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News Service 49 – VET GOVERNMENT FUNDING, SafetyNews – (scaffolding campaign, electrocution stats, penalty for apprentice electrocution), CSIRO ‘s dish support moon landings, More home solar-batteries on grid, More solar, Gas and Hydrogen mix

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  1. EXPLORING GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF VET
  2. VALIDATION – ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TRAINING PACKAGE UNITS
  3. SAFEWORK NSW – SCAFFOLDS UNDER SCRUTINY – SCAFF SAFE 2021
  4. ELECTROCUTION STATISTICS AND CASE OF ELECTROCUTED 4TH YEAR APPRENTICE
    1. $160K PENALTY FOR TENNANT CREEK BUSINESS AND DIRECTOR OVER FIRE STATION ELECTROCUTION
  5. CSIRO’S DISH TO SUPPORT ONE OF THE FIRST COMMERCIAL MOON LANDINGS
  6. NEW PLAN TO MAKE ROOM ON THE GRID FOR MORE HOME SOLAR-BATTERIES
  7. NEW US MODELLING POINTS TO SOLAR
  8. NATIONAL GAS LAW: A LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

1. EXPLORING GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF VET

In this week’s News Service, we explore specific elements of the Government funding of VET.  In focus will be the data period 2017 – 2019.  NCVER reports that in, “2019, government funding of the Australian vocational education and training (VET) system totalled $6.4 billion, an increase of 3.2 per cent compared with 2018.”  The publication provides a very good base for developing an understanding of the funding arrangements covering both federal and state/territory contributions and allocations (intergovernmental funding arrangements).  Select data areas have been included in this service to provide a snapshot of the funding arrangements that apply.

The Australian Government contributed $2.6 billion (down 4.5% – ▼ $123.1 m) and state and territory government contributions were $3.7 billion (up 9.4% – ▲ $320.8 m).

NCVER’s 2019 data of government funding of VET notes also, that the Australian Government provided an additional:

  • $275.9 million for VET Student Loans, including grandfathered VET FEE-HELP loans (down 7.2% – ▼ $21 m)
  • $222.4 million for Trade Support Loans (up 4.9% – ▲ $10.4 m).

A total of $6.4 billion in VET funds were distributed (▲ up 5.5 per cent) including:

  • $4.9 billion for VET delivery (up 6.4% – ▲ $298.9 m)
  • $593.8 million for employer assistance (down 0.2% – ▼ $1.0 m)
  • $148.7 million for student assistance – equipment, travel and other costs (down 14.6% – ▼ $25.4 m)
  • $550.4 million for system administration and governance (up 0.1% – ▲ $0.8 m)
  • $181.1 million for capital investment (up 51.1% – ▲ $61.3 m).

The Government funding of VET 2019 NCVER publication “provides insight into the flow of funding in the public VET sector, including what is funded and how funding is distributed.”  In particular, it “presents information on government funding for VET in Australia and reports on:

  • governments’ contributions to VET and funding allocations across states and territories,
  • VET funding by VET activities and funding distributions across training or student characteristics,
  • the value of public VET assets of property, plant and equipment.

Data have been sourced from the National VET Funding Collection 2019. For further information refer to VET Funding.

Australian Government provision for VET loans

The Australian Government provides funding for two income-contingent loan schemes, the VET Student Loans program (including grandfathered VET FEE-HELP loans) and the Trade Support Loans program.  The following Figure 3 Provision for VET Loans covers the period 2017 to 2019.

Trade Support Loans

The Trade Support Loans program is part of the Australian Government’s Better Support of Australian Apprentices policy. It replaced the ‘Tools For Your Trade’ payments which ceased from 1 July 2014. Under the Trade Support Loans program, income-contingent loans of up to $20 420 (currently $21,542 for 2020-2021) over four years are provided to apprentices in priority trades where there are growing skill shortages.  The Trade Support Loans program is governed by the Trade Support Loans Act 201.  The program aims in priority occupations and qualifications, “to support Australian Apprentices to meet everyday costs while they undertake their training, eligible apprentices will be able to apply for Trade Support Loans”.  Local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers are familiar with the working of the scheme.

Funding activities and distributions (excluding loan values)

Funding activities provide information on how VET funds are spent within a jurisdiction, regardless of funding source, represented in Figure 4 VET Funding activities below, for the period 2017 to 2019.

Table 1 – NSW proportion of VET funding activities

YEARVET DELIVERYEMPLOYER ASSISTANCESTUDENT ASSISTANCECAPITAL FUNDINGSYSTEM ADM & GOVTOTAL
2019$1 670.8m$2.2m$45.4m$13.3m$69.3m$1 801.0m
2018$1 454.3m$3.8m$47.7m$0.7m$81.9m$1 588.5m
2017$1 352.4m$5.9m$13.5m$1.4m$105.0m$1 478.2m

VET funding distributions

Funding distributions may be based on actual, modelled or estimated data. 

