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News Service 30 – INDUSTRY AND SKILLING OF THE WORKFORCE; BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIPS; SMART & SKILLED UPDATE 113; #NSWMALLBIZ20; OCTOBER SAFE WORK MONTH; RATIONALISING VET QUALIFICATIONS; SWITCHBOARD INCIDENT; BATTERY TECH; ELECTRICITY REFORMS

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  1. BUSINESS TO BE GIVEN LEADERSHIP ROLE IN SKILLING OF THE WORKFORCE?
  2. BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS – GOVERNMENT TO SPEND $1.2b
  3. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE NO. 113 – 29 SEPTEMBER 2020
  4. WELCOME TO NSW SMALL BUSINESS MONTH
  5. OCTOBER IS NSW SAFE WORK MONTH
  6. NCVER REPORT – RATIONALISING VET QUALIFICATIONS: SELECTED INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES
  7. QLD ELECTRICAL SAFETY OFFICE – SWITCHBOARD WIRING INVESTIGATIONS
  8. SETTING OUT THE REFORM PRIORITIES FOR NETWORK ECONOMIC REGULATION
  9. ALPHA HPA MANUFACTURES HIGH PURITY ALUMINA FOR BATTERIES

1. BUSINESS TO BE GIVEN LEADERSHIP ROLE IN SKILLING OF THE WORKFORCE?

BOSS editor, Sally Pattern in an article of the 1st October 2020 indicates on “Business to be given driving seat in skills education” reports on, education analyst Claire Field statement, that, “The federal government is likely to announce changes to the way training packages are put together to try to give business the driving seat in course development and get workers skilled more quickly.”

The article goes on to state, “The government is running three pilot programs, in health, digital skills and mining, where industry bodies are given the ability to select and fund training providers as well as more overall control.

The simplified training model was contained in a report by Steven Joyce, a former New Zealand minister for tertiary education, skills and employment, and key adviser to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on vocational training.

Mr Joyce told The Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit: “If you look at some of the examples where there has been good seamless qualifications development, that’s where industry has been given the opportunity to take quite a leap.

“The mining industry and the IT sector … are well-known examples. [They are] both instances where the system has got out of the way sufficiently to allow the sectors to have a strong relationship directly with key providers and [have] the financial arrangement. “That is certainly something we are looking to see happen through the sectors. It’s something that is probably more incumbent on the VET sector because it has got so many different providers,” Mr Joyce said.

Ms Field said it now appeared the training reforms were coming through more quickly as the government launched a massive project to stimulate the economy.

“I don’t think Steven Joyce would have said it if he didn’t think that some announcements were coming in the budget,” Ms Field said.

More flexible pathways

She acknowledged that the present training model, which typically involves a large number of providers, was cumbersome, but was wary of introducing changes before the pilot programs had been properly assessed.

“I really support the direction that [Mr Joyce] wants to take the sector in. But I’m sceptical of what the pilots have achieved thus far and I think we run the risk of, without having evaluated them, we run the risk of creating a different set of complex arrangements that don’t deliver what’s intended,” Ms Field said.”

For more on the summit deliberations visit: https://www.afr.com/topic/afr-higher-education-summit-1n5k (note you will need to be a subscriber to access the full articles).

An important inference from the report and a range of corresponding notions being enunciated in the VET landscape, is that the government and others in the community would have us believe industry have not been involved in the development of Training Packages and some new arrangements need to be put in place, that to any well researched VET practitioner, looks more like a return to the failed supply driven training models of the 1980s.  This is plainly a false assumption.  Industry has participated in a host of initiatives, however, often they have been stymied by factors beyond their control. 

Industry’s particular leadership and advice has often been undermined by all manner of experts in the market pontificating how to improve vocational education and training.  These experts when seriously probed or their expertise reviewed, have little genuine experience in the VET field, particularly around traditional trades.  One hopes that tonight’s Budget goes someway to re-focusing the agenda on prioritising workforce development for rebuilding and enhancing the Australian economy led by a demand driven approach to skills formation and not solely by providers being the solution to skills formation.  The focus should be on prioritising critical skills needed in the economy that act as a catalyst to economic improvement and empowerment.  The new apprenticeship initiative by government (reported below) is a welcomed approach that looks and essential occupations that can augment our economy recovery.  But more needs to be done, and a strong focus on ‘workplace competency’ should be retained as the central tenant of any reformed VET system.


2. BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS – GOVERNMENT TO SPEND $1.2b

The Federal Government has announced a $1.2 billion commitment in an endeavour to boost the number of apprenticeship commencements.  It will provide a wage subsidy will support businesses and Group Training Organisations to take on new apprentices and trainees, to build a pipeline of skilled workers to support sustained economic recovery.

Stating that, “Any businesses or Group Training Organisation that engages an Australian Apprentice on or after 5 October 2020 may be eligible for a subsidy of 50 per cent of wages paid to an apprentice between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said apprenticeships are an important pathway to get young people into jobs and to ensure there is a skills pipeline to meet the future needs of employers.

“During this pandemic the Federal Government has been focused on supporting and creating jobs as well as identifying the skills we need in the economic rebuild,” the Prime Minister said.

“Already 760,000 jobs that were either lost or reduced to zero hours as the COVID crisis hit, have come back into our economy. We want to continue to recover what has been lost and get young people into work.

“Whether it’s the manufacturing, housing and construction, arts or mining sectors – this new wage subsidy gives businesses certainty to hire and provides a career path to aspiring, young tradies.”

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said the measure builds on the existing $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy that is helping employers to retain their apprentices and trainees.

“The Australian Government has already invested significantly to ensure that apprentices are retained where possible and supported to re-engage if they lose their job,” Minister Cash said.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, the Hon Steve Irons MP, said the new measures we are announcing today will build on the already significant investment to support apprentices and trainees.

“Through the existing Supporting Apprentices and Trainees measure, as many as 90,000 businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices throughout Australia will continue to be supported,” Assistant Minister Irons said.

More information on the measure is available at: https://www.employment.gov.au/boosting-apprenticeship-commencements

FACT SHEET AVAILABLE AT:  BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIPS COMMENCEMENTS FACT SHEET

For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an AUSTRALIAN APPRENTICESHIP SUPPORT NETWORK PROVIDER.

Final detailed eligibility requirements will be outlined in the PROGRAM GUIDELINES.

The commitment of $1.2b is in addition to the SUPPORTING APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES wage subsidy which is helping small and medium businesses to keep their apprentices and trainees in work and training.


3. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE NO. 113 – 29 SEPTEMBER 2020

Please find attached Smart and Skilled Update No. 113, (and attachment 1) which covers the following:

  1. Consultations on improving post-training outcomes for students who experience disadvantage
    1. About the consultations
    1. Consultation webinars
    1. Written feedback via survey
    1. Next steps
  2. AgSkilled 2.0 Training Strategy: New agricultural industry sectors added and ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EOIs) now open to deliver training
    1. Program specifics
    1. Training locations
    1. Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to deliver training
    1. Existing providers endorsed to deliver AgSkilled 2.0 training
    1. Skill sets and Units of Competency (UoCs) available for delivery
    1. Student Eligibility
    1. Submitting Training Needs Identification (TNIs)
    1. Further information
  3. Correction to the student enrolment date for Skilling for Recovery full qualifications

For more information visit: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/smartandskilled/index.html

Or, for technical support in relation to this update, contact Training Market Customer Support at Training.Market@det.nsw.edu.au.


4. WELCOME TO NSW SMALL BUSINESS MONTH

A reminder that Small Business Month is upon us and there are a range of activities during the festival.  The festival has been officially commenced and hundreds of free and low cost events are available for choosing between 1-31 October.  Find out “how to build your brand on social, futureproof your business, work with digi-tech and much more!”

There’s over 400 events to choose from, with more being added each day.  Visit their website and find a event near you.

Contact the team

The NSW Small Business Month team are here to help. You can contact the team during business hours on 02 4908 4886 or email smallbusiness.month@treasury.nsw.gov.au

#NSWSmallBiz20


5. OCTOBER IS NSW SAFE WORK MONTH

SafeWork NSW is promoting the month of October as the Safe Work Month.  SafeWork NSW states in its promotion, “This October is Safe Work Month, where we take the time to focus on improving work health and safety in your workplace and commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for everyone in NSW.

This year we are focusing on Safety in Construction and Mentally Healthy Workplaces – two areas of Work Health and Safety (WHS) that have a high risk of serious injury or fatalities. Read our articles below where we bring you free programs on mental health training, provide manager training and resources and host a series of events for you to attend.”

