What is the New Australia-India Education Partnership?

Kristen Michaelides
November 29, 2023

The recent inaugural meeting of the Australia India Education and Skills Council  marked a significant milestone in international educational collaboration. The new Australia-India education partnership underscores the strengthening ties between India and Australia in the education sector, leading to the signing of a pivotal education partnership.

What is the Australia-India education partnership?

Two of Australia’s most prestigious universities, the University of Wollongong and Deakin University have announced plans to establish branches in India’s Gujarat International Finance-Tec (GIFT) City. This move is part of a broader agreement that involves six Australian universities, including Western Sydney University, the University of Canberra, La Trobe University, Griffith University, James Cook University, and Flinders University, to offer their courses to students in India.

These universities are exploring collaborative ways to launch into new international markets and deliver Australian degrees in India. This innovative approach involves working together to deliver courses overseas, rather than operating as individual entities. The primary aim is to expand education access for Indian students and enhance the presence of Australian universities in the region. This agreement builds on other Australian education deals already in place in India.

What does the Australia-India education partnership aim to achieve?

The decision to establish these campuses is a response to the growing demand for higher education services in India. The Indian Government’s goal is to enrol 50% of young people in post-school education by 2035. The presence of Australian universities in India, particularly in-country campuses offering Australian courses, is expected to support this ambitious goal. Moreover, this expansion presents a significant economic opportunity for Australian universities. It allows them to extend their reach and access a broader student base beyond Australia.

Expanding beyond India: Looking towards Indonesia

Three Australian universities will establish campuses in Indonesia, enhancing international education and strengthening ties between Australia and Indonesia. Western Sydney University, Deakin University, and Central Queensland University are expanding their presence in Indonesia.

Western Sydney University plans to open a branch campus in Surabaya, East Java, focusing on degree programs and short courses with an emphasis on STEM skills. The Surabaya campus is expected to start in late 2023, with the first intake of students planned for September 2024.

Deakin University, in partnership with the UK’s Lancaster University, plans to offer dual programs in Bandung, West Java. This joint venture will provide a unique combination of Australian and British degrees, subject to approval by national regulators. The Bandung campus has strong support from both the Australian and British governments, highlighting the importance of this collaboration.

Central Queensland University has been active in Indonesia since 2019 through a university centre in Jakarta, in partnership with Bakrie University. This collaboration allows Indonesian students to earn Australian degrees. CQUniversity is exploring additional locations in Indonesia to align its teaching and research expertise with local workforce needs.

These initiatives align with Indonesia’s goal to add 57 million skilled workers to its economy by 2030. The expansion of Australian universities into Indonesia is seen as a crucial step in meeting this target and contributing to Indonesia’s growing economy and human capital needs.

What opportunity does the Australia-India education partnership create for education providers?

For education providers, this recent development serves as a compelling call to thoroughly evaluate and explore similar opportunities. The strategic move of Australian universities into India not only signifies a new era in global educational collaboration but also presents a remarkable model for other institutions to consider and potentially emulate.

This proactive approach to international education highlights the paramount importance of fostering cross-border partnerships as a means to effectively respond to the ever-evolving global educational landscape, catering to the diverse needs and emerging trends of students worldwide.

By embracing such collaborative initiatives, educational institutions can position themselves at the forefront of innovation and cultivate a truly global learning environment.

The inaugural Australia India Education and Skills Council gathering and the subsequent education partnership mark a pivotal moment in international education. This development not only strengthens educational ties between Australia and India but also opens new avenues for other education providers to explore similar collaborations.

As the landscape of global education evolves, it is crucial for education providers to stay informed and consider whether similar opportunities exist for them to expand their global footprint.

Kristen Michaelides
Content Marketing Specialist

2021 Australian Education and Training Awards Winners Announced

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

On 25 November 2021, the Australian Education and Training Awards celebrated 16 outstanding Australian training organisations.

The inaugural awards was held virtually, with training organisations across Australia in attendance.

Four award recipients were selected from a pool of 16 finalists. They are: 

  • Upskilled (Excellence in Learner Experience Award)
  • Monarch Institute (Excellence in Curriculum Design and Innovation)
  • The College for Adult Learning (Trailblazer Registered Training Organisation of the Year)
  • The Career Academy (Trailblazer Training Organisation of the Year)

The awards is a national showcase of both accredited and non-accredited training organisations demonstrating excellence in vocational education and training. 

Candlefox’s Head of Partnerships, Jim Rodd, says the awards exemplify the best in our VET sector. 

“It is important for us to recognise and celebrate outstanding training organisations and their impact on our domestic learners. These are organisations who are delivering the highest standard of industry-relevant courses that contribute to Australia’s pipeline of skilled workers,” says Jim. 

Education expert and thought leader, Claire Field, echoed Jim’s statements. 

“As we all prepare to enter a post-COVID world, we must take time to recognise the achievements of our VET sector over what has been an incredibly difficult time,” Claire says. 

“This year’s award recipients and finalists have demonstrated remarkable resilience and they should be commended for it. It’s great to see the excellence within the vocational education and training sector being recognised.”

