Defence outsources technical-trades training

Thousands of sailors, soldiers and aviators will be trained in technical trades under a five-year $300 million contract with Wodonga TAFE.

EDITOR’S NOTEI apologise that I forgot to change the subject line in the News Flash I sent out about this story on 30 June. There’s no update on the BRS story – the News Flash was about this outsourcing of technical trade training. My excuse – multi tasking the News Flash while drinking beer and watching the mighty Rabbithos kick ass 😉
Serious question though – do you think this outsourcing is designed to improve technical trades in the military – or to save money? Answers in the comments section below.

CAPTION: With the stroke of a penArmy’s Director General Training and Doctrine Brigadier Glenn Ryan signs a Joint Technical Trades and Training Services contract that will outsource ADF technical training to TAFE. Photo by Leading Seaman Tara Morrison.

In a significant change to trades training across Defence, the new Joint Technical Trades and Training Services contract will support the development of qualified and experienced ADF personnel in multiple locations across Australia.

More than 100 accredited and non-accredited courses will be delivered for the construction, engineering, mechanical, electrical and electronics trades, which will benefit more than 2000 students per year.

The new contract will also enable thousands of sailors, soldiers and aviators to further develop their skills in technical trades in locations where they work and live.

Navy’s Commodore of Training Commodore John Stavridis said the continued development of a highly skilled workforce was critical to achieving workforce goals and supporting ADF people.

“For the first time, trade-specific training will be delivered flexibly where and when it is needed,” Commodore Stavridis said.

“It will expand to support the growth of the Australian Defence Force and, importantly, will be rolled out across a number of locations to take the training to our people.”

Army’s Director General of Training and Doctrine, Brigadier Glenn Ryan said the new partnership is an important step towards an integrated ADF.

“The partnership with TAFE Wodonga has been set up with the future in mind, focused on preparing our people for a rich and rewarding career in the ADF.”

Defence is committed to investing in ongoing education and skills development opportunities for our personnel throughout their careers.

The new contract will commence in November this year.

 

 


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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

20 thoughts on “Defence outsources technical-trades training

  • 05/07/2023 at 12:09 pm
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    As someone who did a decade in the R.A.N and then another decade as a combat engineer in the reserve my experience is that the government has been trying to privatise the ADF since the late 90’s when Howard took power. His government did away with apprenticeship training then outsourced catering,stores,base security and maintenance.
    The fact that subsequent governments have done the same does not surprise me regardless of who is in charge at the time. If you think the pollies will ever listen to recommendations from defence you’re kidding yourself look at the disaster the Kanimbla and Manoora were in relation to defence spending. For what it cost us to buy and then essentially rebuild those 2 ships we could have built something new from scratch. Same goes for defence land 400 the government has scrapped more than half the recommended units required to become a relevant force for the future. This decision over trade training is more of the same it goes back to Murphies law of combat ops. ( Your weapons were manufactured by the lowest bidder) same applies to training and skills. Better hope we never have to fight a real opponent without support from our “allies”

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  • 02/07/2023 at 9:50 am
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    It will all be about the training governance in the background, every year UoC change through the Australian Training continuum. This will allow professionals to actually train to the standard but also correctly map those changes into the new training modules. This is solely about a soldier been a soldier not a soldier needing to have a training & assessment degree. Great idea.. hope they’ve built flexibility into it to allow surges.

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  • 02/07/2023 at 7:11 am
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    Absolutely nothing new here. Wodonga TAFE has been managing initial trade training for most Army technical trades on and off for over 20 years. There have been a few other groups as well (RMIT around the turn of century to name one), but they’re teaching to the Army syllabus and standards, in Army locations like Latchford barracks and North Bandiana.
    There are still military staff there, but they haven’t been the main instructors since at least the mid 90’s. Military staff do teach the specific defence aspects though.
    The only new part of this is that we won’t have several different organizations managing the civilian instructors at multiple sites across Defence.
    Most of the time, it’s the same civilian and APS staff teaching, regardless of who has the contract.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 6:16 pm
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    This is nothing new. The Army trades have been aligned with Wodonga TAFE for years. I did my trade training between 95-97 at Bonegilla. 3 quarters of the instructors were civilians from Wodonga TAFE. It’s all swings and round about. It will come back around. As for the military side of things. The trainees will still have military staff. Do I think its wrong totally outsourcing. Yes I do

