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News Service 35 – Strengthening Skills Joyce, Skilling-free training, local job pathways, women’s economic security statement, AISC workplace requirements, defence force grants, transition R32, Worker’s comp, trust apprentices brand, safety, industry

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  1. GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO BE COMMITTED TO JOYCE REPORT
  2. SKILLING FOR RECOVERY FEE-FREE TRAINING
  3. LOCAL RECOVERY FUND OPEN FOR LOCAL JOBS PATHWAYS
  4. GOVERNMENT RELEASES WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY STATEMENT 2020
  5. AISC – COMMUNIQUE: EMERGENCY RESPONSE SUB-COMMITTEE – 5 NOVEMBER 2020
  6. FUNDING FOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING IN THE DEFENCE INDUSTRY SECTOR
  7. MAKING THE TRANSITION TO R32
  8. COVID-19 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS LODGED
  9. NCVER – NEW PODCAST: ARE APPRENTICESHIPS STILL A TRUSTED BRAND?
    1. NIIR UPDATES: UTILITIES
  10. BEWARE OF DETERIORATED WIRING AND CABLING IN OLDER ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS
  11. MURRAY ENGINEERING AND SIEMENS PROVIDE MINING ELECTRIC CHARGING STATIONS

1. GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO BE COMMITTED TO JOYCE REPORT

It might be recalled that central to the Government’s Skill Package agenda was the Joyce Report (Strengthening Skills – Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System).  A report that identified a range of reforms that would place industry at the centre and raising the profile of VET as a career pathway of choice.  Suggesting processes for moving towards longer term funding and governance reforms to help ensure that the VET system is responsive, respected and flexible into the future.  It is understood the Government continues to be committed to the tenants of the Joyce Report.  The extent of commitment is worthy of review. A copy of the report is attached and can be accessed from the following URL: STRENGTHENING SKILLS REPORT – JOYCE

Let’s remind ourselves what the recommended six point plan was, which covered some 71 separate recommendations:

  • Strengthening quality assurance,
  • Speeding up qualification development,
  • Simpler funding and skills matching,
  • Better careers information,
  • Clearer secondary school pathways, and
  • Greater access for disadvantaged Australians.

The report emphasised, “The Review was asked to bring fresh eyes to the consideration of Australia’s VET sector and insights from the New Zealand reform experiences.”

The report covered the following topics:

  1. The labour market and vocational education
  2. Leadership of the VET system
  3. Strengthening quality assurance
  4. Speeding up qualification development
  5. Simpler funding and skills matching
  6. Better careers information
  7. Clearer secondary school pathways
  8. Greater access for disadvantaged Australians
  9. A roadmap to stronger skills education

A key recommendation was, “The Commonwealth and the States and Territories to agree a new vision for the VET sector that places work-based learning at the forefront of Australian skills development.”  In this regard, on the 5th August 2020, the Skills Ministers signed a ‘Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform’.  The Agreement sets out immediate reforms to improve the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and an approach and priorities for developing a new National Skills Agreement to replace the National Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development.  The agreement states, “priorities in the Agreement are aimed at ensuring the VET system is delivering for students and employers and equipping Australians with the skills they need for emerging jobs.

The Commonwealth is also partnering with the states and territories to deliver the JobTrainer Fund, which will provide more Australians with access to free, or low cost, training places in areas of identified skills need.”  A copy of the Agreement is attached or can be accessed from the following URL:  HEADS OF AGREEMENT FOR SKILLS REFORM

Whilst the Government has said it is committed to implementing the recommendations in the Report.  The jury is still out as to the extent of progress to date in fully implementing the Report’s recommendations.  The pace of reform seems to have plateaued, maybe due to COVID-19.  Only time will tell how committed the Government is to strengthening Australia’s Skills base through industry leadership.  Monitoring and assessing the Government’s progress in this regard will help validate how strong the commitment was.


2. SKILLING FOR RECOVERY FEE-FREE TRAINING

The NSW Government has announced there are hundreds of fee-free training courses now available for school leavers, young people and job seekers, as part of the NSW Government’s Skilling for Recovery initiative.

The media release stated, “Premier Gladys Berejiklian said these courses come from the $320 million committed to delivering 100,000 fee-free training places across the state.

