Transcript of Best of 2023: highlights from Season 8

29 November 2023

Vocational Voices: Season 8, Episode 6

Best of 2023: highlights from Season 8

Steve Davis (00:00:04)

Hello, I'm Steve Davis. In 2023, we invited expert vocational voices from the VET sector to share their views, their stories, experience, and insights, and we're grateful they found time in their busy schedules to join us. Our end of year episodes have proven to be very popular, so we're back to reflect on the discussions held throughout 2023.

If you heard the episodes first time around, this might be a good refresher over summer, but if you missed them, consider this some catch up listening to get you ready for another year of VET challenges and opportunities. We've had five full episodes this year, and we're about to revisit a selection of short, sharp insights from each of the guest speakers, remembering that if you want to hear more, all the episodes are still available in your favourite podcast app.


Joanne Payne (00:01:01)

I think it's one of the great myths of TAFE, Steve, is that TAFE is not agile, but in a regional setting, as Tabitha was talking about, TAFE lecturers and TAFE staff in general have to problem solve on a daily basis, so if they've turned up to do some delivery in a particular location and it's not working out the way they planned, they have to come up with another plan very often on the day, and they're able to do that.

Hello and welcome to Vocational Voices...

Steve Davis (00:01:30)

That was Joanne Payne, Managing Director, Central Regional TAFE in WA, from Episode 1 of Vocational Voices in 2023, in which we discussed the ongoing policy priority of making sure the VET sector serves regional, rural and remote Australia. The episode discussed the challenges that RTOs face when delivering training in regional Australia.

What are the barriers and how are they being addressed? We also considered whether local training providers should be given more flexibility to tailor their programs to meet the specific needs of the communities they serve. In the episode, I also spoke with Tabatha Griffin, Senior Research Officer, NCVER, and Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER, about these challenges and the need for diverse and flexible training approaches to better meet the needs of people in regional areas drawing from the report, VET delivery in regional, rural and remote Australia: barriers and facilitators, which was published by NCVER on the 24th of April 2023.

Joanne Payne (00:02:42)

I think it's true to say that regional TAFEs do usually occupy a pivotal role in delivering skills and training and opportunities to access education and training generally in regional and remote areas and that's because of our presence. There are private providers operating in most regions. There are certainly private providers operating in the regions in which our college operates, and they fulfill a particular role in the training market. But I think that TAFE is definitely looked to as, you know, the major provider of probably post-secondary education and training opportunities across regional WA.

And, you know, TAFE colleges are equipped to deliver a broad range of qualifications so, you know, we're delivering qualifications right from introductory level training, so entry level training, you know, certificate one level through to advanced diploma and, you know, all qualification levels in between, and we've got a wide range of industry training packages and courses and the micro-credentials that Simon was referring to, the skill sets.

So we've got a broad range of delivery on offer that accommodates learners from, you know, entry level through to advanced diploma level. So we are looked to as that major provider of opportunity in regional locations. And again, I suppose characteristic of that is the more regional we become and the more remote we become, or the more remote we are, the more we're looked to fill that space.

So, colleges generally have close links to the communities and the businesses that we service, and we've got close working relationships with schools and community based organisations. So that places us well, it equips us well to be able to respond to that need.

Tabatha Griffin (00:04:47)

Glimmers of hope. Yes, I think there are some.

Look, we spoke to RTOs that were providing training right across Australia in a lot of different locations and yeah, it's hard work. It's really hard work. They come up across all sorts of issues and we categorise these barriers into sort of three main categories. We talked about market and RTO- based challenges. So these are the types of things we've talked about already. Thin markets and inability to find trainers and those types of things. Location based challenges. The weather, the long distances, whether there's infrastructure in place, those types of things. And then there are student-based challenges too, the types of cohorts that are making up the learners in those locations might have language literacy and numeracy issues, digital literacy, a need for culturally aware training, those types of things.

And of course these challenges are different everywhere because the, you know, I guess delivering training in a regional centre like Geraldton or Bendigo is very different to delivering training in a small outback town for example. And the RTOs that we spoke to and the trainers that we spoke to they listed all sorts of things that they do to overcome these barriers.

These barriers usually can't be fixed, you know, they're, you know, you can't change the weather, you can't change the distance so they're doing all sorts of things. But it was really what they didn't say that I thought was really interesting in this project, the less tangible things.

Above all these practical things that they did were a couple of characteristics of these RTOs and the trainers that we spoke to. The first one being a real desire and determination to ensure success for their students and to ensure that the industries and the local employers that they were serving got what they needed out of the training.

They showed they were willing to go above and beyond to make sure that people were getting the skills they needed. And secondly, they had a great mindset and a really flexible approach. Things were going wrong all the time. And so they needed to be good problem solvers. And so I think the glimmer of hope was really the passion and the tenacity of the training providers that we spoke to in getting it done.

Joanne Payne (00:07:18)

There's general recognition that literacy and numeracy skills are critical to student success in VET. They're critical to the successful transition for students from training through to employment. While I wouldn't characterise that as particularly a regional issue, I think there's recognition that, you know, the importance of literacy and numeracy skills and capability is an issue across training and across the workforce generally.

But, you know, in a regional setting, there tends to be fewer other resources for students to draw on, so going back to the previous point, you know, it is very much about coming up with a solution on the spot for people on the day, very often. And I think, you know, TAFE Colleges, we've got a role to play there.

We've got programs that are designed to boost the literacy and numeracy skills of people so they can engage in training in the first place.  We've got programs for, you know, certificates in general education for people for whom English might be a second language and then we've got other programs that support students while they're in training.

Being able to provide those, you know, some of those supports and those services to students to boost their literacy and numeracy skills is a really important part of what we do and I've definitely seen lecturers be very creative and very inventive about the way they weave literacy and numeracy support into the vocational aspects of their training.

I think as well, you know, the other part of that question around the requirements and the structure of VET just, you know, TAFE is quite agile and we're able to tailor and contextualise that delivery, you know, in a quite flexible kind of way and I've seen many, you know, TAFE staff working and being very adept at creating that flexibility.

I'm not sure whether it will get me into trouble or not, but yes, I think one of the strengths, you know, and this is reflected in the report, one of the strengths of regional TAFE colleges is their connectedness with the communities and the businesses that they serve. And that's where we're able to get that close, you know, local information about what's needed in the community, or by businesses, or by local employers. And that forms the core of our understanding about what it is that we need to deliver, how, and where. Of course we always, you know, are cognisant of and working in line with state government priorities for training because that's the lever that government is using to move training in the direction that that's required across the state for the workforce.