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  • 01/07/2023 at 3:22 pm
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    This is nothing new? We see navy dudes at Chisholm and there have been jobs advertised with KBR for technical trainers on Cerberus for at least a year

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  • 01/07/2023 at 1:29 pm
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    Wasn’t this tried before when Army closed its trade training centre last century. Then when whatever replaced the Army system didn’t work they built a giant new tech school at Bandiana. Whatever happened to it.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 1:08 pm
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    I can only speak for Navy, as I joined as an apprentice, and did 40 years. In that time I spent 20 years at sea, and rotated back through training depots as an instructor. I served at every non com rank, so I think I have some idea of trade training and what defence Well, Navy at least) needs.

    To be fair, ITT (TTP 92) the system that defence started in 1992 was tafe modules, and half the instructors either came from TAFE, or were casuals who still taught at TAFE. So I can’t see content being any different, providing we decide which modules. But if Navy says “ok TAFE, do what YOU think” = disaster. They did that with “making the stokers electricians” by “showing them how to wire up a civilian hot water heater” with a neutral return system, nothing LIKE shipborne. But they wouldn’t listen to us.

    The problem I have is that discipline gets worse and worse. While we taught TAFE modules, they were still on a military depot, and THAT moulds them in their formative years.

    Send them out to a campus, you have no control, and less discipline.

    So, ten years in the future, they will announce THIS;

    “No one could have foreseen the discipline problems we are having now, as these sailors come straight from a “campus mentality”. We already lost a high percentage during course to drug or sexual harassment issues. If only someone had told us……..”

    So, there you are. They will lose control during the most important part of a sailors career/mentoring/training phase, but they WILL do it (ignore us) and then they WILL say “no one could have foreseen”………….. Which is govt for “everyone told us/was onbvious, but we ignored them.”

    They ALWAYS do.

    I mean myself or ANY ex military trade soldier/sailor/airman could advise them for nothing. I’d do it for free. I taught the old system. THEN I taught the first of the TAFE modules. THEN I programmed what was taught. So (with 2 others) controlled 100 instructors with 70 modules in 115 classrooms with capacity for 800 trainees with ten start dates per year. NO ONE ELSE in Australia does that.

    But no. They will spend millions on civilian consultants who have NEVER EVER been near the military to produce reams of paperwork……………………. as long as the final page/outcome says “Do what you have already decided to do”; because it has already been announced to the press.

    Reply
    • 01/07/2023 at 1:15 pm
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      This posted before I finished – just wanted to add;

      The biggest problem is politics. It is a “never go back” cycle.

      So even if this becomes a DISASTER – they can NEVER just admit they were wrong.

      So no matter how useless it is/how big a failure it is, the ONLY OPTION is to persevere/spend zillions, rather than EVER say “We were wrong.”

      Pick ANY defence project announced in a blaze of glory.

      The defence personnel pay/management system (PMKEYS) Didn’t do ANYTHING that we wanted it to, never ever did. They just spent 5 times more than it cost “adding/patching” it, rather than scrap it/start again. MILLIONS wasted to avoid saying “We were wrong.”

      That’s how govt works.

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    • 01/07/2023 at 3:43 pm
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      Yes , not only support what you say but the TAFE system has been in decline since the late 1980s, and TAFE will not deliver what the various services want.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 11:34 am
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    TAFE by its nature must cover a host of general topics. Agreed, a pipe is a pipe in any context as is a wire and that’s fine in numerous applications.
    That said, there are a host of specialist and specific apllications in a military environment that tech staff will be unlikely ever to meet. Who will train the armourers? It doesn’t crop up in any TAFE centre I have seen.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 11:23 am
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    You asked if this outsourcing is designed to improve technical trades in the military – or to save money. It’s a money-saving activity. There is no other logical explanation for it.

    I imagine that the best justification that Brigadier Ryan could give for this change is that the technical training will not be compromised (because obviously, civilians are just as intelligent or even smarter) and military instructors will be deployed to other units which will help those units.

