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News Service 47 – NSC ROLE IN VET PRICING MODEL, BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS, NSW AWARDS EXTENSION, SKILLS WEBINARS, SAFEWORK INSPECTS CONSTRUCTION, SURVEYS – NCVER & CENTRE WHS, SAFETY MATTERS & INCIDENTS, ELECTRICAL SAFETY, INDUSTRY NEWS

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  1. HAS THE NSC SUFFICIENT LEVERAGE TO STIMULATE AN EFFICIENT AND FAIR VET PRICING MODEL
  2. GOVERNMENT EXTENDS APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS PROGRAM 12 MONTHS
  3. NSW TRAINING AWARDS APPLICATIONS EXTENDED – 21 MARCH 2021
  4. VET QUALITY REFORM CONSULTATIONS REMINDER: DESE
  5. REGISTER NOW FOR GAS INDUSTRY SKILLS WEBINAR
  6. REGISTER NOW FOR ELECTROTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY SKILLS WEBINAR
  7. SAFEWORK TO EXAMINE SYDNEY CONSTRUCTION SITES
  8. NCVER SURVEY – ARE WE HITTING THE MARK?
  9. DANGEROUS CHAIN-LINK INCIDENT & WORKER SPRAYED WITH BATTERY ACID
  10. ELECTRICAL SAFETY INCIDENTS – SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE
  11. WE NEED YOU! HELP US REDUCE WORKPLACE HARM ACROSS AUSTRALIA
  12. AEMC INITIATES A REVIEW OF THE GAS SUPPLY GUARANTEE
  13. RELEASING STORED-UP OPPORTUNITIES

1. HAS THE NSC SUFFICIENT LEVERAGE TO STIMULATE AN EFFICIENT AND FAIR VET PRICING MODEL

There are well recognised variances in the pricing states/territories set for VET courses/national qualifications in their respective jurisdictions.  In some instances, the same VET course/qualifications may have a price set of up to 40% lower in one jurisdiction compared to another although the same quality of outcomes is expected to be delivered by an RTO anywhere in Australia.  The lower price may not necessarily be as a result of a lower standard of living in a locality or region.  In fact, the lowest prices setter may have the highest standard of living costs in the country.

For example, the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician under the current NSW funding model is set at $13,250.  This compares to $19,800 in Victoria and a minimum of $18,500 private sector RTOs receive in South Australia.  Both Western Australia understood to be around $18,500 and Queensland with $16,050 (plus some fees) fall within a similar range as Victoria and South Australia.  This example serves to illustrate how NSW citizens including learners in the Electrician’s apprenticeship are disadvantaged in accessing comparable funding, particularly given the huge discrepancy of NSW funded RTOs.  The same scenario applies to the Certificate III in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

In NSW therefore, learners, RTOs and employers are being disadvantaged to the extent that RTO budgets are struggling to maintain sustainability and pace with the requirements of delivering a quality outcome.  It is most likely that a legacy of past infrastructure in TAFE and the goodwill of private RTOs has helped sustain continued delivery to this point in time.  But the ravages of COVID-19 have brought into light major issues for RTOs.  From anecdotal evidence across the spectrum of RTOs delivering the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician qualification including TAFE, the story across NSW is the same.  They are struggling to maintain a quality outcome at the current rate offered under the price mechanism set by iPart. 

One must really wonder how iPart concluded a fair price given the publicly available comparable data across jurisdictions.  It is very clear to anyone managing a business that the huge difference between NSW, and the other states that have comparable levels of funding, the sustainability of any business, particularly an RTO, would be brought into question.  The facts and the financial numbers are clear.  Bear in mind NSW represents 30% of all of the electrical, and refrigeration and air conditioning apprentices in training in Australia, at any one time in relation to the respective qualification.

Moreover, to add to the risk of operation, RTOs are also very concerned with the new Electrotechnology Training Package (UEE20) that has recently been endorsed and uploaded to the Training.Gov, which by all accounts indicates significant new investment is required.  Re-tooling will be necessary, both in terms of physical and administrative resources.  The likely result will be, RTOs either comply and end up negatively impacted on their bottom line, or they will reduce the quality of delivery to fulfill their obligations.  Neither of these scenarios paints a plausible outcome for all concerned.