The ability to be able to customise and understand, or to be able to understand firstly and then to customise training at a local level is a really important part of what we do.

Tabatha Griffin (00:10:27)

Jo very importantly brought up the importance of building relationships and partnerships in communities. And this came through really strongly in the research.

And you gain a whole heap of things from doing that. So, you know, you ensure that communities and local industries are getting what they need from the training. It might get you access to infrastructure and resources, particularly if you're a small training provider. You might not be a TAFE and you might need somewhere to go and do training.

You might need access to machinery or something. Building those types of relationships with employers and the such can help in that way. And sometimes it's really important to get that community support, community buy-in for the training and this was particularly true for small Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where it was really important that the whole community understood the benefits that could be gained through people undergoing training. So building those relationships is really important. But what we found is it's resource intensive. And an organisation like TAFE, they have dedicated resources to be able to do this stuff. Not all RTOs are in that same position.

I spoke to some very small RTOs and they're trying to balance doing the training with building these relationships and forming these partnerships, which they know is really important but they don't always have the time. And so we suggested in the report, and this is based on what people said to us, that maybe there needs to be some facilitation of these relationship building and partnership building opportunities, and maybe government has a role to play there.

Another thing that could be beneficial is some kind of pooling of training needs to try and counteract some of those thin market issues so if somebody was able to facilitate a scenario where you know, you're pooling together the needs maybe across different employers and enabling training to happen there, it can overcome some of those financial viability issues that do come up.

Tom Karmel (00:12:46)

I would see a professional university offering qualifications from certificates. Maybe lower-level certificates, but certainly certificates three and four, up to diplomas degrees, and possibly course work masters. But this would be in areas that are clearly linked with the labour market.

Steve Davis (00:13:05)

Hello and welcome to Vocational Voices, the official podcast of the National Centre for...

That was Tom Karmel, Adjunct Professor at the Future of Employment and Skills at the University of Adelaide, and Director of the McKenzie Research Institute at Holmesglen from episode 2 of Vocational Voices in 2023, in which we discussed potential reforms to universities, their missions and structures, while considering the role of VET.

One perspective suggests establishing two types of universities, one focused on practical, hands-on learning for professional skills, and the other dedicated to research and comprehensive education. Our other vocational voices in that episode were Jenny Dodd, CEO, TAFE Directors Australia, and Simon Walker, Managing Director NCVER.

Tom Karmel (00:13:59)

The distinction between VET and higher education is really a false distinction. And it's based on history and we've set up these two sectors as if one's on Mars and the other's on Venus, and there's very little intersection. My starting point is that higher education is essentially vocational.

In nature. I mean, you think about how it started. It was to train theologians, priests for the church. training nurses, doctors, accountants, engineers, architects, I mean you can't get more vocational than that. So it's really quite false to think of higher education as being in some sense higher and not vocational. Whereas if we look at the vocational sector in Australia, certainly as it's been set up in history, it itself is not that vocational. If you look at the match between what people actually study and the jobs that they get, there's a pretty poor match.

And so a lot of what the VET sector is teaching is actually generic skills which can be transferred to a wider range of jobs. And of course, they're fighting words at the moment because of the way Australia has used training packages in VET, the general education function of VET has been downplayed for many years and there are many who argue that that actually is one area that could be strengthened.

Steve Davis (00:15:36)

Tom, if current trends continue here in Australia, you're predicting that VET will be limited to providing lower-level training for short term industry needs, while university education will dominate the training for professional occupations. How do you think we can address this decline and ensure a balance between practice based education and research oriented universities.

Tom Karmel (00:16:02)

Well, that's really the crux of this whole area. The universities have been very successful in basically colonising the professions and management more and more. And lower level occupations.

It's just become a matter of fact that the entry requirement for many jobs is now a degree, whereas it used to be a diploma. So my point is that if the VET sector doesn't actually get into offering these types of qualifications, it basically has abandoned the top half of the labour market and it will only train people for medium and lower level jobs.

And I think this is a great pity because I think the whole paradigm of practical learning and applied learning is a very good one, and I think one of the problems with the distinction between higher education and VET is the fact that universities represent higher education, and they're totally dominated by the research agenda.

That's where all the kudos is. So, it doesn't matter what universities say about how much effort they put into their teaching, it's quite clear that the main focus is on research output, research rankings, getting more international students, getting more money, getting more research, and practical learning, applied learning for the labour market is a long way from that.

Well, I think the qualifications are the key element. I would see a professional university offering qualifications from certificates, maybe lower-level certificates, but certainly certificates 3 and 4, up to diplomas, degrees and possibly course work masters.

And this would be in areas that are clearly linked with the labour market. So you could think of it as being vertically integrated in some sense. So if you're interested in the health workforce, you would be training people from personal carers, through to enrolled nurses, registered nurses and other health professionals.

So rather than an institution being comprehensive, it would probably focus on certain fields and offer the training that you need to work in those fields at various levels.

Jenny Dodd (00:18:28)

So a lot of what Tom's suggesting, we would absolutely endorse with the exception of the utilisation of professional university. But we can agree to disagree on some things. It's the title that concerns me.

But what the essence of the model has enormous merit and has enormous merit when we look at what's been delivered through the interim report from the University's Accord Panel which was delivered last Wednesday in July. That too, the focus in that interim report is very strongly on teaching and learning.

It's very strongly on improving opportunities for equity groups to be successful in the sorts of fields of study that Tom is talking about and that's going to have to happen through a more integrated approach to how people can grab bits of different types of learning in very practical ways through knowledge base, through practical skill development to create new courses and new programs.

I do think we are at a moment in time where that distinction between VET and higher education is problematic, but within this argument we also have to understand the difference between a TAFE, and I represent the TAFE sector in this conversation, and there are 29 of them with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of students.

They are education organisations who have the ability to develop outside of the national training system, which to some extent has created some of this distinction between VET and higher education. And so close to 4,000 other RTOs may not be well equipped to be in this more complex educational model, which is going to facilitate people's ability to learn both at certificate III or a degree to create a new qualification, new outcome that will be meaningful in the world in which we're in today. It's certainly one of TDA's recommendations to the Accord panel that we have to be able to free up case in particular to work closely with universities to develop these new programs that are going to be so needed in the future.