    Fewer instructional posts will mean less relief for personnel needing a break, eg, long-term recovery from injuries. Fewer instructional posts will mean fewer career opportunities and less variety. Fewer instructional posts will mean a dilution of overall instructional capabilities. Having many civilian instructors in a military environment, at the expense of having servicemen around, will remove the incidental benefits of interacting with experienced and knowledgeable superiours. There will be no more war stories about making equipment work when stuck in the middle of nowhere. The classrooms will be all theory with no military context – except when the instructor is ex-military. I expect Wodonga TAFE will welcome ex-servicemen.

    I was a soldier tradesman instructed by soldier instructors. As young soldiers, my classmates and I would have welcomed having civilian instructors so we could have had an easier time of it. We wouldn’t have had to worry as much about how we addressed instructors, and how we carried ourselves in the classroom. We could have been the slugs we were sometimes accused of being. Without being disrespectful, I’m sure we could have gotten away with more than we did. Although I had previous military experience, my classmates were fresh out of basic training. Those junior soldiers benefited from having superiours instructing them and providing incidental advice and guidance about their future careers that a civilian (unless ex-military) could give.

    Like what another respondent wrote, the level of instruction I got from military instructors, here and overseas, was better than what I got in TAFE and university. That doesn’t mean that all TAFE teachers are poor; far from it, however, the cultural differences between TAFE and military instructors can be wide and hard to compare.

    In summary, this is a money-saving initiative. Regarding the quality of military tradies, it certainly won’t make things better.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 11:20 am
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    Having served in RAEME for 9 years in a civilian gained trade, I found throughout my military career that my civilian training went beyond a lot of what I was required to do within the service. I struggled to find any job satisfaction in mundane minor maintenance jobs. Completing advanced qualifications within my trade through RTC was both fulfilling and useful, but following through there was no great need for those skills. I think that TAFE training is fine, and since a lot of TAFE trainers have well rounded trade skills even from the military, this can only be a positive. Some aspects of military training are far superior to those employed in civilian life, but others are most definitely not.
    Had I remained in RAEME and had a choice I would have aimed for the Training Centre, as it was I left and took up a new career within TAFE and remained there for some 25 years.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 9:23 am
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    Another number cruncher decision. What TAFE will provide us generalist based training, that will prove to be substandard. Also I know from personal experience, that what TAFE will do is provide one qualification for military and one for civilian students. The outcome of this will be that when a person leave the ADF and want’s their trade qualifications recognised, they will have to enrol for further units to obtain their quals. This happened to me when I was a Medic in the RAN. I attended NSW TAFE to obtain formal qualifications in Sterilisation Technology. When I left the Navy, TAFE advised me that my course was only a Certificate 4and that I need to enrol in the same course again at a cost of $1400. I had to re-enrol in-order to complete an additional subject to gain the Diploma , that was given to the Civilian students. I also that NSW Tafe would not accept any Navy medical qualifications I have obtained, their reason was they did not have a TAFE course/qualification number attached.

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    • 01/07/2023 at 3:26 pm
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      Exactly. The forces has specialist needs and requirements. TAFE are interested in providing paperwork – essentially propaganda for more contracts and ‘on paper skills’. This will prove troublesome and yes, has been done before and with mixed results. I think the area will likely provide the right candidates for trainers but who’s going to check. Perhaps some older heads in the forces could have some input here on recruitment panels etc. culture is important and those learning these skills are doing so for a the defensive posture of our nation. It’s concerning the amount of information that’s available to our adversaries as this becomes normal. They may have their own people influencing our trainees. I’m sure no security checks will go on for the TAFE teachers which is completely different to every other part of materiel industry etc. anyways, nobody’s going to stop this. It’s done. Let’s hope…for the best…ha ha. Pretty poor strategy huh?

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      • 01/07/2023 at 6:13 pm
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        That is rubbish Michael, with respect. The paperwork is demanded by the client, and by the Australian Qualification System. There is a lot to this discussion but it doesnt help to disparage the TAFE system.

