News Service 86 – New apprentice funding scheme, Skills Classification update, Row of Skills Agreement, VET in Schools, ASQA Course Guide, Bulldogs-STC partnership, Smart & Skilled, Gas Package, Microcredentials Framework, Safety & Industry News

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1. FUNDING THE INDIVIDUAL MAY WELL CONTRIBUTE TO HIGHER APPRENTICE COMPLETIONS

TAFE Directors Australia’s CEO, Jenny Dodd, provides an editorial article in the latest, 4 April 2022 TDA Newsletter regarding the announcement in the 2022 Budget of a new Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS), where apprentices and trainees in priority occupations will receive a direct payment to assist with the cost of undertaking an apprenticeship. 

The editorial states, “After years of apprentice and trainee funding focusing on employer incentives this new direct payment to the individual could be a game changer for improving completion rates.

From 1 July 2022 the direct payment to the apprentice or trainee in a priority occupation will be up to $5,000 over two years. This amount will be paid in four allocations directly to the individual. As the apprentice or trainee moves through the first two years, they will receive progressive payments at six monthly intervals.

As we know, completion rates have been one of the significant challenges of the apprenticeship program. Based on NCVER data, 46.7% of training contracts for apprentices who commenced in 2016 were cancelled or withdrawn. But the most important part of the NCVER data is that approximately one third of apprenticeship contracts of training ceased in the first year.

Therefore, this approach to incremental payments straight to the apprentice may reduce the likelihood of the individual abandoning the apprenticeship in the risky first year.  ..

Therefore, providing funding to the individual as well as incentivising employers to take on an apprentice may just be what it takes to improve completions. This new policy is worth a go.”

READ MORE HERE

For more information regarding the AAIS scheme (download brochure here), visit the Government’s Australian Apprenticeship site:  www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/financial-programs


2. NSC EXPANDS AUSTRALIAN SKILLS CLASSIFICATION

The National Skills Commission (NSC) has updated the Australian Skills Classification.  The March 2022 edition is referred to by the NSC as the “the go-to source for defining and discovering the skills that underpin jobs in Australia.”

The Media Release of 1 April 2022 states, “Since the Classification was launched 12 months ago, the NSC has worked with many industry stakeholders to continue to refine, improve and expand it.

In its latest release of the Australian Skills Classification 2.0over 500 skills profiles for occupations have been added, bringing the total number to 1100.

Over 1000 flags for trending and emerging digital skills that are growing in demand or new to particular occupations have also been added.

National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton said, “More and more, employers, workers, education providers and policy makers are recognising that skills are the real currency of the labour market.

“The Australian Skills Classification transforms occupations into skills. This means we can not only identify the jobs in demand across the economy, but also the skills that are in demand across the economy – as shown in our December 2021 report, The State of Australia’s Skills.” …

“We’ve also incorporated specialist roles that are growing in importance in the labour market, like Solar Installer and Wind Turbine Technician,” Mr Boyton said.”

The NSW UE ITAB has coordinated meetings with industry and the NSC regarding the reference to Solar Installers and Wind Turbine Technicians as possible emerging occupations.  Industry advised that these are not new and emerging occupations but possible specialisations of existing occupations.  It is assuring to note that the NSC now refers to them in the Media Release as specialist roles related to existing occupations and referenced as such at page of the update (download a copy of the Report here).

READ MORE HERE


3. ROW ERUPTS OVER SKILLS AGREEMENT

TDA Newsletter of 4 April 2022 reports that a row has erupted of the delayed National Skills Agreement.  The article states, “According to the Financial Review, skills ministers from six Labor states and territories wrote last week to Skills Minister Stuart Robert expressing concern over the government’s insistence on pushing a draft agreement that was rejected by all states and territories last year.

The AFR says say the letter outlines core grievances, including the potential for reduced funding to TAFEs and increased fees for some courses, as well as giving the National Skills Commission responsibility for setting prices.

‘‘States and territories requested the Commonwealth work constructively with us on the development of an alternative National Skills Agreement based on shared principles and priorities,’’ the letter stated, according to the AFR.