“There are more than 100,000 fee-free training places available for people in NSW as the workforce looks to reskill, retrain and redeploy in a post COVID-19 economy,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a school leaver or looking for a new career path, I encourage everyone impacted by the pandemic to see what training options are available to them.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said enrolments are now open for in-demand skills leading to career pathways in areas such as aged care, nursing, trades, IT, community services, logistics and accounting.

“We are not training for the sake of training, we are training for real jobs with real futures and equipping the people of NSW with the skills they need to thrive in a post-pandemic economy,” Mr Lee said.”

The program includes an opportunity for school leavers to undertake a Summer Skills program to experience a range of skills that might suit their passion.  Stating, “The Summer Skills offered will cover a range of industries including agriculture, construction, conservation, fitness, engineering, coding, communication and digital literacy.”

If you would like to learn more about the courses on offer as part of Skilling for Recovery visit the Department of Education Summer Skills program URLs: 


3. LOCAL RECOVERY FUND OPEN FOR LOCAL JOBS PATHWAYS

Federal Minister Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business has released a media statement that the Morrison Government’s Local Recovery Fund is now open for 25 select regions experiencing high unemployment to develop local and tailored projects, to help Australians get back into work and assist communities recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

The media release states, “Applications are now open for local groups and organisations to apply to receive funding ranging from $10,000 to $200,000, to develop projects, including mentoring, training and reskilling, in line with local employment needs.

The Local Recovery Fund is a key component of the Local Jobs Program and will fund projects, or parts of larger projects, that are not being supported through existing programs or activities.”

Applications for the Local Recovery Fund will open from 3 November with funding available from mid-December 2020.”

The NSW employment regions included in the program are:

  • Sydney South West
  • Illawarra South Coast
  • Hunter
  • New England and North West
  • Mid North Coast
  • North Coast
  • Sydney Greater West

Further details on how to apply can be found at www.dese.gov.au/local-jobs-program


4. GOVERNMENT RELEASES WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY STATEMENT 2020

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne has released the second Women’s Economic Security Statement, 2020.  The report states, “The 2020 Women’s Economic Security Statement significantly expands on the 2018 document, with input from women across Australia.”  Through a series of national roundtables, focusing on women’s economic security and leadership, and women’s safety, the process led to five key priority areas being identified:

  • repair and rebuild women’s workforce participation and further close the gender pay gap
  • greater choice and flexibility for families to manage work and care
  • support women as leaders and positive role models
  • respond to the diverse needs of women
  • support women to be safe at work and home.

Each of the five priorities is explored in more detail in the report.  As is the impact and effects of COVID-19 stating, “Although we had seen significant progress for Australian women’s economic security in the years before COVID-19, women have been significantly impacted by its fallout.

The women’s workforce participation rate (ages 15+) had risen from 58.7 per cent in September 2013 to 61.5 per cent in January 2020, but fell to 57.5 per cent in May 2020.” …

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The easing of restrictions in industries heavily filled by women (in states other than Victoria) has seen a recovery of women’s employment in many parts of the country. Since May:

  • women’s employment has increased by 270,000 and the women’s workforce participation rate (ages 15+) increased by 2.4 percentage points to 60.0 per cent
  • 56.0 per cent of women’s jobs are back
  • 58.9 per cent of the jobs returning in the recovery are going to women
  • most of the jobs recovered have been part-time, reflecting that many of the jobs initially lost were part-time
  • 87.7% of jobs recovered by women are part-time and 90.5% per cent of jobs recovered by men are part-time
  • 12.3% of jobs recovered by women are full-time and 9.5% of jobs recovered by men are full-time.

While these early signs of recovery are encouraging, there is more work to do. Women’s employment is still 3.4 per cent lower than it was in February 2020, before the impact of COVID-19. The women’s workforce participation rate (ages 15+) is still 1.3 percentage points lower than it was in February 2020.

A copy of the report is attached and can also be accessed from the following URL: WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY STATEMENT 2020


5. AISC – COMMUNIQUE: EMERGENCY RESPONSE SUB-COMMITTEE – 5 NOVEMBER 2020

The AISC Emergency Response Committee issued a communique on the 5th November 2020 regarding an update from the National Skills Commission (NSC), critical skills for recovery, and importantly, mandatory workplace requirements.  The latter, has been a major issue for the Sub-committee, noting in its statement, “that its advice and recommendations on actions to address issues with mandatory workplace requirements (MWR) has now been provided to skills ministers. 

