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News Service 59 – OFT Supervision Survey, Skills Ministers-New Industry Clusters, NSC releases NERO, Safety News, NCVER Report – assessment, Energy Awards, Qld RTO crackdown, Batteries – revenue, NECA supports cable initiative

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  1. HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE SUPERVISION OF ELECTRICAL SUPPORT WORKERS AND APPRENTICES IN NSW
  2. SKILLS MINISTERS HAVE COMMITTED TO THE CREATION OF NEW INDUSTRY CLUSTERS
  3. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION RELEASES NERO
  4. SAFEWORK NSW – WAH SAFETY TOOLBOX TALKS (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS), ROOF RAIL FACT SHEET & AD CAMPAIGN
  5. NSW TARGETS CONSTRUCTION HEIGHT SAFETY AS SOLAR FIRM FINED $300K
  6. NATIONAL SAFE WORK MONTH
  7. 2021 ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARD
  8. NCVER REPORT INDEPENDENT VALIDATION OF ASSESSMENT
  9. DOZENS OF COLLEGES TARGETED IN QUEENSLAND CRACKDOWN
  10. NEW PLANS FOR BATTERIES CUT RED TAPE AND BOOST REVENUE OPTIONS
  11. NECA SUPPORTS AUSTRALIAN CABLE INITIATIVE

1. HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE SUPERVISION OF ELECTRICAL SUPPORT WORKERS AND APPRENTICES IN NSW

The Department of Customer Service (DCS), Better Regulation Division has circulated an advisory, inviting industry stakeholders to provide feedback to a survey it is conducting on the supervision of electrical support workers and electrical apprentices.  The circular and website link for the survey states the following:

“Over 70,000 (note NSW UE ITAB has questioned this number) licensed electricians in NSW work to bring safe and reliable electricity to our lives every day. It is essential that this workforce is able to train, work, and learn in a safe and supportive environment so that preventable injuries and building defects don’t occur. 

The NSW Government is using a survey to review how apprentice electricians and unlicensed electrical workers are being supervised at work. We want to hear the experiences of anyone working in the electrical and building trades and their clients, to better understand current supervision practices.

We are seeking your assistance in order to engage with your members to make them aware of the survey being conducted. Attached is a communications package that can be used to reach out to members and colleagues who may be interested.

The survey can be accessed here and will remain open until 5pm, 6 August 2021.

All responses will remain strictly confidential, and will help the Government to understand whether supervision practices can be improved.

We will use the information received from the survey to further investigate possible options for implementing best practices for the supervision of apprentice electricians and unlicensed electrical workers in our state. Following this we will consult with you on options to respond to the issues that have been identified.

The survey will take 5 – 10 minutes.

Your responses will help us understand current supervision practices and how they can be improved.

All responses will be strictly anonymous.” 

A copy of the Department’s stakeholder supervision survey pack (power point presentation) is attached.

NSW UE ITAB’s CONCERN WITH TERMINOLOGY AND SUPERVISION OF DIFFERENT CLASS OF WORKERS

Please note the use of ‘unlicensed electrical workers’ in the Department’s circular and website page.  The NSW UE ITAB, however, has not used this term in the introduction of the article.  The term ‘Unlicensed electrical’ work is illegal electrical work under the Home Building Act 1989 No 147 [NSW], Clause 14.  The Act defines electrical support work as ‘Unqualified electrical wiring work’.  Moreover, the supervision of electrical apprentices is different to that of electrical support workers and should be recognised as such, and respective feedback should be provided accordingly.  Practitioners and key stakeholders in the industry, including RTOs are most likely to affirm there is a difference of supervision.  The difference of supervision of electrical apprentices versus electrical support workers as well as the use of unlicensed electrical workers has been bought to the attention of the Department.

