News Service 89 – Failed assessment practice returns, Validation – Electro Package, National Manufacturing policy and labour crisis in the cities, Refreshed HVCAR Awards, Robotics & VET, VET in Schools, Safety & Industry News – Solar installs fall

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1. WHY HAS AN RTO RETURNED TO A FAILED PROCESS OF REQUIRING APPRENTICES TO ACHIEVE A 100% PASS MARK FOR COMPETENCE?

There has been a slow and growing concern in NSW by employers and unions in the electrotechnology industry as well as long serving trade teachers and more recently apprentices of a major RTO’s decision to introduce a 100% pass mark for the ‘Knowledge Evidence’ of a unit of competency, as part of the roll out of the new Electrotechnology Training Package (3.0).

It is understood that an apprentice in this new environment will be invited to undertake an electronic online test for the evidence.  The apprentice is given 10 tries to get 100% correct answers to a series of questions.  Failing the achievement of 100% the apprentice is then, to be ably assisted by the teacher to obtain the 100%. 

Given ‘Knowledge Evidence (typically covers theory and skills development)’ represents, in some units a small percentage of the overall evidence that is to be gathered by an RTO, one has to question what approach is applied to the ‘Performance Evidence’ component of a unit of competency.  Will the same assessment approach be applied to the Performance Evidence, and also require 100% pass mark?

Using the logic applied to the ‘Knowledge Evidence’, one would have to come to the conclusion that the same approach would have to be applied to ‘Performance Evidence’.  That is, the apprentices must achieve a 100% pass in the workplace.  If this is not the case, then there is an obvious flaw in the approach taken to the gathering of evidence for various components of a unit of competency.  Interestingly though, both the ‘Knowledge Evidence’ and the ‘Performance Evidence’ refer to the fact that evidence must satisfy and have met the following statement, “all of the requirements of the elements, performance criteria and range of conditions”.  

Given the statements for Knowledge Evidence and Performance Evidence are almost identical, one wonders if the RTO has proceeded to update and established a similar arrangement for the workplace evidence component; that the apprentice must demonstrate a 100% pass for every component of the ‘Performance Evidence’ which incorporates actual workplace evidence of all of the requirements of the “elements, performance criteria and range of conditions on at least two separate occasions”, autonomously and to requirements across a representative range.  If so, how will this be achieved?  This has not been the case in the past.

The response often touted is that the Knowledge Evidence 100%, is requirement of the apprentice is an ASQA requirement.  This is not the case, as pointed out in previous News Service articles that included ASQA’s reply in this regard.  ASQA stated, that such decisions are the responsibility of an RTO, who in consultation with industry, as per clause 1.5 of the RTO standards, implements mechanisms and arrangements that are supported by industry, and which satisfy the unit of competency.  It has previously advised that it does not support this approach to assessment and the RTO addressed these concerns by amending its practice.

That is, it was understood at the time that such an approach to assessment had had little education efficacy and had been put out to pasture.  The matter was cleared-up and addressed over two years ago.  One is forced to now ask why, with the roll out of the updated Electrotechnology Training Package, is this mechanistic and transactional failed assessment practice being re-introduced?

Nothing drastic has changed in the Training Package that would require such change and as well, the RTO is aware that there was overwhelming opposition to this practice from employers, unions, teachers and apprentices in the past.  It was shown to be a flawed strategy and educationally unsound practice to implement.  No robust and leading educational practice requires 100% from every aspect of learning.  

Holistic assessment has and continues to be the industry’s preferred approach.  An approach that takes into account a whole series of factors including risk, frequency of practice, and of course the key components of assessment practice in the ‘Principles of Assessment’ and ‘Rules of Evidence’.  As well, any associated regulatory requirements, which are prevalent in some Electrotechnology qualifications.

