Episode 1: The election result
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The reports and reviews that were mentioned during the show were:
- University performance measures: https://www.education.gov.au/performance-based-funding-commonwealth-grant-scheme
- QILT (Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching) website: https://www.qilt.edu.au
- VET Student Loans provider-level data: https://www.education.gov.au/vet-student-loans-statistics
- Review of the AQF: https://www.education.gov.au/australian-qualifications-framework-review-0
- Review of Higher Education Provider Category Standards: https://www.education.gov.au/review-higher-education-provider-category-standards
- Steven Joyce Review of VET: https://www.pmc.gov.au/resource-centre/domestic-policy/vet-review/strengthening-skills-expert-review-australias-vocational-education-and-training-system
- Terry Moran Review of TAFE SA: https://www.education.sa.gov.au/department/reviews-and-responses/fresh-start-tafe (you then need to click through to the SA Parliament webpage and go to 4 September 2018 to find the report) – alternatively I have a pdf copy I am happy to email to you – contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For anyone with a hearing impediment who would like to read, rather than listen, to the show – it’s quite lengthy but following is a transcript of the first episode. I hope you also enjoy the show:
Episode 1 – The Election Result
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From Claire Field and Associates, I’m Claire, and I’m pleased that you could join me for the very first episode of my new podcast. What now? What next? Insights into Australia’s tertiary education sector.
On this episode we’ll be unpacking the election result and what it means for the sector. And getting the views of key representatives from the TAFE sector, private providers and the Apprenticeship Network.
But first a quick health tip and the answer to the question, “why didn’t I invite anyone from the university sector on to this first episode”?
And I bet when you downloaded this podcast, you didn’t think you’d get health advice before we jumped into VET or higher education. I just wanted to say, you’ll hear my voice doing all sorts of things in this podcast, and I apologize for that in advance. I’ve been battling the flu this week, so the health tip is please don’t delay. I was two days late in getting my flu shot and it’s knocked me around for at least a week. Whatever you do don’t delay, go and get yours. Health tip’s over and now let’s get back to… What’s happening in the sector?
It’s no snub to the universities that I didn’t invite them on. I’d be very keen to, to chat on future episodes about what’s happening from their perspective in the sector. But when you look at the election result, for better or worse, for the universities, it is business as usual. No changes to university funding which is quite a contrast to what the Labor opposition had proposed. They were looking at the return of the demand-driven funding system. And instead, there’s some additional places being funded at specific universities… And I have to say, when I briefly look at them, mostly regional universities in what were, maybe still are, marginal electorates.
So the universities I imagine are going to be spending most of the next three years putting forward the case for why they need a return to the demand-driven funding system, and/or a different way of accessing additional funds for places. The government has policies in place and haven’t foreshadowed any changes to them, for how they will re-introduce some growth funding. And I think the important thing for all of us, whether you’re in higher ed or VET, to be looking at is the introduction of specific performance measures for universities to access that growth funding. The measures themselves are still being developed and agreed. And I think it is something for us to think about because it strikes me as interesting that the higher education sector, through the QILT website, actually has the most transparent provider-level data available and it is not in any way linked to funding at the moment or performance. It certainly soon will be. And by contrast, in the VET sector, we have incredibly detailed provider-level data, it is linked to funding, but only for one very modest component of the overall funding regime, and that is the VET Student Loan scheme. So, we’ll park that one for now. It’s something I think to keep an eye on. How is this government going to look at funding and performance measures and provider level transparency? And I think that poses some challenges for VET as well as higher ed.
Just rounding off the higher ed sector and what it looks like post-election, the other two key issues I think we need to keep an eye on are coming out of two reviews that are still yet to conclude. The first is the AQF Review and I’m particularly interested in how the reviewers land their recommendations on the treatment of micro-credentials. We’re pretty comfortable with those in the VET sector, as units of competency, but if you’re trying to think to peg them to a particular AQF level, what does that mean? What does it mean for students, for funding, and for regulation?
A very clever person posed a question to me, last week, which was… Could you be a HEP (a higher education provider) accredited by TEQSA if you only offer micro-credentials? I think that’s a really interesting, challenging question.
