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News Service 24: NSW PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION – VET NEEDS REFORM; ELECTRICAL SAFETY RECALL; PUBLIC FORUM ON DER INTEGRATION; SOLAR NEWS; DEVELOP HVAC DIPLOMA; ELECTRICAL SAFETY WEEK AND WEBINAR; NCVER PUBLICATIONS

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  1. SATE’S VET SYSTEM MUST REFORM SAYS NSW PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION GREEN PAPER
  2. ELECTRICAL SAFETY RECALL – BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE
  3. PUBLIC FORUM ON REQUESTS TO BETTER INTEGRATE DER FOR CONSUMERS
  4. IS IT FAIR THAT SOME SOLAR FARES BETTER THAN OTHERS?
  5. DIPLOMA IN ENERGY EFFICIENT HVAC UNDER DEVELOPMENT
  6. STEVE SMITH JOINS SUPERIOR TRAINING CENTRE (STC)
  7. ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN RENTAL PROPERTIES – WEBINAR (ELECTRICAL SAFETY WEEK)
  8. NCVER PUBLICATIONS

1. STATE’S VET SYSTEM MUST REFORM SAYS NSW PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION GREEN PAPER

The NSW Productivity Commission has identified seven key areas and outlined a series of recommendation that if implemented are believed to contribute to improving productivity in NSW.  One of those key areas is Vocational Education Training (VET), where the Commission’s findings and recommendations underpin an overall change philosophy, “Ensure we invest in the right workplace skills for a globally competitive and adaptive workforce (Chapter 3).”

The Green Paper, “Continuing the productivity conversation” is a follow on from the Commission’s first discussion paper of October 2013, “Kickstarting the Productivity Conversation”.  Commissioner Peter Achterstraat AM, states in his opening message, “The people of New South Wales are pulling together and adapting to meet this latest challenge. For many of us (including Commission staff) our homes are now our offices, and the Internet is our meeting room. The pandemic has pushed much of New South Wales into this huge new experiment in personal productivity.

These events have put State productivity back in the spotlight too.

  • First, consensus is growing that we will need new productivity strategies if we are to return to our previous levels of productivity and economic growth.
  • Second, we need productivity if we are to repair the State Government’s finances. All Australian governments have borrowed heavily to fight COVID-19. We can pay off that debt least painfully through productivity-driven growth.
  • Third, the pandemic has demonstrated that when the need is there, we can quickly change how we do things. And such change is the way to lasting improvement.”

The seven key areas of change are:

1. Improve our schools’ ability to provide the education that the people of New South Wales need to reach their potential (Chapter 2).

2. Ensure we invest in the right workplace skills for a globally competitive and adaptive workforce (Chapter 3).

3. Regulate in ways that support innovation and competition (Chapter 4).

4. Ensure reliable, sustainable and productive supply and use of our water and energy resources (Chapter 5).

5. Gain more from our infrastructure (Chapter 6).

6. Plan for the housing we want and the jobs we need (Chapter 7).

7. Modernise our tax system to help our economy grow (Chapter 8).

The paper’s recommendations are not NSW Government policy, nor are they binding on the NSW Government.

But they do aim to continue the conversation with the community and business about the opportunities to improve productivity in the NSW economy. That is ultimately a conversation about our long-term prosperity.

The Treasurer’s goals

The Commission has been tasked by the NSW Treasurer to focus on changes that will improve four outcomes: making it easier to do business, making it easier to move to New South Wales, making housing more affordable and lowering the cost of living.

The Premier’s Priorities

The Commission’s productivity reform agenda closely aligns with the five key policy priorities set by the NSW Government for this term: a strong economy, high-quality education, well-connected communities, customer-centric services and breaking the cycle of disadvantage.”

In relation to the VET Sector and the Commission’s recommendations, it has proposed the following:

“A modern VET system to deliver the skills we need

The State’s vocational education and training (VET) system must reform to deliver the skills we need in a post-COVID economy. Chronic skills shortages show the system is unresponsive to industry and unattractive to students. Reform should focus on introducing more modern, flexible training pathways and addressing poorly-aligned incentives.

