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News Service 71 – TAFE NSW cuts face-to-face hours, Feds reveal industry clusters, labour market career options, S&S Update, NCVER March quarter – apprentice and trainee data, Battery trainer needed, Safety and Industry news

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1. TAFE NSW TO CUT FACE-TO-FACE DELIVERY HOURS IN TRADE QUALIFICATION

Not content with just selling properties, as reported in the SMH by Anna Patty, 28 October 2021, TAFE NSW has now turned its attention to cutting face-to-face delivery hours in vocational subjects to save time and money on teaching staff.  It is now relying on some untested and unreliable try-outs of online delivery to cut costs and educate learners/apprentices in highly integrated practical and theory-based subjects, typically associated with trade training.  For instance, a proposal has been circulated to substantially reduce, in some instance up to 40%, the face-to-face delivery hours of several subjects in the core of the Certificate III Electrotechnology Electrician qualification (30820).  There has been no consultation with industry in relation to the proposal.

The Electrotechnology industry, has repeatedly advised RTOs including TAFE NSW that it does not support the diminution of face-to-face delivery hours from the existing off the job program, approved by industry, for apprentice electricians.  It does support however, tutorial programs that provide online delivery to support and assist apprentices, where applicable.  It should be recalled that many Electrotechnology vocations are heavily underpinned with technical theory and employ a combined off and on job model of competency development to produce well rounded and competent persons.  Integration of technical education (the off the job or knowledge-skills component) with on-the-job practice is critical for long term competency retention and safe work in Electrotechnology vocations.  Diluting the efficacy of the off the job component; of a reliable and well tried and long-tested model, will have grave consequences for the quality of graduating apprentices and the employers who employ them to carry out work safely to an industry standard.  

Of the information gleaned thus far, the proposed reductions in face-to-face delivery hours have earmarked safety and skills development topics as the content that could be diluted and transited to online learning.  Whilst on face value this decision may look benign and plausible, industry practitioners and a recent industry survey (which include a cohort of apprentices) conducted by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) suggests the very opposite.  In fact, the evidence suggests there is much concern in the industry and safety regulators, that not enough emphasis is being given to subjects that cover safe work practices such as work health and safety regulations, codes and practices in the workplace; electric shock response; measures to control WHS risks associated with electrotechnology work; performing rescue procedures from live low voltage (LV) apparatus; and so on, and their importance for understanding and deploying risk mitigation strategies and ensuring compliance in the workplace related to general work practices.

Moreover, it is perplexing to believe, that at a time when we know from our industry stakeholders that many newly employed apprentices present with significantly low levels of hand skills, the suggestion is to reduce face-to-face skills development practice in fixing and securing electrotechnology equipment and as well, fabricating, assembling and dismantling industry equipment and components.  Manual tasks including hand and power tools and use of plant, machinery and equipment are recognised by SafeWork NSW as an area prone to high incidents.  SafeWork NSW devotes much effort to highlighting the importance of safe work practices in this regard (refer Code of Practice Construction Work, August 2019 or Safe Work Australia/SafeWork NSW data on use of power tools safety or safety rules for using power tools) as does the industry.

Evidence shows, that where significant deviation from a coherent Competency Development Model occurs learners fail to maintain relevance, and indeed may pose a danger to themselves, others and the equipment worked on.  Developers and deliverers of quality training programs, aligned to the National Electrotechnology Training Package would be familiar with this notion, and would recognise the long-term consequences and likely disadvantages to learners and employers if a desegregation of the Competency Development (Training) Model were to be introduced.  There should be, as far as is practicable, a concordance between learning and practice for the development of competently qualified personnel.  These are the principles that the Electrotechnology Training Package were founded on, and any decision to dilute aspects of the delivery are cause for concern in the industry, and no doubt for regulators.

The question is what is driving the decision to push for a reduction in face-to-face delivery time.

  • Is it educational efficacy that would lead to improved graduate quality of outcomes?
  • Is it tight monetary impositions from TAFE NSW Management who are believed to deduct up to 40% of the allocated government funds from a qualification for administration and infrastructure purposes, from a very low funding base for these important and high-in-demand qualifications (40% less than Victoria provides for the same qualification)?

Reason would discount the former, as there is little evidence of efficacy of online learning in trade programs in Australia or overseas.  Therefore, it is most likely to be the latter that is underpinning the decision.

Accordingly, following concern bought to the attention of the NSW UE ITAB, the ITAB will immediately commence a series of consultations with industry stakeholders including TAFE NSW regarding whether the proposal to reduce face-to-face delivery hours, initially in relation to the Certificate III Electrotechnology Electrician qualification (30820), is real, warranted, unwarranted and/or in need of drastic amendment. 