“I’m honoured to have played a role in recognising these future leaders, innovators, and change-makers. Congratulations, again, to Candlefox’s 2021 award recipients and finalists.”

If you’d like to catch up on the 2021 awards, you may view the winners and finalists or watch the recording of the awards ceremony. 

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

2021 Australian Education and Training Awards Finalists Announced

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Celebrating our inaugural year, the 2021 Australian Education and Training Awards showcases a selection of high-performing educational institutions, who are making an impact in our vocational education and training (VET) sector.

As the host of the awards, we are proud to have received an overwhelming number of nominations from standout organisations across Australia. The high calibre of nominations is a testament to the exceptional talent within our education sector. 

This year’s awards will showcase 12 finalists across our four award categories:

  • Excellence in Learner Experience
  • Excellence in Curriculum Design and Innovation
  • Trailblazer (Registered Training Organisation of the Year)
  • Trailblazer (Training Organisation of the Year)

While winning an award is an exciting achievement, we commend all organisations who have been nominated or shortlisted. Selection as a finalist or nominee in this award program is a massive milestone itself, and we recognise and celebrate your ongoing commitment, resilience and innovation to our VET sector.

The 2021 Awards will be held virtually on Thursday 25 November, where award winners will be announced. In addition to this, our special co-host, Claire Field, will deliver an exclusive keynote on the state of education and training in Australia. 

We invite all finalists, nominees, and industry to tune in to this vibrant presentation, details below. 

Date: Thursday 25 November 2021

Time: 5:00pm AEDT

Where: Watch the event online at the Australian Education and Training Awards website

Meet the 2021 finalists!
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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

What’s Happening to Polytechnics in 2021 Under New Zealand’s Reform of Vocational Education

e8909df59ff66e1f48b0cd1d72eab922?s=50&d=mm&r=g Candlefox

Under New Zealand’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE), 16 existing polytechnics merged under one mega-polytech – Te Pūkenga.

In 2019, the government announced reforms to the country’s vocational education system. The reform will see New Zealand build a more robust and sustainable education ecosystem.

There are seven key changes proposed under this initiative:

  • Form six new industry-led and governed Workforce Development Councils.
  • Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups.
  • Establish Te Taumata Aronui.
  • Shift the role of workplace learning from Industry Training Organisations to providers themselves.
  • Establish Centres of Vocational Excellence.
  • Unify the vocational education funding system.

This article will take a closer look at Te Pūkenga as it continues to be rolled out across New Zealand.

What is Te Pūkenga?

“Vocational education in New Zealand today is overly complex and not attractive enough for neither students nor employers,” says Minister of Education Chris Hipkins. 

Te Pūkenga (previously known as the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology) will bring depth to New Zealand’s current vocational education system. 

The mega-polytech will bring together 16 regional Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) under one organisation. Acting as a joint network of education providers, Te Pūkenga will be the ultimate long-term skills training partner for learners, employers and communities.

Through Te Pūkenga, students will be able to shift between work-based, on-campus or online learning – allowing for a more well-rounded educational experience.

Why does New Zealand need Te Pūkenga?

Te Pūkenga was created to:

  • Meet the learning needs of the future workforce by offering accessible, on-campus or online learning.
  • Improve the consistency of vocational education and training across all education institutions.
  • Address long-term skills shortages by ensuring learners develop the appropriate competencies needed to be successful post-study.

New Zealand’s workforce is rapidly changing, with certain industries declining, while others rapidly accelerate. At the same time, literacy, numeracy and technical skills are becoming more important in a wide array of roles, including blue-collar jobs. This means that strong collaboration between industry and vocational education providers is needed to ensure that graduates have the right skills to contribute meaningfully to the workforce. 

The economic impact of COVID-19 also means the workforce requires more highly-skilled workers to contribute to the economy. Workers themselves may also be looking for ways to upskill and future-proof their roles by obtaining in-demand training.

Te Pūkenga is well-positioned to offer students the learning experience they are searching for, while ensuring this education aligns with industry and economic needs.

What this change means for stakeholders

The transition to Te Pūkenga poses significant changes and challenges for many stakeholders. Here are some of the changes to be expected over the next two years:

  • Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics

    The new operating model will see New Zealand’s 16 regional ITPs become subsidiaries of Te Pūkenga, each also gaining a new board of directors. Looking to the future, ITPs will work with Te Pūkenga to co-design future education and work-based training programs. Presently all 16 polytechnics are in their transitional period, with full transition expected by 2023.

  • Domestic learners

    There will be no disruptions to existing students while the transition to the mega-polytech takes place; students will continue training with their current education provider. As the rollout continues, prospective students will gradually be directed to Te Pūkenga, where they can enrol in their program of choice and select their preferred mode of learning.

  • Industry Training Organisations

    Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) have already begun to step back from some of their existing responsibilities — the biggest being a facilitator of workplace learning. Instead, ITOs will be involved in driving policies and setting learning standards with Te Pūkenga’s board of directors.

Once rolled out, Te Pūkenga will function as a mega-polytech servicing all of New Zealand. This will create a standardised yet flexible experience for students, allowing them to pursue training that is relevant to themselves and industry.