Selected funding activities (VET delivery, employer assistance and student assistance) by apprenticeship status covering the period 2017 to 2019 is depicted in Figure 5 below, respectively.  With respect to NSW apprenticeship funding the proportion of funding during the period 2017 to 2019 has remained largely constant at 10.6%, 10.8% and 11.2% as shown in Figure 5 and the following table.

Table 2 – NSW proportion of apprenticeship funding to selected funding activities

* Notes:
‘Apprenticeships’ refers to apprenticeships and traineeships.
Funding not attributable by apprenticeship status includes costs associated with support programs, administration and operational base funding and funding for training delivery hours under block funding arrangements. Caution needs to be taken when analysing apprenticeship status data due to the large amount of reported funding not attributable by apprenticeship status. For more detail, refer to the explanatory notes: funding distribution reporting.

Selected funding activity (VET delivery) by level of education

Figure 7 Selected funding activity by level of education covers periods 2017 to 2019.

Selected funding activity (VET delivery) by top ten funded training packages

Figure 8 outlines the top ten funded Training Packages for the period 2017 – 2019. 

Top Training Packages include Community Services (CHC); Construction, Plumbing & Services Integrated Framework (BCF, BCG, BCP, CPC); Health (HLT); Electrotechnology Industry (UEE, UTE, UTL); Tourism Hospitality and Events (SIT, THH, THT); Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair (AUR); Business Services (BSA, BSB); Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management (AHC, RTD, RTE, RTF, RUA, RUH, AGF); Foundation Skills (FSK); Metal and Engineering Industry (MEM); and Resources and Infrastructure (BCC, DRT, MNC, MNM, MNQ, RII).

VET Student Loans activity

The Australian Government provided VET Student Loans (including grandfathered VET FEE-HELP loans) to the value of $275.9 million.  Figure 10, VET Student Loans distribution by provider type depicts for the period 2017 to 2019 by state and territory loans by provider type.

READ MORE AND DOWNLOAD THE STATS

To review the full publication and data (can be downloaded) visit the following link: GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF VET 2019


2. VALIDATION – ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TRAINING PACKAGE UNITS

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) has advised that the relevant Electrotechnology Technical Advisory Committees (TACs), on behalf of the Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee (IRC), have considered all stakeholder feedback and revised the draft Training Package materials for Emergency Lighting and Alarm Systems/Fire and Smoke Control Systems and Variable Refrigerant Flow AC Systems projects.  With respect to the two projects the following apply, and feedback is being sought:

  • Emergency Lighting and Alarm Systems/Fire and Smoke Control Systems

A new Unit of Competency has been developed to address the needs of air conditioning technicians to inspect, test and repair fire and smoke control features of mechanical services systems.

A new Unit of Competency has also been developed to address the needs of electricians to inspect, test and maintain emergency alarm systems and equipment.

The existing unit UEEEL0048 Install and maintain emergency lighting systems has been renamed and updated to cover the needs of electricians to ‘inspect, test and maintain’ emergency lighting systems’.

View draft materials and submit feedback 

  • Variable Refrigerant Flow AC Systems

A new variable refrigerant flow AC systems Unit of Competency has been developed to address the required generic skills and knowledge for technicians to install, commission, service and maintain these systems.

View draft materials and submit feedback 

The Electrotechnology IRC is seeking your feedback to validate these draft materials to ensure the proposed products meet industry needs.  Detailed mapping information, tracking changes to the existing Training Package, is also available to view.

Please submit your feedback by close of business Friday, 9 April 2021.

For more information on these projects, please contact the Industry Skills Specialist, Paul Humphreys, M: 0429 670 588, E: paul.humphreys@aistnds.org.au


3. SAFEWORK NSW – SCAFFOLDS UNDER SCRUTINY – SCAFF SAFE 2021

SafeWork NSW has advised that the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, has announced the commencement of Scaff Safe 2021, the third annual scaffold safety compliance campaign aimed at reducing the number of scaffold-related fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry.

The Minister’s media release states, “SafeWork inspectors will be visiting construction sites across NSW to inspect scaffold structures, issuing on-the-spot fines and stop-work notices for failure to comply with NSW’s safety standards.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said there would be a zero-tolerance approach where scaffolds have missing critical parts, or where unlicenced workers have removed or altered scaffold components.

“This is the third annual scaffold compliance program we’ve conducted, and we will continue to visit sites until the industry meets the safety levels SafeWork expects,” Mr Anderson said.

In the last two years, SafeWork has issued more than 1,700 notices relating to scaffolds, including 600 scaffold prohibition notices requiring the activity to cease due to immediate or imminent risk.

“This Government is building a stronger and safer NSW, and that starts with protecting our workforce,” Mr Anderson said.

“We need to drive the message home to principal contractors, supervisors, scaffolders, site owners and managers – we will not put up with practices that put lives at risk.”

“Findings from last year’s scaffold safety campaign

This year’s campaign builds on the Scaff Safe 2020 findings which showed improvements across some of our focus areas, however, compliance is still at an unacceptably low level when it comes to missing components, gaps, and scaffolds being altered by unlicenced tradies.”

A copy of the Minister’s media release on the campaign is attached as is SafeWork NSW’s recommended Scaffolding Inspection Checklist and Scaffold Handover Certificate for information and learnings (“to help your workers stay safe”).

See the scaffolding safety page at www.safework.nsw.gov.au or call 13 10 50 for assistance.


4. ELECTROCUTION STATISTICS AND CASE OF ELECTROCUTED 4TH YEAR APPRENTICE

Chris Halliday at PowerLogic, an experienced practitioner in electrical incidents and electric shock investigation training reports in the latest Newsletter, interesting data appearing in the most recent Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) 2019/20-year, Accident and Fatality Report.  He cites the following :

  • 8 electrical deaths in Australia and 4 in NZ – (12 in total)
  • 6 deaths were network related: (5 with overhead and 1 associated with a substation)
  • 6 deaths involved customer installations, appliances and equipment
  • 5 electrical workers
  • 6 non-electrical workers
  • 1 member of the public
  • 92% of the deaths occurred in the workplace
  • 90% of deaths over the last 20 years were associated with overhead powerlines

Chris points out that, “whilst there has been a downward trend over time (see the graph) much still needs to be done to ensure electrical safety. The report does not provide specific details to allow solutions to be implemented …”  Chris suggests a number of practicable and common-sense actions that could be implemented to prevent incidents into the future. 

Long-Term Effects of Electric Shocks

The Newsletter also highlights an interesting 50 minute podcast released by the NFPA and the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute regarding the long-term effects of electric shock, and suggests it is well worth a listen.  Stating also, “The Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute has also recently released “The Relationship between Neuropsychological Dispersion, Processing Speed, and Memory after Electrical Injury” (2021) report.”

4.1. $160K PENALTY FOR TENNANT CREEK BUSINESS AND DIRECTOR OVER FIRE STATION ELECTROCUTION

Chris’s Newsletter also makes reference to a decision by the Alice Springs Local Court of a 34-year-old apprentice was electrocuted on 25 February 2019, while working unsupervised with another electrical apprentice on the roof of the Tennant Creek Fire Station.

The Media release issued by NTWorkSafe, 19 February 2021, stated, “Tennant Creek electrical services company Ridem Pty Ltd (trading as Dexter Barnes Electrical) and company director Russell O’Donnell, have been handed a combined penalty of more than $160,000 after pleading guilty to charges relating to the death of a fourth year apprentice electrician.” …

Ridem Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $80,000 for failing to comply with its health and safety duties under Section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011.

The court also ordered the company to provide $40,000 to NT WorkSafe as part of an enforceable undertaking to develop an electrical safety campaign.

Mr O’Donnell was convicted and fined $40,000 and was ordered by the court to complete hazard identification and management training, as well as due diligence training.

This is the first time the Northern Territory courts have imposed an enforceable undertaking as part of a sentence.

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator Bill Esteves said this tragic incident could have been avoided if the company had properly implemented its safety management system, and had properly trained and supervised the apprentice. “Apprentices and young workers are among the most vulnerable workers in the workplace, and it is important they receive the appropriate level of supervision and training, especially in high risk industries such as electrical services.”

“It is also important all businesses and organisations have a safety management system in place that is suitable for their business activity and industry,” Mr Esteves said.

“NT WorkSafe Inspectors are encountering increasing instances of businesses with a safety management system that has not been implemented, or businesses that have purchased off-the-shelf systems which do not address risk and hazards faced by the business and its workers.”

“Company directors should not think that they have met their work health and safety duties because they have purchased a system,” Mr Esteves said.

The incident and more importantly the content of the media release provides a valuable and insightful learning opportunity for employees, employees and most importantly RTOs who can use the experience therein to highlight the importance of having a practical and participative role in a workplace safety management system and quality and control of apprentice supervision.

Download a copy of the Media Release here:  $160K PENALTY FOR TENNANT CREEK BUSINESS AND DIRECTOR OVER FIRE STATION ELECTROCUTION

For the latest news from PowerLogic visit: https://www.powerlogic.com.au/


5. CSIRO’S DISH TO SUPPORT ONE OF THE FIRST COMMERCIAL MOON LANDINGS

Manufacturers’ monthly in a report by Caroline Tung states that the “iconic Parkes radio telescope, owned and operated by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, will provide ground station support for one of the first commercial lunar landings later this year.  …

CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall said the partnership was an exciting new chapter for the iconic Dish, with the partnership tapping into CSIRO’s expertise and proven track record supporting spacecraft programs.

“It was 50 years ago that Australia played a critical role in the original Moon mission, but innovation never sleeps, so we’re proud to support the latest innovations heading to the Moon’s surface,” Dr Marshall said.”

Learn more about the historical role Australia has played in supporting space missions, and the part it will play this time around in Australia’s growing space industry, at: CSIRO’S DISH TO SUPPORT MOON LANDINGS


6. NEW PLAN TO MAKE ROOM ON THE GRID FOR MORE HOME SOLAR-BATTERIES

Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has advised in its latest AEMC Update that they have released, “a draft determination to allow for more small-scale technologies (e.g. solar – batteries) to be connected to the grid, while ensuring that all consumers benefit from the charge to decentralisation.

The draft reforms aim to tackle gridlock on a system that was designed for one-way flows of electricity.  Solar rooftop owners face being “constrained off” the grid at times and this will get worse if we don’t re-think.”  …

“Today’s draft determination addresses the problem of ‘traffic jams’ on the network, which are occurring now and will get worse as more solar connects because the grid infrastructure was built when power only flowed one way. Blocking power exports because the grid is under strain will cost us all more, because it means less renewable, cheaper energy gets into the system.

Ben Bar, Chief Executive of AEMC, in an opinion which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 March 2021 – “Fixing Australia’s solar traffic jam will make selling sunshine two-way street”, stated, “There are now more than 2.6 million households and small businesses with solar PV on their roofs, and the forecasts are that by 2030, some 6 million households – 50 per cent of us – will be using a distributed energy resource such as solar PV, batteries or electric cars to power our lives.

This is a fast, exciting and challenging pace of change when you consider that it took 20 years for Netflix to replace Blockbuster, and about 10 years for Spotify to dethrone iTunes as the music player of choice.

The trouble is that – unlike Netflix or Spotify – energy travels along real-life poles and wires, and not the virtual superhighway. And right now, it’s starting to look like peak hour.

The heart of the problem is that the power system was built in a different era. It was set up to get power to your home, not for your home to send power back the other way. Now that power is increasingly flowing both ways, we’re seeing new challenges emerge.”

AEMC has produced an infographic that can be downloaded to learn more about the draft reform package designed to open a solar gateway to the electricity grid. 

For more detailed information visit the following links:


7. NEW US MODELLING POINTS TO SOLAR

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) in its joint EnergyInsider Newsletter refer to new modelling information emanating out of the United States that suggests renewables will play a significant part in new grid capacity.  It states, “New modelling is behind the Energy Information Administration’s most recent annual energy outlook report that finds renewable generation is likely to account for as much as 60 per cent of new capacity in the US grid in coming decades.”

The article explores in more detail the new modelling, stating, “The new levelised cost of electricity (LCOE), levelised avoided cost of electricity (LACE) and the levelised cost of storage (LCOS) modelling, forms part of the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) most recent annual energy outlook report. …

Its annual energy outlook forecasts that generating capacity could increase by 52-84 per cent by 2050, with the majority of the new capacity expected to come renewables. Solar in particular is tipped to lead the way rather than wind …”

For more information read the full article at:  NEW US MODELLING POINTS TO SOLAR

For more information, contact the Australian Energy Council-Solar


8. NATIONAL GAS LAW: A LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

In the latest Energy Insider (produced by Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC)), it is reported that, “The definition of natural gas in the National Gas Law appears to exclude hydrogen as a substance that can be blended into gas networks.”

The article takes a look at whether this is a major concern or a minor inconvenience.  It states, “The multiple applications and the diverse availability of hydrogen is creating a lot of promise for the future of the energy. By blending hydrogen into the gas network, it can be used as a fuel to power economies, for export and as a feedstock to drive industry and manufacturing.

Existing legislation and regulations need to be studied to determine how and when widespread blending of hydrogen in gas networks can occur.   …

Both the FFCRC study and earlier studies called into question whether hydrogen blending complies with the definition of natural gas as per the National Gas Law (NGL). …

Clearly complying with a safety case is of primary importance to be able to blend hydrogen into gas networks. But regulatory review may be required to ensure that economic regulation can cover future fuels distributed in gas networks.”

For more information read the full article at:  NATIONAL GAS LAW: A LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

For more, contact Dennis Van Puyvelde,  Energy Networks Australia