Notably at the same time, a new joint Committee was recently established of key stakeholders comprised of the Department, SafeWork NSW, Neca, ETU and NSW UE ITAB.  Its scope of work includes supervision as one of the key priorities that will be considered and reviewed when it first meets.  The inaugural meeting of the Committee has been delayed because of the recent NSW Government COVID-19 lockdown advisory and will be held as soon as it is updated to permit formal meetings.

The issue of Supervision is an important matter for the industry and to this end, it is recommended that stakeholders make every effort to provide feedback to the survey.  RTO stakeholders, teachers and practitioners should encourage apprentices and their employers, as well electricians, to complete the survey.

COMPLETE THE SUPERVISORY SURVEY NOW


2. SKILLS MINISTERS HAVE COMMITTED TO THE CREATION OF NEW INDUSTRY CLUSTERS

The AISC Chair, Tracey Horton, reports in the latest July Newsletter that “Skills Ministers have committed to the creation of new industry clusters with a broad range of responsibilities (not limited to training package review and development). In time, the new clusters will replace Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and the Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and are expected to be progressively stood up and fully operational by December 2022.

Skills Ministers have also supported training package approval being undertaken by an independent approval body. The details and timeframes for the new training package approval arrangements are still being worked through as part of the next stage of the reform process. 

An implementation and transition plan will be developed by Skills Senior Officials Network over the coming months for consideration by Skills Ministers.”

The AISC Meeting of 22 June 2021 committed to continuing with ongoing leadership and support to IRCs to keep the current system operating until the new arrangements are in place.

The ‘Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform’ between the Commonwealth of Australia and New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory has now been signed.

The parties to the Agreement have committed to the following immediate reforms:

  • Simplifying, rationalising and streamlining national VET qualifications across industry occupation clusters and the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), and introducing improved industry engagement arrangements.
  • Strengthening quality standards, building Registered Training Organisations (RTO) capacity and capability for continuous improvement and developing a VET workforce quality strategy.

The Agreement states, that the “new National Skills Agreement will be finalised by August 2021, with a transition period commencing from 1 January 2022, or when it is signed by the Commonwealth and one other party, and will cover the five year period to 2026-27.”  The path forward is consistent with many of the recommendations and suggestion outlined in the JOYCE Report:  Strengthening Skills, Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System, The Honourable Steven Joyce.

For a copy of the Agreement visit: HEADS OF AGREEMENT FOR SKILLS REFORM and the DESE Skill Reform webpage:  SKILLS REFORM OVERVIEW

Also, read more at AISC CHAIR – JULY NEWSLETTER and AISC COMMUNIQUE – 22 JUNE 2021 MEETING, which latter covers a principle and policy development in relation to ‘Standalone units’; Training Pathways in the Electrotechnology Training Package; Gas Training Package – Request for reinstatement of deleted units; and ESI Transmission Distribution and Rail IRC – Approved the ‘Case for Change’ to proceed to training package development.


3. NATIONAL SKILLS COMMISSION RELEASES NERO

The National Skills Commission (NSC) has advised that it has released new employment data, which provides trends and current figures for regions and occupations.  NSC states, “the Nowcast of Employment by Region and Occupation — NERO — is a new experimental dataset developed by the National Skills Commission.”

It goes on to explain NERO, a dataset that “provides timely information on employment at detailed levels, including 355 occupations across 88 regions in Australia. Until now, data at this level of detail was only readily available once every five years as part of the ABS Census of Population and Housing. With NERO, the insights are available monthly.

As a new source of labour market intelligence, NERO will provide unique and detailed data on employment trends across occupations and regions – in excess of 30,000 series in total.

NERO can be searched either by occupation or by region with the data available for download in a variety of ways.

This first release of NERO includes data from September 2015 to April 2021. Updates for May through to August 2021 are scheduled to be released on 1 September 2021, with subsequent updates to occur on the first Wednesday of each month. At this stage, the NERO estimates are experimental in nature.  The NSC welcomes feedback on how the estimates could be improved by emailing: nowcasting@skillscommission.gov.au.”