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To this end it is heartening to learn that there is considerable work underway behind the scenes that may bring to light this issue and draw attention to the need to facilitate a new efficient and fair funding model for nationally approved VET courses, and more specifically national trade-based qualifications that often require greater resourcing allocations.  The National Skills Commission (NSC) has a duty under its charter to provide advice to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business and the Secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE).  Two of six critical functions under its remit relate to funding matters:

  • efficient prices for VET courses; and
  • the public and private return on government investment in VET qualifications.

Under this remit the NSC, “has been tasked by the Australian Government to develop national efficient prices for VET courses.”  The NSC website states, “Currently VET prices, subsidies and fees vary considerably around Australia, with students paying different prices for the same course.

A more nationally consistent approach to pricing provides the opportunity for simpler, more transparent VET pricing arrangements that balance consistency with local needs.

As part of the NSC’s work to develop efficient prices, we are surveying RTOs about their costs of delivering training.

This project is critical to ensure that the work delivered by the NSC reflects the experiences of RTOs and that any chosen pricing model reflects both quality outcomes for learners and value for money for governments and users.

Input from a range of RTOs is essential because an efficient price is not the lowest price. It is the price that provides the quality outcome that students, industry and governments expect and deserve.

The NSC has commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to assist us with this work.”

Part of the engagement process is to involve RTOs.  The NSC says Deloitte Access Economics will assist with collecting information and data from selected RTOs on their costs of delivering training.  They will engage with RTOs in consultation with the NSC.

Process for selecting RTOs for the study:

The NSC provides the following information in relation to the process and method that is being used to select RTOs to participate in this study.

“The NSC commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to develop a sample based on key RTO characteristics such as provider type, size and geography. A quality benchmark may also be applied to identify appropriate providers to sample.

The study will help ensure the chosen pricing model reflects the actual costs incurred by providers. By participating, RTOs will contribute to the evidence base from which efficient prices are developed and have access to benchmark data that will assist them to benchmark their own cost structures.

What type of data and information will be collected from RTOs?

RTOs will be asked to provide data and information relevant to the cost of their delivery of VET qualifications. This includes qualification-specific costs and other costs, such as central and capital costs that are allocated to a qualification. RTOs will also be asked to provide information on levels of training activity by qualification and information on student cohorts and the costs of any specific programs provided to those cohorts. RTOs will also be asked to provide information about the costs associated with delivering a range of VET courses in regional, rural and remote locations.

This will allow the NSC to produce price estimates that take account of the varying costs of delivering training to different cohorts of students, in different locations and in different modes.

The NSC will take into account choice and access to VET across regional, rural and remote Australia in particular in its efficient price framework. Wherever possible, NSC and Deloitte Access Economics will attempt to pre-fill data to minimise the response burden on RTOs.”

The NSC encourages interested parties that have any questions about the NSC’s efficient pricing work, to contact the NSC at EfficientPricing@SkillsCommission.gov.au or contact Deloitte Access Economics directly at NSCEfficientPricing@deloitte.com.au for all queries relating to the completion of the study.

One hopes that the important trade-based qualifications/VET courses have appropriate RTO representation in the study, so as to ensure an efficient and fair VET pricing model is identified and then validated in the market for its veracity.  Moreover, that the Commission is open and transparent of its findings and that it uses its enormous resources, presence and goodwill to leverage and bring about change that provides for quality outcome that are comparable and good for all Australians, no matter where they live.  In particular, that NSW citizens are not left behind and disadvantaged in building a quality and skilled workforce now and into the future.

The NSW UE ITAB encourages NSW RTOs to voice their concerns and suggestions to the Commission via the earlier listed emails to ensure pertinent information is drawn attention to.

For more information regarding the study, visit the NSC website at https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/.

With respect to the study visit the following URL:  NSC VET-EFFICIENT-PRICING STUDY


2. GOVERNMENT EXTENDS APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS PROGRAM 12 MONTHS

The Prime Minister, Minister for Employment Skills Small and Family Business media release of 9 March 2021 declares, “Tens of thousands of new job opportunities will be created for apprentices and trainees across Australia with the expansion of the targeted wage subsidy program as part of the Morrison Government’s National Economic Recovery Plan.

The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy program is fully subscribed, helping to create 100,000 apprenticeships in less than five months.

The Program will now become demand driven and expanded for a full 12 months for new apprentices and trainees signed up prior to 30 September 2021.

It is estimated that this demand driven expansion will generate around 70,000 new apprentice and trainee places, with the Government investing around $1.2 billion.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said training and skills were at the core of the Government’s response to the economic challenges faced by the COVID-19 recession.”