To this end employers have already started to ask the question and raise concerns regarding the efficacy of such practice under the guise of the roll out of the updated Electrotechnology Training Package.  For example, a key employer of apprentices stated, “Their ability and competence should not only rely on the 100% pass mark, but more on a balanced approach including theoretical competence, practical competence, and their attitude towards learning.  We are not saying that there should not be benchmarks.  The reality of difference between 70% and 100% would be negligible in academic terms but the benefits of achievement and positive well being would be immeasurable.  How can we penalise a student for reaching a grade of 70%, 90% or any other generally accepted grade?

In many educational facilities there are ranges of academic achievement such in universities where you can pass or received a high distinction. I am finding it difficult to understand the logic applied in the TAFE scenario.  Even a result of 65% at most universities is considered a credit score.

If 100% is the benchmark I would really like to understand what mechanisms that are in place that will support the student achieving 100%.  To support the 100% objective, it is assumed every lesson needs to have a measurable objective and that every student needs to achieve this objective on every occasion to be confident they are reaching the nominated benchmark.  This will place the student, lecturer and TAFE teaching staff under undue pressure.  How is it possible to increase a student score from 65% to 100% in days or weeks?

In this light, the NSW UE ITAB again questions:

  • What is the purpose of re-introducing a failed approach to assessment, in the transition to the updated Electrotechnology Training Package for new apprentices? 
  • Have the support resources to roll out the updated Electrotechnology Training Package been developed and if so by who and where were they developed?
  • Has there been any Professional Development (PD) support for the teachers or advice to employers/union and apprentices of how the new practice will benefit apprentices, employers and the industry?
  • Have relevant regulators been made aware of the change in practice?

Employers will increasingly question the approach, apprentices will increasingly pass with little understanding of what they have learnt, and teachers will increasingly become frustrated evolving to facilitators forced to pass learners onto the next subject/unit of competency in order to satisfy some mythical compliance requirement that no one has been able to attribute a virtuous owner to the 100% policy requirement.  This approach has failed in the past and will now doubt again show signs of stress and a lack of educational efficacy.  The NSW UE ITAB will continue to listen to industry and bring attention to the issue. 

It should be recalled, the Electrotechnology Training Package was not designed to implement a regime of 100% pass mark as an outcome, it was designed to produce competent operatives using holistic assessment practices, typically comprised of a combined on-and-off the job competency development program.  The updated Training Package has not changed in substance, and one wonders why the RTO as returned to old tried and failed, and moreover, unwanted practice.  In this regard, the NSW UE ITAB will continue to pursue, with its industry partners, clarification and remedial action to address the growing employer, union, apprentice and teacher concerns.

If you would like to discuss the matter in more detail or have case examples of the issues, please feel free to contact the undersigned at your convenience.


2. VALIDATION – ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TRAINING PACKAGE

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advises in its latest communique regarding the Electrotechnology Training Package that Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee’s, relevant Technical Advisory Committees have drafted Training Package materials for the Assess and Report on Smoke Control Features project, including an existing Skill Set and Unit of Competency.

The unit Inspect, test and repair fire and smoke control features of mechanical services systems has been updated to address the skills and knowledge requirements for assessment and reporting on a building’s smoke control features. The revised unit will be updated as an elective in relevant Refrigeration and Air conditioning qualifications and the existing Skill Set RAC Inspect, Test and Repair Fire and Smoke Control Features of Mechanical Services Systems.

Content covers fire and smoke dampers, smoke and heat vents, and mechanical services air handlers. Assessment and reporting on this equipment are required under Essential Services Fire Measures legislation. The skills standards will support employers in complying with this regulation.

The Electrotechnology IRC is seeking your feedback to validate these draft materials to ensure the proposed products meet industry needs.

Detailed mapping information, tracking changes to the existing Training Package, is also available to view.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

Please submit your feedback by close of business Monday, 16 May 2022.

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Specialist, Paul Humphreys, M: 0429 670 588 | E: paul.humphreys@aistnds.org.au


3. WHICH AUSTRALIAN CITIES COULD FACE A LABOUR CRISIS?

Manufacturers’ Monthly in its 3 May 2020 included an interesting article on which Australian cities could face a labour crisis. The article reported on research from ECI Software Solutions, which highlights cities in Australia that are being hit the hardest by the manufacturing skills gap, with some cities at risk of struggling to fill half their vacancies.