The article says Mr Robert has tabled three substantive offers to the states. He is reportedly prepared to continue negotiations to deliver some 800,000 additional training places over five years.

National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton told a Senate Estimates hearing on Friday that there had been extensive consultation with stakeholders on VET pricing reforms, including a working group which has met 16 times with states and territories since 2020.

“We are working cooperatively with states and territories. As an example of that we provided the states and territories with updated prices for around 500 qualifications, in response to the feedback we received from them in early March,” Mr Boyton said.

READ MORE HERE


4. NCVER – VET FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS – A RESEARCH SYNTHESIS

National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released its latest research report regarding VET in schools, authored by Michelle Circelli and Gitta Siekmann, which identifies insights emerging from existing research on the delivery of VET to secondary students in Australia. 

The report states, “VET in secondary school provides students with the opportunity to gain job-related skills; it also provides an opportunity for engaging and retaining in education and training the students who would normally have disengaged and left.”

The focus of the report, “is on nationally recognised VET qualifications delivered to secondary school students, those that contribute to their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) rather than the more general career education and work experience activities that constitute vocational learning.”

The report highlights:

  • Participation in VET programs in school has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years, ranging from around 233 800 students in 2010 to 241 200 in 2020, with a peak of 257 100 in 2015. Measuring the full extent of participation is made difficult, however, due to the national definition and reporting scope of VET for secondary school students, which excludes VET that does not directly contribute to a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE).
  • Undertaking a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship has been found to lead to higher rates of apprentice- and traineeships or other types of employment post-school. The proportion of young people undertaking this type of VET program, however, has remained at less than 10% for the last five years.
  • The quality of VET programs delivered as part of a SSCE is generally good, but persistent concerns remain about the quality of some programs, particularly those undertaken through third-party or auspicing arrangements. Similar concerns apply to the quality of career advice.
  • The short-term outcomes from VET programs delivered in schools are positive, with about 75% of students employed or in further education and training six to 12 months after completing their training, although the effectiveness of these programs in facilitating access to higher-level qualifications post-school is questioned. These positive outcomes continue in the medium-term, with about 80% of those who undertook VET programs at school employed, including working and studying, four to five years post-school completion.
  • Limitations in the current data collections, however, make it difficult to measure the full investment in, quality of, and long-term outcomes from, VET programs delivered in schools.

READ MORE HERE – DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


5. NEW GUIDE WILL HELP COURSE OWNERS APPLY FOR COURSE ACCREDITATION

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) advises, in its 1 April 2022 news service, that it has published a new guide to help course owners understand what they need to do when applying for course accreditation.

The new guide will help course owners:

The Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2021 include a national course document template.  The guide refers to each Section of the National course document template and the information required for each numbered part of the section.

ASQA recommends the new guide to anyone considering applying for accreditation of a new course. 

READ MORE HERE – DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE


6. BULLDOGS TO CREATE A PATHWAY TO EMPLOYMENT FOR LOCAL STUDENTS

Bulldogs-STC Partnership_L-R Ben Peters (Director, STC), Fayssal Sari (GM Community, Bulldogs), Richard Bencic (Managing Director, STC), Tony TBC (Head Trainer, STC), Robert Parsonson (General Manager, STC)

Superior Training Centre (STC) reports that it has launched a Community Partnership with the Bulldogs.  The STC Media Release states that, “STC is the Official Community Program Partner of the Bulldogs in the Community Schools Program.”

The partnership arrangement states, “The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have taken a major step in assisting local students in attaining apprenticeships and traineeships, by developing a tailored program in partnership with Superior Training Centre (STC) for schools that will bridge the gap between skills and employment in South West Sydney.

In a partnership with local employers in the area, the program will create introductory programs for students, including School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

These programs and opportunities will provide viable pathways to employment, particularly in those areas where skilled tradespersons are in short supply.

The program will provide a new approach in this area, with the Bulldogs, STC and local schools all working closely to understand the challenges and needs of students and parents.