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        • 01/07/2023 at 7:12 pm
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          That’s fine. It’s not rubbish though. What security checks and clearances do these educators go through for this particular program of training. The paperwork’s a symptom of all that’s wrong with education these days. The emphasis on paperwork is so high that people concentrate on the mark or the tickets rather than the actual skills. Have a look now at the RPL mobs turning up. Technically, this reliance on paperwork makes a whole industry in and of itself. Don’t forget, those who can simply game the system or are favoured by the often greener progressive teachers are often granted better marks and opportunities in the new forces. I suppose more to my original point. Have you seen the crop of educators in public schools and universities of late. It’s fairly obvious as to what I’m saying and suggesting as a likely reason for not going down this road but I do hold hope for some appropriate checks and balances also on my previous comments. I truly believe the adage of old that declared ‘…those who can, do and those that can’t, teach.’ This I feel is very much a phrase that used to be disparaging of educators but as time has gone on, it has become closer to the rule rather than the exception. You just be happy with your Dr because they’ve got a piece of paper, don’t bother assessing their reasons for becoming a Doctor or whatever position. I’ve seen it in my own experience and it’s lowered Australian standards accordingly. I’m simply not of the faith that Australia’s TAFE system is as highly effective in n delivering the skills to our forces. I’d be inclined to want actual experienced personnel with actual experience in the materiel we are currently needing to maintain etc. industry may need to be offering the training if they are willing.
          There is a lot to the discussion, correct, perhaps offer something else up, you appear to feel strongly about it.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 9:22 am
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    Outsource, a word for expediency. We have lost our cooks and our stewards, outsourced – trade training has to be relevant to the Defence Force; TAFE (outsourced instruction) can only diffuse the relevance.

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  • 01/07/2023 at 8:52 am
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    I think the usual outsourcing will include the 10-20 mins of ‘New speak’ including preferred pronouns etc etc. all part of the commitment to weaken our democracy, society and forces as a whole. Nothing to see here that’s abnormal, this is what happens when western cultures as has been seen with other cultures, when they have hit their peaks and become too comfortable, leading to their ultimate declines.
    It must be noted that educational institutions have turned into communism incubators where self loathing and hatred of the forces and the flag is quite common place. You will never hear an Australian anthem on a Uni campus or TAFE grounds, except from the odd ceremonial Uni regiments.
    I think we have to appreciate that it’s a completely Labor country now. They have been bedfellows with the Greens and many of their supporters would literally like to see the forces reduced to a UN style police force (in numbers and scope) this is in their own plans for the DFA. So they can’t obviously do it in one swoop so a slow deconstruction will go unnoticed and the educational system is easily hacked and why the pen pusher types are now in the box seats.

    Corruption? Maybe, there’s money involved – but it’s been like this forever, more so and more blatant in the last 20 years. I mean only a day ago, every future premier in NSW has basically been given a free pass to “commit serious corrupt conduct” considering Gladys B.(last NSW Premier) not face charges from the State’s DPP. This isn’t up for debate, we all saw it and heard it on the phone taps. We’ve become accustomed to the gangster way of doing things yet project our virtues all around the world. If this was straight up training and of the highest calibre, I wouldn’t mind but considering many of the young men and women that join the services are doing so for a stepping stone in their career path and would be hard up changing a tyre, I’d wonder if keeping the forces based knowledge and training in house would be better to identify potential future opportunities and weaknesses in recruits and servicemen’s abilities for in house training/trainer roles.

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  • 30/06/2023 at 8:14 pm
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    I e been in the Navy for almost 14 years. We’ve outsourced to civilian instructors (TAFE or otherwise) since before I joined. For better or worse, we just don’t have enough spare senior MT/ET/AT sailors to conduct trade training and crew ships and do all of the other things Navy needs us to do. I can’t speak for Army, but this MAY be a symptom of a similar issue.

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  • 30/06/2023 at 7:43 pm
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    I spent 20 years as a RAEME trained technician and several years as a technical instructor at RAEME Training Centre in the mid to late ’80s. I also spent several years in the TAFE system subsequent to leaving service, albeit in non technical training, pursuing Advanced Diplomas in Business and Human Resources in South Australia. From my experience, Army training was far superior in any aspect you’d care to mention. I also found that when I was employed to manage an engineering team in a large university, my technical knowledge in my engineering field was far superior to that of similar technicians trained in the TAFE system. From my point of view, this is designed to save money at a time when the Defence Review clearly identified that a technological edge is critical to Australia’s defence strategy of deterrence by denial (see article highlighted below)

    Reply

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