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News Service 17 – National Skills Commission launched; NCVER Reports on RPL and Apprentice in traded satisfaction; Smart & Skilled updated 104; Safety related changes taking effect 1 July; ENA Awards open; Solar and Electrical Vehicles

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  1. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION (NSC) COMES TO LIFE
  2. NCVER REPORTS A DECLINE IN THE USE OF RPL
  3. NCC 2019 AMENDMENT 1 IS NOW IN EFFECT!
  4. NCVER REPORTS – APPRENTICE TRAINING SATISFACTION UP OVER PAST DECADE
  5. REMINDER – SILICOSIS CHANGES FROM 1 JULY 2020
  6. ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARDS 2020
  7. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE No. 104 – 2 July 2020
  8. IS SA AT CRITICAL SOLAR?
  9. AMEC – EARLY INNOVATION ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs) GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS

1. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION (NSC) COMES TO LIFE

The new National Skills Commission (NSC) has now been officially inaugurated and has released in first publication, “A snapshot in time: Australia’s Labour Market and COVID-19”.  Adam Boyton the Interim National Skills Commissioner in his first official news release stated, “Late last year when stakeholders were invited to co-design the NSC there was an overwhelming call for a national body to revitalise the skills sector, to provide new leadership on skills and workforce development to meet the needs of Australia’s economy.

None of us could have anticipated just how radically different the economic landscape would be just six months later. While much of the discussion then focused on skills gaps, we are now instead thinking about managing skills surpluses and retraining options for unemployed workers as we deal with our first recession in nearly 30 years.

This first report for the NSC speaks to that massive shock our labour market is experiencing. Much of the data presented will come as no surprise. The impact of COVID-19 has been immense. However, there are also some glimmers of hope, acknowledged by the OECD when it noted that Australia’s economic resilience was greater than most.”

Mr Boyton also wishes to highlight the launch of the new website inciting stakeholders to visit the site and learn more about the role and priorities of the Commission at:  www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au.  It has also established a profile on LinkedIn at:  NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION -LinkedIn

The website states the Commission is about: “working to develop intelligence on Australia’s labour market, workforce changes and current and emerging skills needs. The NSC will drive long-term improvements across the skills system to bring together existing data and develop new capability in skills analysis, and improved data and advice on VET pricing and outcomes.  …

The Bill passed the Senate on Thursday 18 June … The Bill gives the Commissioner an advisory function, providing advice to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business and the Secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on:

  • Australia’s current, emerging and future workforce skills needs,
  • the performance of Australia’s system for providing VET,
  • issues affecting the state of the Australian and international labour markets ,
  • efficient prices for VET courses,
  • the public and private return on government investment in VET qualifications, and
  • opportunities to improve access, skills development and choice for regional, rural and remote Australia in relation to VET.

With some optimism we look to the new Commission to show leadership and direction to elevating the VET sector to a new heightened status, and strengthening and promoting mechanisms aimed at improving the productivity and skills of the Australian Workforce.  We will monitor its performance and commitment to realising and advancing the functions it has been given responsibility for.


2. NCVER REPORTS A DECLINE IN THE USE OF RPL

NCVER states in its recent news service that, that “a new NCVER report finds only a small proportion of Australian VET students are granted recognition of prior learning (RPL) each year and that the use of RPL in VET is decreasing.”  Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER, said “RPL is an important mechanism for people with pre-existing skills to gain formal recognition without having to undergo the traditional training process,”

“Apart from saving time and money for students, it can also contribute to their self-esteem and productivity. However, training providers often find it expensive and difficult to offer.”

The question is, why is RPL on the decline?  The decline of RPL is a serious VET issue in need of attention, and the report is worth reviewing.  

The NCVER website link of the report describes RPL as follows:

“Recognition of prior learning (RPL) in the Australian vocational education and training (VET) system is the process of assessing someone’s relevant prior learning and existing skills to grant formal recognition. RPL is an important mechanism for people with pre-existing skills to gain formal recognition. There are however known issues with RPL, as it can be costly and difficult to offer as a training provider. This report explores the nature of RPL that is taking place in Australia from a variety of dimensions.”