Key findingsSummary of draft recommendationsDraft recommendations
The NSW Government controls key VET levers such as the delivery of training, the running of TAFE NSW, and the targeting of course subsidies. Despite many reviews of VET in the past decade, few reforms have modernised learning modes, career pathways, or VET’s relationship with industry. Bias against VET is still strong, with universities seen as the default pathway, especially for HSC graduates. COVID-19 has displaced thousands of workers and accelerated structural changes to the economy. Many jobs will not return, requiring workers to reskill or upskill.Respond to the COVID-19 skills challenge with an ‘earn or learn’ strategy, focusing on the skills needed for the post-pandemic economy (Recommendations 3.1).Draft recommendation 3.1 By the 2020-21 Budget, develop a medium-term ‘earn or learn’ skills strategy that guides and supports skills transitions for workers displaced by COID-19.
Chronic skills shortages in trades are the result of unsuitable and limited training pathways beyond apprenticeships. Low wages and a lengthy, inflexible training structure deter potential trades workers.Introduce new pathways to trade qualifications aimed at HSC graduates and mature-aged workers. New pathways should allow students to complete the institutional requirements of a qualification before gaining on-the-job experience (Recommendation 3.2).Draft recommendation 3.2 Introduce two new and more flexible pathways to trades qualifications:
– one for HSC-holders (two years or less) and
– one for mature-aged workers (18 months or less). Incentivise registered training organisations to develop more flexible modes of course delivery, including after-hours learning and short intensive periods of full-time study. Establish a Training and Skills Recognition Centre to implement the new training pathways, starting in the construction sector. Regulate to allow employment of unqualified juniors (those below 21 years of age) in a recognised trade vocation outside an apprenticeship, provided they have completed, or are enrolled in the relevant trades qualification. Endorse a marketing campaign to raise the profile and awareness of new trades pathways.
Poorly targeted subsidies have encouraged many students to enrol in courses of low value to employers and students. The mismatch between skills delivered by VET and industry needs has further contributed to poor employment outcomes.Target Smart and Skilled subsidies more effectively by refining the NSW Skills List. Funding should be targeted at skills shortages and emerging business needs (Recommendation 3.3).Draft recommendation 3.3 Target Smart and Skilled funding more effectively by refining the NSW Skills List. Prioritise funding to courses that demonstrate value to industry, or represent skill shortage areas.
There is growing interest in micro-credentials from industry, students and government. Microcredentials are a highly targeted and efficient method of skills delivery and are well-suited to life-long learning.Promote the development and recognition of micro-credentials. Prioritise their funding in line with business needs (Recommendation 3.4).Draft recommendation 3.4 Extend Smart and Skilled subsidies to targeted short courses and micro-credentials that provide discrete skills employers recognise and value. Use economic and industry data to identify high value micro-credentials to fund. Prioritise courses that have better evidence of employer trust and recognition, high quality assessment, and alignment with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). Use a risk-management approach to funding, with the capacity to quickly freeze or withdraw funding if problems are identified. Support the development of voluntary systems of trust and recognition for micro credentials, for example alignment to AQF levels or the adoption of ‘credit points’ standards.

Productivity drives prosperity

In its report the Commission explains the purpose and benefits for the drive to continually improve productivity.  It states, at page 26, “Productivity is the most important tool we have for improving our economic wellbeing. Our productivity grows as we learn how to produce more and better goods and services, using less effort and resources. It is the main driver in improvements in welfare and overall living standards.

From decade to decade, productivity growth arguably matters more than any other number in an economy. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman famously wrote of economic growth: ‘Productivity isn’t everything, but, in the long run, it is almost everything.’ (Krugman, 1997)

Growth in productivity is the very essence of economic progress. It has given us the rich-world living standards we so enjoy.”

The Green Paper is an important report for government and should be considered as important by stakeholders potentially affected by it.  The paper has been released as a consultation document seeking feedback on the recommendations, which will then be further refined and presented to the Government for their consideration.  If adopted it guides the Government’s decisions into the future.  If you have an interest in the findings and recommendations and wish to share your feedback on the Green Paper, go to the following link and make a submission:  GREEN PAPER HOME PAGE

Provide feedback to the NSW Productivity Commission’s Green Paper:  CONTINUING THE PRODUCTIVITY CONVERSATION

To download a copy of the paper visit:  DOWNLOAD GREEN PAPER

A copy of this important Executive Summary paper is also available at the following link: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -GREEN PAPER.