And then the second review to keep an eye on is the Review of the Higher Education Provider Category Standards. Basically that’s, amongst other questions, asking “Do we need greater specificity in relation to different types of higher education providers and if so, should we fund and regulate them differently?”
So that’s it, as I look across the higher education sector, and no doubt there’ll be more to say, down the track.
The VET sector has greater, had greater, awareness and recognition both in the pre-election budget and through the campaign.
Not much, but some…
And so you’ll cast your mind back, we had a couple of things happen. One was the Budget and at the same timing the release of the Steven Joyce Expert Review of the VET sector. And if you haven’t read it, I think it’s a very well thought through and well written piece of work. It’s actually, I don’t mean this to sound rude to any parties, but it’s a much better piece of work than I had thought a former Minister might deliver. It’s really a very good read and I think there’s quite a lot more in it than the recommendations that the government has picked up so far. So that’s on the Prime Minister and Cabinet website. If you haven’t found a copy of it yet and want to have a bit of a read.
So, the government in the Budget committed to 80,000 extra apprenticeship places. And you’ll recall at the time, immediately, it looked like there were billions of dollars raining down on the VET sector.
And when people sort of added it all up, actually, mostly that wasn’t new money… The rain that was coming down on us was money that had been washed around from other programs and been reallocated. And that’s true in relation to those extra apprenticeship places. That money is coming, predominantly, from funding that the Victorian and Queensland governments had been offered through the Skilling Australians Fund and had chosen not to accept. So that money is now being re-allocated as incentives for employers and for some apprentices. So 80,000 extra places there.
An expansion of the Regional Apprenticeship Wage Subsidy scheme will see some extra places, not all that many, but some extra places there.
An expansion of the PATH Internship scheme and the Transition to Work service for young unemployed people, and both of those have a modest training component.
And then there’s some VET reform initiatives that fall out of the Joyce Review, which were also included in that pre-election Budget. And they are the development of a National Skills Commission, so that’s potentially trying to look at more national approaches to VET policy and VET funding – not quite sure how States and Territories feel about that. The development of a National Careers Institute – the government’s trying to grapple with, as those of us who’ve been in the sector for a long time have, ‘how do you fully engage people in the career opportunities that VET leads to’? And we’ll see if this Careers Institute can deliver on that.
And then something that sounds a bit bureaucratic but might actually give the current Training Package model and paradigm a bit of a shake-up. And that is the pilot of two new, what are called, Skills Organisations. And I have to admit, when I first read this, I went… “Oh, two new SSOs, that’s not all that exciting.” But actually, read properly, it’s not Skill Service Organisations. These are alternatives and they’re modeled on the Kiwi approach… How the New Zealanders do it in terms of bringing employers, unions and other industry representatives directly into the process of developing standards and qualifications, and even allowing them some funding so that they can directly purchase some training themselves. So, there’ll be one in the health sector and one looking at digital skills, and the aim is to pilot this alternative approach, and see if it can make some headway outside of the current fairly cumbersome Training Package arrangements that we have.
And that’s it.
And so I think a bit like the university and higher education sector, the lack of significant growth funding for the sector is going to put strains on both public and private providers. I think we’ll see those that have CRICOS approval looking to further increase their international student numbers. And we’re still waiting, obviously, on the ASQA Strategic Review of the International Education sector. That’s due next month. So, it’s not clear how we’ll look to continue to grow the sector and whether we’re going to end up with the skilled workforce that we need, particularly as the robots are coming. Check out, you know pretty much any media these days (and there’s a few articles on my website as well about the robots and how they’re taking over). So, if the world of work is changing and we need to up-skill and re-skill people to help them transition through those changes to their work, and the VET sector, having been stripped of funding by the Commonwealth and States over a number of years… do we have the funding base to do what the economy and the community needs?
I guess those are the questions that the government faces as they head back to Canberra to put in place the policies, such as they are, that have been announced.
