The biggest threat to the education and training sector in Australia is bad regulation!

It is very important to evaluate the training and auditing systems to find out what is working and what is not. If true monitoring and evaluation is not happening, it will be really difficult to identify gaps in the system.

Irrespective of the type of organisation (public or private), it should be independently audited at-least on an annual basis. The criteria for the evaluation should be focussed on the following main principles:

  1. Transparency: All audit reports should be made public on ASQA’s website. This will help establish a transparent vocational education and training system.
  2. Consistency: ASQA should only make decisions within the regulatory framework. There also needs to be a definition of what constitutes a minor non-compliance and what is major. There is a need to adopt a strategic risk management approach and clearly define risks as low, medium and critical.
  3. Low and medium breaches like minor technical issues within resources, website, trainer documents, industry feedback or operations, should be rectifiable and must not interrupt the operations of the training organisation or the outcomes for the students.
  4. Major breaches can be constituted as major non-compliance and organisations should be suspended and/or cancelled where there is evidence of financial mismanagement, fraud, or criminal activities.
  5. Fairness: As a first instance administrative breaches should be rectified by employing a series of non-litigious channels. For example, use an internal appeals mechanism as a step before an AAT application. Engaging an independent party with knowledge of the sector in question; including compulsory co-conferencing.
  6. Professionalism: The VET regulator must work with the VET Sector not against the VET sector. A single point of contact for all communication enables the RTO to be able to work closely with the regulator to rectify any issues. All minor non-compliances needs to be handled quickly and efficiently ensuring that the RTO is able to continue delivering quality training.
  7. Adaptability: We need to understand that times have changed and there are many different ways learners access information and learning. There needs to be adaptability and acceptance on the regulators’ behalf to online or distance delivery modes as valid modes of study.
  8. Equality: TAFE and RTO’s need be treated equally and have the same principles applied to them. There must be consistency in decisions.
  9. Independence: The system should be based on quality principles only. There cannot be ever changing decisions influenced by the personal or professional interests of the regulatory officers or politics of the day.
  10. Quality: The focus should be on quality, not just compliance. ASQA and other regulatory bodies must focus on all aspects of the VET system and not only compliance.
  11. Conflicts of interest: ASQA officers, auditors and other regulatory officers cannot be allowed to also operate in the VET sector in positions where there could be a conflict of interest. Officers working with a government regulatory body cannot run their own VET business, whether as a consultant or as part of an RTO, or be an RTO board member.
  12. Responsibility: ASQA has a responsibility as a government department. They must develop Regulatory Guidelines that allow RTO’s to understand the processes of an audit without any grey areas in either the directions or audit processes and outcomes.
  13. Review rights: All RTOs irrespective of when their applications are lodged, must have rectification and reconsideration rights at their own costs.
  14. Accountability: If a regulatory body and their representatives are not held accountable they will continue to damage Australia and the VET sector. Auditing practices should be reviewed against industry standards.

If any of these principles have not been followed, the integrity and usefulness of the organisation must be questioned.

Some of the main issues in the current regulatory environment, because of not following the above principles, have been identified in this article below:

An auditor-centred audit model not a system-centred 

The current regulatory system is becoming more and more ‘auditor-centred’, where the auditors sometimes ‘do not follow’ the regulatory guidelines and framework which they operate under.

66% or more turnover of staff 

The total regulator workforce in 2016-17 was 162 staff, with a turnover of 109 staff since 2014/15. This is a 66% turnover.  There are rumours that ASQA auditors go out cancelling competitors and then after some time either start their own training organisation or select a high-managerial agent job at a training provider.

A regulatory body that gives very little support or contradictory information

When a regulatory body itself can not identify the effective use of the current regulatory environment, then how can training organisations?

One example from thousands is given below:

From: Sukh Sandhu <>

Sent: Monday, 15 April 2019 8:51 AM

To: ASQA – Enquiries <>

Subject: Retention requirements for student’s completed units of competency


To Whom It May Concern

We would like to confirm the retention requirements for student’s work. My question is around when the time of retaining the work for six months starts, straight after a unit of competency finishes or from the time the entire qualification finishes and/or the student withdraws or enrollment cancelled from the course?

My understanding has always been that the complete student file (all the units of competency) need to be retained for at least six months but a number of our clients have suggested that ASQA only requires RTOs to retain individual units of competency for six months and not the complete student files.

Please confirm ASQA’s stand on this matter. Thank you.


Retention requirements

An RTO is required to securely retain, and be able to produce in full at audit if requested to do so, all completed student assessment items for each student, as per the definition above, for a period of six months from the date on which the judgement of competence for the student was made

Assessment evidence should be therefore retained by the organisation in digital or printed form for a period of not less than 6 months from the date of the decision of competence.

I have highlighted the section in the attached document.

Please also refer to the following link (A Guide to Compliance) from ASQA’s website:  

At an ASQA audit, an RTO would only be requested to produce those assessment records they are required to retain. ASQA’s General direction—retention

requirements for completed student assessment items requires that RTOs retain all completed assessment items relating to each unit or module for six months from the date on which the decision on competence for the individual unit or module was made. If you can’t retain the actual item (e.g. construction projects or perishable items), retain evidence, such as photographs, showing that the standard of the item or work completed justifies the assessment outcome. Completed assessment items such as assignments should not be handed back to learners until the six month period has expired.

Kind regards,

And the response was: 

Dear Sukh,

Thank you for your email.

ASQA advises that an RTO is required to securely retain, and be able to produce in full at audit if requested to do so, all completed student assessments items for each student in accordance with the below  completed student assessments items definition  for a period of six months from the date on which the judgement of competence for the student was made.

