News Service 82 – History of VET funding 1970-2020, AiGroup VET Policy, celebrate IWD, AISC UEE UEG UET communique, apprentices, electric shock incident, Flood grants, RTO Compliance, Students & courses data, safety & industry news

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1. FUNDING VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA – 1970 TO 2020

At a time when a lot of hype surrounds levels of funding of VET by political parties as we head into an election fever, a timely and clearheaded report has been released by NCVER on funding of vocational education in Australia between 1970 to 2020. 

The report, “Funding vocational education in Australia: 1970 to 2020”, was authored by Gerald Burke, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University and published at end of February 2022 by NCVER. 

The report considers the history of the funding of VET across five decades.  It draws on a range of reports, reviews, statistical data and relevant landmark reports to examine public and private funding and its distribution among public and private providers, employers, and students.  The overview also explores evidence on the effects of various government policies for the use of funds in relation to the goals of the VET system.

A notable point in the report is that notwithstanding all of the hype, of those promoting the notion that there has been an increase in investment and expenditure in VET by governments over the years, the opposite seems to be true.  The evidence shows there have been periods of increase and decline occurring since the 1970s, but these ebbs and flows have resulted in a decline in real terms.

Take for instance the following graph:

Government grants by education sector, annual percentage increase, Australia 1970 to 2017, 2017 prices:

Students by education sector, average annual percentage rates of increase, Australia 1970 to 2019:

Number of Trade and non-Trade apprentices in training, Australia 1963 to 2019, (‘000):

On employer training expenditure and employment, the report includes these two interesting and pointed statements:

“Employer training now gets little consideration in VET policy and research. It was quite different 30 years ago when a major policy initiative, the Training Guarantee, was introduced as discussed in section 9.”  …

“It is disconcerting that student outcomes data show that, except in the trades and some specialist areas, only about a quarter of qualification completers are employed in the occupation of their training package, though a considerable number who are employed in other occupations found their training of relevance (Karmel, Mlotkowski & Awodeyi 2008, NCVER 2021a). The critics of training packages argue that courses could be developed to address a cluster of occupations and be more concerned with underpinning knowledge.  It would give students more options and increase the flexibility of the workforce.”

The report is comprehensive and timely and provides us with a wealth of detailed information that can assist clear the waters of what has and will become muddy as different parties seek to score points as to who has the better policies or accomplished the most in the past.  The evidence is crystal clear of the history and current state of play, in the report.  It will add to the dialogue that no doubt will ensue in the coming months.

Author, Gerald Burke is to be commended for producing such as comprehensive report VET funding in Australia, which can be downloaded HERE and also, can now be downloaded from the NCVER website at: FUNDING VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA 1970 TO 2020

Maybe the real term decline in VET funding was a contributing factor that led to a newspaper article about a claim by TAFE Teachers that there was an attempt to offshore the writing of course documents or curriculum for students, which was reported by Christopher Harris in the Daily Telegraph, 2 March 2022.


2. AISC APPROVES OF UEE INDUSTRY PROPOSAL

Following the 44th Meeting of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), held 22 February 2022, the AISC released its Communique of the meeting’s decisions.  The Communique was released on 2 March 2022 and contained the following in relation to the Electrotechnology Training Package.

“The Committee approved an Industry Proposal submitted by the National Electrical and Communications Association to make minor changes to 11 units of competency in the UEE Training Package.  Members noted these changes will address implementation issues in gathering authentic evidence of workplace practice, as well as clarifying licensing requirements.”

This is a good result as the minor changes relate to the UEE30820 – Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician in which there were significant issues raised in relation to implementation of the mandatory gathering authentic evidence of workplace practice. 

The industry in consultation with RTOs developed a minor change solution to correct the unindented consequences flowing form the Release 3.0 with respect to the qualification.  It is now hoped that the amendments can be processed with haste as RTOs look to tool up and transition to the Training Package later this year.

The Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee (E-IRC) is to be congratulated for addressing this matter and for AISC to accept the proposal that the changes sought were of a minor nature.

