TAFE: Your PD entitlement is precious - use it!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 2, 11 March 2022, page no.25
Full-time VET educators employed in TAFE Queensland and Central Queensland University have an entitlement to a minimum of 10 days of professional development. It is precious. Plan for it, use it.
The purpose of the PD entitlement is to prioritise activities which maintain, develop and extend the educators’ vocational competency and currency of skills and knowledge relevant to:
- vocational training, learning and assessment
- current industry skills, including the skills required by training packages/accredited courses and as identified by TAFE Queensland through industry engagement
- the industry area where training is being delivered and assessed.
You have at least 10 days each year. The exception are TAFE Queensland foundation educators, who have access to a vocational development entitlement in lieu of PD.
Why does it matter?
Currency and competency in both educational and vocational skills are required under the national vocational education system and are audited by the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). The national system says that if you are not both competent AND current, you can’t deliver and assess. Simple.
The regulator tends to say that any activity or evidence of currency which is older than about two years does not contribute to currency.
Both national regulation and, for TAFE Queensland employees, the terms of employment require currency to be maintained. Think of it as a professional obligation to keep up to date with what’s currently happening on the job in industry.
Both employers have a point system to assist in planning for the expenditure of that precious PD time.
The QTU does not reject or accept these point schemes. We have, however, resolved to continue working on improving them and ensuring that the full professional development entitlement is accessed by all educators in a way that meets their currency requirements.
The point schemes do not expressly undermine, challenge or threaten the PD entitlement; indeed, they strengthen members’ arguments as they try to access the minimum of 10 days’ PD and possibly levels above the minimum.
Indeed, these schemes strengthen calls by the QTU at the state level and the AEU at the federal level for recognition of the professional status of VET educators. For nearly two decades, the unions have been fighting against the view that all that is required to be a VET educator is the TAE minimum (de facto mandatory) qualification. In this day and age, all professions maintain some sort of scheme or system to maintain currency of practice, and to denounce it as not relevant or required is counterproductive in the face of a larger professional recognition campaign.
Some members have expressed concerns regarding workload, specifically if:
- professional development activities are not planned and PD time is not allocated yet it is expected that the work will be done regardless
- the scheme mandates that an activity should be completed outside of the PD entitlement.
While both schemes allow for voluntary PD activity, they do not mandate it. The unions’ analysis of the TAFE Queensland scheme in particular indicates that all points can be accumulated in a full fortnight of 72.5 employed hours, programmed and allocated to PD.
That said, within the TAFE Queensland model, for instance, validation, moderation and participation in the PLC count towards currency but according to the certified agreement are not to come off the PD entitlement. Those normal NCT duties assist in achieving the yearly points totals.
If you cannot reasonably be released from normal duties to undertake the PD entitlement, then the necessary work of achieving currency under the PD entitlement can certainly be reimbursed through the payment of the NCT at overtime rates of pay or through the accumulation of TOIL. Both employers have such entitlements. It is certainly not expected that it should be done for free.
- vocational educators have a PD entitlement and a responsibility to be current
- the points schemes give guidance on how to “spend” the PD entitlement to maximise currency
- the scheme itself is not therefore an additional workload impost.
- The QTU advises TAFE members to familiarise themselves with their employer’s point scheme and use their full professional development entitlement to access current, quality industry and teaching knowledge and skills.
Where access to PD is unreasonably refused, the Union can and will assist in pursuing disputes and/or grievances to ensure that members entitlements are protected, and their professional status ensured.