Interview with Alexis Watt
Joining me now to discuss the election result and what it all means, is Alexis Watt, CEO of the School of Health at Open Colleges and Chair of, what was until today ACPET, and is now ITECA… And we’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute, Alexis, but first you and I have known each other for a number of years – but can I ask you to introduce yourself to listeners who may not know you and your background?
Sure… and thanks Claire for the opportunity to have a chat with you about the mixed bag that is VET. My background is, I’ve been in the VET system for around about 20 years, started as an hourly paid instructor at TAFE in South Australia, delivering training in hospitality and tourism. And have variously done a number of roles across the system over the years, mostly in the Health and Community Services side, both in RTOs (domestic and CRICOS), as well as independent higher ed provider and dual-sector provider as well… and got involved with ACPET probably getting on for about 10 years ago. And have had various advisory and steering group gigs along the way, around funding, around regulation, around program design, Training Package management… You name it, I’ve kind of been involved in most of it.
So, you’re the perfect man for us to talk to. Thank you. I knew your background was pretty extensive, but I hadn’t actually… You filled in a few gaps for, for me as well. So, before we unpack the ‘mixed bag’ as you described it, in the election result, and the impact for the sector, fill us in on ACPET… today as we’re recording has completed its evolution into this new peak body with the acronym ITECA… Can you tell us a bit more about that? And what it means in terms of the work that the peak body will do and the providers that you represent?
Sure, ACPET as you know of course Claire from your time with that organisation has been around for some 26-27 years and had played quite a crucial role as a voice for the independent sector, within tertiary education. And what the Board over the last few years has identified is a need for that model, and ACPET as a vehicle, to evolve into something a little more than a sort of federated member representative body.
And so today marks the public transformation, if you will, through to what we’ve… we’ve determined is the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia. We’re establishing a clearer focus on independent higher ed/VET as two distinct but aligned elements of post-secondary education. And almost coming back to what you might think of as first principles, right. Providing high quality service to members. Providing leadership and a strong voice to government of all forms and all political persuasions – that represents the value that independent providers bring to tertiary education on a national scale. But also the contribution Australia makes globally in its exports and skills development offshore. So… One other element in there is policy and advocacy rises up alongside research and data. So we can provide more compelling information at the fingertips of members to communicate the value proposition of independent providers, which is considerable and is often lost in the statistical analysis that goes on around the sector.
So that’s a really good background for us to plunge into what the election result means. Earlier in the podcast I went through and summarised the government’s policy announcements. So, I won’t run through them with you. You’re familiar with them. What did you make of them? And are they… what’s needed for the sector?
Listen to be frank – I’m pretty underwhelmed. What we heard going into the election was a range of slightly, sort of, tit-for-tat promises between a Coalition government and Labor, and none of which really in my view, delivered a sense of inspiration for where the sector might go. And now, here we stand on the other side of the election and my view hasn’t shifted much to be honest from that perception of the last couple of months. There’s a really marked lack of ‘valuation’ is how I describe it, of VET as a sector of our economy, as an engine room of economic contribution, productivity, social value, human capital development. The list is quite long of the output of the VET system and the value it generates, but the, I guess the scope and the nature, and certainly the dollar value of investment proposed, is, really feels like tinkering at the edges. And many would say, and many of ITECA’s members, and colleagues, and potentially people you speak with as well Claire, will be saying the sector is desperately in need of redesign and reform, and well beyond, fairly minor items around the edges. We’re talking right at the core of the way it’s engineered, and the way it’s funded, the way it’s regulated, the way it’s pitched and presented to consumers, to students, parents, employers, governments, offshore. The whole thing needs a real investment of energy and funding, and neither of which I’ve seen in the policy and platform that the Coalition has brought.
So that brings us to a very good question that I was going to, or a timely question, we’ll see if it was a good one… so as we’re recording this, we don’t yet know the make-up of the new Ministry but let’s do a hypothetical, if you were… chosen as our next Skills Minister – you’ve identified a number of problems and I think you’re right, they are subject to a lot of discussion in the sector… So, Alexis Watt as the new Skills Minister in the new government – what changes would you be looking to bring in?