Key messages from the report are:

  • There is limited granting of RPL in the Australian VET system and this has declined between 2015 and 2018.
  • In 2018, less than 5% of all successful subject results were granted through RPL and less than 3% of all students successfully completed any subjects through RPL.
  • A small number of niche qualifications are being predominantly issued solely through RPL, including over 90% of completions in the Diploma of Government Security, Advanced Diploma of Government (Workplace inspection/Investigations/Fraud control) and Diploma of Public Safety (Emergency Management)
  • There appears to be no single student or program characteristic that strongly predicts an individual being granted RPL. In the granting of RPL, many different factors come into play, including those at the student level (such as employment status) and those at the program level (such as field of study or the level of the program).

To learn more about this important report and its findings, visit the link and download the report at: EXPLORING RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING IN AUSTRALIAN VET


3. NCC 2019 AMENDMENT 1 IS NOW IN EFFECT!

Reminder that from the 1 July 2020, the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 Amendment 1 has been adopted.

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) advises that this means, “the amendment is now given legal effect by relevant legislation in each State and Territory.”

The key changes are:

  • “A new provision, A2.2(4), in the Governing Requirements to require (from 1 July 2021) that a process be followed when creating and documenting Performance Solutions.
  • A new provision, A5.7, in the Governing Requirements to require labelling of Aluminum Composite Panels.
  • A new provision in Volume One, D1.18, regarding egress from early childhood centres.
  • Clarification amendments in Specification C1.1 of Volume One regarding concessions that permit the use of timber framing for low-rise Class 2 and 3 buildings.
  • Amendment to 3.5.2.5 in Volume Two to clarify that anti-ponding boards are not required in roofs where sarking is not installed.
  • Correction of minor errors.

Transition period

The process for documenting Performance Solutions set out in A2.2(4) of NCC 2019 Amendment 1 will not come into effect until 1 July 2021. It should be noted, however, that appropriate documentation for Performance Solutions should be occurring now, and that the process outlined in Amendment 1 can be used to achieve this outcome.”

To view’ or ‘download’ NCC 2019 Amendment 1 from the NCC Suite at: NCC 2019 AMENDMENT 1 COMPLETE SERIES


4. NCVER REPORTS – APPRENTICE TRAINING SATISFACTION UP OVER PAST DECADE

NCVER reports in its recent news letter, that, “The proportion of trade apprentices and trainees satisfied with their training has increased since 2008, up 6.4 percentage points in 2019 for those who completed training.

Apprentice and trainee experience and destinations 2008, 2010 and 2019 also shows the proportion of trade non-completers satisfied with their training has increased since 2008, up 6.9 percentage points.

Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER, said the new report compares satisfaction and training outcomes for apprentices and trainees who completed, cancelled or withdrew from an apprenticeship or traineeship in 2008, 2010, 2019.

“While employment outcomes in the trades have remained steady regardless of completion since 2008, satisfaction with training has increased noticeably for trade apprentices,” Mr Walker said.

Learn more: Apprentice and trainee experience and destinations – 2008, 2010 and 2019


5. REMINDER – SILICOSIS CHANGES FROM 1 JULY 2020

The Resources Regulator (NSW Government) has circulated in its latest Mine Safety News a reminder of the changes to the workplace exposure standards regarding respirable crystalline silica that took effect on 1 July 2020.  It states, “The new exposure standard is prescribed following a revision of the Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants (WESFAC).”

At the same time, it should be noted, the NSW Government’s Silicosis Reduction Strategy came into effect, “including silicosis becoming a scheduled medical condition in NSW. From 1 July all medical practitioners who diagnose a case of silicosis in NSW are required to notify NSW Health.”

For more information refer to the following link:  POSITION PAPER – REVISION TO SILICA EXPOSURE STANDARD

Important regulatory notice – SAFEWORK NSW – NOTIFICATION OF SILICOSIS


6. ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARDS 2020

A reminder from ENA has been circulated that applications are open to members for the industry 2020 annual awards program.