The article states, “the manufacturing skills index reveals that Canberra is facing the most challenges to find high-skilled people to fill roles in the sector. In the capital city, there are two vacancies for every applicant, with 52.08 per cent of jobs without demand.

This is followed by Sydney, where there is an excess of 2,000 manufacturing-related jobs without anyone looking to apply for them. Overall in Australia, 32.09 per cent of manufacturing vacancies are at risk of sitting empty without the people equipped to do the roles. 

The five locations with the biggest shortage of manufacturing workers are:

However, while populated business hubs are struggling to find people to fill vacancies, residents in other areas are struggling to find employment in manufacturing.  …

The five locations which are most oversubscribed for manufacturing workers are: 

Source: ECI Software Solutions 

“It’s an exciting time for the manufacturing industry in Australia,” ECI Software Solutions APAC MFG managing director Joe Wrightman said. “The introduction of automation and warehouse innovation in manufacturing has increased the number of open jobs. However, these systems require people with the right skill to operate them.”

READ MORE HERE


4. CCN INITIATES A 21ST CENTURY REFRESH – HVACR AWARDS

Editor Sandra Rossi at Climate Control News (CCN) reports that CCN has officially launched a new and revised awards program, the 2022 Awards of Excellence.  The editorial states, “The revised awards program features new categories including a team award to recognise the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) Team of the Year.

This award is a great way to recognise teams that have achieved success through a business project or developed a product or implemented a program. They could have achieved outstanding sales or marketing success.

The opportunities are endless as it allows nominees to demonstrate how their team was able to overcome challenges to deliver such impressive results.

CCN is extremely proud of its awards program and after eight years as the HVACR Leadership Awards it was time for a refresh, a modern makeover to ensure all of the categories are in tune with a changing HVACR industry.

It is important for the program to reflect current industry standards and to be a showcase of excellence.

Of course the Awards of Excellence will continue to recognise people, not projects.

Other new categories include the Diversity Champion of the Year Award. This award recognises those who empower others and drive cultural change within their organisation around equity, diversity and inclusion.

It is an important award for the HVACR industry which desperately needs a more diversified workforce.

Another new category is Sustainability Champion of the Year.

Entries are open and close 31 August, 2022.

READ MORE HERE


5. MANUFACTURING NEEDS A COORDINATED NATIONAL POLICY APPROACH

The 5 May 2022 Manufacturers’ Monthly edition includes a special feature by Geoff Chrittenden, CEO, Weld Australia writing that Australia needs a coordinated national policy on manufacturing. 

The article states, “Recently, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet awarded a $70 million contract for the manufacture of electric buses to a western Sydney manufacturer. Custom Denning will manufacture 79 electric buses, as part of the NSW Government’s commitment for the state’s fleet of more than 8,000 buses to go green by 2030.

Weld Australia has long urged all state governments to support local manufacturers, welders, and fabricators in their procurement processes. Local procurement has the power to create thousands of jobs, a solid local supply chain, and an industry equipped to export world-class products all over the world.

… There is a real opportunity for our governments to invest in creating a robust, resilient manufacturing industry that can compete on the world stage.

Over the years, Australians have been responsible for engineering and manufacturing some of the most ingenious inventions that have not only competed on the world stage but cornered the global market. For instance, in 1953, Melbourne-based Aeronautical Research Laboratory scientist David Warren invented the “black box”, forever changing the aviation industry.

In the 1920s, an Australian team, including Dr Mark Lidwill and physicist Edgar Booth, developed the pacemaker. Over three million people across the globe rely on pacemakers. In 1992, researchers at the CSIRO (who were originally looking for faint echoes of black holes) developed Wi-Fi technology. Today, Wi-Fi is used by billions of people.

As history clearly demonstrates, there is enormous potential in the Australian manufacturing industry. But this potential must be fostered by Federal and State Government procurement policies that support local manufacturers.  …”

READ MORE HERE


6. ROBOTICS, AUTOMATION AND VET

In the latest podcast series of ‘What now? What next? Insights into Australia’s tertiary education sector’, Claire Field at Claire Field & Associates chats with Daniel Milford and Helen Tinney on robotics, automation and Vocational Education and Training (VET). 