With greater industry input into training programmes, New Zealand is set to see a more highly-skilled workforce that is truly prepared for the future world of work.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Apprenticeship Wage Subsidy Scheme to be Extended: What Providers Need to Know

e8909df59ff66e1f48b0cd1d72eab922?s=50&d=mm&r=g Candlefox

The Australian Government has announced a year-long extension to the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme. The scheme will continue to increase VET enrolments and employment rates among emerging apprentices and trainees

Since its introduction in October 2020, the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy scheme has quickly reached its initial cap of 100,000 subsided wages. 

The Federal Government has announced a demand-driven extension in response to the scheme’s success, valued at $1.2 billion. This package will continue to support education providers and industries to enrol and employ new apprentices and trainees across various occupations. 

The extension will support our industries in building a pipeline of skilled workers to strengthen Australia’s economic recovery post-COVID-19.

“Creating jobs, generating economic opportunities and boosting the skills of workers right across Australia are at the heart of our National Economic Recovery Plan, as we build back from the COVID-19 recession.”

Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister

What is the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement Scheme?

The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy is a government initiative aimed at bolstering employment rates amongst apprentices and trainees. The scheme will provide financial support to businesses and Group Training Organisations (GTOs) that take on students before September 2021. 

The scheme offers eligible parties a wage subsidy of up to 50% of the apprentice’s gross wage. This subsidy is valid for a maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per apprentice, for 12 months from the commencement date. 

The wage subsidy is projected to work two-fold.

  • Potential employers will be more willing to take on new apprentices and trainees due to the wage subsidies. The subsidy will provide employers with more workers to take on new projects, driving businesses forward and stimulating local and interstate communities.

  • More individuals will commence vocational education and training (VET) study of Certificate II or higher. We will see an uptake in incoming students looking to study apprenticeships and traineeships due to an influx of hiring employers.

The scheme is set to combat the fall in apprenticeship and trainee employment due to COVID-19. Our economic recovery is highly contingent on delivering skills training and boosting employment rates.

“These apprentices would likely have been the first to go [in a recession]. Such a loss would have been devastating for our economy as years of training would have been lost and, I suspect, never recovered. We maintained the emerging skills pool that was building, that would be much needed for our economy in the future,” says Minister Michaela Cash.

Who will be eligible?

Businesses and GTOs – the intermediaries between students and host employers – in qualified industries who engage with an Australia apprentice before 30 September 2021 are eligible.

For businesses and GTOs to successfully qualify for the subsidy scheme, they must employ current VET approved Certificate II or higher students who have chosen to complete their studies via an apprenticeship or traineeship in their relevant industry.

The scheme is not limited to a specific list of qualified industries. Instead, the intention is to grasp the interest of a wide array of fields to maximise economic stimulus. 

According to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, fields that contribute most to our economic recovery are:

  • Food and beverage
  • Beauty and hairdressing
  • Child care and early education
  • Repair and maintenance trades including construction, carpentry, mechanics and plumbing

It is expected that we build training and employment capabilities in these industries.

What impact does this have on education providers?

The wage subsidy extension enables more employers to take on new apprentices, significantly increasing employment opportunities for emerging workers. As a result, we expect to see an uptake in enquiries from prospective apprentices and trainees.

To capitalise on this, providers should maximise student intake by increasing marketing and lead generation efforts, especially for vocational courses.

There are five fundamental marketing and sales strategies providers can apply to increase their visibility to student prospects.

  • Establish strong brand identity.

    Prospective students like to understand who providers are before they embark on their education journey. It’s integral to develop a brand value proposition and communicate this across all online and offline activities.

  • Monitor and build an online presence.

    In this digital age, all students expect a solid online presence. Being a digitally friendly brand allows providers to engage and enrol more prospective students.

  • Understand the student journey.

    Without a solid understanding of the marketing funnel, providers lose opportunities to nurture potential students. Providers should tailor marketing activities to target personas and the student journey.

  • Create a digital marketing strategy.

    A diversified digital marketing strategy allows providers to develop multiple marketing touchpoints with prospective students along their education journey. Think content marketing, social media advertising, search engine marketing (SEM), and more.

  • Optimise your post-enquiry process.

    Setting up an effective contact strategy is the single-most important step in the post-enquiry process. A strong nurture journey will increase return on marketing investment (ROMI).

At Candlefox, we own and operate a global Marketplace of brands that support providers in attracting and enrolling student prospects. Get in touch with the team to find out how you can start generating high-quality students leads with the Candlefox Marketplace.

Get in touch with the team today.

The demand-driven extension of the apprenticeship scheme aims to encourage employers to hire more commencing apprentices. As we slowly move towards COVID normal, the Australian Government will continue to support these businesses to be at the forefront of the push to return Australia’s economy to stability

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

The Australian Productivity Commission Review: Our VET Sector Needs Reform

e8909df59ff66e1f48b0cd1d72eab922?s=50&d=mm&r=g Candlefox

After years of underperformance, the Australian Productivity Commission has set their sights on reform to our multi-billion dollar vocational education and training (VET) sector.

In their latest Skills and Workforce Development Agreement Review, the Commission addresses concerns on declining VET enrolment and completion rates, and the subsequent impacts this has on our workforce’s skills capacity. 