Safe Work Month is about everyone’s health and safety –
it can make all the difference

“With more than 3.2 million workers in NSW, Safe Work Month provides an opportunity to highlight work health and safety and encourage discussion about safety in every workplace.”

Help make health and safety a priority on your worksite

Visit SafeWork NSW website for more information on the activities such as the free Construction Site Supervisors Virtual Workshops you can participate in during the month: OCTOBER IS SAFE WORK MONTH


6. NCVER REPORT – RATIONALISING VET QUALIFICATIONS: SELECTED INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES

This report by Bridget Wibrow and Joanne Waugh examines international examples from countries that rationalised their VET qualifications so they could respond more effectively to emerging skill needs, and highlights a series of considerations for the Australian VET system.

A summary of the report states, “Reducing the number of vocational qualifications available is a current or recent priority area of many VET systems internationally, but what is the best way to achieve this and is there anything that needs to be considered? Focusing on cases studies on New Zealand, England, Finland and the Netherlands, this research summary explores approaches taken to rationalise VET qualifications, such as occupational clustering, and how they might be applied in the Australian context.”

To view and download a copy of the report visit:  RATIONALISING VET QUALIFICATIONS: SELECTED INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES


7. QLD ELECTRICAL SAFETY OFFICE – SWITCHBOARD WIRING INVESTIGATIONS

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office reports of an recent investigation of a switchboard wiring incident.  The advisory states, “We recently investigated several incidents where switchboard wiring had been damaged, resulting in active conductors shorting to either earthed switchboard enclosures or neutral bars inside the switchboard.

When a fault occurs between an active conductor and earth or neutral within a switchboard, the fault current can cause an arc flash which can injure workers and damage property. The switchboard and installation earthing system will be live during the fault, creating the risk of electric shock to the person working on the switchboard and people nearby.”

The investigation identified three contributing factors to the incident:

  1. “Wiring on hinged meter panels was pushed onto uncovered neutral links installed behind the hinged meter panel when it was closed (as there is often very little room between them in modern switchboards), resulting in cable damage and a short circuit.
  2. Wiring was not appropriately secured to prevent cables contacting metal edges near the meter panel hinge points. Cables pushed against the metal edges were damaged, resulting in a short circuit to the switchboard enclosure.
  3. Wiring was not suitably fixed at the hinged panel and the switchboard, resulting in movement at terminals of electrical equipment and energised cables being dislodged from the terminal.”

The investigation report recognises, that, “Every switchboard is different, but electrical workers and contractors must ensure that switchboard wiring is electrically safe when installed. This includes fixing cables so they don’t suffer damage, cause pressure on electrical equipment, or stress on terminals when the panel is moved.”


An example illustration of a good design and work practice is provided.

The incident is a timely reminder for electrical workers to revisit specific elements of the Wiring Rules, namely:

  • section 1.4.39 – contact, indirect
  • section 2.10.6 – switchboard wiring
  • section 3.3.2.6 – mechanical damage
  • section 3.3.2.8 – other mechanical stresses.

For more information on your electrical contractor duties, visit www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au


8. SETTING OUT THE REFORM PRIORITIES FOR NETWORK ECONOMIC REGULATION

Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) reports in its latest media release that, it “has released the final report to its 2020 Electricity network economic regulatory framework review.  The report outlines the AEMC’s reform priorities for distribution and transmission network regulation over the next 18 months, and how this fits with the Energy Security Board’s post 2025 market design.”

For more information visit:  2020 ELECTRICITY NETWORK ECONOMIC REGULATORY FRAMEWORK REVIEW


9. ALPHA HPA MANUFACTURES HIGH PURITY ALUMINA FOR BATTERIES

Australian Manufacturing Forum (@AuManufacturing) reports that battery materials company, “Alpha HPA has successfully produced 99.999 per cent high purity alumina (HPA) coating pre-cursor material for use in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.”

The article further states, “The global high purity alumina (HPA) market is doubling in value every 5-7 years for its use in batteries and LED lighting.

Alpha HPA has completed a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for a 10,000tpa HPA processing plant based on its Collerina project, in central NSW.”

For more information visit:  ALPHA HPA MANUFACTURES HIGH PURITY ALUMINA