After gaining qualifications in accounting and marketing, Jodi Schmidt, CEO of TAFE Queensland kicked off her career in local government, working for Brisbane City Council. She then moved to the UK to work for the National Treatment Agency before returning to Australia to join Southbank Institute of Technology. Jodi has had varying experience between public and private sector, working with the government towards vocational education and training (VET) reform in Queensland. This culminated in her appointment as the first CEO of TAFE Queensland in July last year.

Jodi notes that the challenges for TAFE Queensland have been numerous and varied. One key issue the organisation faces is a public perception problem. “What TAFE Queensland delivers is qualifications that relate to about 60-per-cent of the occupations that make our economy work. So one of the perception issues is that it'’s sometimes difficult to engage students or attract students to courses that will enable them to get really good job outcomes, and that'’s what we’re focused on doing.

“Another one of the challenges is that it’'s a misunderstood sector; it’'s a sector where, depending on where you grew up in Australia, you’'ll have a view of what it’'s for and who goes there. What people rarely understand is that we do deliver to 180,000 people every year, we issue around 65,000 qualifications across Queensland, and we deliver programs across hundreds of different disciplines.”

As part of VET reforms, Jodi helped the government introduce a five-year program to deregulate the system. “Historically, vocational education and training was delivered by monopoly providers, which were TAFE institutes. They were owned by the government and they delivered vocational education and training. What’'s happening across the country is that government funding, as is happening in many other sectors, is made contestable across public and private participants in that marketplace. We’'re seeing publically owned training providers, like TAFE, now have to compete with the private sector for all of their business.