The concept Tom’s floating is great. We're right on board with that concept. What we're not on board with is a title called Professional University. And it's not about the term professional, it's about the term university. The term university is not necessarily encompassing of all our learners into the future.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that TAFE as a brand, as a recognised brand, as a trusted brand, has a lot of courage going forward into the future. And therefore, labelling everything Professional University has a problem with it. But the concept, the concept Tom's talking about has enormous merit. So I don't want to get caught up into a title because that's fairly artificial at this point in time.

It's the concept of distinguishing between a university that's driven predominantly for research rankings, as Tom said, from an educational, tertiary educational organisation that is able to mix appropriate applied learning environments to deliver the outcomes we need. And although Tom kept away from the doctors, which you asked him, let's talk about the health profession because I think here is a really good example. When you look at the sorts of integrated learning that someone might gain from a Certificate III to work initially in aged care, they may also then decide to do a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing. And a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing gives them a lot of opening into the health system in a broader capacity.

But at the moment, because it's a training package qualification, it doesn't necessarily have that broader knowledge base that we would need for people who do registered nursing. So what Tom's really talking about here is create, I believe, is creating appropriate courses and appropriate programs to meet those applied learning needs of those industries that can mesh together some bits of Cert 3, some bits of Cert 4, some bits of Diploma, which is Cert 5, and certainly at the degree level, which is level 7.

We can mesh those together. Now that's going to take enormous system change to enable that to happen, because at the moment our systems, our funding, our policy, there are so many other regulatory systems that don't enable that to be easy. But I do think now is the moment in time where we have to see the creation of some of that change process take place.

Tom Karmel (00:23:30)

I'm probably in heated agreement with much of that, but the term Professional University is an interesting one and it gets back to status.

And when we were playing around with names for this, there was a view that unless the word university is in the title, these will be seen as second rate institutions.

I mean, when we look at history and more widely over in Europe and so on, there are bodies called polytechnics which are really what we're talking about. So, the names are sort of important because status is important. And I noticed that in the Accord discussion paper, there was yet another reference to parity of esteem.

But a parity of esteem is really rubbish unless you're actually offering qualifications to get people into the good jobs because it's really about status of occupations rather than status of a TAFE versus status of a university.

Jenny Dodd (00:24:40)

So I will make a couple of comments on that because I think if we're going around, if we are going to talk about the labelling we need to dig deep into some of the experience of some of the dual sectors because indeed some, at least one of them now, is making a very explicit claim for a TAFE division within that branding exercise because they've realised they’re actually excluding a group of students from actually seeing that's where they want to be.

They may not, at that point in time, think that that's where they actually want to be in a university and so they're actually reclaiming the brand of TAFE within that dual sector environment. However, I personally don't really want to get locked down into names, because I don't think that is what is the future.

I do, though, think that there is some real opportunities around a much more innovative ability to bring the two core structures together in different ways. And I also think that we do have what Tom said, it's often status is around occupation, not so much around the labelling of VET or higher ed.

It is certainly around occupation. And if we think about that in particular, in terms of very feminised occupations, it's a status that goes with occupation that can become the issue. So if there is evidence to demonstrate university would have carriage, maybe go that way. But let's not lock in an outcome of a name before we actually lock in the construct of the model. And it's the model that we're supportive of.

Simon Walker (00:26:32)

Well, just to pick up on that last point of Jenny's, one of the benefits or potential benefits of the model, this integrated model that Tom referred to initially was that VET has far greater success at giving eligibility and access to disadvantaged students, for example, First Nations people, but plenty of other demographics involved there as well.

And having an integrated model allows people to scaffold through their training from lower-level certificates all the way through, if they have the ambition, through to degrees, rather than have the universities try and attract them straight into a degree. So if we're talking about equity and that's a big part of government policy, it's a big part of the university's accord, then this alternative integrated model has got to offer a long range of benefits that would be very difficult to do if you want direct entry into university.

Christina Scott-Young (00:27:29)

There's a lot of research in the STEM, which is the science and maths, which the trades fit into, there's a lot of research that says girls face a rather chilly and hostile environment because it's male dominated, they're usually male teachers, the trades teachers. They're mainly, predominantly males, if you think only 2 percent of the trades are women. There's very few girls in apprenticeships, so they're the isolated ones. I’ve some rather grim stories of the teachers making fun of them, which of course encourages the boys to make fun of them, so part of, I think, the foundational thing is training for teachers and students in TAFE.

Steve Davis (00:28:13)

Hello, I'm Steve Davis and welcome to this special episode of Vocational Voices...

That was Christina Scott Young, Associate Professor, RMIT University, from our special ‘No Frills’ episode in 2023. The 32nd annual ‘No Frills’ conference was held in Melbourne in July, and as usual, the event drew together speakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders over three days of intense and inspirational conversation.

The theme was Skilling Australia's current and future workforce, and we're about to listen to a sampling of insights from seven of the event speakers. You can download more information and papers from the NCVER website. Just go to and search for ‘No Frills’ 2023.

Now, the other speakers you're about to hear from are Hinemoa Priest from the Wellington Institute of Technology; Melanie Kyle, RMIT University; Professor Erica Smith, Federation University; Olivja Komadina, TAFE Queensland; and Dr David Longley, Brotherhood of St. Lawrence, along with Michael Bassham from TAFE SA.

We kicked off by asking Hinemoa Priest to elaborate on the specific challenges that Maori VET students, particularly young Maori men, face when it comes to accessing and succeeding in tertiary education in New Zealand.

Hinemoa Priest (00:29:46)

Well, historically it hasn't been easy for our young men to enter into tertiary. In particular, if they haven't done so well in high school, they often look at our institutions as a foreign place, something that's not welcoming for them or is not very much in line with the whānau or family environment that they're used to.

So our role is to ensure that we do make it culturally appropriate for them and that we do have services that encourage them and their families, their whānau, to come into and through our doors.  I have a team of staff under the Tamaiti Whangai model, and the Tamaiti Whangai model of support is an iwi led, a tribal led model, that we have worked with the iwi to make it more appropriate for our institution.

So in line with that, it means they have staff members, I have staff members who will go and talk to the families, talk to the young people pre enrolment to ensure that they are coming into the right course for the right reasons and that they are comfortable knowing that they've met someone before enrolment that they can identify with and feel comfortable with.

So the Tamaiti Whangai model of support is a holistic approach. Where we take the tamaiti, the child, or the young person, and the family, and the support mechanisms, which could be the extended family, which could be the marae community, with us on their journey. We work with our iwi, our tribal partners, to ensure that where we can't provide the support, they can.

And that could be financial support, that could be housing support, that could be supporting the wider family. During COVID, a lot of our young people had to go to work to support their families because mum or dad had lost their job because of whatever happened. So we've worked with the families to try and retain our young people in education but work with the families to ensure that they are supported and able to then support their young person through this journey.

