CEO Update – April 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is having a major impact on all of us and the ways we interact. We wish all of you the very best in this difficult time.

We’re committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our team members who are now working from home. Our team remain available to provide you with high levels of support, service and advice. Feel free to contact our team at any time.

Our IT infrastructure is designed to ensure we can continue to support our industry stakeholders. Through virtual meetings, the momentum on the work of Industry Reference Committees and their Technical Advisory Committees will continue. And, of course, we will continue to adapt in light of any further advice from Australia’s health authorities.

Ministers Cash and Irons announced after the COAG Skills Council meeting on 3 April, the establishment of a new sub-committee of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) to drive rapid and flexible development of training packages during the COVID-19 crisis. See their media release here.

Recognising the value of keeping people in work, one part of the Australian Government’s response to coronavirus, is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees by providing a wage subsidy of up to $21,000 per apprentice or trainee. If the business cannot keep the apprentice on, the subsidy will be available to a new employer or Group Training Organisation. For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

In the meantime, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is taking a flexible approach to regulating the sector. Physical distancing, travel restrictions and quarantine have thrown up challenges for delivery and assessment, especially of practical aspects of courses. ASQA has therefore announced it does not intend to pursue regulatory action against providers taking adaptive measures but recommends these measures are documented in the relevant students’ records. It has published a set of FAQs for providers. Further, ASQA has expanded its decision to extend the transition period for 51 qualifications due to expire between 17 March and 15 July 2020 to a further 90 superseded qualifications, including several in our industry sectors. Read more here.

Last month, I participated in a panel at the Reinventing VET for the Digital Age conference. One of the keynote speakers was Maria Spies, a leader in education transformations and digital transformation. She offered insights not only about global trends but also about the impact of COVID-19 on education institutions across the world. While acknowledging that COVID-19 has struck a short-term blow to education providers, Maria also observed that many providers see investment in education technology as important to their growth strategies. You can listen to Maria’s presentation and also see her slides. Her presentation certainly reinforced how integral learning has become to work and life, something we are all acutely aware of in this troubling time.

Our operating environment is extremely fluid at the moment. We will endeavour to keep you up to date with new directions and decisions.