4. SAFEWORK NSW – WAH SAFETY TOOLBOX TALKS (LADDERS, SCAFFOLDS), ROOF RAIL FACT SHEET & AD CAMPAIGN

NSW SafeWork’s Construction Services Group has released a series of advertisements drawing attention to falls from heights risks in the construction industry.  The ad campaign consists of radio ads, billboards, service station electronic posters, digital online ads and social media.

New safety resources:

SafeWork has also released some useful working at heights safety resources for industry including:

SafeWork NSW states, that it’ “will be developing a series of toolbox talks, so if you would like a toolbox talk developed on a specific topic, let us know via return email to construction@safework.nsw.gov.au.”

The ad campaign:

See the dedicated landing page on the SafeWork NSW website.

Key messaging for the campaign is based on research which found that most workers did not consider working on a single storey to be “at heights” and that the impact of a serious injury to themselves and family was the biggest motivator to work safe.

Key messaging includes:

  • “Work safely at any height” – most serious and fatal falls are from 4 metres or less
  • “When you fall, they fall” – a fall can be devastating for you and your loved ones

For more information on working safely at heights in construction, see www.safework.nsw.gov.au or call 13 10 50.


5. NSW TARGETS CONSTRUCTION HEIGHT SAFETY AS SOLAR FIRM FINED $300K

NSCA Foundation’s Safe-T-Bulletin eNewsletter reports, 9 July 2021, of a solar firm that was fined $300,000 after a young worker sustained fatal injuries from a fall from height; the fine comes during a SafeWork NSW construction safety blitz.

Employers across New South Wales (NSW) are being put on notice after recent SafeWork NSW visits to construction sites in Northern Sydney and the Sutherland Shire revealed more than 20% of sites had working at heights risks, while two-thirds required intervention on unsafe practices. This comes as solar energy installer PV Solar Pro Pty Ltd was fined $300,000 for failing to comply with its duties after a 19-year-old apprentice fell 6.5 metres through a skylight and suffered fatal head injuries. PV Solar Pro Pty Ltd has the right to appeal against its sentence.

SafeWork NSW’s site visits coincided with PV Solar pleading guilty to an offence pursuant to section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. On 23 August 2018, a 19-year-old first-year apprentice fell through a polycarbonate skylight while working on a roof, after the harness-based fall arrest system he was wearing was set incorrectly to arrest the fall. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, dying from the injury two weeks later. …

SafeWork NSW offers advisory services to builders and tradespersons to help them achieve safe sites, with free virtual workshops for Construction Site Supervisors running throughout 2021. To register, contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or visit the SafeWork NSW website.

READ MORE


6. NATIONAL SAFE WORK MONTH

October is National Safe Work Month—a time to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace.  Safe Work Australia has released the theme and campaign kit for National Safe Work Month 2021 ahead of the official campaign launch on 1 October.  The theme for 2021 is think safe. work safe. be safe. which encourages everyone to take responsibility for health and safety in the workplace.  The campaign will run through October. The campaign kit has a range of digital resources,

During October each year, we ask workers and employers across Australia to commit to safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians.

To participate, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the National Safe Work Month website and download a range of resources from our campaign kit.
  2. Customise and share the resources with your workplace, work teams, supervisor and/or health and safety representative.
  3. Follow Safe Work Australia on social media to keep up to date on new campaign materials and to share National Safe Work Month updates.
  4. Use the hashtags #safeworkmonth and #ThinkWorkBeSafe when promoting National Safe Work Month on social media.
  5. Keep an eye on the National Safe Work Month website or subscribe to our mailing list to keep up to date on the latest news.

Visit the Safe Work Australia for more information:  https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/national-safe-work-month


7. 2021 ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARD

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) has advised that nominations close in one month for Energy Network Industry Awards 2021.  ENA states, “Energy networks, it’s time to get your entries into this year’s industry awards.”

There are two awards:

  • The Consumer Engagement Award recognises an Australian energy network business that is demonstrating outstanding leadership in consumer engagement.
  • The Industry Innovation Award recognises leadership in the design, development and application of a ground-breaking Australian energy network initiative, technology, service or solution.