So Tamaiti Whanau is a holistic approach. It could mean that, you know, we have to go out of our way to take food or kai to their family home. We provide them with the tools that they need to get through their course.

A number of our Tamaiti Whangai students are a cohort approach. So we have something that the government has put in place, Māori Pasifika Trade Training, and that approach is to try and improve the numbers of young Māori Pasifika going into a trade and coming out the other end. So to ensure that we get the pass rates up and the retention up, we put them into cohorts, some of them, with a Māori tutor. So, straight away, the face is the same. You look like me, I look like you, I'm happy to be here, and I'm attending, I'm achieving.

If by any chance they fall over during their time with us, then one of my staff, the Tamaiti Whangai staff, will go and visit them at home, have a kōrero, have a chat to them about what is the problem. And try and re-engage them. Nine times out of ten that re-engagement happens quite quickly. And they're back on course.

The tutors will work with them to pick, pick up where they've left off and bring them up to speed. So it's a really a different approach. It is about the person, and it is about taking that person and putting them through. So at the end of the day, if we can get them qualified, their social and economic base for their family is going to improve tenfold.

Melanie Kyle (00:34:07)

The opportunities are for increased digital skills for staff and for students. That's both a challenge and an opportunity, to be honest.

There's been a lot of talk about digital literacy for students, but what I've observed through my research for the fellowship and also the presentations that I've done at conferences this year, it appears that staff are lacking confidence and access to suitable digital technology.

They have the will and there's a lot of motivation to implement a lot of these tools and blended learning strategies, but there is seemingly a lack of access to those. And I would probably argue time and support for the staff to learn those. So that's both a challenge and an opportunity.

There's a lot of opportunity for learning. If I can use an example in my fellowship research, I've recommended that institutions provide targeted staff training. And if this institution is not able to provide it, there are other resources available outside an institution to gain targeted staff training in blended learning.

And Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore provides an excellent example of that. They have developed certified training or accredited training for their staff which is incredibly comprehensive. And it directly shows positive student outcomes. Also I highly recommend and this was an opportunity to establish a blended learning mentors or champions in institutions and that is not really a cost to the institution. It's about staff who are keen to put their hand up and be a go to champion or peer to peer supporter. And when I was involved in that project last year, we provided that support and training to the teachers involved. And it was particularly successful. So just identifying people who are keen to learn such as myself as a learning designer now and working one on one or in small groups with other teachers.

Another opportunity is to just embed the blended learning principles and blended learning design into learning management systems and that all courses follow that. And then start to implement or embed the interactive elements, such as those quizzes or discussion boards, those sorts of things.

And if possible, start to measure your student engagement and understanding with surveys embedded into that learning management system as well. So what we're really saying is there's a lot of opportunities because we, we can see that the research indicates blended learning and digital technology increases participation.

It increases engagement, but we have the challenges of digital literacy and access to technology which is, at the moment, one of those barriers.

Steve Davis (00:37:42)

I want to pick up, your findings highlighted a lack of oversight of the quality of VET teacher training, particularly beyond the regulatory mechanisms.

Can you discuss some of the implications of the gap? And how it might affect, you know, overall quality in VET education?

Erica Smith (00:37:58)

Yeah, so in Australia, we have regulatory frameworks. We have ASQA for the VET sector and we have TECSA for the higher ed sector. ASQA is sort of sort of looks after the quality of the VET sector, but what it doesn't look at is the quality of delivery of qualifications.

ASQA, their job is to, and I don't envy them, their job is to enforce the RTO standards and the RTO standards don't really look at the quality of delivery. So in an ASQA audit, nobody is going in and looking at how well a qualification is taught. So a Cert IV and a Diploma for VET teaching, the Cert IV TA and the Diploma of VET, when they're audited, nobody is going into classrooms or watching on Zoom and seeing how well the qualifications are taught. So the content is laid down to some extent, but only in units of competency. The curriculum isn't inspected. The teaching delivery isn't inspected. Now, people often compare that with, for example, in the UK, where Ofsted, which is VET schools and also VET providers or FA colleges, as they're called there, actually watches teaching. Inspectors watch teaching. Doesn't happen in Australia.

Now in the university sector, same thing. In fact, there's even less governance in a way. Curriculum is approved but not detailed lesson plans. Teaching isn't inspected by TECSA. Academic boards oversee the quality of curriculum to some extent, but it's pretty similar in a way to the development of training packages. It's what's written down that's inspected. The quality of teaching isn't inspected. Now, in the case of I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent, but I think it'll make sense. In the case of VET teacher education, nobody inspects for university courses what we put into our programs either.

And in fact, the group of VET teacher educators  from universities has from time to time, asked please will somebody look at our curriculum. This happens in individual universities when programs are reviewed, but for the initial deciding what goes into a curriculum, there isn't any input from the industry.

Now that compares very unfavourably with many other professions that are trained through university courses, so engineering, social work, nursing, and so on, where professional bodies get really interested and involved in the nitty gritty of what goes into qualifications, and they're not accredited until the professional bodies are happy, or the employer bodies, and all the employer bodies.

That doesn't happen in university led teacher education. It only happens in VET sector, sorry this gets a bit meta, but VET sector VET teacher education through the development and review of the training package, it doesn't happen beyond then. The VET industry doesn't get involved in how well the qualifications for VET teaching are delivered and what is actually in the day to day curriculum of those qualifications.

So, this is the gap that I identified when I started comparing this profession, the VET teaching profession, with training for other professions, I thought there's a big gap here. It's just not inspected for quality which is surprising because you would think the VET sector would be intensely interested in how well training for its teachers is delivered, but it hasn't set up mechanisms.

Well, I think from the Australian point of view, I think it does point to a quality gap that could be fairly readily addressed. More interest could be taken in the way in which the Cert diploma and university qualifications are delivered.

There could be some sort of national body set up, there used to be, in Australia that would look at matters like this. So I think it could be fairly readily addressed without too much difficulty. I think issues such as teacher registration for the VET sector have been discussed at length but never implemented and I think probably that's going a bit too far, so I think some sort of national body that looks at these matters would be good.

So in the school sector, for example, there's AITSL. The Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, I think I've got that acronym right which the government, the federal government, set up to look at matters such as this, so why not do that for VET? And in the early childhood centre sector, there's ACEQA, which does that among other issues.

So clearly, clearly the Commonwealth government has said the education of teachers for early childhood and for schools needs to be looked at more closely, but for some reason hasn't done that for VET. Now, internationally actually I'm not going to say much about that, Steve, because the more international, well there isn't much time, but the more international work I do, the more I realise that it's very hard to compare VET systems so there's sort of bits that people could pick up from the Australian experience, but I can't claim to say I've got the solutions.

Steve Davis (00:44:04)

How can educators strike the balance between using ChatGPT's capabilities and being mindful of not only its limitations, but potential biases?

Olivija Komadina (00:44:16)

The first thing is educators need to educate themselves.

So that is, you know, it sounds simple, but it's a big task because as I said before, the record is so significant that it's probably hard to ever feel, oh, I'm actually okay now to make some sort of decisions. So we also need to have self discipline to say, I actually know about ChatGPT, I know about Tomy and I know about Canva, for example, which would be text and presentation and visual artificial intelligence platforms. This is enough for me to master and to actually keep going and keep working in a better way what I'm doing.

So that, that's, that's one component of it. Another component is space and context where teachers work. What is available, what is not, what are the teams that people work in. So it's really contextualised in a way because you may have teams that will actually take you with them on their journey or you may be in an environment where it's not all that, you know, important or popular at that stage.

And I would emphasise the most, the leadership. This is the time, I mean, it's always been a time when leadership in education is important but there are some sort of moments as well which are more pivotal than the others. And I believe we are now in one of those with leadership that will actually nurture, you know, artificial intelligence in all of those senses, being a tool, being your friend, being whatever you want it to be, will be determined by the leadership in, you know, in some extent.

So all of those together, and in a different shape and form, you can see now a variety of different, you know, situations we may be, will actually determine how's that going to look like. I have heard about places that ban them at some stage, you know because they are not really sure what to do and how to do with it.

Obviously, the plagiarism and, you know, bias, there are dangers there by all means, but we need to understand them and we need to work around them rather than, you know, using them as a reason to abolish the whole AI. Because it's there, it's going to be there, it's going to grow, it's not going to go away.

Steve Davis (00:46:43)

Just finally, Olivija, looking ahead, what are your thoughts on the potential long-term impact of AI tools like ChatGPT on vocational education? And how do you see those tools shaping the future of teaching and learning?

Olivija Komadina (00:47:01)

I think I'm very optimistic. I think we have to go through a couple of hurdles in embracing it.

And that's probably going to take a while, but once we do that or during the journey of developing the positive and, you know, developing a nice relationship with the artificial intelligence, I think we are going to do things better, we are going to do things faster, we are going to be more efficient and we we'll have more time for innovation and creativity. And all the repetitiveness in our jobs and everything that actually takes time, but it's not necessarily all that rewarding on the other end, will actually be done by AI and for example, lesson plans or developing the presentations for your classes or all those things that were traditionally very time consuming in a time poor industry I can't see that, you know, going wrong. I really can't. I think that we are having time of a lot of enjoyment in the education sector with the appropriate use of AI.

Steve Davis (00:48:14)

As you were talking, the coin finally dropped for me of just the significance of so much aspect of society that VET sector is engaged in and its direct link to the climate response, etc.

So, this is such a fascinating paper. But looking forward though, what are the main hurdles and even the opportunities in implementing the proposed changes and ensuring that vocational education truly does become a pivotal force in our response to climate and environmental challenge?

David Longley (00:48:46)

I'll speak to the opportunity first because that's the one I prefer speaking to, because I think this is a moment for optimism.

As we can see, there is glowing momentum in climate and environmental action in Australia and across the globe. I think none of us thought we would be moving with the speed and enthusiasm we are now. If we were to be asked this question, you know, four or five years ago, I think there's been a massive shift in action at government level, industry level, communities. Everyone's really now on the front foot.

I think also speaking to the VET space. This reform window we have within vocational education really lends us an opportunity for this alignment. As I said a bit earlier, we are speaking about how can we improve how the VET system enables those who pass through it, long term, secure mobile employment with a degree of agency, so not mobility enforced by the market or enforced by trends that the individual has no power over, but mobility enforced by someone's aspirations and someone's goals.

Then I think from again, bringing in our perspective as a social justice organisation who works a lot, particularly with young people in the next generation, there's a real ambition for this to be a key part of who they are and how they work. More than any other previous generation, the young people of today see the green credentials of an industry, of an employer, and of their workplace as a key factor in what determines for them meaningful employment.

So I think they are going to be strong drivers of the change that's going to happen at the system level as the system has to react to this ambition of the generation to come.

In terms of hurdles, it's an interesting question. I think if you would ask me this twelve months ago, I would have said that assumptions that sort of business as usual workforce development practices are sufficient would be the major hurdle.

But I think the tide has turned on this one. The recent conference, the recent NCVER conference, showed that there's a strong ambition to make vocational education stronger, to improve, to develop new systems, new practices for this ambition of justness of outcomes and access. That means, I think, the two, for me, the two largest remaining challenges are this need for immediate action.

You know, we have acted globally too late on this. We know that there is some degree of change which is now inevitable so there is a rush to catch up to where we should be. Obviously, we don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. But we also don't want to entrench and solidify ineffective practices for the sake of expediency.

So I think it's really the challenge is balancing that need to act quickly with the need for that long term planning to be thoughtful, to take the time to reflect on what could be done better.

I think the second one, and this again I think I'm optimistic about their discussion is happening is what is the role of vocational education? Is vocational education just a tool for workforce development? Is it just there to produce the workers to serve the industries which address climate? Or is it to develop a new generation of those with the skills to take on the work themselves, to enable every person who enters the workforce to know how their work either contributes to mitigation or adaptation.

Is it to build a sort of climate literate workforce where much as we're seeing in primary, secondary and tertiary education, where this sort of sustainability mindset and thinking is built into the very fabric of how we train people much as, you know, occupational health and safety is.

So I think those are the two main hurdles that the need for speed, but also what is the role of vocational education in workforce development? And I think, you know, speaking personally, this is a time for bold ambition in that respect.

Steve Davis (00:53:03)

Could you share some specific strategies that vocational education institutions could implement that could create a more welcoming and supportive environment for female apprentices?

Christina Scott-Young (00:53:15)

Yes, this is a really important one.

There's a, a lot of research in the in the STEM, which is the science and maths, which the trades fit into. There's a lot of research that says girls face a rather chilly and hostile environment because it's a male dominated. They're usually male teachers. The trades teachers, they're mainly predominantly males.