Superior Training Centre Managing Director, Richard Bencic, was excited about working closely with the Bulldogs:

“We work very closely with industry and employers and can see first-hand the skills gaps and challenges business face trying to find skilled and qualified staff. We saw what the Bulldogs were doing in the community and believe our values and vision for local area aligned. It made sense to partner up with the Bulldogs so we can work hand in hand to address these issues”.

Bulldogs General Manager of Community, Fayssal Sari, could also see the benefits of an aligned approach:

“We’ve listened to schools in our local area about the challenges they face providing pathways to employment for many of their students. Employment opportunities are more than just earning money, they are about participating and contributing to the broader community. When we met with STC, they listened to the challenges schools are experiencing and helped us create a strategy to upskill students and create greater employment opportunities.”

For more information visit the following links:

Bulldogs News https://www.bulldogs.com.au/news/2022/04/01/bulldogs-to-create-a-pathway-to-employment-for-local-student/

Bulldogs website home page – https://www.bulldogs.com.au/

Bulldogs community home page – https://www.bulldogs.com.au/community/

Bulldogs LinkedIn home page – https://www.linkedin.com/company/nrlbulldogs/


7. SMART AND SKILLED UPDATE – NO. 160 – 162 MARCH 2022

Smart and Skilled Update No. 160 (download a copy of the Update here) – March 2022, covers the following:

  1. Updates to Skilling for Recovery Policy
    1. Change to Policy – Promotion of “fee-free” training
    1. Identifying and marketing Skilling for Recovery/JobTrainer courses
  1. Non-government Enterprise Registered Training Organisation (ERTO) eligibility
  2. Update to Skilling for Recovery qualifications on the NSW Skills List
  3. Skilling for Recovery – Aged Care and Disability Care Strategy – Intent to Participate
    1. About the Strategy
    1. Evaluation process
    1. Enrolment and training delivery dates
    1. Key dates
    1. Further Information
  4. Financial Cap Review – Variations for the 2021-22 Activity Period
    1. Criteria for allocations
    1. Approved qualifications associated with new Financial Caps for Skilling for Recovery
    1. Approved qualifications associated with new Financial Caps for Smart and Skilled
    1. Offers of additional Financial Caps will be made via Contract Variation Offers in STS Online
    1. Providers not receiving a Contract Variation Offer
    1. Further information
  5. Training Activity Data reporting for training disrupted by COVID-19 or floods

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.


8. CONSULTATION OPEN – GAS TRAINING PACKAGE

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) has advised that the Gas Industry Reference Committee, its Technical Advisory Committee has drafted Training Package materials for the Gas Supply Industry Skills project and would like your feedback.

The draft materials follow the review of five qualifications and 69 Units of Competency aimed at streamlining and modernising the Gas Supply Training Package to increase its relevance and useability.

In line with the approved scope of the project, weighting points have been removed to align with Training Package policy and relevant knowledge and performance criteria has been included to address the introduction of hydrogen to existing gas networks in line with the National Hydrogen Strategy.

To achieve these objectives, the revised materials include the following:

  • Merging of Certificate IV in Gas Control Operations into Certificate IV in Gas Supply Industry Operations
  • Units of competency in all qualifications have been categorised in 3 groups: Core Units, Gas Electives units and Imported Electives
  • The majority of units undertaken in any qualification are to be Gas (UEG) units
  • Units of competency included in each qualification are consistent with the skill level of that qualification
  • Where possible, merging of units of competency with common knowledge and performance requirements and the deletion of duplicative or redundant units of competency.
  • Definition of gas has been better defined to incorporate all gases that may be encountered in a particular class of gases (eg reference to LPG is replaced with the term industrial gas, which includes but is not limited to propane, butane, propylene, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen, helium and acetylene)
  • Where applicable, knowledge evidence relating to the characteristics and properties of all gases that may be encountered in an applicable gas class (eg combustible / industrial gas) have been updated to address not only Hydrogen awareness but increased awareness of differences between all gases being used; and
  • The standardisation of terminology and language across all Units of Competency reviewed.

