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From the desk of the CEO-September 2017 newsletter address

APEC Conference, Indonesia

This month started with a visit to the Africa Down Under Conference 2017, hosted in Perth from 6 to 8 September. The event, now in its 15th year, has grown into the largest African mining-focused exhibition outside of the continent itself, thus becoming a must attend for government delegations, industry, and all stakeholders involved in the Mining sector. Following a difficult four-year period, the expectations about where the resources industry in Africa is heading are now positive, and the event suggested a growing sense of confidence in the sector and about Africa-Australia relations. In this scenario, TVET systems can play a significant role to ensure that the growing demand of national industries for skilled workers is matched locally.

Sustainable Skills has worked in a few African countries and Africa Down Under was a great means to renew  friendships and further relationships. We met with several African delegations who want to improve their TVET systems based on a modular Industry-led approach. We are exploring how we can assist.

Over the course of the month, I attended and presented the merits of Australia’s industry led TVET system at an APEC workshop on Vocational Education Linkage with Labour Market organised by the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. The workshop was held in Makassar City, South Sulawesi, Indonesia on 23rd and 24th of August. The conclusion of the workshop recognised that Indonesia needs to provide a pathway to Industry-led TVET reform as per Australia’s system. Sustainable Skills is developing collaborative relationships with Indonesian Ministries including the Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education and Ministry of Industry. We are developing plans for Indonesians to develop the skills their industries need. President Jokowi is implementing a massive growth program focused on infrastructure resulting in the need for world standard local skills.

We keep strengthening our relationship with Indonesian partners, and we welcome to our team of TVET Experts Bruce Riseley M.Ed, Director of the ASCET branch in Jakarta since 2013. In this role Bruce is in charge for promoting the use of Australian Vocational Education Standards in Indonesia and the partnering of Australian Education Providers with Indonesian Educational Institutions.

The Uganda project has ramped up to its regular intensity, and our Team Leader Peter Merckx travelled to Kampala to meet with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and with representatives of the World Bank. We are currently starting the Due Diligence stage of the project, aimed to verify, validate, and assess the quality, integrity, and completeness of the key information required to make a well-informed grant funding decision and avoid waste, fraud, and abuse. Scope of the project is to ensure that all material facts relevant to the funding decision have been revealed, and that all the organisations involved in the project are honest, reliable, and fully capable of executing their responsibilities under the grant agreements.

The transition from SkillsDMC to Sustainable Skills is continuing with some changes between our Board Directors, aimed to reflect the new scope of our business, and new Consultants joining our team of TVET Experts. The next stage of this transition is scheduled for the first week of October, and will see our team relocating to a new office in Chatswood. Follow our next newsletter to get more details about our new premises.




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From the desk of the CEO-May 2017 newsletter address

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Nigel Carpenter, Sustainable Skills CEO

Welcome to the May edition of our Sustainable Skills newsletter!

On Tuesday 9 May, the Australian government handed down the Federal Budget 2017 which includes important changes for the TVET sector.  A new $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund will be established to support apprenticeships and traineeships, with the aim to deliver 300,000 new apprentices and trainees over the next four years. States and territories will need to match federal funding to access the funds, which may result in an overall increase in money for the sector. The Fund prioritises occupations with the highest demand, especially those that currently rely on foreign labour, in industries deemed important to future growth, or have a focus on regional areas.

The establishment of a body officially appointed to implement the program and to ensure that investments are accountable and aligned to the TVET industry demand reflects the fact that the government is following a sensible process in allocating funding. In the past, we have seen how the lack of a targeted approach to vocational education funding often results in a significant waste of resources, either through the channelling of funds into oversupplied occupations or through the allocation of funding into poor quality training.

A clear example of this is the VET FEE-HELP loans program, which despite some positive outcomes have resulted in at least $2.2 billion in bad loans. In recent years, we assisted to another case of controversial effect due to the deregulation of TVET funds shown by a massive increase in the number of private colleges occurred after they could set their own fees. In 2015, many concerns were raised about price discrepancies between similar TVET courses, and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) launched an investigation which found problems with two-thirds of private training providers audited. Consequently, many RTOs ended up having to be shut down, thus damaging the whole Australian TVET sector.

We aren’t necessarily suggesting that this Australian program will be entirely successful, or that it should be viewed as an exemplar of a funding program, but it is useful to consider the thinking that has underpinned its development. In our work with clients and partners, we strongly advocate for a demand-driven, measurable and targeted approach to funding that enables skill outcomes for those individuals and industries that truly need it. It is also important though that, beyond having the correct amount of funding available, the correct amount of resources are dedicated to ensuring the program is managed effectively – neglect in this regard can lead to the failure of even the best-designed funding programs.

We are glad to announce that, over the course of this month, the transition from SkillsDMC to Sustainable Skills has been officially completed and a new not-for- profit organisation has been legally constituted with the aim to provide TVET consultancy worldwide. These changes have better positioned our business to respond to the unique and often challenging issues that international development work often raises and we are excited to help clients and partners new and old to make the connections that matter and maximise the performance of their TVET systems.

On 17-18 May, to continue investigating new opportunities for the organisation, Ben Rawlings, our International Development Services Director, attended Latin America Downunder in Perth to explore the feasibility of expanding Sustainable Skills’ activities into Latin America. The conference and exhibition follow the format of its highly successful African counterpart, providing the opportunity for governments, companies, and other stakeholders of the mining industry to network and share their stories and experiences. The event presented the occasion to meet with representatives from Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Guyana, Argentina, and Peru. The meetings raised several encouraging ideas that we will continue to explore.

Over the last couple of weeks, Sustainable Skills Chair of the board, Michael Gill, and I have nurtured recently created partnerships in Indonesia and Myanmar and we are confident that they will soon result in important business opportunities for the newborn Sustainable Skills organisation. I attended a meeting in Jakarta with the Human Resources and Capacity Building Strategy team at KPPIP, the Indonesian Committee for Acceleration of Priority Infrastructure Delivery established by the President to facilitate coordination in debottlenecking efforts for National Strategic and Priority Projects. We had a very long meeting which included a visit to Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) University. PLN is an Indonesian state-owned company tasked with supplying the electricity needs of the Indonesian people. During the next few years, Indonesia will need to train over 900,000 skilled Indonesians to construct a number of new power plants. We are working with KPPIP and PLN to develop a plan to ensure local people are skilled.

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