Training & Careers

ITECA says Parliamentary Inquiry Into skills training should focus on student choice

THE Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) wants the Federal Parliametnary Inquiry into skills training and vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.

“As a nation, we need to put students at the centre of the skills training system," Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA).chief executive Troy Williams said.

"We need governments to back their decision to study with the training provider of their choice, whether it’s a quality independent training provider or a public TAFE college,” he said.

“At a time of widespread skills shortages, too many students can’t access government funding to study courses that will get them into a career in industries critical to our economy. 

"That is the primary issue that the parliamentary committee needs to consider in detail,” Mr Williams said. 

This week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training launched an inquiry into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.  The chair of this parliamentary committee has said that the inquiry would examine the choices of Australian students, employers and educators.

“Current skills funding models mean that too many students can’t access government funding to undertake courses in critical areas such as electricity generation, gas distribution, sustainability, plus resources and infrastructure.  It’s no wonder employers can’t find skilled staff,” Mr Williams said.

The ITECA chief executive referred to a government skills funding model that directs a disproportionate amount of funding to public skills training providers, often to the detriment of students and employers. 

"That is because, in many cases, independent registered training organisations (RTOs) offer the lion’s share of training in these areas – and sometimes are the only provider – but students can’t access government funding for these courses," Mr Williams said.

“Public providers of skills training do some good work, but they don’t always have the resources, staff, expertise and industry linkages to deliver quality training in many areas critical to the economy. 

"That’s why current government funding models that direct the bulk of government funding to the public sector don’t serve students and employers well,” Mr Williams said.

The parliamentary enquiry will review Australian Government programs which could influence any structural barriers to improving the skills training system.

“A major structural barrier in the skills training system is a funding model that is not student-centric, prohibiting them from studying in areas critical to the economy.  As the Australian Government negotiates a new skills funding agreement with the states and territories, we need to ensure that students are at the centre of the vocational training system,” Mr Williams said.

Government data referenced in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report shows that taxpayers can have confidence in the investment made by governments to back a student’s decision to study with private providers. 

“When it comes to program completions by government-funded students studying with private RTOs, they have a completion rate around twice that of government students with public providers,” Mr Williams said.

Government data references in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report show that independent RTOs across the nation support 87.1 percent of the 4.3 million students in skills training, including 70.9 percent of students in diploma and higher skills qualifications, 69.4 percent of students in Certificate IV programs and more than half of all apprentices and trainees.

ITECA State of the Sector Report key facts:

  • Independent skills training providers support 70.9% of students in Diploma and higher skills qualifications.
  • Independent skills training providers support 69.4% of students in Certificate IV programs.



ETU warns higher education review needs 'skills and training sector voices'

THE Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has warned a landmark review of Australia’s higher education system could fail its objectives without clear voices from the vocational skills and training sector.

The Federal Government’s review plans to focus on opportunities for better alignment between vocational education and training (VET) and universities.

The ETU has welcomed the higher education review and its focus on VET-university collaboration. However, ETU acting national secretary Michael Wright said to unlock the potential for post-secondary education, the panel would need to engage strongly with VET industry participants. 

A ministerial reference group chaired by Education Minister Jason Clare will advise the panel. Its composition will be announced before Christmas.

“This review is a great idea which, with the right stakeholder engagement, will be able to achieve meaningful collaboration between vocational and university education,” Mr Wright said.

"Rapid technological change and a major skills shortage makes collaboration between universities and vocational education and training more vital than ever.

"For that to succeed, the experiences of students navigating both of these systems needs to be central to the conversation," he said.

“We need to support greater engagement and alignment between the VET and higher education systems, to do that the panel needs to listen to a comprehensive range of voices, including union representatives for students in vocational skills and training.

“We’re keen to engage with the panel given our members’ invaluable knowledge about the VET system, and how it can be reformed."



BlueRock says flexible working is becoming a ‘non-negotiable’ aspect for employees

SINCE THE PANDEMIC, companies have formulated a new work structure to accommodate regulations that were put in place to keep workplaces safe – and it has changed the way employees see ‘office hours’.

As Australian workers move on from COVID-19, many have since been urged to return to the office full-time and employee reticence is a challenge being faced many businesses. Some enlightened businesses see this as an opportunity to innovate.

BlueRock associate director at law, Catherine Stephens said, “The way we work has been radically altered, and we now face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine the social contract, rethink work and explore better ways of creating value.

“It isn’t about everyone working from home or the office, but instead about defining a new, hybrid world,” she said. 

“Moving forward, the hybrid-work policy should be developed in consultation with workers. Otherwise, businesses may struggle to retain employees or attract new talent.”

With research showing more than one in three Aussies would resign if they couldn’t work from home, Ms Stephens has developed a series of tips for both employers and employees on how to accommodate flexible working arrangements:

Do employees want to go back to the office?

“According to the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US, one in three Australians are searching for jobs that include remote work, and 35 percent would resign or immediately start looking for a new job if their employer required them to return to the office full-time,” Ms Stephens said.

“Alongside this, 2.7 percent of searches on Indeed are related to remote work – 6.4 times higher than before COVID-19 – indicating flexible working arrangements are now a necessity for employees.

“Australian employers are responding to this demand with the majority of advertisements on Seek including a reference to the option for a component of flexible work. 

“The number of people searching for jobs that include remote work has surged following the pandemic, which could lead to some companies struggling to attract or retain workers if they don’t embrace flexibility,” she said.

Does remote work improve productivity?

“The National Bureau of Economic Research in the US suggests that allowing employees to work remotely can increase their productivity,” Ms Stephens said. “In a plus for many Australians, working remotely can save up to $4,500 on commuting costs annually.

“With the rapid rise of the cost of living, savings like this will be front of mind for workers. 

“One of the most effective ways people can stay productive while working from home is by taking breaks throughout the day and not overloading on work. With all the modern comforts of home beckoning our attention, it would be understandable if employers saw a productivity dip in remote workers.

“However, the opposite is true. In fact, remote workers appear to be working longer hours while enjoying a healthier work-life balance and reduced stress, so it can be a win-win.”

Do employers have to provide flexible working arrangements for employees?

“According to the Fair Work Ombudsman Australia, employers can only refuse a request for a flexible working arrangement – made by an employee who is entitled to make the request –  if they have ‘reasonable business grounds’,” Ms Stephens said.

“Reasonable business grounds for refusing a request could include cost – the requested arrangements would be too costly for the employer.

“Capacity – there’s no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the request.

“Practicality – it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or take on new employees, to accommodate the request.

“Or an inefficiency or impact – the requested arrangement is likely to result in significant loss of efficiency or productivity.

“The request may also have a significant negative impact on customer service.”

How employers can adopt flexible working arrangements

“As an employer in modern times, it can be difficult to incorporate flexible working arrangements and to change the structure of pre-pandemic norms,” Ms Stephens said.

“However, organisations can implement effective flexible work arrangements, by establishing clear contractual and policy terms as well as particularised job descriptions that allocate responsibilities and tasks to each employee.

“Employers should set clear guidelines and expectations on workload capacity to ensure that employees who work flexibly are aware of what they are expected to achieve both in and out of the office.

“Setting up a work schedule outlining the days and hours each employee works from home and assigning certain office and remote days is essential for managing the operation of the business. This schedule should be readily available across the business so that other employees can see where each employee is located on a particular day.”

Safety compliance

“It is important to remember that when an employee is working from home, the home becomes an extension of the workplace for the purpose of work health and safety legislation,” Ms Stephens said.

“This means that before granting flexible work arrangements which allow an employee to work from home, the employer should conduct a risk assessment of the home work space.

“Risk assessments include reviewing the employee’s work set up to ensure that they have a safe working space. Where the risk assessment identifies a risk the employer must take all reasonable steps to remove or reduce that risk,” she said.

Ms Stephens said BlueRock had been developed over more than a decade into a multidisciplinary entrepreneurial advisory firm of expert advisors “that work together to support clients in operating and growing successful businesses and achieving their personal goals”.  She said BlueRock had grown to become “an exciting and successful entrepreneurial community and has been awarded Best Place to Work for three years running.

She said BlueRock placed great importance on giving back to the community “and, through our Be BlueRock Foundation and certification as a B Corporation, we strive to have a positive impact on the world”.


Bob’s your platform to make complex employee management ‘groovy’

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

HIBOB is the global company behind ‘Bob the HR platform’ which is transforming how organisations operate in today’s ‘world of work’.

HiBob is a modern people management platform. What distinguishes HiBob from other platforms is that it is designed to be one that all employees can benefit from. Specifically, these platforms are built as human resources (HR) tools for HR teams.

“In the modern world of work, where you’ve got employees working remotely, globally, the ability of all employees to benefit from a single platform where they can connect, communicate and be attached to the mission, the vision, the values and be recognised – it’s a huge difference between how traditional HIS models have been built,” HiBob country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Damian Andreasen told Talking Business.

He said this allowed HiBob to operate in multiple countries and to move very quickly. 

Mr Andreasen said HiBob had a wide market. It will work with companies that are 50 employees, and scaling quickly, “all the way to companies with 5000-6000 employees”.



Many of the companies using HiBob are locally based with regional offices that have issues with remote work and keeping employees attached to the organisation.

The platform also deals with a lot of multinational corporations that might be moving into the second or third region and need a system with the flexibility to support the complexity that comes with moving into new markets.

“Anyone who is investing in their employee experience, who want to make sure their employees have really good recognition and a great career journey, they are traditionally in more modern industries,” Mr Andreasen said.

“We work in a lot of tech, bio, finance, professional services, all the way through to construction companies as well. Anyone who is looking to retain and get their best out of their employees.”

Mr Andreasen said a lot of companies were still dealing with these complex issues using spreadsheets.

“You’d be amazed at how many organisations have grown at such a rapid scale and pace that they just haven’t put the systems in to help them grow in the way that they need to,” he said.

“We can talk to a 50-employee company that’s using spreadsheets and that’s not such a surprise. There’s also plenty of companies out there with 500, 2000, 5000 employees that are still operating, especially with compensation and talent management, on spreadsheets, and that is difficult to get a single source of truth.”



Mr Andreasen pointed out that HiBob has the technology to retain and search detail simply and it allows companies to examine employees in a more focussed way, right down to how engaged they are their compensation planning.

Mr Andreasen said HiBob can take it from “hire to retire”.

“The partners we work with want a real view of their teams and their employees,” Mr Andreasen said. “This allows them to work in more detail with these employees.

“So you’ve got this single source of truth, you’ve got the ability for organisational charts, do workforce planning for the future. You’ve got talent modules that allow you to do one-on-ones, do employee lifecycles, see trends up and down in terms of the engagement and happiness of the employee base and also do compensation planning,” he said.

“HiBob is very much an end-to-end people management platform.”

Mr Andreasen said Singapore specifically and South East Asia in general are big growth markets for HiBob.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at




How to get a pay rise in the current hybrid working environment

By Helen Baker >>

AS 2022 HAS ALREADY seen major strikes in the health care and education sectors, the question of ‘what is a fair salary?’ is one being discussed in industries across Australia.

The increased cost and risk of doing business during the recent years of the pandemic has made salary discussions more difficult than ever.

With the latest job mobility data released from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealing the lowest job changes on record (only 7.5 percent of employed people changed jobs in the year ending February 2021, see footnote below) it seems employees are looking for ways to make the most out of their current jobs rather than jumping ship.

In this new hybrid working environment, the value an employee offers a company is vital. While productivity may have increased, visibility to senior management has conversely decreased, making it more challenging for many employees to get ahead in their roles and increase their salary. 



Here are my six tips for getting a pay rise in the current hybrid working environment:

Exceed in your role. Make sure you understand what is expected of you in the role, and find unique ways to surpass your targets. Look at performing beyond your KPIs and not just meeting them. Along with adopting a new time management strategy, you might consider taking on training to broaden your skills set and boost your sales rapport. One crucial aspect of your performance is to equate the amount of work you produce with the value it brings the business. Find direct correlations between your actions and your success and show how what you bring to the business has improved alongside your performance.

Be more visible to senior management. A hybrid working environment means that we spend more time away from the normal dynamics of an office. This means employees get fewer opportunities to be noticed by upper management and be seen as an integral part of the company. One easy way to make sure you get noticed is to participate in as many online meetings as possible. Come into the workplace on additional days when you know senior managers will be there, and ensure you speak with them. Employers love to hear that their employees are happy and thriving, it means that they have fewer issues to worry about and can consider them more reliable and stable employees. You can combine your praise for the company and your role with recent client success you might have had. After all, if you’re increasing profits for the company, it’s in the employer’s best interests to keep you happy.

Offer solutions. Take the initiative and offer solutions to problems that business leaders share in meetings. Many businesses are struggling to cut costs and streamline their profits while increasing productivity and sustainability, and this is an opportunity to show you not only understand the company and how it functions but can act in its best interests. That’s the kind of person an employer wants to keep around.

Plan for employee appraisals. Where possible, keep up to three months of performance data. This length of time will allow you to illustrate where you have made improvements, and show consistency in your ability to perform and deliver value to your employer. If you started your role with a strategic road map, you’ll be able to see how you achieved those goals and show consistency in your performance. It also allows you to make future projections – three months of tracking history will help your employer see the value you can offer in the following quarter.

Ensure the timing is right. Just as you would research relative roles and salaries when negotiating in a job interview, gather as much information as possible about salary increases at your company before your pay review. If it’s your first time negotiating salary with a new employer, a list of discussion points is vital. This is your opportunity to find out what your employer is looking for in relation to performance, and what they can offer you in addition to salary to help improve your performance and contribution to the business.

Suggest performance-based pay rises. If it doesn’t look as though you will get a pay rise, suggest other alternatives to your employer, such as lump-sum bonuses linked to performance targets, shares, flexible hours, or even a reduction in your working hours. If there’s an issue with your skillset, can your employer pay for any ongoing training and development courses that may help you meet the requirements for a pay rise? Your goal here isn’t just to get more money, it’s to ensure your pay and benefits accurately reflect the value you deliver to the business.

If none of this goes to plan, remember to end the meeting on a positive note, and you should always make sure you leave the pay negotiation knowing exactly what your employer expects of you to make sure you receive a pay rise in your next discussion.


About Helen Baker

Helen Baker is a financial adviser, author, speaker and spokesperson for online finance information platform Helen has a passion for empowering Aussies to find financial freedom through strategic planning and goals-based financial advice. She has worked as a qualified financial adviser since 2009 and was a finalist in both the Financial Planner/Advisor of the Year and Women’s Community Program of the Year categories in 2017. For more information, visit

Footnote: for more information visit





Master Builders team up with MYOB in online business training for women in construction

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT platform MYOB has partnered with Master Builders Australia to provide a seven-week online Business Resilience program as part of its Women Building Australia program, a joint initiative with the Australian Government.

The content aims to boost the business success and resilience of women in the building industry, by bridging the digital skills divide facing women in construction.

Master Builders Australia CEO, Denita Wawn said Women Building Australia was designed to attract more women to the building industry "and provide services that support them to achieve their career potential" -- including as small business owners and operators. 

“Women who have completed their construction apprenticeship or certificate, and gone on to set up their own business, might come out of their training highly proficient in practical skills but still require the knowledge to run a business," Ms Wawn said. "Equally, women who are managing the family construction business may not have had the time or opportunity to gain the knowledge required to run a successful SME in the industry.

“With no universally available digital business course currently on offer, this program is a first of its kind, industry-led learning approach providing hands-on business skills to set them up for success from the beginning.” 

The program is made up of seven weekly webinars of 45-60 minutes each, focussing on practical elements such as managing cashflow, opportunities to generate revenue, understanding compliance such as tax requirements, as well as managing relationships with clients and suppliers.

 “The modules available in the Business Resilience Program cover vital business management basics, while introducing the benefits of digitisation that many small businesses may miss out on,” MYOB chief employee experience officer Helen Lea said.

“In addition to saving time and improving accuracy, businesses with advanced levels of digitisation are 50 percent more likely to grow revenue[1] and eight times more likely to create jobs[2]. Helping small businesses in construction to get online not only benefits the individuals but the economy overall.”

MYOB modelling shows one in five small businesses – around 80,000 in the construction industry – have no or low digital engagement, and that bringing those SMEs with low or no levels of digitisation online could grow the industry’s contribution to overall GDP 1.9 percent.[3]

"To help more Australians benefit from digital skills, and more Australian businesses reap the productivity rewards of a digitally-skilled workforce, we see an opportunity for the government to support the industry-led creation of targeted skills programs like this one,” Ms Lea said.

The Business Resilience program is available free of charge for women working in construction, as well as women running a family construction business. Content will be available the week commencing May 17 and is open now for pre-registrations via MYOB Academy.



Why Deputy CEO Ashik Ahmed dislikes today's 'gig' economy

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

THE LOCKDOWNS have had a massive impact on gig workers. Whether they be Uber drivers, couriers, cleaners or dish hands.  Many did not have protection from support schemes such as JobKeeper.

Ashik Ahmed, the CEO and co-founder of the global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication company, Deputy, says it raises questions about the future of gig work and how it should be handled.

Mr Ahmed said he did not like the term ‘gig economy’.

“I like to call this the ‘instant gratification economy’,” Mr Ahmed told Talking Business. “We are all trained in this world to get what we want, when we want and where we want it.

“If I want to watch something, I can watch it on Netflix. If I want to eat something there’s Uber Eats. And work has become like that to some degree. This is what the gig economy has delivered, the instant gratification economy.” 

Mr Ahmed said this was reflected by his conversations with Uber drivers.

“The only reason they are working for Uber is flexibility. Nothing else. Not the money, the job development or the people. This is another sign of the instant gratification economy.”

This is why Mr Ahmed sees gig work, while important, as having a limited future. It’s not, he said, about the future of work.

“Do you want to have a meaningful relationship and a family in your life or do you want to live on Tinder,” Mr Ahmed said

He said there was an element of gig work in a lot of businesses, but gig workers can’t represent the company’s brand, be it in hospitality, tourism or retail.

The brand, he said, was not something that could be outsourced.

“That brand comes from your culture, your values and someone showing up for gig work for one shift is not going to be the best ambassador of that,” he said. “It is something very transactional in providing a service, yes, gig work makes sense, but I don’t see it being the mainstream.”

While there has been an increase in gig workers with the lockdowns – with, for example, retail managers suddenly finding they were working zero hours and becoming Uber drivers to bring in some money – Ahmed does not see them staying there for the long term.

“People don’t come to work for work, they come to work to be part of the community. Working with other people having a manager, where you are becoming a better you every day and also you are contributing to something larger,” he said.

“There is no career development in being a gig worker. You may get to learn a lot of different skills, you may get to earn some money,” Mr Ahmed said.

“I’m not saying gig work doesn’t exist. It absolutely exists and there is a lot of value that we all benefit from.

“But the notion that is the future of work and employment is going to disappear is not a philosophy that I subscribe to.”

That said, he argued governments needed to bring in rules to protect the health and safety of gig workers and he felt governments were “lagging behind” on this issue. They were treating the symptoms rather than the root causes of the problems with for example, the number of deaths of Uber Eats drivers.

What’s needed, he said, was to look at what consumers needed and then come up with the right system. This meant governments needed to work with companies like Uber to come up with solutions.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



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