2. ELECTRICAL SAFETY RECALL – BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE

Produce Safety Gov has issued an Australian wide recall.  The Battery Storage device Ultra ex, has been identified as a product with a risk of fire or electrocution.

The product identification is: Ultra lex 48-4, 48-3 and 48-2 sold through Smart Storage Pty Ltd t/as Ecoult and electrical integrators between June 2014 and November 2019.

Download the Electrical Safety Recall alert for more details.

Consumers should immediately contact Ecoult to arrange for the decommissioning and removal of the Ultra lex units by a licensed electrician. Ecoult will and remove the UltraFlex units.

CONTACT DETAILS: For further information, contact Ecoult by phone on 02 9241 3001, via email at info@ecoult.com or going to https://www.ecoult.com/contact

See www.productsafety.gov.au for Australian product recall information


3. PUBLIC FORUM ON REQUESTS TO BETTER INTEGRATE DER FOR CONSUMERS

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) reports that it “has held a public webinar on proposals that aim to remove barriers to the integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) such as rooftop solar panels and batteries.”

It stated in the media release of 20 August 2020, “The 13 August webinar provided the opportunity for the proponents of the changes to discuss them with stakeholders.

It was attended about 170 people including AEMC Acting Chair Merryn York and Commissioner Charles Popple, jurisdictional government officials, market bodies and industry participants from distribution networks, retail businesses, consumer advocates and peak bodies.

The AEMC will take written submissions, which are due by 10 September 2020. The AEMC also plans to establish a technical working group to seek feedback on key issues raised in the rule change requests and to inform our thinking. Interested parties can register their interest at registration@aemc.gov.au before 21 August 2020.

The changes have been requested by SA Power Networks, the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, and a joint request from the Total Environment Centre together with the Australian Council of Social Service.

DER is expected to play a growing role in meeting Australia’s energy needs into the future.”

Further details including a summary can be downloaded from this link:  PUBLIC FORUM SUMMARY- UPDATING NETWORK REGULATORY ARRANGEMENTS FOR DER INTEGRATION

For more information contact: Kellie Bisset, Media and Content Manager M: 0438 490041 T: (02) 8296 7813


4. IS IT FAIR THAT SOME SOLAR FARES BETTER THAN OTHERS?

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and the Australian Energy Council report that, “A combination of recent events has brought the spotlight back on solar exports. First, it was a UNSW report on network voltages, then three rule change proposals to equitably fund the network transformation and this week on the ABC’s 7:30 Report. With all the competing interests of solar installers, customers with solar and those without, the question needs to be asked – what is fair for all?”

In the media release article, Dor Son Tan from Energy Networks Australia says in part, “Networks’ purpose is to provide an essential service (safe, cheap and reliable power) to all customers; this includes both owners of rooftop solar and those who don’t. Unfortunately, it wasn’t built so that all solar PV owners could export into the grid freely. The essential service that networks provide is to supply electricity to all customers safely, reliably and cost-effectively.

If networks could allow unlimited solar export without voltage or cost implications, they would. While solar PV installations are a rapidly increasing feature of our distribution networks (roughly 1 in 5), it is important to note the majority of customers don’t have solar PV.

As the uptake of rooftop solar and other renewable energy grows, Networks want to support customers’ choices, but this is a massive task that needs all facets of the industry working together and not at odds to steer it towards a better outcome.”

This is a very interesting article a deserves a closer read.  For the full article visit: IS IT FAIR THAT SOME SOLAR FARES BETTER THAN OTHERS?

For more, contact Dor Son Tan, Energy Networks Australia


5. DIPLOMA IN ENERGY EFFICIENT HVAC UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Sandra Rossi at Climate Control Network (CNN) reports of a new Diploma in HVAC that is under development.  The article of 19 August 2020 states, “The ARBS Education and Research Foundation has made available a $39,000 grant to assist in the development of a Professional Diploma in Energy Efficient Sustainable HVAC.

The foundation, which supports industry by supporting HVAC education and research through grants and scholarships, has made the funding available to the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating (AIRAH) .

Foundation chair, Ian Hopkins, said the diploma will be delivered online and will consist of four key units of competence.

These are: compliance with energy and sustainable codes of practice; energy efficient and sustainability in building services operations and maintenance; evaluation of design principles of energy-efficient HVAC systems and; key design issues energy-efficient HVAC systems.”