The stated objective of the program is, “to contribute to the development of a highly skilled and relevant Australian workforce that supports economic sustainability and competitiveness.  This is achieved by encouraging:

  • genuine opportunities for skills-based training and development of employees; and
  • people to enter into skills-based training through an Australian Apprenticeship.

The Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements announcement covers engagement of an Australian apprentice for the period between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.  For eligible employers including Group Training Organisations a subsidy of 50 per cent of wages paid to a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee for a 12-month period from the date of commencement, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter. There is no cap on the number of eligible trainees/ apprentices.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) website states, “This assistance will support new apprentices and trainees across Australia, and is in addition to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy which has helped small and medium businesses to keep their apprentices and trainees in work and training.”

In addition to the modified program that includes existing apprentices, there are an array of other incentives that are available under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, subject to applicants meeting an array of eligibility requirements.  Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) Providers are familiar with the prevailing arrangements and are best placed to provide information and clarification in this regard.  For a list of the AANS visit the following URL:  https://www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/search-aasn

Access a copy of the Prime Minister, Minister for Employment Skills Small and Family Business 9th March 2021 media release at:  THOUSANDS OF NEW APPRENTICE AND TRAINEE JOBS or visit the DESE website for more information on the program: BOOSTING APPRENTICESHIP COMMENCEMENTS

The Government is commended for the announcing the extension, however a critical success factor of the program will be the availability and creation of new jobs in the economy.  If the economy can continue to expand and grow, as envisaged by the Government, leading to new jobs growth boosted by the program, the pipeline of skilled workers to support sustained economic recovery is entirely possible.


3. NSW TRAINING AWARDS APPLICATIONS EXTENDED – 21 MARCH 2021

IMPORTANT NOTICE

NSW Training Awards has extended the application period to the 21 March 2021.  That’s a further seven days for you to get your application in.

Apply now before it is too late.  Visit:  https://trainingawardsnsw.awardsplatform.com/

2021 NSW Training Awards entries closed at 11:59pm on the 21st March 2021.


4. VET QUALITY REFORM CONSULTATIONS REMINDER: DESE

Reminder to have your say.  DESE has circulated a reminder of the range of consultation activities underway and ending soon.  The circulate states, “There are a number of Quality Reform consultation activities currently underway, and it’s not too late to have your say. Your feedback through completing a survey, attending a workshop, or joining the webinar will directly contribute to shaping the future of VET in Australia.

Submit a survey response – closing 5pm (AEDT) Monday 22 March 2021

There are currently five Quality Reform surveys available on www.skillsreform.gov.au which are closing soon. Please complete any of the surveys that are most relevant to you before they close on 5:00pm (AEDT) Monday 22 March 2021.

Participate in an online workshop or webinar

You can also choose to participate in either an online workshop or webinar to have your say on quality reforms in the VET sector. These are designed for anyone who wants to provide feedback in relation to RTO practices and factors that support high-quality training delivery.

Want to know more?

If you would like more information on Skills Reform visit www.skillsreform.gov.au. To receive further updates on opportunities to provide your feedback, subscribe here.


5. REGISTER NOW FOR GAS INDUSTRY SKILLS WEBINAR

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) invites interested stakeholders in the Gas sector to participate in an Industry Skills 360 webinar.  The circular states, “On behalf of the Gas Industry Reference Committee and Australian Industry Standards (AIS), I invite you to be part of our Industry Skills 360 series webinar on 24 March 2021. Register here for the Gas webinar to hear from the Industry Reference Committee about trends and current industry challenges and its role in addressing skills needs, and our skills specialist about proposed changes to support workforce needs.

This session will be facilitated by Paul Walsh, AIS CEO.

AIS is committed to shaping qualifications and skills standards that are fit-for-purpose and deliver the skills industry needs. Visit our Engagement Hub to find out more about our engagement activities.

We would also appreciate it if you could share details about this webinar within your networks to encourage broad participation. To assist, we have included below a draft email for your consideration and circulation.

Once again thank you for your time and we look forward to you joining us at the upcoming webinar.”

Date and Time: Wed, 24 March 2021 – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM AEDT

REGISTER FOR GAS WEBINAR HERE

AIS Contact: Raja Ginting, Industry Skills Specialist; T: (03) 9604 7200, M: 04447 055 160, E: Raja.Ginting@aistnds.org.au


6. REGISTER NOW FOR ELECTROTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY SKILLS WEBINAR

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) invites interested stakeholders in the Electrotechnology sector to participate in an Industry Skills 360 webinar.  The circular states, “On behalf of the Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee and Australian Industry Standards (AIS), I invite you to be part of our Industry Skills 360 series webinar on 26 March 2021. Register here for the Electrotechnology webinar to hear from the Industry Reference Committee about trends and current industry challenges and its role in addressing skills needs, and our skills specialist about proposed changes to support workforce needs.

This session will be facilitated by Paul Walsh, AIS CEO.

AIS is committed to shaping qualifications and skills standards that are fit-for-purpose and deliver the skills industry needs. Visit our Engagement Hub to find out more about our engagement activities.

We would also appreciate it if you could share details about this webinar within your networks to encourage broad participation. To assist, we have included below a draft email for your consideration and circulation.

Once again thank you for your time and we look forward to you joining us at the upcoming webinar.”

Date and Time: Fri, 26 March 2021 – 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM AEDT

REGISTER FOR ELECTROTECHNOLOGY WEBINAR HERE

AIS Contact: Paul Humphreys, Industry Skills Specialist; T: (03) 9604 7200, M: 0429 670 588, E: Paul.Humphreys@aistnds.org.au


7. SAFEWORK TO EXAMINE SYDNEY CONSTRUCTION SITES

Sean Carrol at Electrical Connection reports in the 11 March 2021 article that, “SafeWork will be visiting construction sites across wider Sydney this week with inspectors looking at unsafe working systems across the entire process.

Better Regulation Division executive director, compliance and dispute resolution Tony Williams says as part of a state-wide crackdown, inspectors will be focusing on site housekeeping, height safety, falling objects, electrical, moving plant operations and controlling risks related to silica and asbestos exposure.

“From March 9-11, inspectors will be undertaking a compliance blitz on construction sites to make sure those most at risk from workplace injury are protected by safe systems of work,” he says.

“Far too often our inspectors identify concerns with the way scaffolding is set up and other dangers involving working from heights so we will be targeting these issues in particular.

“Falls from heights are the number one killer on NSW construction sites with most people who are seriously injured or killed falling from a height of four metres or less,” Mr Williams said.

SafeWork Inspectors now work closely with NSW Fair Trading Inspectors and Officers from the NSW Building Commissioner to share information on businesses and tradespeople delivering poor-quality workmanship and or safety practices. Those not meeting standards can expect strong compliance action to prevent workers being put at risk or consumers getting sub-standard work.

For safety offences, on-the-spot fines of $3,600 for corporations and $720 for individuals can be issued to businesses who place workers lives at risk through inadequate protection …”

For more detailed information review the article at: ELECTRICAL CONNECTION or visit the SafeWork website media release: SAFEWORK INSPECTORS TO VISIT CONSTRUCTION SITE THIS WEEK.


8. NCVER SURVEY – ARE WE HITTING THE MARK?

NCVER is looking for feedback.  They are conducting a survey to learn if the NCVER News is meeting reader’s needs.

They ask: 

  • How relevant do you find the information in NCVER News?
  • What would you like to hear more about?”

NCVER appreciates and values reader’s feedback and they would be grateful if readers would take a few moments to answer a couple of questions in this 2-minute survey.

► TAKE THE SURVEY

NCVER PUBLICATION

  • GOVERNMENT-FUNDED STUDENTS AND COURSES – JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 2020

NCVER’s publication on this matter, provides a summary of data relating to estimated students, programs, subjects and training providers in Australia’s government-funded vocational education and training (VET) system. The data in this publication cover the period of 1 January to 30 September 2020. For comparative purposes, it also examines this data against previously submitted data for the 1 January to 30 September 2016 to 2019 period.

Visit: GOVERNMENT-FUNDED STUDENTS AND COURSES – JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 2020


9. DANGEROUS CHAIN-LINK INCIDENT & WORKER SPRAYED WITH BATTERY ACID

The NSW Resources Regulator sites two dangerous but interesting incident in this week’s Mine Safety News.  The first, Incident Notice 0039327 report summary states, “A worker sustained a laceration that required stitches when a broken chain-link became a projectile and hit the worker on the side of the head. Workers were lifting a wing on a jaw crusher when one of the lifting chains snapped.”

The comments to industry advised by the regulator states, “When repairs and maintenance are being carried out, safe standing zones must be established to account for any failures. Potential hazards associated with all energy sources should be identified, including the stresses and strains introduced by lifting equipment on plant. This is especially important when there is the potential for stored energy to be released without warning. Chains must have a suitable load rating for the lifting task.”