This follows the formal tasking of the AISC skills ministers on 16 September 2020 to provide options and solutions to the ongoing issue of MWR during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It also states, “The sub-committee has also commissioned the development of guidance material to support IRCs and SSOs to determine where MWR are appropriate, and to ensure these are drafted clearly in training products put forward for endorsement. The sub-committee will continue to work closely with stakeholders to monitor the environment, particularly as restrictions begin to ease in Victoria, and to put in place further actions and recommendations where required.”

In relation to the National Skills Commission, the National Skills Commissioner, Mr Adam Boyton provided an update on labour market demand for skills, including new opportunities for the VET system to help job seekers as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is hoped that the Sub-committee will ensure that its reference to consultation with ‘stakeholders’ in developing guidance materials, includes communicating and working with stakeholders across the nation and not just a few cohorts of selected interested and supportive parties that lend little robust dialogue to quality outcomes. 

Visit the AISC website for more details and information on the latest Communique:  COMMUNIQUE: EMERGENCY RESPONSE SUB-COMMITTEE – 5 NOVEMBER 2020


6. FUNDING FOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING IN THE DEFENCE INDUSTRY SECTOR

Government Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grants Program

Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grants provide businesses servicing the defence sector with upskilling and training opportunities to build skills capacity and capability to meet current or future Defence needs.  The program is now open.

What do you get?

A grant between $5,000 and $500,000 to undertake various defence skills training activities.

Who is this for?

  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that currently have a Defence contract, are tendering for one, are a subcontractor to a defence prime or contracted through the Prime’s supply chain to deliver on defence projects.
  • Defence industry associations training their own staff or facilitating training to businesses they are representing.

The program

The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Grants Program will provide grants to businesses over three years to help develop defence sector skills and human resources practices and training plans.  The program aims to:

  • reduce barriers faced by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the defence sector when upskilling or retraining staff
  • develop skills within SMEs in the defence sector
  • support SMEs in the defence sector to establish human resources practices and training plans that will build lifelong learning activities into their business

Eligibility

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be non-income tax exempt (unless you are a defence industry association training your own staff or facilitating training to businesses you are representing).
  • and be one of the following entities:
  • an entity, incorporated in Australia
  • an incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust.

Applications can only be accepted from:

  • SMEs with less than 200 employees that currently service, or intend to service, the defence industry sector and meet one of the following requirement
    • have a current Defence contract
    • be currently tendering or preparing to tender for a Defence contract
    • be a current subcontractor to a Defence prime or contracted through the Prime’s supply chain to deliver on Defence projects.
  • Defence industry associations for training their own staff or for facilitating training to businesses they are representing.

Visit the following URL for more information in the program: SKILLING AUSTRALIA’S DEFENCE INDUSTRY GRANTS PROGRAM


7. MAKING THE TRANSITION TO R32

Climate Control News (CCN) Editor Sandra Rossi reports on a warning by industry leader Peter Souflias, director and national engineering manager at Grosvenor Group of important questions that need to be answered before transitioning to R32.  Stating, “It is becoming more and more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain A1 class (Non Toxic and Non Flammable) refrigerant systems for split, ducted or refrigeration systems. Manufacturers either already have, or are currently in the process of, discontinuing production of “Standard” R410a machines and transitioning their products to use R32 refrigerants.”

Rossi, asked Peter a series of questions that resulted in some interesting responses and warnings.  The following represents a sample of the questions:

Is there any risk to your business using these new systems with R32 refrigerant?

Does your SWMS statement / High Risk Construction Work cover off how to safely work with R32 refrigerant?

Have your OH&S Responsibilities been covered from either an employer or employee perspective? Are you even aware what these are?

What makes a person competent to carry out an installation of this new R32 equipment?

Is a “Manufacturer Training session sufficient” or do you need to complete the Nationally Recognised Course VU22583, Handle Class A2/A2L Flammable Refrigerants and Natural Refrigerant courses?

Where is your evidence of adequate training if an accident or incident occurs? Is a Manufacturer Training session sufficient to cover your liability?

The article goes on to state, Grosvenor has put together a free information pack and webinar to help answer the above questions.”