VIEW DRAFTS MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

Submit feedback by close of business Tuesday, 3 May 2022,

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Specialist Shaun Thomas on M: 0409 505 196 | E: shaun.thomas@aistnds.org.au


9. DESE RELEASES NATIONAL MICROCREDENTIALS FRAMEWORK

Alan Maguire at On Target Work Skills reports in its 29 March 2022 News Post some facts about the newly proclaimed National Microcredentials Framework, which was released on the 22nd of March 2022 by DESE. 

The article states, “Microcredentials are unregulated. The aim of the National Microcredentials Framework is to provide a nationally consistent framework for defining microcredentials across higher education, vocational education, and industry.

The Framework encourages all microcredentials to adhere to the following four principles:

  • Outcome-based
  • Driven by industry need
  • Tailored or support lifelong learning
  • Transparent and accessible.

Critical information requirements

The National Microcredentials Framework outlines critical information requirements that providers should consider using when advertising their microcredentials.

Minimum standards

The National Microcredentials Framework describes a number of minimum standards for microcredentials:

  • The learning outcomes for the microcredential must be clearly stated.
  • A microcredential requires assessment that provides evidence that learning outcomes have been achieved.
  • Microcredentials must have a volume of learning that is at least one hour.
  • Microcredentials may certify the attainment of skills, knowledge, and competencies.

Unregulated providers of microcredentials must provide a quality assurance statement with the following suggested elements:

  • Profile of the provider
  • A description of the quality assurance processes
  • The process for reviewing and updating the microcredential.”

READ MORE HERE

DOWNLOAD HERE A COPY OF THE NATIONAL MICROCREDENTIALS FRAMEWORK


10. A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF R32 – BUDGET PROVIDES SHORT-TERM BOOST, SAYS AIRAH

The February – March edition of HVAC&R News published by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) includes a Skills Workshop Module (144) on R32 refrigerant (download a copy of the module here). 

R32 refrigerant is a lower global warming potential (GWP) alternative to R410A commonly used in new air conditioning systems. It a flammable refrigerant, with a safety classification of A2L.

Based on the ARC’s information guide, this Skills Workshop helps practitioners better understand the characteristics, equipment, regulations and safety considerations for R32 refrigerant.

R32 – KEY POINTS

  • Lower flammability with a safety classification of A2L
  • High operating pressure
  • Dangerous Goods Class 2.1 flammable gas
  • Only use equipment rated for use with A2 and A2L refrigerants
  • Suitable trade training in flammable refrigerants is recommended

READ MORE HERE


11. ELECTRICAL WORKER FATALITY

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued an eSafe Incident Alert, 4 April 2022 of an electrical worker fatality. 

The alert states, “In February 2022, an electrical worker died in a home ceiling space. It’s believed he was working on the air conditioning system at the time.

Investigations are continuing.  These findings are not yet confirmed, and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.”

The Department reminds readers of the need to ensure effective control measures are in place to prevent similar incidents.  Stating, “For employers or business owners, it’s your duty to manage electrical risks as outlined in the Work Health and Safety legislation. You also have responsibilities under the Electrical Safety Act 2002.

As a worker, you must take reasonable care for your own electrical safety and not adversely affect the electrical safety of others. You must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy relating to electrical safety at your place of work. If your employer provides you with equipment to do a job, you must use it in accordance with the information, instruction and training provided on its use.

Effective control measures for work in ceiling spaces are often made up of a combination of controls. A safe system of work for managing the risk of working in ceiling spaces should include the following.”

READ MORE HERE


12. NEW ARC FLASH FILM

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office in its 28 March 2022, eSafe Electrical publication included an article on a new arc flash video that is out. 

The article states, “new arc flash safety film and share it with your mates, colleagues and staff.”

Promotion for the film states, “When was the last time you rushed to finish a job without asking or checking if the mains power was turned off and the equipment isolated?

Arc flash incidents happen too often in Queensland—the latest just over a week ago.

We have the highest rate of incidents in Australia, which is not something not to be proud of. In the past 11 years, there have been 47 serious incidents and one death.

Our new film highlights the danger of arc flash.”

View the video HERE – ARC FLASH SAFETY FILM

Remember, working near live parts can be just as dangerous as working on live parts.”