The Commission advocates for an overhaul of the skills-funding agreement between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, with improvements across the board – apprenticeship programs, student choice, government funding, and more. The proposal will develop a more effective and competitive VET sector capable of building resilient, future-forward workers.

Here are our key takeaways from the report:

  • More transparency and regulation will be applied to government funding and course subsidies.
  • The VET student loans program will be expanded to include Certificate IV qualifications.
  • A central information hub will be established to facilitate better student choice.
  • There will be reforms made to the trade apprenticeship system.

A review of the 2012 NASWD

As one of Australia’s education pillars, the VET system services millions of students each year. Therefore, delivering high-quality education and training that produces job-ready graduates is a must.

The National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (NASWD) was established to guide the Australian, State and Territory governments in the improved delivery of VET services. This agreement was a commitment to a long-term skills reform to support workers in developing the skills they need to effectively participate in our job markets. 

Although the NASWD set national targets to be achieved by 2020, Australian Productivity Commissioner Jonathan Coppel says these targets have not been met. 

“Governments have stepped back from some of the NASWD’s policy aspirations. Targets have not been met and the performance framework has not held governments to account,” says Coppel.

The Commission has proposed a stronger intergovernmental strategy to ensure equal responsibility from all parties in meeting the new NASWD targets, thereby lifting performance.

The new skills proposal follows the same guiding principle as the 2012 agreement  – to bolster the skills of our workforce and increase employment opportunities for all working-age Australians.

1. Addressing the transparency and accountability of funding

Approximately $6.4 billion of government funding is spent on the VET sector each year. Yet, the returns on this have been underwhelming. 

Commissioner Malcolm Roberts calls for regulations to all funding, to monitor and improve the returns of the taxpayer dollars. All governments must show stronger accountability and transparency when spending public funds. 

According to the report, 50% of government funding is allocated towards subsidies to training providers. However, these subsidies are not regulated by the Australian Government and are instead assessed on a case-by-case system. 

“Subsidies should be based on the efficient costs of delivering courses. Having hundreds of different subsidy rates [across our states and territories] is confusing and ineffective… Subsidy rates should be simplified,” says Roberts.

The improved regulation of government funding will be achieved through:

  • A standardisation of course subsidies set by the National Skills Commission and agreed by all governments.
  • A commitment to data sharing and collection from all governments. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) will act as a central collection body and publish information pertaining to the attribution of funding to course subsidies, capital expenditure and community service.
  • The use of data analytics to evaluate VET outcomes and return on investments across individual states and territories.

Registered training organisations (RTOs) and TAFEs will be impacted if this recommendation is accepted by all governments. All training providers will receive an equal distribution of public funds and be required to submit financial data to the NCVER.

On the flip side, there is an opportunity for providers to receive more funds to bolster their capacity to educate and train more workers.

2. Expanding participation in VET through more student loans

We have witnessed a steady decline in the enrolment rates of VET programs in recent years. To encourage more working-age Australians to undertake study, the Commission recommends extending the VET Student Loans (VSL) program to more courses. The expansion of the VSL program ensures workers are continually refreshing and improving their skill sets to meet the evolving demands of the industry. 

The Commission has broken down this recommendation into three actions:

  • All governments will make loans available to a wider range of students, particularly those completing Certificate IV courses.
  • The Australian Government, in consultation with State and Territory governments, will replace the existing VSL course eligibility criteria with a ‘blacklist’ of ineligible Diploma and above courses. The blacklist will comprise only of courses that are leisure-related courses or courses with poor employment outcomes.
  • The Australian Government will extend the VSL ‘loan caps’ to incorporate more courses.

With more student loans made available, we expect to see a spike in enrolment enquiries and student intake for applicable courses.

Providers should closely monitor the expansion of loan caps into applicable courses they offer and take advantage of this by boosting student acquisition efforts.

Contact us today to learn more about attracting high-intent prospective students.

3. Establishing a central information hub for prospective students.

The review has found that subpar user choice has led to low enrolment and completion rates. 

Readily-accessible information is crucial to improving user choice and reducing drop-out rates. Students need better curated, public information to make career decisions. It has been demonstrated that students without adequate information in areas such as course quality, student fees and employment opportunities are more likely to make poor educational choices. 

The Commission recommends all governments, in collaboration with training providers, to:

  • Establish the National Careers Institute (NCI) as a central information hub. The hub will be a trusted source for VET information and fill significant information gaps such as: student fees, RTO quality, expected employment opportunities and credit pathways.
  • Administer the ‘Employer Questionnaire’ and analyse the data for opportunities for quality improvement.
  • Establish a VET ombudsman to receive, assess and resolve complaints from VET students.

Training providers will be required to submit the required information, outlined above, to the NCI. The collected information will be displayed publicly on the hub to prospective students, so providers must make sure they provide accurate information.

Providers will also need to demonstrate the ability to improve their quality of services, as indicated by the Employer Questionnaire or complaints received through the VET ombudsman (if any).

4. Reforming the trade apprenticeship system

The effectiveness of the Australian apprenticeship system has long been in debate. There have been persistent skills shortages in trade occupations, and a large decline in the commencements and completion, 30% and 40% respectively, since 2015. 