For more information visit the link to the article: DIPLOMA IN ENERGY EFFICIENT HVAC


6. STEVE SMITH JOINS SUPERIOR TRAINING CENTRE (STC)

A well known and long-serving HVACR personality, Steve Smith has joined STC as education relationship manager.  Climate Control Network (CNN) reporter Sandra Rossi interviewed Steve and highlights Steve’s long-time passion, involvement  and career at TAFE NSW in the HVACR industry in the article, “Steve Smith is a natural”.  The interview report states, “In his new role at STC ‘he’ will manage relationships with employer groups and the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.

Smith has spent the last 35 years teaching RAC apprentices and is certainly well known in the HVACR industry.  He has always been actively involved in the trade, supporting industry groups and events such CCN Live where he was a guest speaker.

He has also been a guest judge for CCN’s HVACR Leadership Awards.

Smith told CCN he is excited about the new role as there will be plenty of opportunities to promote natural refrigerant training.”

The NSW UE ITAB too has known Steve for a long time and welcomes the announcement of him joining STC to augment the growth of STC in the HVACR training market.

For more information on the article and about Steve, visit: STEVE SMITH IS A NATURAL


7. ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN RENTAL PROPERTIES – WEBINAR

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office (ESO) reports that it will conduct a special to understand the legal obligations owners have to keep their property electrically safe.

“Michael Thompson and Paul Waltham from the Electrical Safety Office (ESO) will discuss:

  • Installing and testing safety switches
  • Reporting issues to the ESO and electrical distribution entities
  • Requirements for the sale and purchase of residential properties
  • Your duties under section 38, 40 and 85 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002
  • Your work health and safety obligations.

Owners will also hear about penalties for non-compliance, including case study examples of previous and current matters before the courts.”

Date: Wednesday 26 August

Time: 10am

Find more information visit the following link: ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN RENTAL PROPERTIES – WEBINAR

Or, register at the following link: REGISTER FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN RENTAL PROPERTIES WEBINAR

ELECTRICAL SAFETY WEEK 2020

At the same time why not find out more about ELECTRICAL SAFETY WEEK 2020, which is scheduled for 7–11 September.  The event page describes the week as, “Get involved in Electricity Safety Week 7–11 September! With free online events tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors and apprentices, it’s a great opportunity to find out more about safety in the electrical industry.”

For more information visit the link: ELECTRICITY SAFETY WEEK 2020


8. NCVER PUBLICATIONS

NCVER has advised of the release of its latest publications.

Provides a snapshot of government-funded VET delivered by TAFE institutes, other government providers (such as universities), community education providers and other registered providers.

Highlights

In 2019, 1.2 million students were enrolled in government-funded vocational education and training (VET). They included:

  • 1.1 million students enrolled in nationally recognised training
    • 113 400 students enrolled in non-nationally recognised training.

In 2019, compared with 2018:

  • student numbers increased by 3.3% to 1.2 million
    • full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) increased by 4.9% to 490 500
    • students enrolled in nationally recognised programs increased by 4.8% to 993 100
    • students enrolled in stand-alone nationally recognised subjects decreased by 36.1% to 34 800
    • students enrolled in non-nationally recognised training decreased by 10.6% to 113 400.

An estimated 6.8% of the Australian resident population aged 15 to 64 years participated in government-funded VET in Australia in 2019.

From 2015 to 2019:

  • student numbers have decreased by 3.1% to 1.2 million.

This report provides an estimate of the extent and nature of nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) delivered by Australian registered training organisations (RTOs).

Highlights

In 2019, 4.2 million students were enrolled in nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET).

In 2019, compared with 2018:

  • student numbers increased by 3.2% to 4.2 million
    • full-year training equivalents (FYTEs) increased by 0.9% to 1.1 million
    • students enrolled in nationally recognised programs increased by 3.0% to 2.1 million
    • students enrolled in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program increased by 4.0% to 2.6 million.

An estimated 23.4% of the Australian resident population aged 15 to 64 years participated in nationally recognised VET in Australia in 2019.

From 2018 to 2019:

  • government-funded students increased by 4.2% to 1.2 million and FYTEs increased by 4.3% to 548 900
    • domestic fee-for-service students increased by 2.8% to 3.1 million and FYTEs decreased by 6.9% to 396 700
    • international fee-for-service students increased by 15.3% to 224 400 and FYTEs increased by 13.9% to 137 500.