Register now and get your free R32 information pack. Email: peter@gegroup.com.au

For a full transcript of the questions outlined in the article visit: CCN – MAKING THE TRANSITION TO R32


8. COVID-19 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS LODGED

SafeWork Australia has released it report on COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims data as at 31 July 2020. Data is broken down by claim type, industry, occupation, age and jurisdiction.

It states, “Caution should be used in interpreting the data. Safe Work Australia was not able to provide details on working from home claims; and could not include information about the age and gender of claimants for all jurisdictions.

Visit SafeWork Australia website for more information: COVID-19 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS LODGED


9. NCVER – NEW PODCAST: ARE APPRENTICESHIPS STILL A TRUSTED BRAND?

NCVER has released its latest podcast covering apprenticeship: Are apprenticeships: still a trusted brand?

Recent budget announcements and the challenges of a rapidly changing economy have put apprenticeships in the spotlight.

Join host Steve Davis as he talks to Ian Curry (NCVER Board member and National Coordinator – Skills, Training & Apprenticeships, NMWU) and Simon Walker (Managing Director, NCVER) about the future of traditional trades and how the perception of apprenticeships has changed over the years.

The discussion focuses on regulation, flexibility, completion rates as well as the complexity around the status of VET.

Listen now: Traditional trade apprenticeships: still a trusted brand?BU

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NIIR UPDATES: UTILITIES

The Industry Directory on the AISC’s National Industry Insights Report is being updated with the latest data and information over the coming months.

Read on to find out what you can discover on the following industry pages:

  • Utilities: Government, industry, peak bodies, interest groups and the media are all highlighting Australia’s future energy needs as key to our economic recovery from COVID-19, as they attract investment and create job opportunities.

10. BEWARE OF DETERIORATED WIRING AND CABLING IN OLDER ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office has issued a timely warning about older electrical installations.  Its warning states, “Electrical installations wired prior to 1960 are likely to contain cable insulation known as VIR (vulcanised Indian rubber) or TRS (tough rubber sheathed) which is now coming to the end of its service life.

VIR and TRS cable insulation may have deteriorated to the point of exposing live conductors, so take extra care when accessing roof spaces or performing repairs or renovations in older homes.

Make sure the electrical supply is isolated before you enter the roof space. Isolation is also a good risk control for renovations involving wall alterations which may have live electrical cables in them.

All licensed electricians should be aware of these types of cable and the likelihood of the insulation failing.

When VIR or TRS cable is detected, the homeowner, business owner or the owner of the installation should be told about the risks with the wiring and how to eliminate these risks. It’s likely that the wiring systems will need to be replaced.

If you employ licensed electricians, make sure they can identify these types of older wiring systems before work gets underway.”

For more information visit the Electrical Safety Office website:  https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/your-industry/electricity


11. MURRAY ENGINEERING AND SIEMENS PROVIDE MINING ELECTRIC CHARGING STATIONS

Australian Mine Safety Journal reports in its latest what’s new in Australian mining, that “West Australian mining services supplier Murray Engineering and global technology giant Siemens have collaborated to develop a ground-breaking high-powered electric vehicle charging station for use at mines both surface and underground.”

“Siemens will provide its Sicharge UC high power DC chargers which provide a super flexible output range from 125kW to 600kW with five frontends on each station as well as pantograph charging. Siemens Sicharge UC200 can deliver 200kW and is already onsite at Murray Engineering headquarters in Pinjarra. The flexible high-power range of Siemens Sicharge UC portfolio enables the charging stations to scale for light, medium and heavy vehicles.

Murray Engineering will design and fabricate a heavy-duty enclosure to protect the unit from the harsh underground conditions and enable ease of manoeuvrability.”

Murray Engineering owns and operates a large fleet of light vehicles in its own right and integrates mine specification to over 100 vehicles annually.

“Many existing electric vehicles designed for mining are matched to their own specific charging station, making the solution inefficient and expensive in the long run. The solution we are working on will be vehicle agnostic and has the potential to be scaled up as required. The importance of local manufacturing on Australian soil has never been so important,” Dr Ong said.”

To learn more about the charging stations, read the full article in more detail at: https://www.amsj.com.au/murray-engineering-and-siemens-provide-mining-electric-charging-stations/