The Productivity Commission recommends the following to all governments:


  • Screening prospective candidates and employers to ensure better matching.
  • Improving the coordination and delivery of apprenticeship support services.
  • Making pathways to trade occupations more flexible for mature-age students.

The extent of this reform is still being determined. Providers offering apprenticeship programs should monitor news from the Productivity Commission to keep up with updates.

The Australian Productivity Commission has called for an improved national skills agreement that will pave the way for a more productive and well-rounded workforce.

The Australian Government is currently negotiating a new NASWD with State and Territory governments. We are looking forward to the announcement of a new agreement that will provide increased opportunities for students, employers and VET providers.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund NZ: Opportunities for Providers

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

The Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF, sometimes also called free trades training) has recently been launched in New Zealand.

The aim of TTAF is to support learners in undertaking vocational education and training without any fees, creating a more skilled workforce in the process.

The TTAF will cover fees from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2022 in the form of direct payments to tertiary education organisations (TEOs) by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Since its inception, it has supported thousands of New Zealanders towards pursuing their educational goals, setting the nation up for a better-skilled workforce in the not-so-distant future.

How does TTAF work?

TTAF is intended to make training and apprenticeship program at a sub-degree level free for learners. The $320 million plan will help to meet evolving industry demands and support New Zealand’s economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

Funding allocation calculations and processes are still being determined, so monitor the TEC website to keep up with updates.

What programs, qualifications or subject areas are eligible under TTAF?

All apprenticeships that existed as of 1 June 2020 are eligible for TTAF. This includes level 3-7 sub-degree programs and industry training in targeted areas.

These targeted areas are:

  • Primary industries like horticulture and agriculture
  • Construction fields like building and plumbing
  • Community support subjects like aged care and youth work
  • Manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology

New programs and qualifications are constantly being added to the eligibility list, so make sure to routinely view the current eligible programs and qualifications.

Who will be eligible to receive TTAF?

Unlike some other forms of funding geared towards young people or underprivileged groups, TTAF is available to learners of all ages and from all walks of life. Learners can access the fund regardless of whether they have undertaken prior study or already completed higher qualifications in the past.

How can Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) participate?

If the program or qualification you provide is on the published list of eligible programs, or you have received eligibility confirmation in writing from the TEC, you are able to tell your learners that they will not have to pay any fees for their training.

Why does TTAF exist, and how will it help?

TEC Deputy Chief Executive Gillian Dudgeon notes that TTAF will help to “strengthen the skills pipeline New Zealand needs to support economic recovery… the targeted areas are industries where demand from employers will continue to be strong or is expected to grow, during New Zealand’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.”

In this way, TTAF is working to support people who:

  • Lost their jobs because of COVID-19
  • Postponed their studies due to COVID-related financial constraints
  • Hope to future-proof their skillset in light of workforce instability.

New Zealanders can now become more qualified in key areas, actively contributing towards the nation’s economy as well as establishing greater job security for themselves.

Within the first month of TTAF, 5000 more people commenced studies across more than 130 subjects. Otago Polytechnic saw their vocational enrolments grow 7% over their budgeted numbers.

This was “largely as a result of the TTAF”, according to Otago Chief Executive Dr Megan Gibbons.

What other support exists for New Zealand learners and providers?

TTAF will work alongside the $412 million Employer Apprenticeship subsidy scheme, which is yet to be fleshed out and implemented by the New Zealand government. The Trades Academy also has a separate fund of $32 million to increase the number of Trades Academy places in secondary schools in 2021.

TTAF will hopefully see New Zealand meet its skilling needs more effectively, as well as boost its economy post-pandemic.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

How the Provision of ‘Blue Tech Skills’ Will Enable Australia’s Economic Recovery

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Blue tech skills have become increasingly important in the post-COVID era, with workforce-wide digital transformation being accelerated by the pandemic.

As this landscape continues to change, the Australian government and the nation’s higher education providers must equip young people with the “blue tech” skills required by future jobs.

The emergence and importance of blue tech skills

Blue tech skills are skills that don’t require a university degree and are instead competency-based (hence blue tech instead of blue-collar). Blue tech roles are typically technology-intensive and require sub-degree qualifications that can be completed in a short time frame.

TAFE Directors Australia’s recent report Critical Role of Blue Tech and Digital Skills in Australia’s Economic Recovery (created in collaboration with tech giants Cisco and Optus) has shed light on the growing importance of blue tech skills. The report addresses the economic impact of COVID-19 and the pressing need for digital literacy across all aspects of the labour market. The report also identifies the need for the government and the education sector to pivot accordingly and offer high-quality, digestible skills training to eager learners.

What blue tech roles look like

Blue tech roles of the future are set to be highly accessible, requiring fewer qualifications than many degree-level STEM positions, but still offering great job security and high wages. Such roles might include:

  • Computer network support specialist
  • Web developer
  • Systems analyst
  • Telecommunications technician

How digital disruption is transforming the job market, and what providers can do to prepare

Cisco anticipates that 280,000 new jobs will be created in healthcare, wholesale, retail and professional services over the next decade as a result of new technology’s income effect. The rising level of spending on healthcare and professional services in particular will create demand for these occupations.

