Excellence is needed now, more than ever
AUTHOR: Craig Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, TAFE Directors Australia; WFCP Chair

In my home country, national and provincial governments have committed to excellence in vocational education and training. It’s easier said than done, but still worth pursuing.
It’s interesting to contemplate where to start. At the college and polytechnic level, it may begin with its leadership and clarity of the vision and follow-through. It may need strong and committed teaching staff deeply entrenched in their field of delivery and armed with educational skills and passion before excellence can flourish. Yet, without placing students at the centre of everything, the excellence journey may not even be worth it.
Excellence is a relative concept. It is difficult to measure excellence without an external frame of reference. Most education systems rely on articulated standards or performance and outcomes measures to frame excellence. There is another way.
The federation has 1000s of colleges and polytechnics operating in most locations around the globe. Many have been at the game for decades and even centuries, and others are new, having been formed by governments to help build the capability in the economy and offer education opportunity to citizens. The opportunity the federation offers is the chance to learn from the excellence of others.
That’s the purpose of the WFCP Awards of Excellence. Not only celebrating success and excellence but operating as an example for others. In more normal times, we would have been in San Sebastián in the Basque Country, Spain, in early October to hand out the awards. This year it will be virtual – see details below.
One board member of WFCP often tells me she brings her staff to the WFCP Congress with the express purpose of establishing relationships with other colleges. Connections made at the last Congress in Melbourne are still strong and help both sides share and improve their approaches to education and training. The story later in Dispatch on Applied Research in VET in Australia arises from the collaboration from within WFCP. These are at the heart of WFCP – sharing, learning, growing toward excellence, together.
As countries tackle the rebound from the economic and social upheaval that has characterized 2020, excellent professional, technical vocational education and training will be critical because we need to make sure that many people who have been displaced from work can catch-up and do so with the most up-to-date capabilities.
Our challenge is to share the success stories from the award winners. We plan to do this through our successful webinar series in the new year and the publication of a handbook of the finalists.

Join the 2020 WFCP Awards of Excellence Ceremony

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics is pleased to announce the finalists of the 2020 Awards of Excellence. The WFCP Awards of Excellence are awarded in eight categories that correspond with the Federation’s Affinity Groups. Awards are recognized at three levels: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. 
The WFCP Awards of Excellence virtual ceremony will be held on November 27, 2020, from 1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. (EST; Ottawa time). Registration for the ceremony is free but mandatory. The recording of the ceremony will be available on the WFCP website shortly after the ceremony finishes – register to receive a link to the recording.
At the virtual ceremony, finalists will learn if they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze in their respective categories. The gold recipients will be asked to make a short (2-minutes) response upon winning. The ceremony will start with an inspirational message from Phil Ker, Executive Director, Post-Secondary International Network (PIN) and Vocational Education Consultant, Former Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic.
The recipients of the 2020 Awards will also be featured in the third volume of the WFCP publication, World’s Best Practice Guide in Professional and Technical Education and Training.

Interdisciplinarity for WFCP´s Applied Research & Innovation Affinity Group
AUTHOR: Tknika Team, the Basque Country

The WFCP Applied Research & Innovation Affinity Group (AR&I AG) will hold its second meeting on 24 November. The AG was relaunched in September under the leadership of Tknika (the Basque Country, Spain), along with a co-leading group formed by Holmesglen Institute (Australia) and Camosun College (Canada). The renewed team will build on the AG’s former achievements, having had a prominent role in the WFCP congresses of Vitória 2016 (Brazil) and Melbourne 2018 (Australia), to boost common work and drive innovation in vocational education and training (VET).
This AG seeks to involve WFCP members with an interest in strengthening their cooperation on AR&I from a transdisciplinary approach. Members will actively contribute to its work by taking part in meetings and working groups and there will also be space for those who want to stay up to date with the AG’s activities: yearly webinars will be held featuring the AR&I AG’s highlights, the first of which is expected to take place in June 2021.

 Photo: Three leaders



The AG meetings reflect its activities and possibilities, enabling opportunities for exchange and cooperation. They also provide the space to reach agreements and make common decisionsregarding the internal organisation of the group and the topics discussed.
As agreed during their first meeting held on 22 September, international networking and experience sharing are identified as a key aspect of the AG to boost applied R&I in VET. Efforts in this sense will cover a selection of AG members’ priority fields. These include social innovation, the digitalisation of teaching and manufacturing, sustainable development, pedagogics, data analytics and Industry 4.0, among others. Other important goals that the AG will pursue are reaching a common understanding of key concepts, peer­ learning, finding collaboration opportunities and working on joint endeavours.
The new gathering in November will allow the AG members to consolidate their objectives and plan their common work for the next months. Moreover, the meeting will open the discussion on the very meaning of “applied research and innovation” – all members have provided their own definitions through a questionnaire, laying the groundwork for debate. The questionnaire has also gathered complementary information and will serve as a mapping exercise to identify common interests for joint project development, which will be further explored during the meeting. This will be the first step towards delivering two key outputs by the end of the academic year: a glossary of AR&I in VET, and a mapping report showing how VET institutions apply this kind of strategies and practices.
The meeting will also feature peer learning: a case study presented by Richard Gale (Director of Camosun Innovates, Camosun College, Canada), who will explain how AR&I is implemented at his institution. The perspectives of other AG members will be welcome and the floor will be given to peers so they can share their similar experiences and views, as well as ask questions to the speaker.
To join the WFCP Applied Research & Innovation Affinity Group and its meetings, please fill out the form and/or contact the WFCP Secretariat.

