December 3, 2017

TAFE success at training awards

By The Stop TAFE Cuts team

The Australian Training Awards were held in Canberra last week, and once again – TAFE institutes, staff and students dominated the field bringing home 9 awards in total.

The Australian Training Awards were first held in 1994. Each state and territory holds their own training awards throughout the year, with winners eligible to compete at the national level. The awards work to promote continuous improvement and innovation in VET, and to bring awareness and respect to Australia’s VET sector.

A TAFE institute has won the Large Training Provider of the Year Award every year since 1996, with the exception of 2015. This year the winner was The Gordon Institute of TAFE, located in Geelong, Victoria. The Gordon have celebrated a number of successes in the last few years including the opening of two new training facilities. Working in a community that is rapidly growing and experiencing a major transition following the decline of the automotive industry – The Gordon has taken a lead role in the Skilling the Bay project; focused on raising education attainment, workforce participation, and growing existing and emerging industries. The Gordon has continued its 130- year old legacy as a vital part of the Geelong community, and this award is an acknowledgement of its continued work.

The Holmesglen Institute, another TAFE in Victoria, was also successful at the training awards. Holmesglen received the International Training Provider of the Year Award, acknowledging its 30+ years of English Language Intensive Courses, and 20 years of transnational education partnerships. Each year between 3000 and 4000 international students enrol at Holmesglen every year and its student and staff population represents over 77 countries. International students have long been a target for unscrupulous providers, but TAFEs like Holmesglen continue to provide quality and assurance for international students.

Holmesglen was also acknowledged for its part in “Futuretech” which won the Industry Collaboration Award. Futuretech is a joint venture between the ETU, and Holmesglen; and offers 19 accredited and professional development courses in electro technology, telecommunications, cabling, Occupational Health and Safety, and testing.

Alongside the achievements of TAFE institutes, several TAFE students and apprentices were successful at the awards.

Rachelle Boyd from South Australia won the Vocational Student of the Year award. Rachelle is pursuing a career in event management. She works for All Occasions Group and balances work and study, completing an Advanced Diploma of Event Management at TAFE SA. The runner up in this award, is also a TAFE student – Liam Muldoon obtained his Certificate IV in Automotive Mechanical Diagnosis by remote studies via TAFE NSW.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year was awarded to TAFE NSW plumbing apprentice Donald Dundas. Donald said he chose to undertake a Certificate III in plumbing through TAFE NSW because he believes more Aboriginal people should be in the trade. “I’m a proud Aboriginal man driven to be a leader not only of my people, but to encourage all to have a go and better themselves,” he said.

Australian Apprentice of the Year, Gemma Hartwig, echoed these leadership sentiments saying, “I want to be a role model not only for my sisters and people my age but encourage (others) to join VET and know it is a valid path way,” she said. Gemma, a TAFE Queensland student, is working in the heavily male dominated area of Diesel Fitting. In 2014, Gemma was given the Queensland Training Awards School based Apprentice award, three years later she continues to be a passionate advocate for vocational education and apprenticeships.

The runner up for Apprentice of The Year, Jordan Cahill, was also a TAFE student. Studying Landscape Construction, Jordan Cahill credits his TAFE teachers for pushing him to reach the highest standards. Also a successful WorldSkills competitor, Jordan undertook work experience at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, and hopes to one day own his own business.

In addition to these student achievements, two TAFE teachers were recognised for their hard work and dedication winning VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year, and the Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award.

Finally, the Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to former Holmesglen CEO, Bruce Mackenzie. Bruce’s involvement in TAFE goes back to the early 80s when he was a member of a four person unit that designed the TAFE system for Victoria. He was also Chief Executive of the Holmesglen Institute for 31 years and a founding member of TAFE Directors Australia. A substantial commitment to TAFE!

The success of TAFE at the Australian Training Awards serves to remind us of the excellent work that TAFEs continue to do – despite funding cuts, privatisation, job losses and a myriad of other problems in the sector.

TAFEs most vocal critics, chide it for being a place of “basket weaving”; an irrelevant dinosaur; costly and ineffective. The TAFE institutes, programs, teachers and students whose achievements have been recognised at these awards shows the TAFE system to be responsive, engaged with its communities, agile, innovative and providing education and pathways to employment and further study for students of all ages, backgrounds and aspirations.

While the Awards aim to bring awareness and respect to the whole VET sector, it is hard to read the result as anything less than a ringing endorsement of our public TAFE system.

For more information on the awards and all the nominees – head to https://www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au/

Reverse evolution

Reverse evolution

This piece was originally printed in The Australian TAFE Teacher magazine which was published prior to the 2013 Federal Election. As such, when John refers to "the next federal election" it does mean the September 2013 Fedral Election.
Why institutions matter; why TAFE matters

Why institutions matter; why TAFE matters

Government ‘reforms’ to TAFE are destroying a key institution that contributes to Australia’s well-being, social cohesion and economic prosperity. The purpose of the changes is to create markets in vocational education and training and to transform TAFE into a commercial provider of services that competes on the same basis as private-for-profit providers.
So here's the thing...

So here's the thing...

I see, in TAFE, all around me, teachers who care, passionately, about what they are doing, are good at what they do, but who face losing their jobs anyway. I’ve seen them at Open Days and Careers Expos, talking earnestly with prospective students and parents, offering good study and career advice, which has satisfied those listening, often leading to a heartfelt “thank you so much!” from those listening. But those teachers might still lose their jobs.
The Future of TAFE - an Interview with Leesa Wheelahan

The Future of TAFE - an Interview with Leesa Wheelahan

Pat Forward: This is a big move for you, but it’ll be a big loss for the Australian TAFE system. You been a big supporter of the TAFE system and you’re also a product of the TAFE system?
Pulling the legs off frogs

Pulling the legs off frogs

Alistair Mant’s 1991 book, Intelligent Leadership introduced the metaphor of a frog and a bicycle to analyse organisational systems. Mant suggested 'bicycle' systems are those whose individual components can be taken apart and put back together without any damage.
TAFE students the big losers as the market agenda rolls on

TAFE students the big losers as the market agenda rolls on

In the last few weeks, there were several stories in the mainstream media which shone a light on the debacle unfolding in the TAFE system in Australia. The Australian ran a story called “Graphic illustration of fee madness” about the escalation of fees for higher level qualifications in TAFE in the ACT - $27,000 for an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design. It also ran a story about “providers” – public and private - “gaming” the VET system in Victoria by inflating study loads in order to increase government funding.
The most expensive TAFE Course in Australia?

The most expensive TAFE Course in Australia?

This issue came to light recently when my son received a notice from CIT advising him that his debt from semester one of the Diploma of Graphic Design course was $7,128. This prompted a detailed investigation of the fees, and comparison with other course providers.
A TAFE story ...

A TAFE story ...

Today, in my role as a Social Worker I needed to liaise with the head of department at one of our major TAFEs regarding a student who was having a lot of difficulty.
Why the new Rudd government needs to stand up for TAFE

Why the new Rudd government needs to stand up for TAFE

The Federal Government and incoming Minister Brendan O’Connor need to decide what to do with Commonwealth VET Partnership funding for NSW and Victoria. Twelve months ago, then Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans took a stand against recalcitrant state governments to stop them cutting funding to TAFE institutes, and refused to pass on Partnership funding. What is at stake is more than $560M of Commonwealth funding to NSW over the next five years, and more than $430M to Victoria.
Teaching for 30 Years

Teaching for 30 Years

As a representative of the people of Queensland and current minister in the Queensland government I call on you to justify the actions of your department in attempting to negotiate working conditions that devalue the professional status of my role as a teacher.