Furthermore, Deloitte Access Economics forecasts that demand for technology workers will increase by 100,000 between 2018 and 2024 (an annual growth rate of 2.3%). This means that having the necessary technology skills is imperative for workers to excel in high-demand areas as well as secure higher salaries.

The above figures indicate a pressing need for greater blue tech skills within the workforce, even before COVID-19 put stress on workers and the economy. Tailored training programs, offered by vocational education and training providers, hold the key to meeting immediate and future demand – here’s how:

The role of TAFEs and education providers in offering blue tech skills

As part of the broader move towards Industry 4.0, education providers should look at offering blue tech skills in the form of short, accessible training programs. TAFEs and private providers are both in an ideal position to support the government in ensuring Australians can set themselves up for success post-pandemic.

The ‘Critical Role of Blue Tech’ report draws attention to the ability of education providers to:

  • Help meet the needs of early school leavers who may have few blue tech or digital skills, and are therefore at risk of long-term unemployment
  • Equip high school leavers with blue tech and digital skills to complement their literacy and numeracy skills, ensuring they are properly prepared for the workforce
  • Re-equip workers displaced by COVID-19 so that they can better transition into new jobs
  • Help meet the needs of those who need to change jobs due to industry disruption, and therefore require more advanced blue tech and digital skills to obtain new opportunities.

The role of the government in making blue tech skills development

The TAFE Directors Australia report urges the Australian Government to provide funding to assess the size of the blue tech market and the individual job roles that exist within this market. Through this, education providers can properly anticipate and meet industry demand. The government is also urged to provide funding for the development and delivery of micro-credentials geared towards blue tech upskilling or reskilling.

A well-thought out partnership like this will allow education providers to attract a new student demographic – those experiencing job insecurity due to COVID-19 – and improve their bottom line in fiscally challenging times.

The necessity of preparing Australia’s workforce with blue tech skills

Automation has resulted in job loss across many industries, with these losses being further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue tech jobs could possibly help to offset some of these losses, as workers are able to quickly upskill for a plethora of high-demand roles. Blue tech skills will be relevant across all aspects of the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that’s in the form of reskilling those who have lost their jobs, upskilling those in existing jobs, or equip those entering the workforce for the first time with future-proof skills.

Blue tech skills are necessary for Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing recently-displaced workers to quickly upskill and meet the demands of Industry 4.0.

Through effective collaboration between government and education providers, Australia can position itself for a strong recovery from COVID-19 and ongoing economic prosperity.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

International Students and the Struggling Education Sector (AU/NZ): What’s Happened and What’s Next?

e8909df59ff66e1f48b0cd1d72eab922?s=50&d=mm&r=g Candlefox

Both the Australian and New Zealand education sectors have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with travel restrictions and financial hardship resulting in a reduction in the number of international students in the country.

Here’s what this impact means for Australian and New Zealand education providers, and what could possibly be on the horizon for the sector.

The current state of the higher education sector

The higher education sector in Australia has seen a large drop in international student numbers. From students returning to their home countries, being unable to re-enter Australia to resume their studies, or otherwise being unwilling or unable to continue their studies here, COVID-19 has hit the sector hard. With the virus first emerging in China (also the nation from which Australia sources the majority of its international students), thousands of students who had been home for the Lunar New Year found themselves unable to return to Australia for the start of the new school year. All in all, the Mitchell Institute estimates that the Australian economy will take a $60 billion dollar hit over the next three years due to this reduction of international students.

International Students’ Experiences During the Pandemic

International students have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is in turn impacting the Australian economy and our higher education sector.

6 in 10 international students have reported losing their jobs due to the pandemic, while only 15% have been able to find a new job. With international students being overrepresented in hard-hit industries like hospitality and being ineligible for federal wage subsidies like JobKeeper and JobSeeker, the economic consequences have been devastating.

44% of international students fear they will be unable to pay their tuition fees, and 58% note that this financial stress has impaired their studies. Worryingly, over a third have said they may have to leave Australia before they can complete their studies.

The lack of support extended to international students has created a negative impression of Australia as a whole.

50% of international students say their recent experiences will make them less likely to recommend Australia as a place of study, while only a quarter say they were happy with the government’s response.

The Australian Government’s Response

To “ensure Australia remains a priority destination for international students”,
acting immigration minister Alan Tudge
recently announced a handful of visa changes.

Under these changes:

  • The granting of student visas will recommence when borders reopen
  • The student visa application fee will be waived if students can demonstrate that the pandemic prevented them from completing their studies under their original visa
  • Current student visa holders who have had to study online (outside of Australia) will be able to count this towards post-study visa requirements

A pilot will also launch in September to let 300 students from China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore back into the country, most likely to universities in NSW or the ACT. This scheme is intended to restore the higher education sector and preserve next year’s planned student intake, if the Victorian lockdown goes well.

What could be on the horizon for the Australian higher education sector

It will likely take some time before Australia is able to attract the same numbers of international students as it used to. Many students have lost faith in the government’s ability or willingness to provide international student support, and fears of international travel will continue to hold many people back. Finally, the financial pressures of studying overseas may also discourage prospective students from considering Australia.