Hold these dates – Leadership Institute 2021

Whilst we have to wait for 2022 for our next World Congress, we can invest in our leadership development much sooner – Maui October 18 – 22, 2021. This will be the key WFCP Leadership Affinity Group event for 2021, following a series of leadership webinars commencing next February. The Maui Leadership institute is being organised by one of WFCP’s strategic partners, PIN (the Post-secondary International Network) and will be themed around leadership for sustainable development and the role of vocational education institutions in a post-Covid world. More details in the December issue of Dispatch.

Colleges and Institutes Canada opened a call for presentations
AUTHOR: Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan)

Our annual conference is coming back in 2021 and this year, we’re going completely virtual! The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means things are going to be different, but we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone online, including a broader community of attendees who might not normally be able to attend in-person.  Mark your calendars for April 26-28, 2021!
Until then, our call for presentations in open! This year’s theme of Changing Narratives reflects how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged colleges and institutes to transform the way they operate and rewrite the future of post-secondary education, skills development, and diversity.
Share your strategies for navigating our new reality. Be creative and inclusive! Submit a presentation before December 21.
Republished from CICan Perspectives

How applied research can support Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery
AUTHOR: TAFE Directors Australia

As Australia seeks to return to pre-COVID economic activity, SMEs will need targeted and sustained support. Businesses emerging from COVID-19 are likely to pursue transformation, however, they face significant challenges in accessing services and the support needed to adapt. TAFEs’ engagement with businesses based on an applied research model is one tangible and practical solution to rebuilding resilience in SMEs. The capability to undertake practical research and apply it into the business or industry is the key to success – for the business, employees and ultimately the economy.
Cisco, Optus and TDA have teamed up to produce SMEs and TAFEs Collaborating through Applied Research for Growth, a report which recommends Australian Government investment in a one year pilot of an applied research model where TAFEs collaborate with SMEs to develop or enhance products and improve services and processes.
The report has been informed by lessons learned from 15 years of successful applied research in Canadian colleges. The Canadians do it very well as it happens. In 2017-2018, research activity in Canadian colleges and institutes led to more than 4,400 new processes, products, prototypes and services. Approximately 87 per cent of these results were achieved in less than a year. Innovation with tangible results? Yes please.
The full report, which can be viewed here, makes the case for the place of innovation in a COVID recovery, including for investing in TAFE institute practice-based innovation. It highlights successful examples of applied research in Australia through case studies at Holmesglen Institute for the water industry and TAFE Queensland for the gas industry. Importantly, an analysis of the journey the Canadian Government has taken in building the capacity of Canadian colleges demonstrates the benefit of investing in applied research capacity in the non-university sector here in Australia.
This Australian SME and family business research initiative, supported by Cisco and Optus, is part of a suite of timely and innovative public policy initiatives TDA is bringing forward for government consideration on behalf of the Australian people and their communities.
Republished from TAFE Directors Australia website. See the full article here.

FPEmpresa relaunches EmpleaFP, an employment search tool for VET
AUTHOR: FPEmpresa, Spain

FPEmpresa VET Schools Association, in collaboration with Bankia Foundation, updates and improves EmpleaFP, its employment search tool exclusive for VET. This renewal is justified by the strong commitment of the Association to keep working in favour of VET.
Flexibility and practical orientation have made VET one of the job prospects with higher rates of employability not only in Spain but also in Europe. For this reason, FPEmpresa wants to adapt to the new labour market’s demands by upgrading EmpleaFP, the exclusive job search engine for those who have finished any VET studies.

This tool is the meeting point for graduates, VET centres and companies that look to fulfil their specific employment needs. EmpleaFP is a free, quick and easy-to-use tool that will allow users to find exactly what they are looking for whether it’s for job searches by graduates, job listing management by centres or searches for the ideal candidates by companies. Every productive sector needs to find qualified staff trained in specific areas and with specific skills and capabilities; EmpleaFP wants to make this task easier for everyone involved in the process.
This tool has been active for a few years now; with more than 12,000 registered students and more than 4,000 job offers published, it is the reference job search engine in the field of VET. Now, thanks to this improvement, EmpleaFP’s website interface is more attractive, intuitive and user-friendly. In order to explain all its new features, several one-minute video tutorials have been made; they are all available at FPEmpresa’s YouTube profile. EmpleaFP can be accessed through the following link.