APPLICATIONS CLOSE IN ONE MONTH

Energy Networks Australia members are invited to apply.

Key dates:

  • Applications open – 1 July 2021
  • Applications close – 16 August 2021
  • Shortlisted applicants announced – mid September 2021
  • Videoconference interview for shortlisted applicants – mid to late September 2021
  • Winners announced at EN2021 gala dinner – 10 November 2021

8. NCVER REPORT INDEPENDENT VALIDATION OF ASSESSMENT

NCVER has released a Research report, produced by Francesca Beddie, 14 July 2021 about RTO practices and views on independent validation of assessment.  The summary of the Report states, “RTOs can see the value of independent validation of assessment as part of a training system striving for quality, however independent validation of assessment is driven by regulatory requirements, which can generate a compliance mentality, leading to over-assessment, but not necessarily better assessment practices or improved training.”

The description of the Report states, “Validation of assessment tools, processes and outcomes is an important element of the quality of assessment in vocational education and training (VET). This research explored how registered training organisations (RTOs) conduct independent validation of assessment (IVA) and what industry involvement they have in these processes. Interviews with RTOs reveal that IVA practices are diverse. In terms of industry involvement, IVA tends to be incorporated into ongoing RTO-employer relationships, rather than employers having a formal role. Employers, especially SMEs, have neither time nor interest in validation and tend to see training and assessment as the responsibility of the RTO.”

This report seeks to better understand the persistent issues relating to RTO practices in conducting independent moderation and validation of assessment, and the role industry plays in this process.

READ THE REPORT: BEGIN WITH THE END: RTO PRACTICES AND VIEWS ON INDEPENDENT VALIDATION OF ASSESSMENT


9. DOZENS OF COLLEGES TARGETED IN QUEENSLAND CRACKDOWN

The TAFE Directors Australia Newsletter, 5 July 2021 reports on the Queensland government’s contract termination of 12 government subsidised training providers and sanctioned another 43 as part of a crackdown on poor quality training.  The article states, “The Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said the actions come 12 months after the government introduced tougher quality controls on providers under the Skills Assure Supplier scheme.

“Make no mistake – if you’re an RTO refusing to meet the high standards we expect of our training providers, we will throw the book at you and I make no apologies for that,” Ms Farmer said. …

Ms Farmer foreshadowed tougher oversight of third-party arrangements entered into by RTOs and warned that those breaching rules would be referred to the Australian Skills Quality Authority.”

READ MORE


10. NEW PLANS FOR BATTERIES CUT RED TAPE AND BOOST REVENUE OPTIONS

Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced two key steps to help batteries play a more critical role in our low-carbon future, ensuring they’re rewarded for keeping the lights on. This includes new measures to better integrate storage into the NEM and enlisting ultra-fast energy providers, like batteries, for frequency control. …

“The change will level the playing field with other market participants. Batteries for example, will no longer need to register twice (to both draw energy from the grid and send it out) as they are currently required to do.

For small customers, this will open up opportunities to earn more revenue for their home battery, because they can sign up with innovative new aggregator businesses who will pay them for using their battery at certain times. At the moment, aggregator businesses can only provide energy one way, but our changes will open up new business models for them.” …

“The draft energy storage plan is still open for consultation, with submissions due on 16 September 2021 and a final determination the following month.”

READ MORE


11. NECA SUPPORTS AUSTRALIAN CABLE INITIATIVE

The latest NECA Newsletter (6 July 2021) includes an article regarding NECA’s support for a new Australian Cable Initiative (ACI) to advocate for improved safety standards relating to electrical cable sold in Australia.  The article states, “It should be the objective of every electrician and contractor to make sure they install only equipment that is compliant with the relevant Australian Standards and safe to use to avoid another costly mistake like the Infinity Cables example.”

For more information visit the ACI website to learn more about its cable initiative:  READ MORE HERE