If the Australian education sector is able to pivot, we can expect international student numbers to slowly rise again. Some experts have even suggested merging universities for the sake of survival and sustainability, indicating that some massive changes could soon take place.

The Australian higher education sector is also faced with immediate challenges that are affecting staff and students today. 5,000 staff have lost their jobs at just two Melbourne institutions alone. Staff losses are typically associated with larger class sizes and lower quality teaching, meaning student dissatisfaction could become a pressing concern in the immediate future.

What higher education providers can do during these difficult times

Australian education providers should work to keep prospective students updated on relevant issues such as start dates, entry requirements, and accommodation options. This information should also be relayed to education agents, and be specific to their individual clients.

As online study will likely remain the norm for some time, education providers also need to be clear on the benefits of studying and living in Australia, despite the lack of face-to-face class time. One way to offer support could be to waive the Student Services and Amenities Fee or provide tuition fee discounts if the school year commences entirely online.

Education providers should consider diversifying the countries from which they source students to improve the sustainability and resilience of the sector. It is also worth considering how to best respond to the concerns of students from key countries like China, India, Malaysia and Singapore.

Finally, some education providers are looking beyond academic and financial support, offering other forms of aid to struggling international students such as free meals.

The Australian education sector must rethink its sourcing of international students and how best to support prospective students during the decision-making process to rebuild the international student population in the country.

Demonstrating a commitment to international students and offering support will help to restore Australia’s reputation as a desirable study destination for students from around the world.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

NCVER’s ‘Total VET students and courses 2019’ Report: A Breakdown

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

Every year, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) releases extensive data and analysis into the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Australia, delivered by Australian registered training organisations (RTOs).

The ‘Total VET students and courses’ Report is released annually, and provides a detailed examination of ‘total VET activity’ of the previous year.

The data refers to students who have participated in nationally recognised VET; specifically those who have undertaken study on a government funded or fee-for-service basis.

Similar to our report on the 2018 data set, we’ve taken a look at the high level insights, and broken them down for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • An estimated 23.4% of the Australian resident population aged 15 – 64 years took part in nationally recognised VET in 2019
  • Compared to 2018, student numbers increased by 3.2% in 2019 to 4.2 million
  • There was an increase in students enrolled in nationally recognised programs by 3.0% to 2.1 million in 2019


In 2019, we saw a 4.2% increase in government funded students to 1.2 million, which reversed a downwards trend that we had seen over the previous two years.

In our review of the NCVER 2018 data set, we reflected on how the demise of the VET FEE HELP scheme could have played a role in driving down enrolments in government funded courses across the 2015-2018 period. It’s difficult, however, to draw any conclusions after just one year of positive growth, and what this will mean in the future.

Compared to last year, domestic fee-for-service students increased to their highest level (increase of 2.8% compared to 2018) since the NCVER VET data set was consolidated in 2015.

Interestingly, government funded student numbers increased across all of the Australian states in 2019 compared to 2018, but dipped slightly across the territories. With popular initiatives such as FREE TAFE in Victoria, Smart and Skilled in NSW and the Certificate III Guarantee in Queensland, we will continue to observe whether these numbers are sustained over the next couple of years.

The introduction of JobTrainer, and other post COVID-19 reform packages will also have a lasting impact on these numbers in the years to come.

NCVER 2020 3 scaled

Types of Providers

According to the NCVER, there has been a 11.4% increase in students enrolling in private training providers since 2015, and an uplift of 4.3% compared to last year. In 2019, 3.0 million students, 72.1% of the overall total, were enrolled in nationally recognised training at private training providers.

In 2019, there was an increase in student numbers across every single provider type:

  • In 2019, 3.0 million students (72.1%) were enrolled in nationally recognised training at a private training provider
  • 779,200 (18.6%) were enrolled at a TAFE institute
  • 489,100 (11.6%) at a community education provider
  • 124,400 (3.0%) at an enterprise provider
  • 108,000 (2.6%) at a school
  • 77,600 (1.8%) at a university

NCVER 2020 4 scaled

Other Trends

In 2018, the number of students enrolled in nationally recognised training programs continued its downwards trend, while subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program continued to increase (54.6% increase since 2015).

In 2019, enrolments in nationally recognised programs actually reversed this trend, and increased by a total of 3.0%.

The NCVER data does note that the increase in subjects that are not part of a nationally recognised program is due to both better reporting and increase in activity. However, commentary from last year’s data has pointed to a general upwards trend in enrolments in short courses and broader skill-sets across the entire VET/Higher Education sector, such as the rise of micro-credentials.

How this trend will affect VET enrolment numbers in the future is still unknown. However, the recommendations in the recent Australian Qualifications Framework Review suggests that perhaps micro-credentials and shorter form courses might form part of the VET landscape very soon.

Top 5 subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program in 2019 (‘000)

HLTAID001 - Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
1 501
HLTAID003 - Provide first aid
HLTAID002 - Provide basic emergency life support
CPCCWHS1001 - Prepare to work safely in the construction industry
SITHFAB002 - Provide responsible service of alcohol

Training Packages

The most popular training packages (by enrolments) tend to remain fairly consistent YoY, unless there are significant changes in the training packages themselves.