ASQA defines completed student assessments items – The actual pieces(s) of work completed by a student or evidence of that work, including evidence collected for an RPL process. An Assessor’s completed marking guide, criteria, and observation checklist for each student may be sufficient where it is not possible to retain the student’s actual work. However, the retained evidence must have enough detail to demonstrate the assessor’s judgement of the student’s performance against the standard required.

Please refer to the ASQA fact sheet – General direction – retention requirements for completed student assessment items for further assistance.

Securely retain: To retain records in a manner that safeguards them against unauthorised access, fire, flood, termites or any other pests, and which ensures that copies of records can be produced if the originals are destroyed or inaccessible. Furthermore, ASQA has no specifications of whether documents are to be stored in electronic format or hard copy.

I trust this information assists, and please do not hesitate to contact ASQA should you have any further enquiries.


Kind regards,

The answer was still unclear so I had to send another email:


From: Sukh Sandhu <>

Sent: Monday, 15 April 2019 10:09 AM

To: ASQA – Enquiries <>


Subject: Re: Retention requirements for student’s completed units of competency [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]


Thank you for your email, XXXX

My question is that can an RTO archive all the completed items after six months of completion in an individual unit or the time starts after they complete all the units of competency from a qualification? Say a qualification has three units of competency, unit one completed on the first of January, unit two first of March and unit three first of May, so we are asking the question are we able to archive unit 1 on or after the first of July or do we need to wait for the full qualification to be completed for the six months?

Each unit of competency contain a number of assessment items such as projects, role plays, case studies etc., therefore, the guidelines are not very clear regarding when the archival process should begin? 

Kind regards,

The answer was:

From: ASQA – Enquiries <>

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2019 at 10:44

Subject: RE: Retention requirements for student’s completed units of competency [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

To: Sukh Sandhu <>

Cc: ASQA – Enquiries <>

Dear Sukh,

Thank you for your email.

ASQA provides general information and guidance to RTOs and the VET sector but cannot provide private rulings and legal interpretations of legislation for specific circumstances or organisations. It is important for training providers to develop their own policies and procedures that meet their specific business needs and for each unique business to demonstrate to ASQA how the standards are being met.

ASQA’s General direction: Retention requirements for completed student assessment items states that an RTO is required to securely retain, and be able to produce in full at audit if requested to do so, all completed student assessment items for each student for a period of six months from the date on which the judgement of competence for the student was made.


Kind regards,

So, what private ruling or legal interpretation for specific circumstances or organisations I was seeking?

Most importantly, what is the answer to the question being asked? “Can an RTO archive all the completed items after six months of completion in an individual unit or the time starts after they complete all the units of competency from a qualification? Say a qualification has three units of competency, unit one completed on the first of January, unit two first of March and unit three first of May, so we are asking the question are we able to archive unit 1 on or after the first of July or do we need to wait for the full qualification to be completed for the six months?”

Significant delays and impractical approach 

We would like to see the complete report and data for the following:

  • The total number of applications lodged at the VET Regulator
  • The timeframe in which applications have been processed
  • The number of audits conducted between 2016-2019?
  • How many of them received their audit reports on time according to the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s key performance criteria which is within 30 days?


A significant reduction in the number of audit reports provided within ASQAs target time frame of 30 days, across all audit types, from:

  • at worst 77.1% of audit reports provided within target during the 2014-15 reporting period; to
  • at best 50.9% of audit reports provided within target during the 2016-17 reporting period.

A substantial increase in the frequency and severity of adverse regulatory decisions, with

  • of 48 decisions in 2015 (calendar year), the decision to reject renewal or cancel 35 licences;
  • of 275 decisions in 2017 (calendar year), the decision to reject renewal or cancel 153 licences;
  • of 237 decision in the calendar year 2018 (to July 30 2018), the decision to reject renewal or cancel 197 licences, accounting for 83% of all regulatory decisions;
  • 89% of all of the regulators’ decisions to cancel an organisations training licence, since the establishment of the regulator in 2011, have occurred since the implementation of the new standards in 2015.

Question regarding the independence of ASQA’s Governance, Policy and Quality team

Without publishing the details of complaints, an increase in the number of complaints received about and against the regulator from 38 in 2014-15, to 73 in 2016-17; with the regulator internally substantiating 42% of the 127 complaints with an outcome recorded, across the categories of

  1. Slow processing of applications/ audits (31% of complaints)
  2. ASQA’s processes for handling complaints about RTOs (9.8% of complaints)
  3.  Auditors competence/ attitude (10.3% of complaints)
  4.  ASQA’s regulatory requirements (8.1% of complaints)
  5.  Poor communication / including infoline issues (9.8% of complaints)
  6.  ASQA’s staff (excluding auditors) (9.8% of complaints)
  7.  ASQA’s fees and charges (2.2% of complaints)
  8.  Other (19% of complaints)

No independent review of The VET Regulator, its performance and its staff 

ASQA published on 24 May 2018 that RTOs remain satisfied with ASQA’s audit processes, stating under the title of Transparency of the audit process that “90% of respondents reported their organisation was ‘Very Satisfied’ or ‘Satisfied’ with the fairness and transparency of the audit process”, however:

a. The feedback survey results were for RTO’s who had a site audit between 1 July and 31 December 2017, two quarters before the publication of the results.

b. ASQA identified the survey was “sent to organisations following the end of the relevant quarter in which their site audit was conducted” with organisations given two weeks to complete the survey.

c. ASQA Performance Standards indicate a target that providers will receive their initial audit report within 30 days of the site-visit yet this target was only met, at best 51% of the time during 2016-17

d. ASQA Performance Standards indicate that registration applications, renewal applications, and change of scope applications which trigger an audit, will be finalised within 6 months.

e. The information appears to indicate that providers who had received a site audit and were still waiting for the final audit decision were asked by ASQA to complete audit-feedback surveys, which were unlikely to have been anonymous and which providers may have been concerned may have influenced a final audit decision.


The register of name and shame unfavourably targeting Australian businesses

 In February 2014 ASQA updated its policy with regards to the publication of regulatory decisions made, deciding that “It would be fairer practice to defer publication of its regulatory decisions until an RTO’s rights for reconsideration or appeal have been exhausted”. In June 2016 ASQA reverted this policy deciding that “information about decisions will be published shortly after they are made”.

Uncontrollable and ungovernable power of the VET Regulator 

On 20 July 2018 ASQA announced that it had received new regulatory powers to seek civil penalties for non-compliances by regulated entities against the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015. ASQA indicated that the purpose of these powers were to “effectively support the quality of the VET sector by providing an additional mechanism to protect students for poor quality providers”. These powers allow ASQA to issue infringement notices for breaches of the standards, even in cases where a provider has rectified that breach. With 80% of providers being found non-compliant at first audit and 47% non-compliant after the final audit, this will impose a significant compliance cost and burden on the industry.

Another 27 non-TAFE RTO’s cancelled, registration of 2 non-TAFE RTOs suspended and rejected the renewal of another non-TAFE RTO

Since 1 January 2019, ASQA’s rate of cancellation, suspension and rejection is almost 5 non-TAFE RTOs a week. With this rate of cancellations, suspensions, rejections and conditions applied, how is ASQA improving the reputation of the vocational education and training sector? Are they giving completely contradictory statements as the Chief Commissioner has been quoted saying that the majority of providers are compliant and then cancelling them at such a high rate? What to trust? The words or the actions? One of the most important questions is how secure are other private providers?

An auditing body that does not know the qualifications required for its auditors?

When Senator Doug Cameron asked a question in a senate committee session on 05/06/2018 regarding ASQA’s regulatory workforce and the agreed competency requirements for auditors and accreditation assessors to work for them, the answer was “I don’t recall it off the top of my head”.

 This answer was given by a Chief Commissioner who directly accepted over 557 recommendations to shut down Australian businesses.

The performance of the VET Regulator 

The performance of the VET Regular is concerning based upon all the performance measures,

The knowledge, professionalism, practices, independence and experience and appointment of a number of auditors and officers is concerning,

The VET Regulator failing to perform its duties as required against the Government’s Regulator Performance Framework and deregulation agenda is concerning,

The severity of regulatory decisions being made by the regulator, the high number of expensive and timely challenges of these decisions, and the limited number of instances where the actions undertaken by the regulator have been upheld in an independent court or tribunal, indicate that these actions are not proportionate to the regulatory risk being managed is concerning,

The findings in relation to complaints indicate that communication by the regulator to regulated entities is not clear, targeted or effective is concerning.

The processes the regulator employs with regards to their surveys to regulated entities, the regulators lack of publishing findings in relation to substantiated complaints, and the changing of policy to publish findings against regulated entities, before those entities have been able to exhaust their review rights, do not indicate that the regulator is being open and transparent in its dealings with regulated entities is concerning.

The regulators’ inability to meet critical time frames in Performance Standards for regulatory activity is substantially impeding on business confidence and the capacity for regulated entities to operate efficiently is concerning.

The regulator not undertaking its functions in a way which has the minimum impact necessary to achieve its regulatory objectives is concerning.

We believe an independent inquiry into the actions and performance of the Australian Skills Quality Authority in meeting its legislated duties as a regulator and as Australian Public Servants is much needed in the current circumstances and VET regulatory environment.

Congratulations VOCEDplus for completing 30 years

Courtesy: VOCEDplus!

It all started in 1989, with two print publications, Initiatives in Technical and Further Education and TAFE Projects in Progress. These articles were merged to become the Vocational Education and Training Research Database, a resource for the TAFE sector available through print and diskettes.     

Over the past three decades, the database has undergone a huge transformation. 

Now called VOCEDplus, it is a repository of information for the tertiary education sector, containing over 80 000 items, complemented by value added products such as the VET Knowledge Bank, the VET Practitioner Resource, and the Pod Network.

This is one of the most useful databases you will find on the internet. if you are working in the education and training Industry, the contribution it provides is invaluable.

We congratulate the entire team behind maintaining this one of the most useful resources for the vocational education and training sector. 

You can find VOCEDplus online at , their twitter account is  

Australian Government’s new Deregulation Task Force announced

 COAG agreed to work together to reduce regulatory and bureaucratic barriers across the federation so that businesses can grow and create more jobs. Leaders committed to improving the design and efficiency of business regulation to support jobs and investment in the interests of the community.

The Commonwealth’s Deregulation Task Force will work with state, territory and local governments, and businesses themselves, to identify and address the most significant regulatory barriers to investment for selected industries.

A famous quote by the Honourable Michaelia Cash, from a recent Business Leader Summit organised by Australia’s largest business network – the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was “I say this unashamedly…We will ensure we deliver to you a VET system that has industry at the heart. Because if the industry is not at the heart of VET in Australia we are not as a Government delivering to you the skills you so desperately need”

Stakeholders in Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector are expecting to see a number of critical improvements from the new Deregulation Task Force and national regulator implement initiatives aimed at slashing red tape. The main areas where we would like to see improvement are:

  • a delegated regulatory authority to reward high-performing RTOs

  • automatic updating of equivalent training package qualification without the need to apply to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and pay a fee

  • a freeze in fees and charges, and

  • enhanced guidance and information on how to comply with the required Standards.