ACCESS THE COMMUNIQUE HERE


3. AISC APPROVES FOR ENDORSEMENT CHANGES TO THE GENERATION TRAINING PACKAGE

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), at its 44th Meeting, held 22 February 2022, also dealt with a submission to approve endorsement of changes to the Generation Training Package.  The ASIC Communique, which was released on 2 March 2022, approved the following:

“Submission from the Electricity Supply Generation IRC re the Case for Endorsement covering the UEP Electricity Supply Industry – Generation Sector Training Package included three projects:

  1. Project A:    Operations Personnel
  2. Project B:    Remote Area Essential Service
  3. Project C:    Wind Power Generation

Approved for endorsement were:

  • 3 streamed qualifications
  • 3 revised qualifications
  • 159 revised units of competency
  • 4 revised skill sets”

ACCESS THE COMMUNIQUE HERE


4. GRANTS FOR FARMERS, SMALL BUSINESSES AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS

The NSW Government has advised that grants will be made available to farmers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations that have impacted by the recent storms and floods.  The public notice states, “The NSW and Australian Governments are working together to provide financial support to businesses impacted by the recent storms and floods.

Eligible primary producers can apply now for a Special Disaster Grant of up to $75,000 on the Rural Assistance Authority website.

Small businesses and not-for-profit organisations may be eligible for a grant of up to $50,000. Register your interest and we’ll notify you when more information, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, becomes available.”

Visit the relevant links for more information and guidance on how to apply:

  1. GET NOTIFIED
  2. Disaster relief loans – APPLY NOW
  3. Disaster recovery assistance – SUPPORT AND RESOURCES

5. ACKNOWLEDGING TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY (IWD)

Today, the 8th of March, we celebrate and acknowledge International Women’s Day.  The UN has announced their theme for 2022 as “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow“. 

It is held throughout the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

NSW is celebrating International Women’s Day through the NSW Women’s Week, which is back for its fourth year, running from 7-13 March 2022.

Learn more about Women’s Week and how you can get involved by visiting NSW Women’s Week.


6. RTO ANNUAL DECLARATION ON COMPLIANCE DUE 31 MARCH

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) advises RTOs in its latest March ASQA Update, of the need for RTOs to ensure they submit their annual declarations on time.

The article states, “Each year, all ASQA-regulated RTOs need to make an annual declaration on their RTO’s compliance, under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015. CEOs received an email with a unique link on 21 February 2022 with the subject ‘Annual declaration on compliance—online form now available’. Please let us know if you haven’t received your declaration details yet or if you need any help submitting.”

READ MORE HERE


7. CASE FOR CHANGE – ESI TRANSMISSION, DISTRIBUTION AND RAIL

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advises that the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committee has developed a Powerline Safety Case for Change for Training Package development work to address the skills and knowledge required by non-Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) workers to work safely near overhead electrical powerlines and is seeking your feedback.

This work is vital to ensuring awareness and education of non-ESI workers across industries about the risks and hazards associated with working near electrical powerlines.

Over recent years deaths and accidents as a result of accidental contact with powerlines have highlighted the inherent dangers for non-ESI workers.

Please submit your feedback by close of business Monday, 21 March 2022.

The Case for Change will be submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration at its meeting in April 2022.

To view the Case for Change, please visit the AIS website – VIEW CASE FOR CHANGE AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

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


8. AIGROUP – 2022 FEDERAL ELECTION VET POLICY STATEMENT

Ahead of the forthcoming federal election, the AiGroup has released its policy statement on skills, education and training. 

The policy released by Innes Wilcox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group outlines a series of approaches and arrangements it believes, if implemented, can be instrumental to improving Australia’s economic and social development.

The policy submits three key themes, which it elaborates on with a series of actions:

  1. Skills needs, qualifications and education and training arrangements
    1. VET skills reform
    1. Breaking down barriers between VET and universities
    1. VET, university and industry partnerships
  2. Work-based learning and work-integrated learning
    1. The apprenticeship model
  3. Foundation skills

The AiGroup states, “Ai Group’s skills, education and training policy proposals for the 2022 federal election focus on three areas: improving our approach to skills needs, qualifications, education and training; the opportunities presented by work-integrated learning (including apprenticeships); and the importance of developing foundation skills – including in workplaces.”