The safety aspects and the quality of graduate outcomes in the long-term, given no historical experience or studies in the effects of diluting face-to-face hours of delivery with online studies for all concerned, cannot be understated, particularly in relation to the electrician qualification or other allied trades such as refrigeration and air conditioning.  Potentially bad outcomes impact directly on the public, the community and fellow workers, and the merits of such a proposal must be duly investigated.  A report will ensue.

For more information contact Tony Palladino at : tony@uensw.com.au or on mobile 04 3739 6363.

2. GOVERNMENT REVEALS NINE INDUSTRY CLUSTERS TO LEAD THE VET SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA

The latest medial release from the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, The Hon Stuart Robert MP issued on 28 October 2021 states, “A fundamental overhaul of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system has been agreed to by the Morrison Government and states and territories.  The reforms are an important achievement and will improve the performance, efficiency, transparency and confidence in the VET sector, ensuring Australians can access high quality and relevant training and employers can access the skilled workers they need.

The new Industry Clusters model—as groups of aligned industries—will replace the 67 Industry Reference Committees and six Skills Service Organisations and are expected to be fully operational by 1 January 2023.  The reforms will ensure courses and qualifications in the sector are driven by and better meet the needs of industry, as well as students.

Training package approval processes will also change, with an independent assurance function to replace the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) by 1 January 2023.”

The industry engagement reform followed the release of the Ministerial Statement from the Minister, as Chair of the Skills National Cabinet Reform Committee.

More information has now been published to the Skills Reform website regarding the new arrangements.  This includes fact sheets on the:

Skills Ministers have confirmed that IRCs and SSOs will retain responsibility for training packages and TPD until the end of 2022, unless an Industry Cluster can demonstrate that they are ready to take on relevant training package responsibility sooner.

Nine industry clusters are proposed:

INDUSTRY CLUSTERCOVERAGE
Agribusiness and Food ProductionIndustries involved in agriculture and related sectors, including primary production, forestry, food and beverage manufacturing and working with animals. This includes land, water and environmental management.
Early Educators, Health and Human ServicesIndustries offering community services and support including early childhood education, aged care, mental health and health, disability and allied services.
Manufacturing, Print and Textiles Industries involved in manufacturing and engineering, from aircraft, automotive and machinery, to furniture, textiles and printing. This includes chemicals, plastics, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing.
Arts and Personal ServicesIndustries providing hairdressing and beauty, floristry and funeral services, as well as tourism and hospitality, sport and recreation and creative industries.
Finance, Technology and BusinessIndustries involved in business and financial services and information and communications technology.
Mining, Resources and EnergyIndustries involved in mineral exploration and extraction, as well as energy production and storage, including electricity and gas supply, renewables and hydrogen.
Building, Construction and PropertyIndustries involved in construction and property services, from plumbers, carpenters and electricians, to water supply and other civil infrastructure.
Government, Education and PublicIndustries involved in public service, public safety including police, fire, defence and correctional services, and training and education.
Wholesale, Retail, Transport and LogisticsIndustries supplying goods and services via air, land and maritime transport, retail (including automotive retail) and logistics operations.

The design of the proposed model was informed by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes which group clusters based on key business activities.

NEXT STEPS

“On 20 April 2021, the AISC agreed to extend all IRC memberships, including Chair and Deputy Chair appointments, until 31 December 2021 to support continuity of TPD. The AISC will be discussing further transition arrangements including the offer of IRC membership extensions at the next AISC meeting on 12 November. The Commonwealth will work with SSOs to ensure continuity of service and support to IRCs for a further 12 months. More information on SSO funding arrangements for next year, including the requirements for the handover and next steps, will be provided to SSOs shortly.”

UTILITIES IS SEPARATED FROM ELECTROTECHNOLOGY

Notably Utilities in this new arrangement is separated from Electrotechnology.  That is, Electrotechnology (electricians and refrigeration and air conditioning) goes to Construction.  Utilities is transferred to Mining, Resources and Energy. 

The logic of such decision is based on the use of ANZSIC codes.  This decision shows a sense of naivety in decision makers understanding of how ANZSIC and more so, in some instances, ANZSCO interrelates with Vocational Education and Training (VET), Training Package development and training delivery.  The notion that somehow overlapping and synergistic occupational outcomes and underpinning training can all be based on ANZSIC codes, defies logic and moreover, conflicts with international reporting obligations regarding occupations to the ILO convention to which the Australian Government is a signatory to.  Some occupations are pervasive across industries, and some are intrinsically industry based and provide vertical career pathways within that industry.  This is not so for occupations that permeate across industries and typically have horizontal career pathways, such as Electrotechnology and Utilities.

Take for instance the electrician qualifications which pervades across many industry areas, such as mining, health, utilities, energy, building and construction, and manufacturing to name a few. 