If you think only 2% of the trades are women. And there's very few girls in apprenticeships, so they're the isolated ones, and I've heard some rather grim stories of the teachers making fun of them, which of course encourages the boys to make fun of them. So part of, I think, the foundational thing is training for teachers and students in TAFE.

So some sort of we all need it everywhere. As a woman, I can say , we still need this kind of training, but training about respect and about diversity and inclusion and about the impact, the negative impact of exclusion, so fostering that inclusivity and respect in the classroom, improving the classroom culture.

And that starts at the top with the teachers because what the boys see will be modelled. Also, I'm a teacher myself, but at university. And there is often bad behaviour in class. So training the teachers on how to deal with this, because I'm a psychologist, but even I sometimes get challenged with how do I respond to this behaviour? So I think that education and support. I think zero tolerance of bad behaviour. And that's not always easy, but I think it has to be called out. And I found when I have tried to respectfully call out misbehaviour, the females in the class afterwards have come up and thanked me because clearly it's a rare occurrence that the males get called out for being discriminatory and sometimes downright rude and offensive to women.

The other thing I think TAFE needs to do is to put some mentoring or peer support, other women or trades women to mentor the girls going through apprenticeships, so they have some support. Now, that might only be connecting them up to Build Like a Girl or Tradie Ladies, the organisations that already exist.

But one of the things I think that pop, well, from our experience, we found 55 percent of our apprentices had had bad exclusionary, or sometimes even worse, experiences at work. So my feeling is the TAFE system and maybe the government needs to monitor the workplaces that are taking on apprentices and that may just be with debriefing with the girls and finding out if things are going badly or if there's inappropriate behaviour, then actually not turning a blind eye to it.

But trying to address that through education of the employer, because a lot of this is about education and trying to change attitudes, but basically it boils down to respect for human beings, whether they're male or female, non binary, blue, pink, yellow, green, rainbow, it's basically about respecting the other person as a human being and hopefully that's not too hard to get across. And sometimes maybe we've never been taught that.

Steve Davis (00:56:57)

The lessons learned through the development of the veterans program. I'm sensing they're valuable. They're going to help with us with informing future initiatives. Michael, could you perhaps share some of the key lessons and insights that have emerged along the way with this program?

Michael Bassham (00:57:14)

Engage early and consult widely are the two that I commonly refer to. But we certainly thought in the beginning we had a plan that was going to work but it wasn't until we started attending some transition events and speaking to, you know, a hundred plus members and their families that we really understood their requirements on a deeper level and I guess when you're also working with such a large department like Department of Defence, you realise that some of your internal processes or, you know, things that you have in place may have to be adapted to suit such a large department who already have very well embedded processes, rules, regulations, things that have to be done, and particularly with a member that is transitioning, it's not a quick process, it's very involved, and we have to find, or did have to find, the best way that we can seamlessly integrate with that process to not only support the member, but ensure that we as TAFE SA, also got what we needed as part of our processes and due diligence etc.

Joy de Leo (00:58:21)

And some of the research shows that young people are looking for meaning and purpose in their work, but also to be able to have a positive societal impact beyond the profit motive in the workplace and increasingly young people want to be associated with employers and colleagues who are ethical and a force for good.

Steve Davis (00:58:45)

Hello and welcome to Vocational Voices. The official podcast of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research...

That was NCVER's Joy DeLeo from episode 4 in 2023. Kicking off discussion of the concept of meaningful work. It's something that's been regularly voiced by participants in VET research for many years.

What does meaningful mean and what are the pathways for achieving that end? We tackled that topic in the discussion with Joy and our other vocational voice in the episode Michael Healy from Education Services Australia.

Michael Healy (00:59:23)

It's really interesting when we, I think when we talk about skills gaps and things because I think sometimes in the media and, you know, politicians discussing that sometimes I feel like these skills autonomous beings in themselves.

They say we need skills, we need to fill these skills gap, and we need to remember that it's people that fill these gaps. People with certain skills, certainly, but it's people that will become aged care workers and people that will go and work in you know, cyber security and so forth. And so we need to recognise some of the other factors that people use to make career and education decisions, I think, because certainly it's very useful to use labour market information to identify opportunities so that you can have some degree of confidence that if I invest my time and effort and money into this training program that there will be an outcome in terms of employment, but, you know, if we take the example of aged care, I could quite confidently go and do a certificate of aged care, I think, and I'm sure that I could do it well academically and I could learn the skills to keep people safe and, you know, look after them in an aged care environment, but I'm not sure that I'm the person suited to do that work.

I can't quite put my finger on why am I like that, but, you know, I'm not necessarily someone who is highly motivated to care for someone in that very intimate physical way. It's just not who I am. So we need people to combine their values and their character strengths, such as empathy, patience, you know, that's the kind of person that we want to be looking after our elderly.

It's the kind of person I'd like to look after me when I need it. And if we take the digital skills. ICT work is essentially problem solving, constantly because we know that the problems, once you solve it, technology's moved on and it's a whole new problem, you need to learn how to do it all over again. So we need people with curiosity.

So I think one way that we can look at it is, how do we match the people that have those innate sort of qualities that suit particular kinds of work and then equip them with the particular skills and competencies that we need to do the work. Because skills will often change, but those innate qualities tend to be fairly stable over time.

So in my mind, it's a little bit of finding the right person for the right role with, and then equipping them with the right skills in order to perform that role.

Joy de Leo (01:02:03)

I'll introduce some of my personal views as well as trying to weave in some of the research. Meaning for me is to find a match between the values that are expressed in the nature of the work in the workplace, it might be the employer's values for the organisation and my own values.

And just from my own personal experience in the past, if I've worked with an organisation where my values conflict with those of the organisation, it creates internal conflict within me. And some of the research shows that young people are looking for meaning and purpose in their work, but also to be able to have a positive societal impact beyond the profit motive in the workplace.

And apparently this has become a number one driver for young people in making career choices. Increasingly young people want to be associated with employers and colleagues who are ethical and a force for good.

I think it's important to raise employer awareness around what staff are looking for, young people and existing workers, what they're looking for in a job and they're looking for flexibility and choice a work life balance in addition to meaning and purpose.

But they're also interested in the culture of the organisation, an inclusive and they like to be treated with respect. And we had a recent research report by Josie Misko, which showed that a contributing factor to some apprentices abandoning an apprenticeship was actually an unsatisfactory relationship or conflict with their employer.

So positive working relationships and a positive working environment are really important. So they would be some of the things.