A copy of the policy can be downloaded HERE and can be downloaded at: AIGROUP – 2022 FEDERAL ELECTION POLICY STATEMENT


9. NCVER – GOVERNMENT-FUNDED STUDENTS AND COURSES – JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 2021

The NCVER has released a new statistical publication, 1 March 2021, covering government-funded students and courses. 

A description of the publication states, the “publication provides a summary of data relating to students, programs, subjects and training providers in Australia’s government-funded vocational education and training (VET) system, defined as all Commonwealth and state/territory government-funded training delivered by technical and further education (TAFE) institutes, other government providers (such as universities), community education providers and other registered providers.”

Highlights of the report are:

“In the first nine months to 30 September 2021, 1 124 100 students were enrolled in government-funded vocational education and training (VET). They included:

  • 1,096,100 students enrolled in nationally recognised training
  • 65,800 students enrolled in non-nationally recognised training.

Government-funded program enrolments comprised:

  • 86.9% in nationally recognised programs
  • 9.4% in locally developed programs
  • 3.7% in non-nationally recognised programs.

81.8% of program enrolments were in qualifications:

  • 74.4% of program enrolments were in training package qualifications
  • 7.4% were in accredited qualifications
  • 47.5% of qualifications were at certificate III level
  • 20.2% of qualifications were at certificate IV level.”

To download a copy of the report, visit:  GOVERNMENT-FUNDED STUDENTS AND COURSES – JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 2021

The link also provides access to a DataBuilder, which provides an interactive way of visualising data that can be customised as needed which can show students, programs, subjects in Australia’s government-funded vocational education and training (VET) system.


10. APPRENTICES IN DEMAND

The 1 March 2022 edition of Climate Control News (CCN), reported by Editor Sandra Rossi relays of the significant increase in apprentice numbers in employment, most of which were in electrotechnology, and includes refrigeration and air conditioning.

The article states, “With the demand for skilled workers rising in 2021, a higher proportion of apprentices and trainees are being employed after completing their training.

The latest statistics from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows 94.0% of apprentices and trainees who completed their training in a trade occupation were employed after training.

Employment outcomes improved the most for those who trained in electrotechnology which includes refrigeration and air conditioning.

NCVER managing director Simon Walker said employment outcomes for apprentices and trainees significantly improved between 2019 and 2021.

“The proportion of qualified apprentices and trainees employed with the same employer was up 12.3 percentage points from 2019,” he said.”

READ MORE HERE or DOWNLOAD NCVER REPORT HERE


11. ELECTRICAL FIRM PROSECUTED AFTER APPRENTICE’S NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

The Western Australian Government’s Building and Energy department announced that it had prosecuted an employer for ineffective supervision, and the apprentice did not hold an electrician’s training licence.

The media release states, “An apprentice electrician is lucky to be alive after an electric shock left him unresponsive and without a pulse while working at a property in Mandurah.

The January 2020 incident was described at Mandurah Magistrates Court this month following Building and Energy’s prosecution of the apprentice’s employer, Xtra Solutions Pty Ltd (EC12559) trading as Xtra Electrical.  …

The court was told that the second-year apprentice and his supervising electrical worker attended a commercial premises to disconnect and remove an electric hot water unit.

While on a phone call, the supervising electrician directed the 19-year-old apprentice towards a kitchen cabinet where the younger man started to cut and disconnect the wiring on the hot water unit inside.

Shortly after, the apprentice received an electric shock of up to 240 volts and he was unable to let go of the electrified cable in his hand for at least 30 seconds.

The supervising electrician and property tenant pulled him away from the cabinet area and began CPR. …

Magistrate Leanne Atkins said the apprentice had been “brought back, in effect, from the dead” and the young man no longer wanted to work in the electrical industry.

Her Honour added that electricians and electrical companies should note the significant penalties imposed for endangering a person by failing to supervise.”