There are two awards:

  • The Consumer Engagement Award recognises an Australian energy network business that is demonstrating outstanding leadership in consumer engagement.
  • The Industry Innovation Award recognises leadership in the design, development and application of a ground-breaking Australian energy network initiative, technology, service or solution.

Energy Networks Australia members are invited to apply.

Key dates:

  • Applications open – 1 July 2020
  • Applications close – Tuesday 18 August 2020
  • Shortlisted applicants announced – 4 September 2020
  • Videoconference interview for shortlisted applicants – 10 September 2020
  • Winners announced – October 2020

7. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE No. 104 – 2 July 2020

Please find attached Smart and Skilled Update No. 104, which covers the following:

  1. Update to the Smart and Skilled Policy for Market Management – 2020-21 Activity Period
    1. What has changed in the policy?
    1. Financial Cap Review details for 2020-21 Activity Period
    1. Obligations associated with Financial Caps
    1. Maintaining funding for regional NSW
  1. Financial Cap Review 1 (2020-21 Activity Period)
  2. Further Superseding Qualification Price Changes for the 2020-21 Activity Period
    1. Superseding qualifications with price increases
    1. Superseding qualifications with deferred price decreases
    1. Impact on student fees
    1. Pricing for remaining superseding qualifications
  1. Smart and Skilled Prices and Fees Schedule – Version 11 Released
  2. 2020 NSW Student Outcomes Survey
    1. What is the NSW Student Outcomes Survey?
    1. What should providers do?
    1. Timelines, support and further information

Also attached for your reference is the updated Smart and Skilled Policy for Market Management – 2020-21 Activity Period, which is also available from STS Online > Smart and Skilled Contract Management > Support Documents.

For more information visit the Smart and Skills section of Training Services NSW website: SMART AND SKILLED


8. IS SA AT CRITICAL SOLAR?

Energy Network Australia reports that AEMO has “released a report recently on minimum operational demand thresholds in South Australia. Undertaken at the request of the state government, this report was supported with information from SA Power Networks and includes some radical proposals to manage household solar. We take a look at what the report means for the future grid of our sunny southern state.”

Read more.

For more, contact Dor Son Tan, Energy Networks Australia.


9. AMEC – EARLY INNOVATION ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs) GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AMEC) reports that “Australia’s retail energy market is delivering early wins when it comes to innovative retail offers for electric vehicle consumers – a sign that better power options lie ahead for homes and businesses.”

The Australian Energy Market Commission’s 2020 Retail Energy Competition Review has found that while it’s still early days for electric vehicles in Australia, there is already a diverse range of related energy products and offers available – including some that promote ‘smart charging’ – where customers receive price incentives to recharge vehicles outside times of peak energy demand.

“This early innovation is a promising sign that energy retailers see electric vehicles as a valuable opportunity for future business growth,” said AEMC Chief Executive Benn Barr.

“That’s good news for customers because it promotes greater competition and results in more products that people want.

“The key will be maintaining the momentum and working together so we can act decisively and quickly to prepare for the change that is coming,” Mr Barr said. “Getting this right will mean all energy customers benefit from electric vehicles – whether they drive one or not.”

Regulatory work already underway includes:

  • developing a two-sided energy market, which will empower customers to sell energy from EVs to the grid when prices are high and charge when prices are low.
  • setting minimum standards for ‘distributed energy resources’ like EVs, small-scale solar and energy storage technologies,
  • designing ways for energy networks to manage access, connection and pricing
  • reviewing metering arrangements and rolling out smart meters
  • investigating ways to make it easier and cheaper for customers to have multiple retailers for different types of energy loads e.g. solar panels vs EVs
  • trials of virtual power plants, which can include electric vehicle loads as sources of energy or demand response.

By the mid-2030s electric vehicles are forecast to become the primary driver of increased energy consumption in Australia. ..

For more information and to download the report, visit the following link:  EARLY INNOVATION ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS