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From the Desk of the CEO – August 2018 Newsletter Address

This month I met Ms Nguy Thi Khanh, Executive Director of Vietnam’s Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) at the Vietnam Renewable Energy Week being held in Hanoi.  Ms Khanh was a winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize – the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists. GreenID, a not for profit, works to achieve fundamental change in the approach to sustainable development by promoting the transition to a sustainable energy system, good environmental governance and inclusive decision processes. Sustainable Skills, having started exploring opportunities in Vietnam, is developing plans with GreenID to build the skills of the renewable energy sector.

Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s President and Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister are meeting in Jakarta this Friday to conclude the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership (IA-CEPA) which will create the framework for a new era of closer economic engagement between Australia and Indonesia and open new markets and opportunities for businesses, primary producers, service providers and investors. I’m currently in Jakarta and will be attending events associated with the signing. Australian Universities are expected to get the green light to start setting up campuses in Indonesia under the agreement.

The agreement will also provide opportunities to help improve the TVET capacity of Indonesia. The Australian TVET model, with its well-established industry-based competencies and modular course design, is very often the preferred choice for both qualitative and pragmatic reasons.

Sustainable Skills approach has been to work with Indonesian Ministries that have developed plans to reform VET, take key principles of the Australian VET system, understand the local culture and develop solutions.

The IA-CEPA has enabled a much improved understanding of how Indonesia’s workforce skills opportunity is central to Indonesia’s social and economic development.  Australian experience in delivering industry-based training can help Indonesia to deliver job-ready trained workers. Sustainable Skills Ltd. welcomes the significant opportunity IA-CEPA opens for world-class Australian training providers to contribute to skilling the Indonesian workforce into the future.


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The Australian TVET Experience

Technical Vocational Education and Training Models in the World: The Australian VET System

Vocational Education and Training systems are developed by each country based on specific cultural, social, and economic scenarios. However, policy makers are often keen to examine and adopt TVET models developed by other countries and recognised as international best practice due to their positive outcomes.

The Australia’s competency based TVET system is highly recognised worldwide largely due to its strong focus on industry demand, skills application, and to its scalability and flexibility. Currently, in Australia there are 4.2 million TVET students attending 4,200 Registered Training Organisations that include 58 public providers – TAFEs, compared to 3.8 million school students in 9,400 schools, and 1 million University students in 43 universities. TVET students represent 24% of the Australian population between 15-64 years. Of this, 17% are 19 years or under, 57% 20-44 years and 24% over 45 years.

Brief History

  • 1960-70s: a significant reform of the system started, aimed to establish a national VET system and nationally funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Colleges
  • 1980-90s: the fundamental reforms to the sector occurred with the introduction of  industry-led national qualifications
  • 2000s-present: reform effort has focused on greater integration of industry engagement, national regulation and ‘demand-driven’ funding models.

Characteristics of the current formal VET system

  • Certificate I (approximately 6 months) and Certificate II (approximately 1 year)

Certificate I&II are preparatory/pre-vocational qualifications for schools, and school based apprenticeships, offered at the lower secondary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, schools, and community education providers. Graduates from Certificate I and Certificate II courses are able to proceed to vocational education and training at higher certificate levels. Certificate II is the entry-level qualification for some occupations.

  • Certificate III & IV qualifications – (approximately 1-4 years)

Certificate III&IV are offered at the upper secondary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, schools, community education providers, enterprise providers and some dual-sector universities. Certificate IV qualifications typically provide training for ‘advanced trade occupations’ or supervisory roles in the workplace.

Apprenticeship is the collective term for traineeships and apprenticeships that are ways to become trained and qualified in a trade or particular type of job. Most apprenticeships are aligned with a Certificate III qualification. Apprenticeships and traineeships can be full-time, part-time or school-based through a legal agreement with an employer called a training contract, which lasts until training is completed and competence achieved. All apprenticeships / traineeships combine learning with paid employment. Based on data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), in 2017 there were 275,000 of TVET students undertaking an apprenticeship with a decrease of 3.7% from 2016. This equates to 2.3% of Australian workers who are employed as an apprentice or trainee.

  • Advanced Skills and Higher Education articulation – Diploma (1-2 years), Advanced Diploma (2-3 years), Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma (6-24 months)

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, and Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma are offered at the tertiary level by Registered Training Organisations, TAFE institutes, and enterprise providers.

These qualifications provide for occupations requiring advanced skills, supervisory or management roles or as pathways into Higher Education degrees.

The TVET system also provides post –school training in foundational skills such as literacy, and numeracy.

What are the key features of the Australian TVET System

  • ‘Fit for purpose’ qualifications

A key strength of the Australian TVET system is the existence of qualifications that meet industry’s needs (employment skills match) and individuals’ needs (portable skills to move across the labour market and support life long learning). Qualifications ensure opportunities for students to engage and progress in TVET via multiple entry and exit points (‘flexible articulation’) learning pathways.

  • Industry Engagement

Industry is involved at every step of the process including qualification development and implementation (training), as well as contributing to the development of government policy.

  • Quality training market

Public funding incentivises TVET responsiveness to industry and individuals and ensures government optimises its return on investment (‘value for money’). The system involves ‘In-built’ continuous improvement processes to push quality standards in teaching and student-centered learning.

  • Effective regulation

Effective regulation is in place to allow maximum responsiveness (adaptability and competitiveness) while minimising market failures and student risk.

The shared responsibility

Shared responsibility is key to a successful and efficient Vocational Education and Training system able to involve all actors such as government, industry, training organisations, civil society, communities, and students. In this context, roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder need to be clearly defined.

  • Government 

Government’s role consists in promoting research, establishing policy, release regulation and accreditation, plan and manage funding.

  • The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) is responsible for research and policy establishment, the COAG Industry and Skills Council and its sub-committee, the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) establishes national policy, and state governments align local policy with national directions.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)and theAustralian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA) accredit qualifications,  ASQA regulates Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), while States regulate apprenticeships.

• Government, the Skilling Australians Fund, and state governments provide publicly funded training, which currently account for approximately AUD$5-6 billion per annum.

  • Industry/Business

Industry is one of the key stakeholders in the Australian Vocational Education and Training systems, also defined as industry-led VET model. Industry is engaged in consultation about policy development, in training and assessment by RTO, as well as in providing private funding (estimated AUD$5 billion per annum) for accredited and non-accredited training, such as ‘in-house’ enterprise training. AISC’s 64 Industry Reference Committees (constituted of employer/employee organizations, industry regulators, and experts) are key stakeholders consulted in national qualification and government policy development.

  • Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)

RTOs are in charge of conducting training and assessment of students against national standards and regulation, and accredited qualifications, ensuring that training meets local industry needs and is customized to the student particularly in apprenticeship training, as well as issuing qualifications to students against the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Sustainable Skills has  nearly twenty years’ experience shaping and maintaining TVET systems and frameworks in Australia and around the world, and can assist Governments with the implementation of successful TVET system based on Australia best practice. Contact us for further information about how Sustainable Skills can deliver positive outcomes for your organisation, or to discuss how we can partner in TVET projects.



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Nigel Carpenter Interview for The Australia-Indonesia Centre

How Australia can meet Indonesia’s demand for high quality skills training

In June Susinable Skillsta CEO, Nigel Carpenter, was invited by the Australia Indonesia Business Council Victoria (AIBC) to speak at the Education Panel discussion about education in Indonesia. The conference aimed to unpick some of the key issues in a critical sector for Indonesia, and learn more about the country’s aspirations.

We are sharing an article about how Australia can meet Indonesia’s demand for high quality skills training written by Nigel Carpenter for The Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) as well as a video interview produced by AIC.



President Widodo has elevated infrastructure investment to the top priority and has an enormous investment agenda.

In this case it appears likely that a major constraint will be skills. Already, key projects are heavily staffed by foreigners – a practice that Indonesia simply can’t sustain.

Indonesia is a fiercely independent country with an economy that continues to grow. As the Indonesian economy has grown so has the need to improve the education system particularly vocational education.

We found a country with a strong desire to improve its VET system that has a high degree of alignment with industry demand and a practical design that supports the needs of low income communities.

The Australian model, with its well-established industry-based competencies and modular course design, is very often the preferred choice for both qualitative and pragmatic reasons.

Our approach has been to work with Indonesian Ministries that have developed plans to reform VET, take key principles of the Australian VET system, understand the local culture and develop solutions.

Indonesia has the chance to reform its VET picking the best the international education system has to offer.

Nigel Carpenter in West Java to understand local cattle farming with the objective of developing a plan to develop skills and therefore productivity.

Prior to my first trip to Jakarta I was told Indonesia requires a lot of time and patience to succeed, that business is done differently, and a lot of effort is required to understand the culture and build relationships.

All the advice I received has proven true.

The challenge is being prepared to build sound relationships and there’s only one way to do this – be in front of people and let them know you’re truly interested in their problems.

Indonesians tell me they like Sustainable Skills because we’re committed, and we don’t think several visits over six months will deliver success.

By building the relationship and understanding the problem, an Indonesian solution can be developed. Once a relationship and trust has been established then projects will proceed.

There are major VET capacity constraints and a massive need to build skills. For example, Indonesia wants to build 35 GW of energy.

Nigel Carpenter delivered a lecture at Universitas Pendidikan Bandung on what an Indonesian TVET Centre of Excellence could be.

The Indonesian Government estimates the construction and operating of this system will create 1 million jobs. This creates a huge opportunity for Indonesia to build skills and bring more people out of poverty.

These jobs require world standard competencies and a training system that will deliver world standard skills, otherwise more foreigners will be required.

We are working with the Indonesian government to develop plans to seize this opportunity.

Opportunities are not straight forward, and no one would advocate a rush of investments in Australian-styled institutions in environments with very different economic and social drivers, not to mention much lower incomes.

But the risks can be managed and the scale requirements beyond the initial capacity-building are manageable. Yet so far, most of the activity by Australian providers in these markets has a focus on accreditation, implying some of sort of local delivery of Australian courseware.

Australia has an opportunity to not only attract foreign students but to also develop offshore opportunities and extend the value of our education capabilities and expertise. This requires the development of new solutions.

In pursuing our usual work, we identified the need and commercial opportunity to establish an Australian led Indonesian managed stand-alone training centre.

We have identified a strong local partner and have had significant encouragement in testing the proposition with Indonesian industry and government approval authorities.

This opportunity aligns with the very high priority of infrastructure and tourism investment in the Widodo Government’s agenda. We’ve developed a business plan that doesn’t need a change to Indonesian laws.

Sustainable Skills has developed several very interesting opportunities that we will continue to explore and develop. Each requires a local focus and strong guidance from experienced Australian specialists.

This will take time, but we are confident that strong results will emerge from the application of that Australian expertise. We’d welcome partners or supporters in any of these projects.

Source: Australia-Indonesia Centre

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