  • Are we to entertain the prospect that there could likely be up to six (6) electrician qualifications developed – one for each possible Cluster covering the same occupation? 
  • What will the electrical regulators think about that?  And, how will AS/NZS 3000 electrical wiring rules apply to each of them, when it applies to them uniformly?
  • Who will cover the occupations covering electronics, computer systems, ITC, instrumentation and control, renewables, and other allied paraprofessional occupations not in the Building and Construction Industry but who too, permeate across many industries?
  • What of the high level of common underpinning knowledge and skills synergies between those occupations in the Utilities and Energy sector with Electrotechnology occupations – who will ensure training efficiency and reduced duplication of training effort across same competencies?
  • Who in their right mind would come to this conclusion, to separate likeminded occupations on the simplistic assumption of using ANZSIC codes, as one size fit for all solution?

This was attempted in 1995/6, when the Australia National Training Authority (ANTA) went down this same route only to find it was likely to create more problems and loads of duplication.  In the end it would cost taxpayers more money for the same common outcomes.  Are we looking to replicate the same error again, only to find out it doesn’t work?

The occupational synergies and overlaps between Electrotechnology and Utilities, including the alternative energy sectors are extremely high (refer Australian Jobs Report, 2021 released by the National Skills Commission 23 Sep 2021). 

Proceeding with the decision to anoint nine (9) Industry Clusters, without one for Utilities and Electrotechnology, will cause major disarray for both the Utilities and Electrotechnology industries and moreover, their RTOs, especially TAFEs.

The Australian Government must be invited to reconsider their decision to separate Utilities and Energy from Electrotechnology and look to the benefits and rewards of maintaining them in one Industry Cluster.  Industry stakeholders should contact their respective representative bodies and share their views in relation to the proposed Industry Cluster arrangement and call for an additional Cluster to be established to specifically cover Utilities and Electrotechnology.


3. IDENTIFYING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN THE AUSTRALIAN LABOUR MARKET

The latest National Skills Commission (NSC) publication, Australian Jobs 2021, provides an overview of trends in the Australian labour market to support job seekers and employment service providers, career advisers, those considering future training and people interested in labour market issues.  The report presents, in an excellent informatic form, occupational data covering national and each state and territory.

The publication aims to step readers and career aspirants through all aspects of the labour market.  Stating, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the labour market and there is now more competition for jobs. It is more important than ever to understand what employers are looking for and to understand the labour market you’re moving into.”

Additionally, jobs by location including each state/territory are reported on, as are jobs by industry and occupation.  Advice is tendered as to what mediums or methods can be used to look for a job.  As well, advice on what employers are looking for and what a career aspirant may wish to showcase to win the job of their choice.  There is further information about the role of the National Skills Commission (NSC), the National Careers Institute (NCI), an information kit and information service for school leavers, as well as a host of jobs and training, and government programs information.

To download a copy of the report, visit the link:  AUSTRALIAN JOBS 2021


4. VALIDATION FEEDBACK SOUGHT FOR ESI TD&R TRAINING PACKAGE

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advises on behalf of the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committee (TD&R-IRC), its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) have considered all stakeholder feedback and revised draft Training Package materials for the Transmission Structures project.

The materials include an update to the Certificate II in Transmission Line Construction and three Units of Competency to accurately reflect the occupational outcome, and to address current work and safety practices.

In addition, the TAC has proposed to delete the following Units:

  • UETDRTO003 Establish and reinstate a transmission structure work site – The unit was not deemed as a standalone task, and the content of the unit has been incorporated into other units in the Certificate II in Transmission Structure to align with job roles on the site.
  • UETDRTO014Y Set-up and install transmission structure stubs – The tasks within the unit are carried out by engineers and is a duplication of content from other Training Packages.

The ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail IRC is seeking your feedback to validate these draft materials to ensure the proposed products meet industry needs.

Submissions and feedback close, COB Monday, 15 November 2021.

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Manager, Erin Knudsen on: M: 0418 434 302 | E: erin.knudsen@aistnds.org.au

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK HERE


5. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE – OCTOBER 2021

Smart and Skilled Update (attached) – October 2021, covers the following:

  1. Summer Skills 2021/22 Update
  2. Extension of Step Safely into Construction: Free construction boots and hard hats available for eligible students
  3. Research project: Understanding the Experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in VET – Participants sought
  4. Documentary on adult literacy for teacher/trainer viewing
  5. COVID-19 Smart and Skilled Provider Webinar recording held 17 September 2021
  6. Update to the Smart and Skilled Policy for the Skilling for Recovery Initiative (Version 1.6)
  7. NSW Skills List updated – Version 12.2
  8. Summer Skills 2021/22 update
  9. Introducing the VET Data Streamlining project

For more information visit: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/smartandskilled/index.html

Or, for technical support in relation to this update, contact Training Market Customer Support at Training.Market@det.nsw.edu.au.