Daniel Milford (CEO and founder of Chironix) is a specialist in software engineering and robotic systems, and Helen Tinney (General Manager at AUSMESA). They share their insights on how the world of work is changing and how the VET sector and TAFE in particular, given Helen’s extensive career there, are responding.

For listeners wanting to understand more about how the industry cluster organisations intend bringing industry and VET providers together on the training product development process (i.e. qualification and learning resource design) this episode is worth a listen even if you don’t work in TAFE.

LISTEN TO THIS SPECIAL PODCAST HERE


7. VET IN SCHOOLS AND THE SHADOW OF ATAR

NCVER has release a new podcast covering VET in Schools.  The Podcast titled, “VET in Schools and the shadow of ATAR” is the first episode in Season 7 of Vocational Voices, hosed by NCVER.  The Podcast is set in the context that VET can deliver better learning and employment outcomes for secondary school students. However, it is often considered as higher education’s poor second cousin.

Participation in higher education by school leavers has increased significantly in the last decade. VET participation has lagged by comparison. Are students headed for university accorded higher status at school than those who prefer to pursue a trade apprenticeship or traineeship?

In this episode, Western Sydney University Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold AC and NCVER Managing Director Simon Walker talk to Steve Davis, and dissect the factors that contribute to this perception, particularly the overestimated impact of ATAR on a student’s future career prospects, and the proliferation of pathways that can be followed to find a future career.  They discuss also, what needs to be done to promote and sustain VET as an equal option with higher education for ensuring employment, lifelong learning and career progression.

The discussion draws from VET for secondary school students: insights and outcomes, published by NCVER on 14 October 2021.


8. CONSTRUCTION BLITZ PUTS SAFETY FIRST

NECA NSW eNews this week, 5 May 2022 reports on a construction safety blitz SafeWork NSW has been recently focusing on.  The Blitz focused on dangerous work practices with a targeted operation in Bankstown and Rockdale.

The article states, “The week-long safety blitz saw 35 construction sites visited, 86 improvement notices issued, and 16 prohibition notices handed out.

Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said the first priority of the NSW Government is safety, with falls from heights still the number one killer on NSW construction sites.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach to lives being placed at risk. This means a construction sector with no site taking unacceptable risks when it comes to working with heights,” Ms Petinos said. “As a result of the SafeWork NSW inspections, two construction sites in were fined $3,600 for failing to meet safety compliance around heights.” For more information visit SafeWork NSW.

READ MORE HERE


9. ACCC PRODUCT SAFETY AUSTRALIA RECALL – LPG GENERATOR

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Product Safety Australia division has issued a recall alert (download) regarding a Bromic Pty Ltd — Greengear LPG Generator Models GE-3000, GE-5000 and GE-7000 – Part Number 2701003, 2701005 and 2701007 respectively. 

The LPG generators are not assessed and certified as safe for use in Australia.

There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the portable LPG Generator is used indoors or in an unventilated area, which could result in serious illness, injury or death.

Consumers should immediately disconnect the unit and contact Bromic on 1300 276 642 or at https://bromicplumbing.com/contact-us to register their details.

Download the ACCC Product Australia recall alert HERE


10. CHEMICALS AND GHS CLASSIFICATION & LABELLING TRANSITION ENDS 2022

SafeWork NSW is reminding industry practitioners in NSW that, Australia begun a two-year transition to the 7th revised edition of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS 7) on 1 January 2021.  From 1 January 2023, only GHS 7 may be used. 

During this transition period manufacturers and importers were able to use either GHS 3 or GHS 7 to prepare classifications, labels and SDS for hazardous chemicals. 

The new system of chemical classification and hazard communication came into effect in NSW in 2017.  This new system replaces the previous Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances.