One of the key factors that the system is struggling with right now is at a product level. The training products, whilst structurally logical, have become virtually unwieldy. They simply don’t keep pace with the nature, or the rate, of change in a lot of sectors of the economy. So, I would be looking to accelerate a substantial reform to Training Packages as a key foundation of the system.
I maintain a belief that competency-based training is valuable and has a role to play, so I wouldn’t move, attempt to move away from, those foundations. But the design of Training Packages, the mechanism by which they’re managed, developed, updated and regulated… I’d be looking to make some fairly significant changes there.
Funding… There’s a serious, serious problem in the way that VET is funded… Particularly relative to the precedent system, in secondary schools, and what you might consider to be the follow-on system, in the higher ed. Of those three, VET is the only one that’s gone backwards in the last 10 years. Every single other sector has gone forwards, by 40 or 50% in real-terms funding. VET has gone backwards… And I just find that staggering. So, I’d be looking to establish a mechanism by which VET could operate on a higher level of funding and a more equitable level, primarily to support improved participation, and a better basis of access. I appreciate and respect the fact that States maintain a level of control over ‘how’ that money is invested. But I would be having a very frank conversation with State Ministers about whether or not their policies and strategies were in fact supporting a truly mobile and national workforce or were deeply parochial.
You’ve got a lot to do in that, in that new portfolio role…
I have yeah, absolutely… I never said this would be done quickly.
Indeed, indeed, the path to reform… Alexis you’ve given us an awful lot to think about. I really thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m sure people will be energized by your ideas and your commitment to the sector. And look forward to perhaps having you on again for a chat down the track to see how things are going with ITECA… maybe get you and Troy along to fill us in with how it’s going.
I’d be very happy to do that and thanks Claire for the opportunity. We’re in a system that does nothing more complex than tries to change people’s lives, right.
Nothing more complex. You’re right, yes.
Interview with Dianne Dayhew
It’s a great pleasure now to have Dianne Dayhew, from the National Apprentice Employment Network, join us. Di it’d be great if you could start off by giving us a bit of a background about your career in the sector.
I really fell into the vocational education and training market, really as a result of my frustration of seeing a really easy pathway for people to get into decent careers. And my background was in education, but also in the visual arts area… and I was a university academic, as well, for quite some time.
I enjoyed that so much, but I would worry about my graduates and I saw this fabulous job going, which was looking for a person that had a sales background, education and arts background. And that was actually to work in a Group Training Company and so that was my step into, into the VET world.
I’ve worked in Group Training functions in the property services sector. I did diversify from the Group Training area for a while and I worked at the ABC. When I was at the ABC, I had the good fortune of being appointed the Chair of the Arts Training New South Wales ITAB… We did have an RTO at the ABC, we had an enterprise-based RTO, and so the management and leadership programs that I would set up would often align to accredited qualifications as well. So, there was still that relationship… And then after the ABC, I worked at the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council. The Skills Council experience was really exciting, and it gave me another viewpoint of the VET sector… So, I’ve worked in various capacities in VET. It’s now the time for me to come back to the Group Training-fold, and I’ve been with the National Apprentice Employment Network since the end of last year.
Fantastic, I don’t know how you’ve managed to cram all that into… You seem to have done like two lifetimes or two careers in what would take mere mortals only one. So, thank you for that. And obviously your background and experience is really valuable in your role, but also to us in terms of unpacking the government’s election policies, and apprenticeships are clearly a key area of focus for the government. I wanted to ask… do you think that the incentives they’ve announced will be enough to attract the extra apprentices that they’re targeting?
Look, Claire, I think any incentives that are on offer to assist the employment of apprentices and to stimulate the market and stimulate the intent of employers to take on apprentices, is worthwhile. And I think, you know, that’s always looked upon favorably from the employer perspective. And I note too that there’s incentives there directly for apprentices as well, which is, is greatly valued as well.
This is the thing that Group Training Organisations often say to me, and that is we would love to be at the table with Ministers and with the Department, when they’re actually considering the package of incentives that are going to work and going to stimulate the change of behavior for employers.