6. NCVER – APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES 2021: MARCH QUARTER – AUSTRALIA

NCVER has published the latest March 2021 quarter of apprenticeship and trainee data.  The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia has created uncertain times for individuals, business and governments, which have affected apprentice and trainee numbers in 2020/21.  Care should be taken when comparing 2020/21 data with data from previous years.

This infographic provides a snapshot of apprenticeships and traineeships across Australia.

This most recent data on apprentice and trainee training activity shows a strong increase in commencements in the March quarter 2021.

IN-TRAINING AS AT 31 MARCH 2021

  • There were 329,585 apprentices and trainees in-training as at 31 March 2021, an increase of 20.7% from 31 March 2020.

QUARTERLY TRAINING ACTIVITY

In the March quarter 2021, compared with the March quarter 2020:

  • commencements increased by 35.4%, to 66,635
  • completions decreased by 9.4%, to 20,010

TRAINING ACTIVITY: 12-MONTH ENDING SERIES

In the 12 months ending 31 March 2021, compared with the 12 months ending 31 March 2020:

  • commencements increased by 28.5%, to 186,745
  • completions decreased by 16.8%, to 73,780
  • cancellations and withdrawals decreased by 12.4%, to 73,255

READ MORE HERE


7. NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS MONTH – STOP PLAYING RENOVATION ROULETTE

Editor Sean Carroll in Electrical Connection, reports on the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign that commences 1 November 2021 and ends 30 November 2021.  The article states, “Amid Australia’s multi-billion dollar home renovation boom, the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign (1–30 November) aims to reduce asbestos-related diseases by urging renovators and tradies to ‘stop playing renovation roulette because it’s not worth the risk’ and start to respect the dangers of asbestos just as they respect the dangers of electricity when renovating or maintaining homes.” …

“With one-in-three homes containing asbestos and more than one in three homeowners currently undertaking renovations (a 37% increase); serious concerns have been raised that DIY renovators and tradies …”

READ MORE HERE


8. TRAINER WITH BATTERY EXPERTISE WANTED

Superior Training Centre (SPC) is looking for a trainer with expertise and experience in batteries interrelated with solar.  If you have the experience or know of someone that does, contact Mila Lukic at SPC directly.

Contact details are: milica@stc.nsw.edu.au or call 04 0046 1190 and talk with Mila.


9. KEY WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY STATISTICS 2021

The NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety News latest publication (28 October 2021) features the latest report from Safe Work Australia on national WHS statistics.  The article states, “each year, Safe Work Australia produces national statistics, providing information on the state of work health and safety in Australia.”

Safe Work’s latest publication provides an overview of the latest national data on work-related fatalities and workers’ compensation claims data for 2019-20.  This includes trends, gender and age comparisons, and industry and occupation breakdowns for work health and safety and serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia.

Download a copy of the report and the following link: SAFE WORK WEBSITE


10. DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT, MAKE SURE YOUR WORK MEETS REGULATIONS

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) in its latest newsletter of 28 October 2021 reports on the NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) campaign NSW Fair Trading, “urging contractors to make sure all work complies with regulations, codes, and standards.”

The article states, “The Building Specialist Compliance Unit plays a significant role in auditing class 2 building sites in NSW.  The Unit works closely with the NSW Building Commissioner and the Occupation Certificate Audit team to identify defects and to protect potential buyers.

Between December 2020 and July 2021, 44 audit inspections were carried out, resulting in:

  • 215 electrical non-compliances, and
  • 34 written directions.

All part of the NSW Building Industry Reforms

READ MORE HERE


11. INVERTER STANDARDS CHANGE DECEMBER 2021 – WANT TO KNOW MORE?

The Smart Energy Council, in its latest newsletter is inviting interested stakeholders to participate in a webinar to learn about the new requirement for all new inverters in Australia, to be certified to AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 (grid connection of energy systems via inverters) from December 2021.

The webinar, “What Inverter Standards Change in December?”, will explore why changes have been made and how they will affect PV/Battery installers and designers; Inverter, Battery & EV manufacturers; and Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSP’s).

When: November 3, 2021

Time: 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Cost: Free

To join the webinar: REGISTER HERE


12. INNOVATION ALLOWS MORE SUN ONTO SA’S ELECTRICITY GRID

EnergyInsider (a joint publication of Energy Networks Australia and Australian Energy Council) reports, that “residents in Adelaide’s south are at the forefront of the energy transformation as they take part in a world leading trial of flexible export limits, which will allow more residents to export their surplus rooftop-generated power.”

The article looks at how SA Power Networks is working to double the amount of solar on the grid by 2025.

READ MORE HERE

For more, contact Jemma Townson, Energy Networks Australia