READ MORE HERE


12. MOULDED CASE CIRCUIT BREAKERS – NOTICE OF POTENTIAL UNSAFE CONDITION

Schneider Electric has issued a product safety notice in relation to a series of Moulded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCBs). 

The notice warns of potential unsafe conditions and the notice should be brought to the attention of the responsible person in your organisation.

The notice states, “The products covered include ComPact NSX, NSU, NSC 400 – 630A , EasyPact CVS, EZC, EZD, EZS, CSU 400 – 630A , PowerPact L 250 – 600A.  These products have either been purchased for incorporation into a finished offer such as a Low Voltage Distribution equipment or Generator Set for example (LV switchboard Builder or OEM) or have been supplied directly to an installation.  …

The potentially affected MCCB may contain a nonconforming component that may result in the circuit breaker not operating as intended under certain conditions . Should this condition occur, a potential for PERSONAL INJURY AND/OR PROPERTY DAMAGE may exist.  Hence Schneider Electric has decided to carry out a full investigation and remedial action.

Corrective actions have been implemented at Schneider Electric to prevent this issue being repeated on any new MCCB.”

Schneider Electric has written those it believes may have purchased the products, stating, “the purpose of this letter is to inform you about the potential risk and ask you to provide the proper identification and information. This information will be used to identify and complete necessary remedial work.

We urge you to comply with the requests in this document and follow the containment actions described in Appendix 01.  A copy of the letter and Appendixes can be downloaded HERE.

For more information contact: customercare.au@schneider-electric.com or visit the website: www.se.com/au/en/


13. RCD INJECTION TESTING AS NZS 3019

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety reported in its Electrical Focus Issue 5 (page 8) included an article on why RCD injection testing from the switchboard with the escutcheon panel removed is rarely justified, if ever.

The article points out that a very satisfactory, indeed preferable, safe alternative method is available. This means that injection testing from a switchboard contravenes Regulation 55 of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991.

Injection testing of RCDs and RCBOs at a switchboard with the escutcheon panel removed to gain access to the RCD terminations is rarely justified and risks exposing electrical workers to uninsulated energised parts.

Draft Standard AS/NZS 3019:2021 – Electrical Installations – Periodic Assessment has been released for public comment. It caters for both ‘limited testing’ and ‘additional testing’ of installations. For RCDs and RCBOs, limited testing is all that is needed in most instances.

For limited testing, Clause 4.2.2.5(a) states:

Operate the test button twice to confirm correct operation.

This is the only test necessary in most installations and for most owners. The ‘additional testing’ option in Clause 5.7 merely states:

the correct operation of RCDs shall be assessed by the use of test equipment.

If injection testing is required by installation owners to determine RCD compliance for trip time and current, it should be conducted at a socket outlet or luminaire at the extreme end of a final sub-circuit. …

READ MORE HERE OR SUBMIT COMMENTS


14. MAN SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN ELEVATING WORK PLATFORM OVERTURNED

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland reports in its eSafe Incident Alert of a worker having received a serious head injury whilst operating a self-propelled scissor lift.

The article states, “In January 2022, a man was operating a self-propelled scissor lift which overturned leaving him with serious head injuries. Early investigations found the worker was alone, replacing rivets on metal flashings in an indoor sports facility.”

There are various types of elevating work platforms (EWPs), including self-propelled scissor lifts, self-propelled boom-type EWPs, and truck and trailer mounted EWPs. They are important for work at height. However, there have been many serious incidents recently involving these machines.

READ MORE HERE


15. STAY SAFE AROUND SOLAR PANELS DURING FLOODS

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) advises in its latest news service of 3 March 2022, of the dangers of solar panels and other electrical appliances being damaged in flood waters.  It has issued an urgent warning of injuries and potentially deaths from solar panels and other electrical equipment as the flooding increases today.

The articles states, “Solar panels continue to produce electricity during a flood event, even if the power supply has been cut off and the panels turned off at the switchboard.”

At the same time, it has urged flood victims not to take risks with water-damaged appliances, saying people should either check them or chuck them. 