Certainly, news of incentives and additional incentives are always welcome… And sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Certainly, it’s great news that there’s additional incentives, incentive payments for apprentices and for eligible employers as well. That’s fantastic news.
We do have some feedback to provide on the Regional Apprentice Wage subsidy. We think it’s fantastic that it’s being extended because that went fabulously well. However, there is a quota for Group Training Organisations in terms of how much of that subsidy we can access, and that puts certain limits, particularly on the Group Training Organisations that are in the communities, that really operate as the life blood of community. And sometimes they’ve been with that Group Training Organisation for ten or so years, relying on them to support them and to provide that additional support, and HR support, and so on, to find an apprentice, helped to supervise them in the field and direct them to training, and just provide that additional wraparound service that they can’t get to as a small business. But they’re finding themselves in competition, if they find that… ‘well, sorry, the Group Training Organisation has run out of their quota of the regional incentive’, and they will consider then just taking on future trainees and apprentices directly, rather than using the Group Training service.
That’s very interesting because I guess what you’re saying is, yes, seen from Canberra these initiatives look good on paper and obviously have a positive effect, but sometimes how they play out in regions, like you’d like to think it would be a good thing that a local, regional, employer might look to directly engage an apprentice, but if other parts of the regions then suffer and they run into difficulties it has a destabilising effect over all. So, looking for ways to encourage both Group Training Organisations and employers should they wish to… to be accessing support to take on apprentices seems like a very positive thing. So, it’ll be interesting to see how your feedback sees those policies maybe adjusted and tweaked in the years ahead. I wanted to ask you, because you are so close to the ground and what really is happening in terms of work and training through the Apprenticeship Network, what do you hear from your members about the barriers to the take-up of apprenticeships and what more needs to be done?
Well, look there’s no silver bullet. It is complex and it’s dynamic as time changes, but there are some recurring things. And I guess this is just to stretch out some of our discussion about the incentive payments that are available to employers to engage apprentices that are over the age of 21… it’s wonderful to have the incentives there, but sometimes they’re just not enough to win over the support of a host employer. Of course, Group Training Organisations on the whole, pass back incentives to the host employer to encourage them to take on trainees and apprentices… In terms of what’s available for mature-age apprentices, sometimes that incentive is just not enough in relation to the award wage that a mature-aged apprentice needs to be paid. Often, we have these amazing candidates that are applying for apprenticeships, but they have to compete with the lower cost of taking on a younger apprentice… the award wage escalates and the modern award kicks in, particularly for the electrical apprentices… I know this is a really big issue that some of our Group Training Organisations talk to me about quite a bit. Also, getting the candidates as well and getting the timely candidates from school to turn to an apprenticeship as an option, or a traineeship as an option, for their career pathway. It’s excellent to see that the feedback that has been provided through the Joyce Review, that clearly, we’re not doing enough in terms of putting VET there as an equal pathway, an equal option in comparison to university. It’s just the changing nature of young people as well, and their choices. The apprenticeship period and contracts is something that they need to commit to. It’s a certain wage-level that they need to commit to, for a number of years and it’s contract, and we’re finding that young people like to be quite in charge of their lives and their careers. So, there’s many challenges and I think the challenges will continue and that’s why it’s important that we keep having a look at the VET system and the models of apprenticeships.
Terrific, thank you. That’s a lot to think about. Now my final question is, we’ve seen the new Ministry has been announced and we’ve got a new Minister for VET and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons… But, if Prime Minister Morrison hadn’t tapped Mr. Irons on the shoulder and said, “You know, Steve, you’re the new VET Minister”, if he’d tapped you on the shoulder and given you the portfolio, what changes would you be looking to put in place, over the next three years?
Look if I was the VET Minister, and what an exciting opportunity I think to be in that position, it’s a fabulous privilege and it’s an opportunity to make a real difference. I think that it’s a period of optimism that the government is going into. Certainly, it’s great to have the government that, with a budget that’s in surplus, it’s all very positive and there’s some amazing initiatives that have been announced that are very welcome into the sector. I think there’s anticipation in the Joyce Review… There would be great interest of what the Minister will be doing, and how they will be responding to the Review.