GHS 7 introduces several changes to classification, labelling and safety data sheet (SDS) requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals. The key changes between GHS 3 and GHS 7 are:

  • new hazard categories and classes for:
    • desensitised explosives
    • pyrophoric gases
    • chemically unstable gases
    • non-flammable aerosols
  • updated precautionary statements.

In addition to these changes, the definition of ‘hazardous chemical’ will be clarified to ensure it captures all Category 2 eye irritants. Chemicals can be further sub-categorised as Category 2A and 2B, but this is not mandatory in Australia.

For more detailed information, visit Transition to GHS 7 – SafeWork Australia.

READ MORE HERE


11. HOW WOULD YOU FIND VOLTAGE POTENTIAL ACROSS BROKEN NEUTRAL IN 3-PHASE SYSTEM?

Infinispark, this week provides a learning moment for those who like a challenge in solving problems, such as finding a voltage potential across broken neutral in 3-phase system.  The learning moment provides a scenario and a series of quizzes to help understanding the issue. 

The problem: Finding the voltage potential across a broken neutral in an unbalanced 3-phase system was one of the most difficult questions I have come across in AC theory training.

The back story to raising this particular problem commenced when a good friend of Husnen Rupani, CEO at Infinispark, Mick Taylor, who is an electrical trainer, asked him to help solve the above problem while using the AC Pracbox.  

Mick’s biggest struggle was teaching them how to use the compass in a group and repeatedly. Mick created an animated video to demonstrate the method he uses. Husnen, shares the video in a URL link and will provide a solution in the next series.

The main challenge was to find the solution using phasors rather than calculations because that’s what the Unit of competency expects our learners to understand.  

The start the process of understanding, Husnen has turned that question into a quiz – see link below.

CHALLENGE CIRCUIT 7: VOLTAGE POTENTIAL ACROSS A BROKEN NEUTRAL IN A 3 PHASE SYSTEM

Infinispark invites those who think the quiz could be useful for your students, please feel free to use it in your classes.


12. SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA INVITES VIEWS ON CRANE LICENSING

Safe Work Australia is inviting views on crane licensing.  The advisory states, “Safe Work Australia is reviewing the high risk work licensing for cranes to ensure it remains relevant to contemporary work practices and equipment.

A discussion paper on crane licensing is now open for public consultation. Submissions are open until 16 June 2022 and can be made online.”

Safe Work Australia, “invites stakeholders with an interest in the high risk work (HRW) licensing framework to provide their views, such as businesses operating, supplying or manufacturing cranes, unions, workers, regulators, industry bodies, government departments and members of the public.”  It also, encourages, “submissions from those involved in other HRW related to crane operations, particularly dogging and rigging work.

The discussion paper will focus on any perceived issues with the model WHS laws related to crane licensing that may have a significant impact on workers, businesses and the community, including issues related to:

  • crane licence classes, and
  • crane definitions.

Information and evidence gathered will be used to identify any areas that could be improved and assist ministers in deciding whether amendments to the model laws or other action may be needed.”

Submissions can be made online.

Download a copy of the DRAFT DISCUSSION PAPER – CRANE LICENCING REVIEW HERE

READ MORE HERE OR MAKE A SUBMISSION


13. AMPOL RELEASES AMPCHARGE EV CHARGING

Sean Carroll reports in the 3 May 2022 edition of Electrical Connection, that “Ampol has released its EV charging brand, AmpCharge, alongside the plans for the initial rollout of fast chargers in what will become a national charging network.

AmpCharge will service customers both at home and on the road at both forecourts and destinations, leveraging existing Ampol infrastructure and customer relationships to ensure Australians can recharge wherever and whenever they need to.

At-home branded charging infrastructure is also expected to be developed under AmpCharge, with offers to be made available to consumers as part of a broader home energy offer.

Ampol managing director and chief executive, Matt Halliday, says the announcement is an important step forward in the execution of Ampol’s future energy and mobility strategy, including its objective to reduce emissions in the transport sector and support the uptake of battery electric vehicles (BEVs)”.

READ MORE HERE


14. ACCELERATING THE ROLLOUT OF SMART METERS

Electrical Connection’s 3 May 2022 edition from Sean Carroll also covers the decision by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to recommence its review of the regulatory framework for metering services. 