Share this important message with your mates, colleagues and staff to keep everyone safe.


13. HAVE YOUR SAY ON AS NZS 4836

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) reports in its latest 4 April 2022 CEO Update of the recent release for feedback of AS/NZS 4836 (Safe working on or near low-voltage electrical installations and equipment). 

It has “been rewritten and just released for public comment. This is a key standard for anyone working around electricity. 

  • Learn about how the proposed changes to this standard will affect business.
  • Understand the defined level of PPE and risk.
  • How the risk level applies new PPE requirements to arc flash hazards (clarified).”

The standard outlines principles and procedures for safe work on or near low-voltage and extralow voltage electrical installations and equipment.

Feedback on Standards under review is important and electrical practitioners and contractors should look to understand and have their say on the proposed changes to the standard.

SUBMIT YOUR FEEDBACK HERE


14. SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC ACQUIRE AURTRA

Editor Sean Carroll reports in the 1 April 20212 edition of Electrical Connection that Schneider Electric (SE) has completed the acquisition of Aurtra Pty Ltd, an Australia-based company focused on sensors and software to monitor, analyse and provide actionable insights for oil transformers.

The article states, “SE stated that the investment strengthens its position as a reference digital provider of services across the full electrical distribution value chain.

“With this technology, we help customers avoid catastrophic and expensive transformer failures, optimise their operating expenses on individual or transformer fleets, and ultimately extend transformer life,” SE vice president, digital transformer services Pedro Robredo says.

Aurtra’s HealthSense multi-function sensor is now part of the SE services offer portfolio. SE will also extend its sales and support channels to cover the Aurtra customer base.”

READ MORE HERE


15. CHANGES FOR SOLAR INSTALLERS AND DESIGNERS TAKE EFFECT TODAY – 1 APRIL 2022

The Clean Energy Regulator has again issued advice reminding solar installers and designers of the new legal requirements directly affect all solar PV installers and designers who design and install solar PV systems that they intend to be eligible for small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

The advice states, “The requirements for the written statement made by an installer have changed and a new statement is now required from accredited designers. As an installer or designer, you will need to work closely with your agent/s to ensure you are complying with the new requirements, and that what you provide is consistent with the updated and new written statements.

You can find out more about the changes and your new obligations on our website.

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the changes. We encourage you to contact us as early as possible if you have any questions about your new obligations under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.”

READ MORE HERE


16. ELECTRIFICATION AND ‘PEAKIER’ GENERATION – THE GAS OUTLOOK

EnergyInsider, a joint newsletter of the Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC), in its 31 March 2022 publication discusses the latest media focus on the gas outlook for eastern and south-eastern Australia when the market operator released its report on the potential for a “gas squeeze”. 

The article states, “But the assessment also flags the potential for electrification to impact gas consumption into the future, the continuing importance of gas generation and a likely change in peak demand periods for its output.  …

In some scenarios, falling gas consumption in some applications may be offset by an increase in gas used for example in steam methane reforming (SMR) hydrogen production to meet domestic hydrogen demand. Residential and commercial consumption is anticipated to fall under all scenarios (except low gas price) as consumers move to lower or zero emission alternatives, such as electricity and hydrogen. Strong electrification exhibits the greatest reduction in gas consumption, while under low gas prices it is expected to increase slightly. …

The market operator expects that the annual volumes of gas used in generation will continue to decline until the mid-2020s then flatten out and potentially increase, reflecting its increasing role in meeting demand needs when other generation is not available.  Actual consumption could vary widely from the forecast simply because of its role to respond to changes in alternative supply.

Peak gas generation demand is projected to become “peakier”.  In particular, winter peak day gas generation are expected to increase with an “increasingly ‘peaky’ profile”. Less sunlight and early sunsets, as well as the potential impact of periods of low wind generation means reliance on gas generation to provide firming support is expected to grow, particularly as coal plants retire. Summer has traditionally experienced the highest peak demand periods, but the magnitude of peaks in the colder months are forecast to grow and as a result of greater electrification, gas generation is likely to become winter peaking.”

READ MORE HERE

For more, contact Carl Kitchen, Australian Energy Council