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News Service – 11 May 2020

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2. PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION RELEASES SHIFTING THE DIAL REPORT – RECOMMENDS DISTRIBUTION OF EDUCATION THROUGH INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT OF SKILLS

The government states that, “This is the first document of its kind for the Productivity Commission — a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare.”  This report was sent to Government on 3 August 2017, then tabled in Parliament and publicly released on 24 October 2017.

Many of the findings and recommendations are in line with those in the Joyce report, which presented more detailed information along similar lines.  A specific section of the report covers VET and Skills development – Chapter 3 Future of skills and work.  Key recommendations is this section on VET are:

· Recommendation 3.1 – Improve educational outcomes of school students

· Recommendation 3.2 – Proficiency not just competency

· Recommendation 3.3 – Disruption of education through independent assessment

· Recommendation 3.4 – Covering universities under consumer law

· Recommendation 3.5 – Make it easy to access learning options

The Commission was directed by the Treasurer, to undertake a review of Australia’s productivity performance and, in the light of its findings, make recommendations to assist governments to make productivity enhancing reforms.  Without limiting related matters on which the Commission may report, the Treasurer requested the report to the Government should:

1. analyse Australia’s productivity performance in both the market and non-market sectors including an assessment of the settings for productive investment in human and physical capital and how they can be improved to lift productivity

2. examine the factors that may have affected productivity growth, including an assessment of the impact of major policy changes, if relevant

3. prioritise potential policy changes to improve Australian economic performance and the wellbeing of Australians by supporting greater productivity growth.

A copy of the report can be obtained from the following link as it is a rather large file: SHIFTING THE DIAL: 5 YEAR PRODUCTIVITY REVIEW


3. GOVERNMENT RELEASES RAPID REVIEW OF THE ASQA’s REGULATORY PRACTICES AND PROCESSES

Mpconsulting was commissioned to undertake a review of ASQA’s operations in terms of short, medium and longer-term actions that could better position ASQA as a respected and contemporary regulator.  A copy of the report is attached. Of note is the suggestion of a move towards a performance based model of regulation or what some might view as self-regulation.  Key recommendations suggested were:

Long term vision for ASQA:

· Moving from input and compliance controls to a focus on self-assurance and excellence in training outcomes

· Clarifying and modernising ASQA’s role and regulatory culture

· Aligning governance arrangements with ASQA’s renewed focus

· Strengthening engagement and education

· Using intelligence to effectively monitor strategic risk and provider performance

· Aligning audit practice to focus on self-assurance

· Appropriate and proportionate regulatory action where non-compliance is identified

· Meaningful reporting on provider performance

· Supporting ASQA staff to deliver the outcomes

Of interest, is the level of attribution the report provides for involving industry practitioners with technical expertise in improving the audit process for their respective industries.  Seems the report may have missed this potential opportunity to improve the quality of outcomes by recommending increased direct involvement of industry panels to support audit processes.

The report classes all stakeholders as equals in the VET systems students, teachers, providers, industry and other interested stakeholders, without regard for identifying processes that could be introduced to improve the quality of outcomes of Australia’s workforce quality and productivity and skills-base.  The report is more focused on improving high-level processes and ASQA’s internal processes in general, that lead to self-regulation, than the quality of training and assessment activities against content in competency standards/courses.

There is enough evidence, in already regulated industries, of these models failing the test of veracity and usefulness of their approach for the purposes they were intended for.  A good example is the Building Inquiry in NSW. Only time will tell of whether ASQA proceeds to implement the recommendations and whether, as a result, there is any measurable improvement in the quality of VET outcomes.  We will be watching carefully how this unfolds and raise concerns where needed, if a diminution in quality and services materialises.


4. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE No. 97

Attached is a copy of the Smart and Skilled Update No. 97, which covers the following:

1. Advanced payments for Smart and Skilled providers impacted by COVID-19

a. Rationale and explanation of process

2. Frequently asked questions

a. How much will eligible providers be paid?

b. How will advanced payments be made?

c. When will the advanced payments commence?

d. What happens next?

e. For further assistance

3. Other government measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19

For more information visit: SMART AND SKILLED


5. RECENTLY PUBLISHED UPDATED COMMISSIONER’S INFORMATION BULLETINS (CIBS)

Published updates and new CIBs (follow the links):

·       CIB 691 – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management – Apprenticeships and Traineeships – new 13/03/20

·       CIB 689 – Engineering – Apprenticeships and Traineeships – updated 10/02/20

·       CIB 585 – Electricity Supply Industry Apprenticeships and Traineeships – updated 7/02/20

·       CIB 688 – Tourism, Travel and Hospitality – Apprenticeships and Traineeships – new 24/01/20

All Commissioner’s Information Bulletins are located on the Training Services NSW website:

https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/cib_vto/index.html

For more information please contact Chrissy Greenwood, Training Market Operations Officer |Training Services NSW at: chrissy.greenwood6@det.nsw.edu.au


6.      FINDINGS FROM SKILLS PACKAGE CO-DESIGN CONSULTATIONS RELEASED

The Commonwealth has released its findings from the co-design consultation workshops which it ran late last year on its Skills Package measures – specifically the National Skills Commission, Skills Organisation Pilots, and the National Careers Institute. 

There is a separate report on each of these bodies – please see the links below:

·       National Skills Commission

·       Skills Organisations

·       National Careers Institute


7.      WHS SAFETY ALERT – FAKE MASKS

SafeWork NSW has circulated advice regarding fake masks.  SafeWork NSW has recently been made aware of fake respiratory protective equipment (RPE) entering our markets and the following safety alert has been issued. 

The use of compliant and effective RPE by businesses and workers is critical in managing respirable illnesses such as those associated with asbestos and crystalline silica exposure.  We urge all business and workers check current RPE supplies and make any necessary changes immediately. 

This alert also provides avenues of recourse available, should you have been supplied with fake equipment. 

For more information contact the following:

Tony Williams Director, Construction Services Metropolitan SafeWork NSW, Better Regulation Division Department of Customer Service p 4321 5609  |  m 0402 271 465 e tony.williams@safework.nsw.gov.auLaurence Richey Director, Construction Services Regional SafeWork NSW, Better Regulation Division Department of Customer Service p 4921 2910  |  m 0402 083 064 e laurence.richey@safework.nsw.gov.au
www.safework.nsw.gov.au

8. SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA RELEASES INFORMATION AND RESOURCES FOR RETURNING TO WORK

SafeWork Australia has released its latest advised in relation to more Australian businesses preparing to return to normal operations.  Safe Work Australia has proceeded to publish a significant amount of practical material on its website to guide businesses on how to safely work with the ongoing threat of a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The Safe Work Australia material has been presented in a user-friendly manner so that users can select the industry in which they work and the topics of interest.

Key topics that will apply to most businesses include the following:

·       physical distancing;

·       hygiene;

·       cleaning; and

·       personal protective equipment (PPE).

To supplement this broad information, businesses can also access a number of very detailed checklists that relate to these key areas.

The checklists probably provide the most useful tool developed by Safe Work Australia in that they are a comprehensive guide to ascertaining whether your business has undertaken all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of your workplace. These tools will also prompt businesses to assess whether there are deficiencies in their current hygiene and cleaning practices, as well as the practicability of physical distancing measures.

The checklists for some of the key areas include:

·       physical distancing;

·       hygiene; and

·       cleaning.

There is also a high-level workplace checklist available.

Duty of care

It is important to review this material as it evidences publicly available information relevant to your duty of care in maintaining a safe workplace. To put it another way, a failure to have reviewed and taken into account this information could demonstrate a breach of your duty of care if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs at your workplace, particularly if there is a clear link between the infection and a failure to take steps that have been recommended.

For more information visit the WorkSafe Australia website: https://swa.govcms.gov.au/


9. ARC FLASH SAFETY – WATCH THE VIDEO (MARK’S STORY)

Electrical Safety Office, Office of Industrial Relations of Queensland has issued a news item regarding a key message of not working live.

“Don’t work live!” is a video of Mark, an electrician’s plea to all sparkies about the risks of working live.  Mark, was seriously burnt by an arc flash explosion while he was working on a commercial switchboard.

Mark spent three weeks in hospital and couldn’t work for almost three months. He’s sharing his story to raise awareness about the life-changing consequences of working live, so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. 

“It’s not worth risking your life to get the job done quickly or to please a client” – Mark.  Watch the film and share it with your staff, apprentices, workmates and other tradies. 

For information on the news item visit: Newsletter


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