In 2019, 84.8% of all enrolments in nationally recognised programs were in training package qualifications.

CPP40307 Certificate IV in Property Services (Real Estate) was the only qualification to drop out of the Top 20 in 2019 (down 15%) to 28th on the list.

The FNS40217 – Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping qualification came in at 19th in its first full year as combined qualification (previously, Accounting and Bookkeeping were separate qualifications).

Other notable figures include a 69% increase in enrolments for the TAE40116 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment compared to 2018, and a 27% decrease in enrolments for BSB51918 – Diploma of Leadership and Management.

Top 20 enrolments by Training Package qualifications in 2019

  • CHC33015 – Certificate III in Individual Support
  • TAE40116 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • CHC30113 – Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
  • BSB30115 – Certificate III in Business
  • CHC50113 – Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
  • FSK20113 – Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways
  • SIT20316 – Certificate II in Hospitality
  • BSB20115 – Certificate II in Business
  • SIT30616 – Certificate III in Hospitality
  • UEE30811 – Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician
  • CPC30211 – Certificate III in Carpentry
  • SIR30216 – Certificate III in Retail
  • SIS30315 – Certificate III in Fitness
  • BSB51918 – Diploma of Leadership and Management
  • CPC10111 – Certificate I in Construction
  • SIT30816 – Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
  • HLT54115 – Diploma of Nursing
  • SIT20416 – Certificate II in Kitchen Operations
  • FNS40217 – Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • BSB50215 – Diploma of Business

Level of Education Enrolments 2019

  • Certificate IV (957,230 enrolments)
  • Certificate III (513,465 enrolments)
  • Advanced Diploma (350,965 enrolments)
  • Certificate I (208,090 enrolments)
  • Certificate II (142,330 enrolments)
  • Graduate Diploma (3,630 enrolments)
  • Graduate Certificate (2,755 enrolments)

Training Package Popularity

The 5 most popular training packages in 2019 were the same as 2018, and each of these training packages saw an increase in enrolments compared to 2018.

  • Business Services (BSA, BSB)
  • Community Services (CHC)
  • Tourism, Travel and Hospitality (SIT, THH, THT)
  • Construction, Plumbing & Services Integrated Framework (BCF, BCG, BCP, CPC)
  • Sport, Fitness and Recreation (SIS, SRC, SRF, SRO, SRS)
  • Health (HLT)

There was a significantly higher number of government funding enrolments in Community Services training packages compared to Business Services (85.7% higher) in 2019 (233,705 compared to 126,475 enrolments).

However, when looking at domestic fee for services enrolments, BSB training packages had a much higher proportion of enrolments compared to CHC training packages (21.6% higher); 127,555 enrolments to 104,606 respectively.

Overall, however, Business Services has much higher enrolment numbers as a result of the high proportion of international fee for service enrolments.

Of all the international VET fee for service enrolments in 2019, 41.7% were in BSB training packages, representing 113,225 of overall enrolments.

It will be interesting to see how these enrolment numbers develop in 12 months’ time across these two training packages, as a result of the drop in international student numbers in 2020.


In 2018, we reflected on the decline in enrolments in government funded courses as something to keep an eye on, as both industry and government looked to tackle the nation’s skills shortages.

While we’ve seen a slight increase in government funded course enrolments, the different funding arrangements across the states and territories will continue to influence student enrolment numbers and affect our ability to answer skills shortages.

Since last year, however, we’ve also seen the release of the landmark Joyce Review and the Australian government’s commitment to ‘strengthening the vocational education and training (VET) sector’ via its $585.3 million Skills Package.

With a slew of reforms including the AQF Review, ASQA Review as well as an ongoing Review into VET Student Loans, the government released a draft ‘VET Reform Roadmap’ in February this year, a five year plan that looks to address the future of VET and its continued importance.

As Australia’s economy continues to rapidly restructure, so too must the VET system to meet the changing needs of 21st century learners.

The VET Reform Roadmap has come at a challenging time. The industry is grappling with the long lasting effects of COVID-19, universities are shifting their focus due to a sudden drop in international enrolments, together with the adjusting needs of the workforce and skills during a period of peak unemployment.

Last year, we identified the decline in enrolments across training package qualifications as something to monitor, as an increasing number of students look towards skill sets, single subjects and micro-credentials that sit outside the qualifications framework. We expect to see the evolution of this trend through the progression of this yearly data set.

While 2019 did see a slight increase in enrolments across the VET sector in national training programs, the jury is out on how the 2020 pandemic will influence the data.

What is still clear is that private training providers will and continue to play a huge role in VET enrolments, and any policy making decisions will need to take this into account. It is predicted that the $500 million JobTrainer funding package will lean on private training providers that are already delivering government funded training, as well as TAFEs.

Future funding arrangements will have a significant impact on this data set for the years to come. While slowing wage growth may have been a concern in 2018 and a motivator for students to commence studying, answering skills shortages and boosting economic productivity will be key factors in the next couple of years as we recover from the current crisis.

Continued support of VET across the private and public sector will be needed in order to sustain the economy.

img claudia3 257x300 1
Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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