These are the same items discussed and agreed upon in late 2015 by the Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills .

We are expecting the Commonwealth’s Deregulation Task Force to be focussed on:

  • the effect of red tape on the economy and community, and how it impacts on private and public education

  • the effect of restrictions and prohibitions on business, on the economy and on the community

  • If ASQA is operating fairly, effectively and efficiently


The purpose of the Regulator Performance Framework (RPF) is to encourage regulators to undertake their functions with the minimum impact necessary to achieve the regulatory objectives, and to report objectively on the outcomes of their efforts to administer regulation fairly, effectively and efficiently.

In meeting this purpose, the Regulator Performance Framework established six outcomes-based key performance indicators articulating the Government’s overarching expectations of regulator performance, of which the Australian Skills Quality Authority is required to report and measure itself against, being:

  1. KPI 1: Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities

  2. KPI 2: Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective

  3. KPI 3: Actions undertaken by regulators are proportionate to the regulatory risk being managed

  4. KPI 4: Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and co-ordinated

  5. KPI 5: Regulators are open and transparent in their dealings with regulated entities

  6. KPI 6: Regulators actively contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks

Australian Skills Quality Authority or any other VET regulatory body must work on the model of promoting and encouraging continuous improvement of Registered Training Organisations. Quality, industry-focussed, student-centred training should be the main focus of the national regulator.

Interview with The VET Gurus – John Price, Angela McGregor, Kerri Butter

Response from John Price regarding VET Sector Newsletter.

John Price

John started his career in education and training over 40 years ago. He was the Head of the School of Printing and Graphic Arts, became a TAFE Queensland Professional Development Coordinator and mentored many new TAFE teachers through their Diploma in Technical and Further Education.

He left TAFE in 1987 and in conjunction with InPrint Limited, one of Australia’s finest printers, established Australia’s first high technology training centre in industry for printing and graphic arts in 1988.

Since then he has assisted hundreds of organisations to gain registration as an RTO against the training standards established in the 1990s through to today, and regularly assists RTOs to maintain compliance of their quality system through internal auditing and in-house professional development.

He currently presents nationally and internationally on a range of professional development topics to assist trainers and assessors to maintain their current skills and knowledge in vocational teaching and learning. These topics include: Systematic validation of assessment; developing assessment tools, internal auditing, trainer and assessor currency, engaging with learners; and developing efficient and effective RPL assessments.

 John is the owner of John Price & Associates Pty Ltd as well as a founder and partner of The VET Gurus.


Kerri Buttery

Kerri began her education career working in Queensland secondary schools as a business teacher in the late 1990s. This included teaching vocational education subjects and later became the RTO Manager for the school. Since then, Kerri has undertaken roles in the broader Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector such as trainer/assessor, RTO Compliance Manager and Senior Lead Auditor. She has extensive experience as a VET compliance consultant including the delivery of professional development services through workshops, webinars, online courses and conferences including as a keynote speaker.

In 2017-2018 Kerri undertook postgraduate studies in eLearning to further hone her skills in this area. She now specialises in the administration and development of eLearning courses within the Canvas LMS by Instructure.

In 2018 Kerri started her own consultancy company, VETNexus, and in 2019 became co-founder and partner of The VET Gurus, an organisation providing professional development services to the wider Australian VET sector.


Angela McGregor

Angela started her career in the VET sector as a trainer and assessor of hospitality qualifications and the Workplace Trainer category 2 qualification.  Angela went on to train the TAA and TAE qualifications and hold management roles before becoming a freelance consultant in June 1999.

Additional to having first hand experience as a trainer, working in management roles and operating her own consultancy, Angela set up and operated her own RTO (offering business qualifications and the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment) for 9 years from 2003.  Angela sold her RTO in 2012.  Angela’s has been providing consulting services to new and existing RTOs.  Her extensive experience includes assistance in setting up new RTOs, assistance with compliance and rectification, auditing, professional development, accredited course development and assessment design, validation and review.


1. What is your experience of working in the vocational education and training sector?

We are a bit scared to add up our combined years in the sector!! The number will be quite large and show our age. Let’s just say that it is more than 20 years each.

John joined TAFE Queensland in 1976 as a teacher of printing and graphic arts, became Head of the School of Graphic Arts and left to set up in industry with one of Australia’s international award-winning printing companies to establish Intech Australia, a specialist in high technology training.

He has delivered and assessed the BSZ40198, TAA40104, and the TAE40110 and uses his complementary skills, knowledge and experience to develop and present a range of VET professional development programs including student engagement and leadership in a quality environment.

His specialist area is the development of RPL assessment kits but also enjoys conducting internal audits of RTOs as a proactive strategy for improvement rather than as a reactive strategy to regulatory compliance.

Kerri began her career with VET in Schools as a trainer and assessor and later became an RTO Manager. She moved on to become a Senior Lead Auditor in Queensland before moving on to become a TAA/TAE trainer and assessor.

Her vocational teaching background was in business and information technology which led to an interest in using technology in education. As well as working as a compliance consultant for the past 12 years Kerri has also undertaken formal qualifications in eLearning and now also specializes in this area.

Angela began as a hospitality trainer and later delivered the Workplace Trainer Category 2, BSZ40198, TAA40104 and TAE40110.  Before becoming an RTO consultant Angela held a range of management roles in RTOs, developing an all round understanding of the operations of RTOs.  Additional to operating a consultancy Angela set up and managed her own RTO for 9 years.

2. What is the purpose of The VET Gurus and how can training organisations benefit?

The VET Gurus was established to enable the key skills, knowledge and experiences of Kerri, Angela and John to combine into the opportunity to provide solutions to RTOs in the fields of Administration, Training and Assessment and Compliance monitoring.

RTOs benefit from a one-stop-shop approach to obtaining the comprehensive support they need whether it be for RTO compliance to the 2015 Standards, the ESOS National Code 2018 for CRICOS providers, eLearning and RTO administration.

3. How is The VET Gurus different from other professional development organisations in the training sector?

It allows us to focus on the features we offer as a team, i.e. not just three VET people who have been in the VET industry for almost 70 years, but rather the benefits of these 70 combined years as specialisations in specific RTO operations, a professional approach built on a reputation to provide practical solutions through our internal collaborative processes; and a dedication always in the back of our minds that relates to doing it right for the students.

4. What do you think are the main threats to training organisations in the current environment?

There will always be threats associated with competition between RTOs and funding but the main threat is focusing on compliance to the detriment of quality in processes, practices and outcomes. A favourite saying of John’s is “How can an auditor find a problem with our assessments and trainer and assessor qualifications when they  are not vocationally competent?”.

If we are not careful the focus on compliance is often mis-directed and RTO staff can become so close to what they do, particularly in the preparation of assessments as subject matter experts and the daily reflection on vocational currency, that they miss the obvious. Obvious to auditors, that is.

5. What are your views of how we can improve the vocational education and training sector in Australia?

The VET sector is still comparatively young, professionally. Education, health and other professional sectors have been around a long time and have profited from the wisdom of professional standards that direct and maintain competent workplace practice. I believe the focus of RTO standards in the future needs to include an emphasis on ensuring outcomes go beyond those of meeting the students’ needs and determine are they meeting the needs of the industry and community our students work and live in.

Questions to John Price

Sukh Sandhu: I have known you for about 20 years. We have worked together on a number of projects and frankly, you are truly one of my Gurus who taught me so much about the vocational education and training sector. Here are some questions I always wanted to ask but never had the opportunity to: 

6. You have been in the industry for over 40 years as a Head of Department at TAFE, mentor, facilitator of national workshops covering delivery and assessment, risk management, auditing, leadership and interpersonal skill development, ASQA auditor, keynote speaker at conventions and conferences, you have also assisted over 300 organisations in Australia to achieve quality certification to the range of National Training Standards, What role have you enjoyed the most and where do you think that you have made a positive difference?

On the 19th January I returned home from my first day as a teacher. My next door neighbour knew this was an important day in my life and over the fence with a beer in hand he said to me “What was it like today?” I replied to him “It was great, I can see this being the rest of my life!”. To which he responded, “I wish I was an epidemic like you!”. It has been the rest of my life.

I’ve never forgotten that statement and although having to continue study, as we all have had to do, all I’ve ever wanted to be is an ‘epidemic!’

My greatest enjoyment is working with people no matter what task I’m doing. I hope that I’ve made some impact by being a role model in my behavior towards people; and every day I ask myself “have I treated people today the way I’d like to be treated myself?” And when the answer is no, which in reality it has been on one significant occasion, I did something about it. The job I enjoy the best is breaking the perception that auditing is a chore and in doing so reinforcing the opportunity to improve through the process results in quality outcomes.

7. Do you think the ISO 9001 standards would assist the auditing practices of the vocational education and training regulator?

This is very close to my heart, not just at the moment but over the past thirty years. Back in the days of the Australian Recognition Framework (ARF) standards I assisted an RTO to become not only compliant to the ARF but also to the ISO9001 International Standards for the scope of Education and Training. In responding to your question there are a large number of similarities between the ISO 9001 standards and our current Standards for Registered Training Organisations (SRTO) 2015.

Back in 1999 I asked the question regarding why didn’t Australia adopt the ISO 9001 Standards for Education and Training? and was told “We didn’t know they existed”. If we had we would have had a quality system for Australian RTOs that was internationally recognized. I think we ‘missed the boat’.

I do see, and positively recognize, in the SRTO standards an increased focus on the customer (the student) which is very important. I think they can be expanded to include other stakeholders who are just as important. In my discussions with RTO senior management regarding the alignment of ISO 9001 with SRTO 2015 they see the opportunity international recognition presents and currently I’m putting together a document that indicates quite clearly the alignment of both standards. I also believe opportunities should be considered to examine the quality processes that have been established by the City and Guilds Institute of London that has now established an International division which for our region is based in New Zealand. Sukh, as you know I’m in my 70s now but every day that I get up I look forward to work and the opportunity we all have to improve the VET system.

Questions to Angela McGregor

Sukh Sandhu: You are a highly experienced owner and principal consultant of an RTO Consulting business. You are also one of the main Gurus of The VET Gurus panel. You have been offering consulting services throughout Australia since 1999 and here are some questions for you:

11. What motivated you to work in an industry which includes a lot of auditing, compliance and many regulations? 

When I started in the industry, back when RTOs were operated under the Australian Recognition Framework (ARF), I struggled with the panic I observed during the first audit undertaken that I witnessed, while employed with a large national training company.  From that point forward I made a commitment to understand the legislation and obligations of Trainers and Assessors.  The more I learnt about the industry and the fear and confusion surrounding compliance the more I became committed to understanding and helping others to understand and meet their obligations.

I find it very rewarding being able to simplify and explain the obligations of RTOs in a way people understand and removing the fear and confusion.