Campus health promotion against COVID-19
AUTHOR: Dr. Benjamin Chan, Li Ka Shing School of Professional and Continuing Education,  Open University of Hong Kong

As cases of reported coronavirus infections tapered off towards the end of October, our School decided to resume face-to-face teaching alongside online delivery (dual mode). This move was welcomed by students who viewed the return to campus with great anticipation. To ensure the safety of students and staff and minimize disruption to teaching and learning, educating about COVID-19 prevention was made an essential part of the risk mitigating strategies on campus.
We made reference to the government’s health advice, which lists 7 ways to fight the virus, three of which are considered fundamental: wear a mask, practice hand hygiene and maintain social distancing.  While students were supposed to know these measures by heart after months of intense public health education, it was less certain whether they would follow and practice them in the correct way.  We have noticed that the public health posters in circulation failed to associate knowledge about the coronavirus with these preventive measures.  Hence, the first step was to design posters for use in the campus that contain educational information, such as transmission probability of mutual mask wearing and survival time of coronavirus on different surfaces.  These posters can deliver a clear risk awareness message and serve not just to remind but also to reinforce mask wearing and handwashing habits among students.  To further support students to keep track of their daily activities for contact tracing in case of infection, we have also designed a customized diary that makes record keeping easy.

Another approach taken was to enlist student participation in health promotion. Health promotion is a critical but overlooked component of the overall response to COVID-19, which can be tried out without much difficulty in designated settings.  The health promotion task was assigned to students majoring in healthcare who would design and implement health talks to their fellow cohort mates about the prevention measures and where to obtain accurate information on COVID-19.  Consistent with what is being promoted every year around November, the value of vaccination against seasonal influenza is emphasized, which in the current situation acts to reduce COVID-19/influenza comorbidity.  Student-led health talks are deemed to be more effective in getting the message across to the student body, given the language used, and the manner in which information is being presented.  The student health promoters can also gain real experience in health education that will benefit their future career and studies.
The COVID-19 moment has presented colleges with an opportunity to embrace a ‘settings approach to health promotion’.  The educational setting not only locates targets for health promotion but through a supportive school policy can beget conditions for health creation, enhance health literacy and protect its core business of teaching and learning from being disrupted by outbreaks of COVID-19.  It should be realized that a major determinant of health in the college context is the incorporation of pandemic prevention education into its teaching and learning activities.

Deepening the Reform of Innovative Entrepreneurship Education. Injecting YPI Driving Forces into New Jiangsu Construction
AUTHOR: Yangzhou Polytechnic Institute (YPI), China

The final of the 2020 Jiangsu Provincial Vocational College Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition was held at Yangzhou Polytechnic Institute (YPI). On the theme of ‘Desire to Beak, Try to Create’, the competition attracts nearly 80,000 students and more than 20,000 teams from 203 vocational colleges, and 239 teams have advanced to the finals.
YPI submitted the project of ‘Wisdom Convergence Culture Media, One-stop Service Provider of National Top E-commerce live-streaming platforms’, which won the runner-up in the competition for the unique insights on new media operations, live streaming and internet celebrity economy, and the ingenious design of the products.

YPI has won great awards and attained a lot of experience in the competition. The contestants should be proficient in using new generation information technologies such as mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, and the projects should be closely integrated with various economic and social development to create new products, new services, new business formats and new models. For a long time, YPI has cultivated high-quality technical talents for regional economic, social and industrial development, deepened the reform and improved the talent training system of innovation and entrepreneurship education to make new greater contributions to building a prosperous, wealthy, beautiful and highly-civilized new Jiangsu.

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training Intersectoral Forum gathered more than 2000 participants from the Pacific Alliance and Canada

The “TVET Intersectoral Forum: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada” gathered more than 2,000 people from the four Pacific Alliance countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), and Canada, an observer country of the Alliance, as well as other countries.
The Forum was part of the activities of CICan’s Pacific Alliance Education for Employment Program (PA-EFE) that is funded by the Government of Canada.
The Pacific Alliance’s press release includes some reflections on the Forum by Sara Cohen, Director General, South America and Inter-American Affairs Bureau, Global Affairs Canada: “The inspiring list of authorities and experts who presented – as well as the impressive number of participants who connected over the four sessions – demonstrates the importance of these issues, the interest and commitment to strengthening TVET, and of course, the value of international dialogue and cooperation. We were thrilled to see representatives from the public, private and volunteer sectors, and in particular, the approximately 800 students and teachers. The Pacific Alliance is set to benefit from this level of outreach and impact.”
The video recordings of the 4 webinars can be accessed here (available in English, French, and Spanish).