The article states, “The review was paused in November 2021 as part of an adjustment to the AEMC’s sequencing of work.

Following the recommencement, the AEMC will work with stakeholders to progress a package of measures to accelerate the rollout of smart meters, improving the efficiency of installations and enabling appropriate access to data from meters in the National Electricity Market. Prior to the review pause, the Commission received over 60 well-considered submissions from stakeholders.

The AEMC acknowledged the high level of stakeholder interest and enthusiasm in this review and remains committed to reforms to the regulatory framework for metering services.

AEMC chair Anna Collyer thanks the many stakeholders who had contributed to the metering review so far, saying the quality of their contributions confirmed the benefits of smart meters for both individuals and the community: “Smart meters, providing greater access to real-time data and facilitating innovation, will play a crucial part in Australia’s smarter networks of the future.”

READ MORE HERE


15. AUSTRALIAN ROOFTOP SOLAR INSTALLS SUFFER ONE OF BIGGEST MONTHLY FALLS IN APRIL

Sophie Vorrath reports in the May 5, 2022, edition of One Step of the Grid, that Australian rooftop solar installs, suffered one of biggest monthly falls in April. 

The article states, “The installation of solar on the rooftops of homes and businesses took a big dive in April, suffering a steep 26% decline on the numbers recorded in March 2022 and bringing two months of growth to an abrupt halt.

According to the latest monthly insights from industry statistician, SunWiz, a total of 172MW was installed on rooftops around the country in April, a 62MW drop on the 234MW total for March, when the nation’s total for the year was increased to 630MW.

That is one of the biggest monthly falls on record, and the biggest ever non January drop.

But throw in recent cost of living increases, the forthcoming federal election, and economic uncertainty around inflation, and you the result has been the third-largest monthly drop in MW.

All told, the April 2022 slump puts the year-to-date tally a full 27% behind figures observed at the same time last year, and more in line with predictions of a year of softening for Australia’s world-leading rooftop solar growth.”

READ MORE HERE


16. REPORT PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO ENERGY TRANSITION

EnergyInsider, a joint publication of Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) includes an article in its 5 May 2022 edition regarding the latest GenInsights21 report, which provides analysis of extensive generation data to provide an assessment of what has happened over the past 5-23 years and establish trends and insights into the changing grid. 

The article states, “The transition of the energy grid continues apace and its impact on how the system operates continue to emerge.  …The speed of changes occurring in the grid are illustrated by the shift in official forecasts between 2012 and 2020.  …

In these forecasts rooftop solar was expected to grow from almost nothing in 2010 to around 2 per cent in 2017 while large-scale solar was combined with wind and bioenergy. Together they were expected to increase from a 3 per cent share in 2010 to peak at 10 per cent by 2019 and then not grow beyond that.

Jump forward and in 2020 rooftop solar’s share was actually at 6 per cent and projected to hit 17 per cent by 2030 while large-scale solar was estimated to have 2 per cent share in 2020 with projections it would increase to 8 per cent by 2026.  …

In both 2020 and 2021 around 3.2GW of rooftop capacity was added with the total capacity of rooftop solar now reaching around 17GW.  …

So the changes have been dramatic and as we have previously reported the scale of rooftop PV is having a profound effect on how the system is managed, on minimum demand levels (with record levels continually being reported) and changes to allow the remote curtailment of output at critical times in South Australia and WA.  Small-scale solar PV is challenging the status quo positively and negatively.

At its current scale rooftop solar far exceeds the biggest power station in the National Electricity Market (NEM) the 2922MW Eraring plant in New South Wales. When looking at the maximum daily NEM generation from rooftop panels since 2016 it has been steadily rising and has reached an estimated 8500MW, according to GenInsights21, …

In terms of utilisation 76 per cent of the solar output makes it to the market in the peak solar months around October and November with a maximum of around 50 per cent generating during the less conducive winter period.”

READ MORE HERE

For more, contact the Australian Energy Council