streamlining in leadership, management and occupational health and safety as examples would improve usability by enterprises, industries and regions.

The job specific component of a job skills profile has been over emphasised and it’s really these technical skills along which training package lines are drawn.  In reality, the job specific skills are a much smaller proportion of the overall profile if the core and functional skills have been designed appropriately.

Training Packages are changing, structured around 4 themes: Competency and Knowledge, Flexibility, Streamlining, and Foundation Skills.

The program of reform has been underway since mid 2009 and should be finished by mid 2014 and back in January 2011, the National Quality Council endorsed a new design model.

A number of years ago Wendy Perry and Associates Pty Ltd was contracted to review competencies from a training package.  The approach taken included identifying all the relevant job roles (around 30), building competency based skills profiles/job descriptions using Skillsbook and drawing in units of competency that fitted the role from across the training package database.  Instead of training package consultations, skills benchmarking workshops validated the competency based job skills profiles with industry based job descriptions identifying areas in common as well as gaps.  As a value add to the benchmarking activity, discussion went broader than looking at units of competency documentation, sharing insights on workforce development issues.  This process helped us to identify what to keep, delete and add, what was core to all job roles and electives that tailored the core skills.

The Industry Skills Councils (ISC’s) are custodians of Training Packages, with each council producing a Continuous Improvement Plan which outlines the changes to be made to the endorsed components of Training Packages in order to meet the existing and emerging skill needs of industry.  Service Skills Australia uses a process for continuous improvement that follows project scoping, drafting, consultation and feedback, feedback analysis, validation, quality check, submission for endorsement, endorsement, implementation, continuous improvement.

Information on Training Packages – policy and guidelines  provides a technical understanding of terms, language and development processes.

Written by Wendy Perry, Managing Director, Wendy Perry and Associates Pty Ltd, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint.