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News Service 50 – Mutual recognition occupational licenses NSW 1992 Amendment Bill, Industry Survey, NSC Pricing Report, Nominations open Gas & Electro IRC, Apprentice-Trainee data-Sep 2020 quarter, Neca Apprentice Awards, Safety & Industry matters, Assessor PD

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  1. MUTUAL RECOGNITION (NEW SOUTH WALES) AMENDMENT BILL 2021 – COMMITTEE ENQUIRY (AUTOMATIC RECOGNITION)
  2. TAKE PART IN AN IMPORTANT INDUSTRY SURVEY
  3. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION RELEASES AVERAGE PRICE BENCHMARKING REPORT
  4. NOMINATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE GAS & ELECTROTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY REFERENCE COMMITTEE
  5. APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES 2020: SEPTEMBER QUARTER – AUSTRALIA
  6. NOMINATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE 2021 NECA EXCELLENCE & APPRENTICE AWARDS!
  7. NSW SAFEWORK NEWS – INCIDENT INFORMATION RELEASE – HEIGHTS ACCESS WORKER FATALITY
  8. ELECTRIC SHOCK FOR WORKER DURING METALS PROCESSING
  9. COAL VS 100% RENEWABLES: THE WRONG DEBATE?
  10. ASQA SPOTLIGHT ON TRAINERS AND ASSESSORS SERIES

1. MUTUAL RECOGNITION (NSW) AMENDMENT BILL 2021 – COMMITTEE ENQUIRY (AUTOMATIC RECOGNITION)

The NSW Government’s Legislative Council’s Portfolio Committee No. 1 – Premier and Finance, is undertaking an inquiry into a proposed amendment to the NSW Mutual Recognition Act 1992, which will gift increased powers to the Commonwealth to cause a law to automatically mutually recognise an occupational licensee/registrant who moves jurisdictions, unless exempted by the State Minister.

The NSW Parliament is proposing to amend its existing NSW Mutual Recognition Act 1992 legislation to refer such matters to the Commonwealth legislation to permit it to encompass the proposed provision.  A copy of the Committee’s Terms of Reference and proposed NSW Amendment Bill are attached and links are provided too, to the Committee website, proposed amendment Bill, and Commonwealth exposure Amendment Bill, as follows:

In effect the proposed NSW Amendment Bill would empower the Commonwealth to legislate that an Electrician from another state/territory would automatically be registered without ado in NSW.  This would, most likely in the long-term, render the state licensing arrangement redundant.  It will also likely impact on potential infringement matters in the distant future as the home regulator would be required to administer any licensing breach that may have occurred in the second state.  It may indeed ensue that the home state permits such work, as there remain differences in electrical laws between states, and thus the home regulator would not be in a position to prosecute the infringement.  These along with a series of unknowns raise concerns for industry, who wants greater clarity and mechanism to work through safeguards.  The Commonwealth has yet to finalise the legislation and NSW is proceeding with an amendment.

The issue of mutual recognition of occupational licenses was the subject of much work in the mid-20s (2006 to 2012) whence it might be recalled under the COAG national licensing proposal, which included electrical that was being touted had large support, recommended and was working towards harmonising differences between the states but at the 11th hour, never got off the ground.  Mutual recognition is a good thing, and one to be supported, provided all safeguards are in place.  That is, agreed mechanisms or processes are established to work through real differences between the states to bring about real effective mutual recognition opportunities for all concerned – employers, consumers, workers, the public and the economy. 

Here we are almost a decade later with proposed new amendments (at state and federal levels), where it is intended the Commonwealth will assume the power to be able to impose automatic recognition of a license/registration without examining and addressing required safeguards.  Electrical work is recognised as high-risk, evinced by the fact it is licensed environment for good reason in every jurisdiction in Australia, New Zealand and many other places internationally.  In Australia, whilst we have a common set of electrical installation standards known as the Wiring Rules (AS/NZ3000), each state and territory superimpose different local electrical service and installation rules because of well-known context and regional issues that have evolved and been harmonised within their own jurisdictions over many decades.  For instance, NSW did have at one time 59 different electrical service and installation rules to reflect the different county councils who managed them at the time.  Transferring electrical workers needed gap training in this regard.  Over time and changes to the Electricity Supply Industry processes were established with relevant stakeholders to harmonise differences, and today in NSW there is a sole NSW set of electrical service and installation rules.  This is a great achievement created over time with stakeholders working together for an end goal.  Why not apply the same principle to national mutual recognition of products and occupations? 

In this regard the NSW UE ITAB Board made a submission to the Committee, which closed on 9 April 2021 and will be followed by oral evidence in the later part of April, regarding some concerns with automatic recognition of electrical occupations and associated licensed work.  The submission highlighted the need for the establishment of a formal mechanism involving key stakeholders to work through the safeguards to ensure protection of the public.  It submitted to the Committee that they consider recommending that electrical occupations and associated licensed work be exempted from the automatic mutual recognition registration, as permitted under the exposure draft by the state Minister, where significant risk to public protection could be demonstrated. 

The focus of the submission was about training related issues and specifically representing a view that is available within the Commonwealth exposure legislation that the NSW Minister can deem the occupations of licensed electrical work a high-risk occupational group and exempt them from automatic mutual recognition registration.  It is not a submission of outright opposition to mutual recognition but a strategy seeking a better solution to the issues that plague how regulators manage and/or administer mutual recognition. 

The industry anecdotal information in regard to electricians and other allied electrical licensed trades has been, that under the existing arrangements the reports are, that regulators by and large have been doing a good job with mutual recognition in NSW – having in place formal mapping matrixes of accepted recognition with other states, but holding the ability to reject if so needed.

  • If indeed it does work, then the observation is made, if it’s not broken why try to change it, through forced mutual recognition mechanisms of all occupations, when some may pose a higher risk that others to the community? 
  • There is no one-size-fit-all model for automatic mutual recognition when public protection may apply to some.  Why not then, agree to establish creditable mechanisms with relevant stakeholders to iron out safeguards and get full buy-in?

If you are interested in reviewing the array of public submissions including the NSW UE ITAB submission, visit the Committee’s ‘Submissions’ page at:  NSW MR AMENDMENT BILL 2021 SUBMISSIONS


2. TAKE PART IN AN IMPORTANT INDUSTRY SURVEY

E-Oz Energy Skills Australia an independent, not for profit, bipartite company committed to supporting high quality training and workforce development within and beyond the energy industries advises that it is conducting an industry survey.  The survey covers current practices and future trends related to the Electrotechnology and Energy sectors. 

E-Oz is inviting apprentices, tradespersons and RTOs to take part in the survey, asking them to share their views and experiences in this important industry survey.  A specific survey for each category has been developed and the following URLs provide a link to the respective survey:

Apprentice Perspective: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BK9Q9TW

Tradesperson Perspective: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B7LCQYJ 

RTO Perspective: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BLZPCY5

Survey Closes: Friday 30th April 2021.

E-Oz’s mission is to provide the services, products, support and advice necessary for the development of highly skilled and effective energy industry workforce.  It is the industry declared, industry owned, not for profit Skills Council for the ElectroComms and EnergyUtilities Industries.  The Board is comprised of key national industry stakeholders and it is well known to many in the industry.  E-Oz states, “it is committed to supporting high quality training and workforce development within and beyond the energy industries, for further information please visit: https://www.e-oz.com.au/”.

The survey findings will be shared with NSW UE ITAB and circulated in due course via the News Service.  NSW UE ITAB supports the survey and invites as many stakeholders as possible to contribute, and share their views and ideas.

For more information contact Melinda Hill, Corporate Manager: T: 02 6100 2147; E: mhill@energyspace.com.au


3. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION RELEASES AVERAGE PRICE BENCHMARKING REPORT

It may be recalled the NSW UE ITAB News Service has previously raised the price of funding apprenticeship programs in NSW, primarily to those concerning electrical qualifications, and that the National Skills Commission (NSC) was undertaking a study across the spectrum of on VET qualification subsidies, fees and prices across Australia.  To that end the NSC released a report titled, “VET average price benchmark”, dated 26 March 2021.

The Report’s Executive Summary states, “Currently there is substantial variation in fees and subsidies (and therefore total prices) for vocational education and training (VET) qualifications across Australia, even for the same qualification. Until now a lack of systematic national data has prevented us from identifying the underlying drivers of these differences and whether they reflect underlying differences in the cost of provision and/or differences in skill requirements across the country.

These differences were found despite all jurisdictions basing their subsidies predominantly on the cost of delivery, and at a high level, similarities in cost calculations. However, more detailed assumptions (e.g. cost per hour, number of hours and portion of the price subsidised) lead to differences in both total price and the level of subsidy applied.”

Appendix C Average process for high volume qualifications (copied in part below), provides an interesting subsidy and fee composition of national average qualification prices, and the minimum and maximum jurisdiction prices, particularly in relation to the Electrotechnology Certificate III Electrician qualification.

Important to note is the variance in the lowest jurisdiction price and highest jurisdiction price regarding Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician, noting NSW’s pricing ($13,250) is closer to the lowest whilst having the highest standard of living costs in the country.  It would be interesting to learn how, a near on difference of $15,000 can be addressed, given RTOs are certifying competent electricians for electrical licensing purposes across Australia, as having achieved identical outcomes.  Given also, the higher than average cost of consumables and resources required to deliver a quality outcome for this and kindred occupations, one can only deduce what the lower priced jurisdictions quality of outcomes are likely to be producing!

The good thing is that the NSC is continuing its research work in this regard, as stated in the Executive Summary, “Further work will continue to explore underlying drivers of cost differences, particularly variation in nominal hours. The NSC is also collecting data from training providers to better understand cost structures. Both the cost survey and average price database will inform the NSC’s development of efficient prices for VET courses.” 

To that end the NSC has just launched in second phase of work (Phase 2) of data collection for the efficient pricing study.  As part of the NSC’s work to develop efficient prices, they will be directly surveying registered training organisations (RTOs) about their costs of delivering training.

Utilities and Electrotechnology RTOs should make every endeavour to contribute to the research work by contacting the directly via the website: www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au.

To access a copy of this important report, visit: NSC AVERAGE PRICE BENCHMARKING REPORT


4. NOMINATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE GAS & ELECTROTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY REFERENCE COMMITTEE

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) has circulated a notice that that nominations are now open for an individual expert position (specialist in renewable energy) on the Electrotechnology IRC and one for Gas (specialist in training). 

It has published the information on the AISC website.

Gas IRC – one individual expert position.

This IRC is responsible for the UEG Gas Industry Training Package. The qualifications and units of competency available under this training package can be viewed here.
The expert position on the Gas IRC is open to a specialist in training to provide their expert opinion on the review or development of gas related training products. Such a person will have knowledge, skill, education, experience or training in vocational education and training. This position is not open to individuals seeking to represent the views or interests of organisations, including but not limited to, employers, regulators, state or territory industry training bodies, peak bodies, or unions.
Electrotechnology IRC – one individual expert position.

This IRC is responsible for the UEE Electrotechnology Training Package. The qualifications and units of competency available under this training package can be viewed here.
The expert position on the Electrotechnology IRC is open to a specialist in renewable energy to provide their expert opinion on the review or development of electrotechnology related training products. Such a person will have knowledge, skill, education, experience or training in energy produced using natural resources that are constantly replaced and never run out. This position is not open to individuals seeking to represent the views or interests of organisations, including but not limited to, employers, regulators, state or territory industry training bodies, peak bodies, or unions.

The AISC seeks to ensure that the membership of the Gas and Electrotechnology IRCs provide industry coverage and expertise to support training product development for their industries. The AISC is looking for individuals with extensive experience in and knowledge of their industry sector, with the capacity to proactively apply these attributes to the work of the IRC.

The AISC website has more information on IRCs and SSOs. The IRC Operating Framework outlines best practice governance principles and processes to assist in the day-to-day operation of IRCs.  For more information on the Assessment Criteria and how to nominate, visit the AISC weblink for more information:  CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: GAS AND ELECTROTECHNOLOGY IRC. 

Nominations close 5pm AEST, Wednesday 28 April 2021. Email the completed nomination form, privacy consent form, résumé and any supporting documentation to AISCSecretariat@dese.gov.au 


5. APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES 2020: SEPTEMBER QUARTER – AUSTRALIA

NCVER has recently released the September quarter Apprentices and trainees 2020, that shows a decrease of 4.2% over the same previous 2019-year data, with a 9.2% decrease for non-trade occupations and a 1.7% decrease for trades.  National data shows apprentice and trainee commencements were down 23% in the September quarter 2020 when compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Commencements and completions both decreased significantly in this quarter. In particular, trade commencements decreased by 28.2% and non-trade completions decreased by 20.4% when compared with the same quarter in 2019.

NCVER provides a qualifying note on the data stating, “at the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia has created uncertain times for individuals, business and governments, which have affected apprentice and trainee numbers in 2020.  Care should be taken when comparing 2020 data with data from previous years.”  Additionally, “these numbers are prior to the introduction of the Australian Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy in October 2020.”

Highlights of the data:

In-training as at 30 September 2020

There were 264 425 apprentices and trainees in-training as at 30 September 2020, a decrease of 4.2% from 30 September 2019.

Quarterly training activity

In the September quarter 2020, compared with the September quarter 2019:

  • commencements decreased by 23%, to 26 585
  • completions decreased by 17.2%, to 16 845
  • cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 21.4%, to 16 990

Training activity: 12-month ending series

In the 12 months ending 30 September 2020, compared with the 12 months ending 30 September 2019:

  • commencements decreased by 18.8%, to 126 665
  • completions decreased by 9.8%, to 80 200
  • cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 14%, to 73 205
  • in-training decreased by 4.2%, to 264 425

Electrotechnology training activity: 12-month ending series

In the 12 months ending 30 September 2020, compared with the 12 months ending 30 September 2019:

  • commencements decreased by 15.5%, to 11 685
  • completions decreased by 2%, to 7 240
  • cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 12.6%, to 7 445
  • in-training decreased by 0.1%, to 40 3258 (over the period 2016 to 2020 shows an increase of 10.8%)

Electrotechnology (NSW) training activity: 12-month ending series

In the 12 months ending 30 September 2020, compared with the 12 months ending 30 September 2019:

  • commencements decreased by 14.6%, to 4 220
  • completions increased by 18.3%, to 2 220
  • cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 12.4%, to 3 180
  • in-training decreased by 0.1%, to 13 965 (over the period 2016 to 2020 shows an increase of 22%)

For the full Apprentices and trainees 2020: September quarter – Australia report and downloadable data spreadsheets visit: APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES 2020: SEPTEMBER QUARTER – AUSTRALIA


6. NOMINATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR THE 2021 NECA EXCELLENCE & APPRENTICE AWARDS!

The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA Group) advises that nominations are now open for the 2021 NECA Excellence & Apprentice Awards.  NECA states, “is committed to encouraging and rewarding the excellence and professionalism demonstrated by its members and electrical apprentices.

The NECA Excellence & Apprentice Awards promote innovation and outstanding achievement, as well as providing the recognition and promotion within our industry that NECA members and their apprentices deserve. NECA Group strongly encourages its members to submit their project and apprentice nominations for these awards.”

Apprentice Awards

This prestigious awards evening celebrates and rewards apprentices’ outstanding achievements and efforts in the electrical and communications industry. NECA Group encourages all apprentices who have excelled in their training to apply.

Nomination categories are open to 4th-year apprentices who are employed by either a NECA member or a NECA Group Training apprentice company.

If you are a prospective nominee or you know someone who may qualify and you wish to nominate them then contact NECA regarding a submission or nomination.  Contact Elizabeth Lombardo on (02) 9021 9613 or email events@neca.asn.au.  For more information on the awards visit: NECA 2021 EXCELLENCE AND APPRENTICE AWARDS


7. NSW SAFEWORK NEWS – INCIDENT INFORMATION RELEASE – HEIGHTS ACCESS WORKER FATALITY

SafeWork NSW has circulated an alert (attached) regarding an incident it responded to, where a 52-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries after falling eight storeys at a Liverpool construction site.  The worker was repairing flashing on the side of the building using an industrial rope access system at the time of the incident.

SafeWork NSW is encouraging stakeholder to share the attached incident information with work colleagues and any other contacts you may have in your industry to help highlight the risks associated with industrial rope access systems and working at heights.

This alert, and others, can be viewed on the SafeWork NSW general incident information page or the HEIGHT ACCESS WORKER FATALITY – DIRECT LINK

For more information please visit our website or contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or via our online enquiry form.

Remember, safety starts with you.


8. ELECTRIC SHOCK FOR WORKER DURING METALS PROCESSING

The Australian Mine Safety Journal reports of an electrical shock incident recorded by the NSW Resources Regulator.  The Regulator reported that an electric shock incident occurred during metals processing activities.  It stated, “according to the report, a worker received an electric shock from a metal ring surrounding an emergency stop button on a pump control panel.

The worker was attempting to start the pump and had one hand on scaffolding and the other hand pushing the start button. He brushed against the metal ring surrounding the e-stop button and received an electric shock. The control panel is powered by 110 volts and has a non-metallic enclosure. Its ingress protection (IP) failed, which allowed water into the enclosure.”

For more information regarding the incident along with another incident related to, “Welding electric shock following potential earthing issues”, visit:  ELECTRIC SHOCK FOR WORKER DURING METALS PROCESSING

Also, visit the NSW Mine Safety Incident website for Dangerous incident IncNot0039566.  The NSW Resources Regulator’s comments to industry are, “Comments to industry: IP rating is critical in areas with the potential for water ingress and should be maintained as fit-for-purpose throughout its life cycle. Mine operators should consider the use of extra low voltage control systems where possible to mitigate the risk of electric shock in the event of IP failures.”  Visit:  WEEKLY INCIDENT SUMMARY – 2 APRIL 2021


9.       COAL VS 100% RENEWABLES: THE WRONG DEBATE?

This week’s EnergyInsider newsletter from Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) ponders on a report released by the Grattan Institute’s tackling the question of “what next?” following the retirement of the National Electricity Market’s existing coal-fired power stations.

The report it states, “has a simple message: those arguing for a continuation of coal-fired generation are wrong and those mounting the case for 100 per cent renewables are also wrong. Here we summarise the key findings. Read more.

For more, contact the Australian Energy Council.


10. ASQA SPOTLIGHT ON TRAINERS AND ASSESSORS SERIES

ASQA’s first Spotlight On series was recently completed featuring five weeks of dedicated content to assist RTOs to better understand their compliance requirements in supporting their trainers and assessors.

ASQA advises that if you’ve missed a chapter or would like a refresher for the series, each week is available on their website:

  • Chapter 1 – Educational qualifications
  • Chapter 2 – Vocational competence and currency
  • Chapter 3 – Professional development
  • Chapter 4 – Working with individuals under a supervision arrangement
  • Chapter 5 – Insights from the sector

You can also join ASQA’s Spotlight On team for a live webinar on Thursday 22 April 2021 to round out the series.

Look out for series two of Spotlight On

Going forward, each series will look at a dedicated compliance topic, chosen from industry feedback and questions raised by providers, to focus on the requirements and help to drive quality training outcomes.

Visit the link for to review the series: www.asqa.gov.au/rto/focus-compliance