12. What are the main areas of non-compliance you have identified in the administration systems?

The main non-compliances I am seeing in administration systems is in the information provided to students prior to enrolment or commencement and in the area of identifying student needs.

Many RTOs are still not providing the minimum information required (and clearly documented in the Standards for Registered Training Organizations (RTOs) 2015) prior to enrollment or commencement of training.  Potential students need to be provided with all of the information required to make an informed decision and yet the information they receive (often not until after they enroll or commence training) is often missing the duration, location, dates and times of training ad costs, fundamental information to making a decision.

Determining the support needs of students still remains an administrative process that is not implemented in many RTOs.  RTOs have an obligation to identify the support needs of students and establish if there are any needs that the RTO can’t assist with or that will impact on the likelihood of the student completing.  Each RTO needs to identify a systematic approach to determining individual support needs that is relevant to the training being undertaken and the mode of delivery, going beyond the assessment of the students LLN skills.  With regards to LLN assessments, I am still seeing the majority of RTOs I work with using a one size fits all approach.  By this I mean they are using an LLN assessment that does not assess the skills relevant to the training the student is going to undertake.  To determine an individual’s LLN ability the assessment used needs to assess the skills required for the course they are entering in to.

By reviewing the pre enrolment information and the process followed to identify student needs the RTO is going increase the likelihood of students enrolling in training that suits their needs and ability, increasing their likelihood of success.

13. How do you give an RTO client feedback that might be difficult to hear?

As an auditor I am often required to give feedback that may be difficult to hear.  My approach is to simply explain the issue, such as non-compliant practices, then recommend strategies that may address the issue and work with the RTO to find a solution that fits their organization and resources available.  There have been occasions that I have provided feedback that a client has not wanted to hear and they have has refused to address or simply disagrees with the feedback.  On such occasions I provide the feedback in writing providing the client the opportunity to explore their options further or seek another opinion.

14. What is your message to organisations that do not spend money or time on improving their systems, processes and staff?

Every business, not just RTOs, needs to be investing in the processes, staff and be looking for ways to improve the quality of service provided to clients.  When RTOs fail to do this not only are they are risk of non-compliances which can risk the business continuity, reputation and result in expensive rectifications, they are at risk of missing opportunities to improve client service, develop staff and increase staff satisfaction, get ahead of competitors and take advantage of technological advancements.

Questions to Kerri Buttery

Sukh Sandhu: You have been working in the industry for over two decades as a Trainer/Assessor, RTO Manager, VELG representative and also as a Senior Lead Auditor for the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. You are working as a consultant for a range of organisations in the areas of establishing Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), conducting internal audits, consulting on VQF compliance, developing accredited courses, convening conferences and events, developing training and assessment materials, conducting professional development workshops and delivering Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

15. How has been your experience of working with VELG Training as their former Director of Content and Strategy?

My introduction to working with Velg Training first started back in 2010, however I didn’t follow through initially as I had a few months off to start a family. I initially began in late 2010 as a contracted consultant to conduct audits for Queensland schools before expanding that position to work a number of days in the office as a consultant and resource developer.

This initial work gave me some very good grounding in the sector in terms of developing my experience in presenting webinars and workshops as well as larger conferences, and broadening the horizons on how RTOs operate across the country. After approximately 5 years with Velg Training I was promoted to Director and took on responsibility for the content that would be delivered by the organisation.

I had opportunities there that I would not necessarily have had elsewhere, especially in introducing initiatives such as the development of Velg2Go and bringing true eLearning to professional development in the VET sector.

I immensely enjoyed the opportunity to work with, and learn from, a number of key consultants in the sector, including John Price and Angela McGregor. I am extremely grateful to Michelle Weaver and Suzanne Puzaras for the opportunities that Velg Training provided me with.

16. The VET Gurus is a great platform providing invaluable experience and assistance in the vocational education and training sector. What main objectives do you want to achieve through The VET Gurus?

There are many providers of professional development in the VET sector, and often consultants are working on their own to do this. Each of us have our own strengths in where we provide consulting services and professional development, for example Angela is across RTO admin, John works in the CRICOS/ELICOS space as well as specializing in RPL and I cover eLearning, with all of us working in general compliance and assessment development – but together we are able to provide a more comprehensive support service to our clients, as well as providing support to each other.

All three of us are passionate about the sector and have been in positions within RTOs. Our main objective is to ensure we provide accessible, accurate and timely support to people within RTOs. To achieve this we have some great plans for what we will offer to the VET sector over the coming years, with our aim to make sure we can get the right information, to the right people, at the right time. Exciting times ahead!

17. What opportunities do you see providing education and training through the e-Learning and m-learning platforms? How can training organisations and students benefit from these platforms?

The options becoming available for RTOs are enormous with platforms that are flexible and adaptable including cloud hosted, software as a service, and self-managed installations. Any RTO that is using eLearning needs to be considering mLearning. Students are often studying using their mobile devices and don’t necessarily always have access to a laptop or desktop computer.

Ensuring resources can be accessed on mobile devices also opens up options for utilizing resources in the workplace. Imagine a student going on work-placement, being presented with a situation they need to problem solve and wanting to have access to the learning resources from their course. All they have with them is their mobile phone. If the course is designed to use on a mobile application, students will be able to make use of their course materials while on that placement and this provides added value to their learning experience.

Even when training in a face-to-face situation, making use of mobile applications can really engage learners. High percentages of learners coming through are from Gen Y, Gen Z and onwards, and often very tech reliant. Making use of apps they can use in the training room can add to engagement. We do need to remember though that we shouldn’t just use mLearning or eLearning for the sake of it. It must be based on sound educational practice and enhance the experience for our students.