Michael Healy (01:04:07)

I absolutely agree with the role of relationships. They can certainly, you know, turn people away from occupations and professions, a bad experience could put people away, so we need to make sure that we're putting people in front of, particularly young people who really demonstrate all the best things about particular careers and can give people insights into what those roles look like.

I think the labour market information and exploring the world of work is really crucial. Particularly for these emerging occupations, such as the digital skills that Joy referred to, it's really hard to know what they are. If you're an outsider, it's hard to know what the day-to-day life of someone in those roles looks like so information and experiences where people can learn before they, you know, invest you know, a year, two years, three years into training, they can establish for themselves whether they fit well with that.

And then also I think we need to recognise that there are some barriers to people pursuing these goals. Nursing is a good example. To become a nurse, you need to do your placements. And there's been a bit of discussion recently about unpaid placements and how they can cause significant stresses to students that can make it impossible for them to complete their education. It can be incredibly stressful for them and their families.

So certainly we need nurses to undertake placements, but we need to think carefully about how we enable people, regardless of what their training is, to do what's required of them. And make sure that we're not putting up barriers because we want the best possible people to go into these occupations.

Joy de Leo (01:05:49)

I think there's definitely a role for leaders in government and in agencies, but also for career counsellors in schools and career guidance staff in registered training organisations, training providers because they can help students become aware of how and where to obtain meaningful employment and also to access funding subsidies, youth allowances, student loans and so on to be able to undertake training.

But there's also an additional issue of managing financial demands. People are really doing it tough at the moment financially. People have to pay the rent and contribute to the family budget and so on. But finding a way to balance part time work with part time studies, training providers can actually help with advice around part time study or study online, and in some cases there might be a place for casual and part time work while students are navigating their way through studies towards their chosen occupation.

They can also help with course advice and finding good study pathways to employment. So they're some of the suggestions that I have.

There's no doubt that the nature of work is changing rapidly and there's more change to come. It's been happening for a while. We see it with automated calls and information, bank tellers, self-managed bookings and checkouts at airports and supermarkets and so on, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, it is thought that the new jobs, particularly the clean energy technologies that you mentioned, that they are being created as a result of this technology, and they're likely to compensate for the loss of jobs brought about by those developments.

And of course, it remains to be seen whether that is the case. And I think the transition period will be bumpy. But young people need to be aware of what those new and emerging jobs might be, and they're likely to continually change, but also to know what the jobs on the way out are. So that they don't invest in training for those jobs as well.

The problem is whether the training will be there in time for those new jobs. Because things are moving faster than training for those jobs can keep up. So career advisors and training organisations really need to keep themselves up to date with new and emerging occupations and those that are likely to become redundant so that they can give accurate up to date information to students on the implications of their career choices. So, for example, you wouldn't want to become a postal worker or a travel agent or a telemarketer, a cashier, or a truck driver, all of those occupations are on the way out.

And, of course, some will remain, like teaching and health workers and tradespeople. They might change and become AI assisted, but they're new occupations coming online according to the World Economic Forum. So we'll need AI experts, cyber security, virtual reality, managing tidewater, environmental sustainability, and all the clean energy technologies. Even new occupations such as becoming a smart home designer, creating work environments that foster wellbeing and collaboration. So it's exciting, but also a bit tumultuous.

For school students or new entrants to the workforce, I would say make hay while the sun shines. Do your research. Get some really good advice from various informed sources, not just from your friends who might be in the same boat as you, but find a match between what you're good at, what you love doing and an occupation in demand that isn't on the way out, and that's gold.

The situation currently with it being a job market for young people and lots of jobs available, that situation might not last forever so make the most of it now and establish yourself in your chosen career as soon as you can.

Jeff Lynch (01:10:31)

Quite seriously, I probably learned as much from the guys as, you know, as I try to, you know, deliver to them. You talk about vulnerability. I can recall back right to the start of this, we kind of all exposed ourselves, said, okay, none of us know everything. Let's talk about scenarios. And we talked a lot and confidentially about scenarios that were happening in the guys’ workplaces, all those kinds of things. And I think the trust and respect grew over time and to where we are now.

Steve Davis (01:10:58)

Hello and welcome to Vocational Voices...

That was Jeff Lynch from our fifth episode of 2023, in which we discussed the vital role of partnerships in the VET sector. These partnerships help connect training with the skills that industries need.

Simultaneously, they build the capacity and resilience of both providers and employers. In the discussion, our focus centred on four key elements that are considered fundamental to successful partnerships. And we did that through a case study featuring The Management Edge and Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

It revealed the power of collaboration that's possible when delivering leadership training to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers. This discussion drew from the research report, Building Effective RTO Employer Partnerships and the accompanying Good Practice Guide, both of which were published on the 20th of September 2023.

In the bumper episode, our speakers were Michelle Circelli, Research and Data Analytics Branch, NCVER; Charmaine Marshall, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, New South Wales Government;  Jeff Lynch, trainer and assessor; Tina Berghella, a consultant with Oggi Consulting; and Angela Damm, who is representing the voice of the learner in the process.

And just before we play you out with the final snippets, please note the transcripts and recordings of this podcast and all the other five podcast episodes from 2023 that we've drawn from today can be found on the NCVER portal at Just look under the News and Events podcast tab. We look forward to bringing you more topics and more informed discussion in 2024.

Until then, thanks for listening.

Michelle Circelli (01:13:00)

Through the research that we did, and Tina was a core part of undertaking all of that research, there were, as you say, four elements we identified. And the first one we refer to as quality training and service delivery. And we see this as the foundation of a partnership.

If you don't have that, it's going to be really hard to build any partnership. And when we talk about quality here, we're referring to highly skilled trainers and assessors who are proficient in delivering training within the workplace. They have exceptional interpersonal skills, extensive industry knowledge, and they have the ability to understand and pre-empt the employer's needs.

Being customer focused is our second element, and so having established quality allows RTOs to be more customer focused, to be more agile and flexible in their response to employers’ needs. For example, looking for ways to create efficiencies in how training is delivered so as to minimise that disruption to normal workplace operations. Offering tailor made and customised training are other examples of being customer focused.

The third of our four elements is working together. So, the customer focused approach I just mentioned is enhanced by working together, having the strong communication and collaborative relationships and a willingness to be learner centric in the approach to training and assessment.

And our fourth element is relationships. Now, this element is, you know, closely aligned with working together, but it's focus is on the longer term. It's about building the trust in each other, fostering strong and mutually beneficial connections, ongoing communication, and achieving shared goals. And this aspect is really critical for sustaining partnerships.