Ensuring that I get to know the major players of the VET system and certainly I would be speaking to the National Apprentice Employment Network as quickly as I could… to talk to the largest employer of apprentices and trainees across Australia, because if anyone’s going to tell me how the VET system is running surely it must be the largest employer of the Apprentice and Trainee network. So, engaging, engaging all the major players, rebuilding new confidence in VET, I think.
Terrific, thank you very much for making the time available. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Wish you and your members all the best in the next three years with all of that apprenticeship activity and be keen to chat to you down the track and see how it’s all going
Fabulous Claire, lovely to talk to you.
Interview with Craig Robertson
It is a pleasure to have Craig Robertson, head of TAFE Directors Australia, joining me on the line. Craig welcome.
Now it’s been more than a decade since you and I work together on national VET reform, and you’ve had a number of roles in the VET sector before that, and of course, since. So, for listeners, can you fill us in on the different roles that you’ve had within the sector before you come to the TDA role?
Sure. Essentially just at the point that ANTA was closing, as a Commonwealth public servant I was inside the Department, Federal Department of Education, and so I went and worked in VET national policy at that point. So that was around about 2004-2005. So I worked in national policy roles for a good, probably 10 years from that point, and then about 2015 I became the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education and Training in Victoria. That was under the Andrews’ government, and principally it was looking at implementation of ‘Skills First’. At the end of that, which is about just under a two-year stint, I joined as the CEO of TAFE Directors Australia in April 2017. At that point TDA was set up in Sydney, part of the appointment process was to set up in Canberra so that was part of my task.
Okay, so Craig thank you for that. You’ve obviously seen the sector then from a number of different perspectives. And so, we very much welcome your insights and thoughts, as well as the views of the TAFE sector. So, looking at the election result that we’ve just had, I’ve been through and summarised the government’s policies for the sector, and obviously you know you’re across all the details of them. Can you tell me what you think about them, and are they what the sector needs?
Okay, so certainly it is good from the current government’s viewpoint, that they took some time out to conduct a review by Steven Joyce, a New Zealander, who is able to come in I guess with a fresh set of eyes. And I think it’s important that we do take our time to look at some of the comments that he has made. Then of course, what the government’s done is implemented a number of those recommendations within their Budget measures.
I guess the two points I make in respect of those is firstly, it’s putting a stronger call on industry to play a role, not only in terms of the requirements of qualifications, but also a financial contribution. So that’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. But secondly, they are calling out for a stronger coordination across industry and with Commonwealth, with Commonwealth agencies, but also primarily States and Territories, and I think that’s an important measure that they need to take. The challenge of course is that you could argue that Commonwealth-State relations have been a bit fractured over the last little while, and to implement that measure, by virtue of taking training funding away from Victoria and Queensland, is a real issue about how to genuinely get collaboration and cooperation. So I would hope that a new Minister, or an established Minister in the role… Morrison as Prime Minister… they’d look at re-establishing their financial relationship with States and Territories, so things could get back on an even keel, and then start looking at some of those structural reforms that the Budget measures have involved.
Great, thank you. Now, you’ve spoken a few times then about a national approach, and obviously one of the specific initiatives as you say, that had funding in the pre-election Budget, was towards the development of a National Skills Commission. Do you think that kind of national body is needed, and if so, what kind of improvements do you think it could bring?
So clearly, if we think about vocational education and training, about making sure that there is skilled workers for jobs of today, but also emerging jobs… but also making sure that we have a flexible training system that can make sure that people who are changing jobs can readily pick up skills so they can transition… I think it is important that we do have that Skills Commission as proposed. The question is, is it a Skills Commission in terms of forecasting labour market demand? Is it about bringing together the qualification requirements of a particular industry? Or, in fact, is it a purchaser? I think as a good first step, they should be looking at what’s the nature of the change in the economy and then going from that point onwards.