“Water-damaged appliances could represent a serious safety risk if they were plugged in and turned on before they were properly tested.”

READ MORE HERE RE SOLAR DANGERS

READ MORE HERE RISK IN USING WATER-DAMAGED APPLIANCES


16. GET INTO SHAPE WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY

Electrical Connection in its 2 March 2022 news service includes a feature article by Sean Carrol on a new app (Minimum Standards app) to address the issue of workplace safety across Australian trade industries.  The article states,” Have you ever been on the job, about to start and just wondering: “Have I got everything?”

Have you got the last thing checked off? Did you do this? Did you do that? And so on. Yes, you could run over the rules again but it’s not quite accessible in the middle of a job, is it?

Conversely, what if you’re not confident using whatever equipment it may be? There’s now an app, the SHAPE Minimum Standards (SMS) app, that can help operators and tradies check up on the relevant standards and best practices for the specific equipment.

“The SMS app provides construction workers with quick and easy access to environmental, health, safety and quality management information from any mobile device,” SHAPE Australia group executive – environmental, health, safety & quality Phillip Smith says.”

READ MORE HERE


17. VICTORIA PUTS OFFSHORE WIND AT THE CENTRE OF ITS CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) reports in its 4 March news service, that the Victorian Government has announced a commitment to significantly grow offshore wind electricity production. 

The CEC says that offshore wind is set to provide a bright new future for Victorian industry, with news of the state government’s commitment to ensuring massive growth in this emerging sector over the next decade.

The article states, “The ambitious plan sees the state commit to delivering new minimum targets of 2 GW of offshore wind by 2032, then 4 GW by 2035 and 9 GW by 2040. Offshore wind alone will power 1.5 million homes in a decades’ time.

“Today’s announcement locks in a major offshore wind industry for Victoria,” says Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton. “Offshore wind is no longer a possibility; it’s becoming a certainty.”

READ MORE HERE


18. IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP IF YOU WANT A RENEWABLE FUTURE

The joint Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) newsletter EnergyInsider in the 3 March edition, includes an article regard the complexities of integrating distributed energy resources like rooftop solar and storage devices into the grid. 

The article states, “Australia is increasingly heading for a future powered in large part by local renewable energy – and I tell you folks, it’s far more complex than simply plug and play.  Integrating distributed energy resources like rooftop solar and storage devices into the grid is a huge task.  It will be achieved not just by engineers and policy experts, but through the efforts of customers and communities.  They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and while we are well on our way, it’s still a long way to the top if we want a renewable energy future.  One development taking us forward is the introduction of a new technical standard to make inverters smarter.  …

The new inverter standard (AS NZS 4777.2:2020) is the technical part of the answer. This came into effect on 18 December 2021.  …

An important thing to note is that this new standard is not retroactive, meaning it doesn’t apply to installations before 18 December 2021. While it’s good that customers who have already spent money don’t have to spend more to update their systems, it also means that there are more than three million installations that don’t comply with the new standard (and don’t feature the associated benefits).”

For more, contact Dor Son Tan, Energy Networks Australia

READ MORE HERE


19. JANUARY LARGE-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET MARKET DATA NOW AVAILABLE

The Clean Energy Regulator has advised that it has released the January 2022 Large-scale Renewable Energy Target market data.

Highlights include that, 8 mid-scale solar power stations with a combined capacity of 3.9 MW were approved in January for accreditation start dates in 2021 and January 2022

Visit: LARGE-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET MARKET DATA

Every month the Clean Energy Regulator publishes Large-scale Renewable Energy Target supply data files to track investment in renewable energy.

These data files provide information about:

  • accredited power stations
  • committed and probable projects, and
  • total large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) in the REC Registry.

The number of LGCs held in the REC Registry and the megawatt capacity of accredited power stations helps participants to quantify the level of supply in the market. LGCs held in the REC Registry move between accounts regularly, so registered holdings data should be considered as a guide only.

This data is from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. For data by month go to the following link:  LARGE-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET SUPPLY DATA