18. When you were with VELG Training and even after, we had several discussions about assessment validation and moderation. My question is; why should an RTO involve an independent VET expert such as one of the Gurus from The VET Gurus panel as part of their review of their assessment systems and resources?

There are many areas to keep up to date with working in an RTO. Compliance, current industry trends, professional development, the list goes on. It is difficult to keep up with everything and this is where there is benefit in engaging an external consultant – someone who has the job of keeping up with it all. We aren’t currently working in RTOs, therefore we aren’t trying to juggle all of the things an RTO Manager or trainer/assessor needs to do. We focus on specific areas and make sure we are up to date with current practices, what is happening in other RTOs, what is happening in regulator audits, etc. We might point out areas that the RTO had not even thought of, or maybe the goalposts at audit have changed. This experience is what we bring to the assessment review, internal audit and validation processes.

Questions (to all of you):

Our last two questions are:

19. What are your views on the comparison between public and private training providers?

One of the most important values in our society is the freedom of choice. Everyone wants to be able to make a decision about all parts of their life. Both personal and professional. For this reason, it is important that both public and private (and enterprise, and community) providers exist to allow students the choice of where they would like to complete their studies. Employers also want to have that choice when employing trainees, apprentices, or sending their staff to update their skills. There will always be comparison between providers – but what is most important is that what is being offered to students is of a high standard and producing quality outcomes that meets the needs of industry.

20. What message would you like to convey to people who plan to work in the VET Sector or are in the industry but do not know where to find help and support?

There are a whole range of providers of information! Of course, the VET Gurus provide one source of information, but there are lots of places to go and people to talk to.

Firstly, join relevant groups on LinkedIn and become active in those groups. Beware that the information presented isn’t always going to be accurate, use your judgement as to what to take on board.

Look for professional development that will fill the gaps in what you need to know. There are many options for online PD (check out as one place!) but also look for face to face opportunities so you can build up your support network.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This industry has been known to be quite transient, and as a consequence there are often people new to the sector. There are always people willing to help (this is where that support network comes in!).

New ESOS Regulations for CRICOS-registered providers

The Education Services for Overseas Students Regulations 2019 (ESOS Regulations) commence on 1 October 2019. They replace the current 2001 regulations. 

The ESOS Regulations commence on 1 October 2019. Registered providers must comply with the ESOS Regulations from 1 October 2019, including by giving information in the  Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS).

 Changes to the ESOS Regulations While the ESOS Regulations are substantially the same as the current regulations, the changes are described below.

Education agents 

Where an agent of a provider facilitated the acceptance for enrolment of a student in a course, the ESOS Regulations require providers to give information in PRISMS on the agent, including details of the agent’s Director and the agent’s employees who were involved in facilitating the enrolment. 

Collection of this information will provide a more detailed picture of agent activity across the international education system and over time. This will better support regulators to monitor providers’ compliance with the ESOS Act and the National Code with respect to their agents, and provide a more detailed picture of agent performance for providers and students. 

English language tests 

Providers must now give more information on students’ English language proficiency in relation to student visas, specifically:  

  • the date a student took an English language test, if the student was required to provide evidence of their level of English language proficiency for the purposes of a student visa, and 

  • the class of student visa applicant a student falls within (commonly referred to as evidence exemptions), if a student was not required to provide evidence of their level of English language proficiency for the purposes of a student visa.  


Migration (IMMI 18/015: English Language Tests and Evidence Exemptions for Subclass 500 (Student) Visa) Instrument 2018 establishes the current English language tests, minimum scores and evidence exemptions. 

Including this additional detail will improve data integrity by aligning the information on each student’s enrolment directly to student visa requirements and exemptions. 

The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for student visa policy and requirements for student visas are subject to change.  

When students breach their visa requirements 

Providers must now give more prescribed information about students who have breached a condition of a student visa with respect to course attendance or progress requirements; specifically, the student’s contact details, their residential address in Australia and their residential address overseas. Collection of this information will help support the integrity of Australia’s student visa framework.

 Terminating the student’s course 

Providers must now give information in the event that the student’s course is terminated before the course is completed, whether the studies were terminated by the student or the provider. In addition to the student’s contact details, providers must now give the day the student’s course is terminated as well as the last day of the student’s studies. This will ensure that the information is given regardless of the initiator of the termination. It will assist the regulators to monitor providers’ compliance with the ESOS Act and the National Code and help support the integrity of Australia’s student visa framework. 

Tuition fees definition 

The list of definitions specific to the ESOS Regulations has been expanded to provide improved guidance for providers, and now includes a definition of tuition fees that expands upon the definition under section 7 of the ESOS Act. 

The list of definitions specific to the ESOS Regulations now includes a definition for classes of tuition and non-tuition fees that expands on the definition under section 7 of the ESOS Act. Tuition fees include fees for lectures, tutorials, tutoring sessions, training, excursions, fieldwork, laboratories, or practical experience that form part of the student’s course (whether mandatory or not), or are intended to assist the student to progress in their course, or are ancillary to the activities that form part of the student’s course listed previously. Non-tuition fees include books and equipment, health insurance, administration, accommodation, and assistance to apply for or hold a student visa.

Including this definition is intended to support providers to fulfil their responsibility to give information on tuition and non-tuition fees as required by the ESOS Regulations. The estimated total tuition and non-tuition fees for a course provides valuable consumer information to prospective students, and supports providers’ compliance with the National Code with respect to marketing courses. Information on the tuition and non-tuition fees paid by a student in accordance with the terms of their written agreement supports the calculation of refunds in the event of a provider closure.