And I'd just like to point out that while I've described these four elements separately, and great examples of each of these elements are highlighted across the case studies which we use to form the good practice guide, it's important to understand that in the real world context there's a good degree of overlap between them, and they do often build upon each other.

So, for example through being customer focused and delivering training on site as a way to make that training explicitly relevant while also minimising that disruption to the workplace, that also provides trainers and assesses the opportunity to really actively engage and integrate themselves into the employer's work environment.

And this can then foster meaningful interactions with the employees themselves, as well as the employers. That cultivates those relationships. It facilitates that exchange of information and encourages ongoing collaboration, you know, that working together. And from this, a stronger and more longer term sustained partnership may result.

Charmaine Marshall (01:15:57)

I'll probably go threefold. So number one, the co-design approach and then working with us, not for us from the RTO perspective. But the leadership skills application to really operationalise it is the key success factor for us. And, you know, that’s witnessed by, and you'll hear from Ange later on, how the leadership languages has changed when we're having our, we call it reflection yarns at the start of the sessions. You can actually hear the language being applied. You can hear them using their coaching techniques and we think that we've grown from leadership capability over the duration of the workshops and the program, you see it in here unfolding in the participants now, which is, I call it a very proud moment.

Angela Damm (01:16:43)

My expectations have exceeded what the outcome was going to be.

I had no idea about the potential growth that I was going to have professionally. So I'm a registered nurse and in our capabilities, they asked us to develop leadership along the way. In the last 18 months, professionally I've received recognition at a state level for the patient centred and value based care that I have achieved, purely based on the learnings from the modules that I've sat down with Charmaine and Jeff over the last eighteen months. Yeah, so we catch up once a month have a bit of a yarn.

I never realised until now that sitting back is Charmaine taking all these notes and actually realising what our capabilities are and individually able to articulate skills and capabilities that we do have. So I suppose that's where it's comparatively different.

So the expectation is we work through our modules together. But individually, they're able to pull apart our conversations and document and reflect back on that to meet the needs of the, like the ticker boxes or the assessment criterias. But then we still come together and then do our workbooks so that we've looked through all of the required learnings, but also make sure that that's linked to work.

And it's actually realistic. It's skills that are relevant to the experiences that we are facing on the floor. The other thing that's really good is that it's time appropriate. It's supported by the district so that we're able to do it in our work time. And I don't feel that I've spent a lot of time individually hands on the books.

Maybe an hour or two, a week or so that I need to go over and read over some of the stuff to make sure that I'm, I'm keeping up with the learnings that I need to learn about for myself. But I find that I'm drawing back on the information from the modules that Jeff has given to us to learn about on the journey.

And, you know, just sitting around having a yarn initially with COVID coming through, that was a really big roadblock to, I suppose, for Aboriginal people, we like to know each other. We like to have that bond. We like to know where we sit with each other. Like you have the opportunity to say, oh where's your mob from? And then we’re able to bring those links together and we then establish our kinship and our connection through that way. I think that was kind of missed at the start, and I think that maybe something that in future, now that COVID's moved away, thankfully that's probably a really big opportunity.

So, when you initially start the program, it'd be nice to see us coming together and having that team building, I suppose you would call it, so that we can come together, because we're all across the district. The district is thousands of kilometres apart from each other, so it's hard to try and build those relationships in our individual space.

I'm a nurse, there's mental health workers, there's allied health workers, so it's a rather large pool of workforce that are coming together, so we understand each other, where we all sit, because we all work interprofessionally. Yeah, but I think, I really can't tell you, it far exceeds any learning environment that I've been in, to be honest.

Tina Berghella (01:20:14)

The case studies are across all different industries, so we've, as well as this healthcare one, we've got a meat works, we've got a food manufacturer, we've got a bicycle shop, we've got a construction company, and we've got a disability care provider, and in all those case studies, they're so very different. But highlighting how important it is to have those good quality trainers and assessors in place, and how we have good quality trainers and assessors available and working out there. And, and not only the, like, industry skills and their understanding of the industry and their understanding of the training content, but I think what really stood out amongst those trainers and assessors was they're exceptional communicators.

And so, you know, what you're talking about today with, with Geoff and his willingness to be vulnerable, that's about deep listening and really good communication. So, yeah, so having that deep communication with the employer and the learners I think is a highlight that there are those skills out there and how important they are in those partnerships.

So the partnerships regardless of whether we had large employers, small employers, medium and same with RTOs and it's not like a one size fits all. So in this case we have a very small RTO with a large employer but we also had small with small and large with large. So it's not like one size fits all and it's more about being able to build that relationship and they build them in different ways.

So, for example, in the Meatworks case study it's a very large provider and large providers can be very complex organisations and they have a one point of contact there which is a staff member who doesn't deliver any of the training and assessment themselves, but they are responsible for the managing of the relationship with that employer.

And they also help shield the employer from the complexity of that RTO and they navigate the RTO on behalf of that employer. With a small-to-small relationship, like in the bicycle shop one, you have the owner of the RTO doing that task, but also doing training and assessment as well. So we have different models, and it's not that one point of contact is the key thing, because we have another one where there are three points of contact, but that focus on the employer and having people at the RTO that are responsible for managing the relationship and really customising the service to meet the employer's needs.

Charmaine Marshall (01:22:51)

I think we might come back to the, probably all the three C's that have been mentioned already is connection, collaboration and communication. And the collaboration working together is the most important.

And finding the RTOs out there for us. Again, my advice for employers looking is use training services, because one, that they can actually go down a funding stream for you, but two, they can go, have you tried this, this, this and this. So they were key instrumental for us to find in the right RTO in the first instance.

And then communication with listening. And also really listening to the employer of how you're actually going to operationalise this training with the application on the job afterwards. How does it fit into your strategic goals? How does it fit into where the organisation going? How does it fit into the old frameworks in your capabilities of how you do things around here, basically?

So connection, collaboration, communication are my three c's.

Tina Berghella (01:23:49)

I think the successful RTO employer partnerships. A key theme running through them was that the RTO focused on building the relationship rather than just a basic business transaction. Sure, it is a business transaction with the RTO selling a service to the employer and the employer purchasing that service, but it is so much more than that.

And with that partnership comes so many more benefits and you can hear it in the way that Charmaine and Ange and Geoff are engaging in this conversation, there are tangibles and intangible benefits that are long lasting and RTOs that can focus on that, the long-term building of the relationship, focusing on meeting the employer's need.

That deep listening, not only once, but a continuous process of deep listening and adapting and being flexible which is about the relationship, I think you're going to have success.

Steve Davis (01:24:48)

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