I am a little bit concerned that in public policy terms, we are putting a lot of onus back onto industry to drive the change, where in fact we do know that it’s industry that’s going through change itself, and we know that there are public policy failures within industry. They’re concerned about making, turning a profit, and looking after the here and now. I’m not quite sure that on their own, they’re well placed to be able to put a spin on the future directions of vocational education and training. We think providers, particularly my members of course, TAFEs, should have a stronger role in that side, in that area.
And that was a point I think a former colleague of yours and mine, Terry Moran, made in, essentially, in his recent review of the TAFE South Australia system… that we’ve kind of designed a sector that doesn’t really have education at the heart of it, even though it is an education sector… So that then, my musing, takes me to my last question which is that you’ve just come back recently from a study tour with some of your partners and members through Canada and the US. And I wonder what you saw there that you think the Australian VET system could be thinking about, or learning from?
Firstly, from the Canadian experience, it is very clear there, coming from the Federal Government (that interestingly in Canada doesn’t really have a function in respect of TVET), that they have put some money available, made some money available, for what they call Applied Research. What does that mean? That is, in fact, the Community Colleges (or Polytechnics) in Canada engaging with their local businesses to help them drive innovation and change. And we saw some great examples of that at Niagara College, as well as at George Brown College in Toronto. And I think that’s a really important thing because if Australia is going to innovate, particularly at the firm level, and particularly at the small and medium enterprise level, there needs to be a mechanism for technology transfer and innovation. And we think TAFEs can play a key role in that.
The second observation about the Community College model in America is the strong focus on underpinning knowledge. And so, it would be the case that they would encourage people to study for two years, so they make sure that their broad basic skills in literacy, numeracy and the like, are sound. And then they add some technical skills to that. And I think we need in Australia, to be able to come back and make sure that we have that sort of offer here in Australia somehow.
Terrific, thank you. I recall I was at a community colleges conference in the US a couple of years ago… and one of the other things, I think their focus on research I saw some of that… the other thing that struck me was their use of data to improve their own performance as an educational institution. And I wonder, did you see some of that, and was that part of the discussions that you had as well?
We didn’t see too much of that, apart from there’s a strong performance regime. Because they’re all governed by a Board, of course, they have strong reporting to their Boards. The other thing I should add is, apprenticeship is the real flavor through America at the moment. But of course, you can talk to three or four different people and you get four or five different views and models about what apprenticeship is. So, the general sense is though, that there’s a number of employers saying we’re not quite getting the skills that we require out of the community college sector, so why don’t we try the apprenticeship model? In some respects that ends up being a cadetship model. Sometimes it’s work-integrated learning. But nevertheless, there is a bit to reflect a bit on the community college model… but there’s a bit of a reflection that it doesn’t quite meet the needs of industry. So maybe somewhere between the Australian model and the North American model, we could find something that would work for modern Australia.
Fantastic, well what a great note to finish on. Thank you so much for making the time available for the call. And wish you all the best and look forward to perhaps having you on another episode down the track.
Easy, thanks Claire. My pleasure
And that’s almost a wrap.
I know it’s normal to put website links in the show notes for a podcast which I have done. But I’m conscious that there were a lot of reports and websites mentioned in this episode… and to help, hopefully, to make it a bit easier for you to find them I’ve also included the details in an article in the news section of my website, that’s clairefield.com.au
Now, it was quite a long episode for a first episode… but hopefully it had lots of information for you to think about. I certainly got a lot out of the conversations that I had with the guests on this episode and I very much welcome your ideas and thoughts. What do you think? Do we need major reform? Will ‘business as usual’ be enough for the sector?
If you want to share your ideas, you’ll find me on Twitter @CField&Assoc, I’m on LinkedIn and you can also find Claire Field and Associates on Facebook. Before I finish, I need to thank a few people who helped me pull all of this together. You know who you are, you’ve been extraordinary, and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.
Lastly, don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcast from. It does help people find the show and it also tells me what you want more of. If you subscribe to the show in your podcast feed, it will automatically load the next episode as soon as I’ve got it available for you. And I’m aiming to do that towards the end of next month… unless something huge happens in the sector that we need to discuss before then.
Thank you again for joining me for this first episode of ‘What now? What next? Insights into Australia’s tertiary education sector’.