The second, MineEX NZ – Worker sprayed with battery acid.  “A contractor’s excavator was found to have a dead battery. This was plugged into a RAPID 480 charger/starter. After being on charge, the battery exploded, spraying battery acid onto the operator. The operator had correct PPE and was not seriously injured.

The comments to industry advised by the NZ regulator in its 5 March 2021 NZ Safety Alert, states:

  1. Workers are aware of safe operating procedures for charging batteries, and jump-starting batteries on equipment.
  2. Batteries are regularly checked to ensure terminals and clamps are not oxidized, battery caps can vent to prevent build-up of gases, and there is enough electrolyte to cover terminals to prevent sparks.
  3. Suitable and appropriate PPE is used when operating plant and equipment.

For more information related to both incidents visit the Regulator’s Weekly Incident Summary section of its website and click on ISR21-09 – Weekly incident summary week ending 05 March 2021, 12 Mar 2021 to download the report.


10. ELECTRICAL SAFETY INCIDENTS – SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE

The NSW UE ITAB has again been fortunate this month to be provided with the latest electrical incident reports from BluScope Steel.  As stated previously the NSW UE ITAB has received permission from BlueScope Steel to share the information.

The aim is to help RTOs and industry practitioners have available, real case electrical incidents that occur in workplaces that they can showcase in their programs or safety moments to highlight findings and how responses are actioned to occurring events.

The NSW UE ITAB again, sincerely thanks BlueScope Steel For their permission, and advises RTOs and industry practitioners to ensure they recognise attribution to BlueScope for sharing this information and treat the information for educational purposes only. 

As we receive the incident reports, we will continue to share them accordingly.

For this News Service we have two Blue Scope Steel reports covering December 2020 and January 2021.  For more information and BlueScope contact details please refer to the undersigned for more information.  Again, a sincere thanks to BlueScope.


11. WE NEED YOU! HELP US REDUCE WORKPLACE HARM ACROSS AUSTRALIA

The Centre for Work Health and Safety has asked for assistance in advising interested practitioners of a study it is conducting to improve the health of workers.  The aim of the study is to improve the health of Australian workers by understanding the link between workplace stressors and physical injury.

The research question is, “How do mental and emotional health factors influence the risk of injury amongst workers?”

The process involves completing an anonymous survey.  Participation is voluntary.

The Centre states, “the survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete and contains questions about working conditions, job security, psychological health, physical health, heart health, work engagement, satisfaction, fatigue, and workers’ compensation.”

You can access the survey here: http://bit.ly/AWB_WorkSurvey (note: no date is provided as to when the survey closes, thus it remains open for completion).

The Centre would also appreciate it, if the aim of the study and survey could be bought to the attention of, and shared with, employees.  This study will help the Centre create tools to decrease the risk of physical injury caused by mental and emotional stress in Australian Workers.

The NSW UE ITAB supports the aim of the study and encourages readers to complete the survey where possible and/or share it with colleagues and friends.

If you would like to learn more about the Centre’s activities visit the following URL: http://www.centreforwhs.nsw.gov.au/


12. AEMC INITIATES A REVIEW OF THE GAS SUPPLY GUARANTEE

The latest Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) Newsletter advises that the AEMC has published a final determination and rule to improve system security and market efficiency by clarifying the obligations applying to weather-reliant generators meeting their dispatch level.  To this end it has launched its review of a mechanism designed to support the continued supply of gas to generators during times of electricity system stress such as heat waves.  Part of the process is the release of the consultation paper on the review of the Gas Supply Guarantee.  … The nation’s energy ministers have asked the AEMC to do the review.

For more information visit: GAS SUPPLY GUARANTEE REVIEW.  To acquire a copy of the consultation paper visit: CONSULTATION PAPER REVIEW OF THE GAS SUPPLY GUARANTEE


13. RELEASING STORED-UP OPPORTUNITIES

EnergyInsider, the regular joint Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) newsletter this week discusses the issues associated with energy storage devices and energy storage services.  It states, “Energy storage devices represent an increasingly efficient option to address local network issues such as peak/minimum demand and voltage regulation, but the regulatory framework limits electricity distributors’ ability to provide certain energy storage services to customers. We look at the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) ring-fencing framework and what needs updating to ensure consumers can benefit fully from distributors’ adoption of technology.”

“While distributors can use energy storage devices to provide distribution services, the AER’s existing service classifications and ring-fencing framework limit distributors’ ability to provide certain energy storage services to customers.”

Like to read more – CLICK HERE

For more, contact Lucy Moon, Energy Networks Australia