Definitions removes from ESOS Regulations 

Some definitions have been removed from the ESOS Regulations as they duplicated definitions in the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act), or were no longer needed.   

Providing the name and contact details of the principal executive officer 

If a provider is not a public provider and is not an individual, it must give the name, phone number and email address of the provider’s principal executive officer. Collection of this information assists the regulators to monitor providers’ compliance with the ESOS Act by providing more visibility of ownership and management. 

Information regarding students through PRISMS 

The ESOS Regulations require providers to update student contact details within 14 days for students under 18, and within 31 days for all other students. Keeping information in PRISMS as upto-date as possible assists providers to effectively comply with the ESOS framework and supports student well-being by enabling providers and the Australian Government to contact students in a timely manner, such as in the event of a provider closure. 

The requirement to update PRISMS within the acceptable number of days of any change to an enrolment is also critical to the administration of Australia’s laws relating to student visas. 

Providers must give information about accepted students as follows: 

  • the student’s residential address, phone number and email address 

  • when a student changes their course, in addition to the student’s contact details, providers must give the day the student changes their course 

  • when a student’s course changes duration, in addition to the student’s contact details, providers must give the day the change takes effect 

  • when a student’s course changes location, in addition to the student’s contact details, providers must give the day the change takes effect 

  • when a student’s studies are deferred or suspended, in addition to the student’s contact details and the expected duration of the deferment or suspension, providers must give the date deferment or suspension starts 

  • in the event that the provider gives particulars of a student’s breach of their student visa conditions, providers must give the student’s contact details and residential address in Australia and their residential address overseas, and 

  • when a student’s studies are terminated (whether or not by the student), in addition to the student’s contact details, providers must give the day the student’s studies are terminated and the last day of the student’s studies. 


Other minor amendments 

A number of minor additions, deletions and changes were made as follows.  

  • The reference to course level has been clarified to refer to the Australian Qualifications Framework. Reference to the course field of study has been clarified to refer to the Australian Standard Classification of Education.  

  • If a provider is registered to provide a course at a location in accordance with an arrangement with another provider (whether registered or not), it must give the name, phone number and email address of the individual who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the other provider at the location. Collection of this information will assist the regulators to monitor providers’ compliance with the ESOS Act by providing more visibility of ownership and management with respect to the delivery of courses by arrangement with another provider. 

  • The requirement for providers to give domestic student numbers has been removed, as this information was not deemed necessary for the regulators to fulfil their responsibilities. 

  • The requirement for providers to give information about the level and field of study of each course has been included in the ESOS Regulations as a formal requirement, with reference to the Australian Qualifications Framework and the Australian Standard Classification of Education. Previously, examples of the type of information required were described in the notes to the previous version of the regulations. Requiring courses to be recorded on CRICOS using these national standards provides improved consistency and integrity in data collection, and may assist students in choosing a course. 

For more Information, please refer to 

The VET Sector News

Integration is the key to the future – TROY WILLIAMS

Australia needs an integrated tertiary education system in which higher education plus vocational education and training operate as one but they retain their separate identities.

The rationale is strong. Those entering the workforce today are likely to have three or four careers before they retire, such is the changing future of work.

To equip themselves, it’s likely that they will move between the vocational education and training sector, and the higher education sector, to ensure they have the knowledge and skills required to remain employable. It’s in this context that we need to rethink the tertiary education system, ­ensuring that it supports the workforce of today and tomorrow. Australia’s tertiary education system currently is not equipped to deal with these challenges.

For more information, please refer here.

Skilled Occupation List overhaul thrills IT industry – List hasn’t been updated in 10 years. – ACS 

Skills-starved businesses have welcomed the chance for closer engagement with the government as it brings forward a review of Australia’s most in-demand technology skills.

Australia’s economy is facing up to the implications of chronic shortfall of skilled technology workers as it works to figure out how to meet industry demand that ACS’s recently released Australia’s Digital Pulse 2019 report projects will need an estimated 100,000 more workers – reaching 800,000 people in total – by 2024.

The review of the Skilled Occupation List will involve extensive consultation with industry, employers, unions, and individuals in an effort to ensure skilled migration programs better reflect the skills that employers need.

“As a Government, our role is to ensure that Australian employers can access workers with the skills needed to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow when they can’t be met by the domestic workforce,” Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said during the announcement into the review.

For more Information, please refer here.

Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2020: Australia Rises Up

From nine universities cracking the list in 2018, Australia is now home to 11 universities that made it to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020, with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) managing the biggest leap in ranking since 2018 and standing at 71 climbing up the ladder by 25 positions. Leading at the forefront is the United Kingdom’s University of Oxford, that topped the world ranking for the fourth consecutive year, followed by the California Institute of Technology, the United States and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

35 Australian universities make in-roads

Overall, around 35 Australian universities made it to the list which included approximately 1,400 universities located across 92 countries. The University of Melbourne was positioned at 32nd place followed by Australian National University at 50th and the University of Sydney at 60th. Interestingly, the University of Canberra exhibited a noteworthy success story as it rose by 376 places since 2016, demonstrating the biggest ever institutional improvement in the world.

It is good news for all the stakeholders in the education sector in Australia.

For more information, please refer here.

International student enrolments hit by “substantial downturn”

Higher education providers are panicking over the purported “substantial downturn” in international student enrolments across Western Australian colleges and universities.

For more information, please refer here.

Producing ICT specialists for the 21st-century workforce

Information and Communications Technology’s (ICT) meteoric rise in recent years can only mean that such advances will continue to be further embedded in our personal and professional lives, especially as we delve further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Coupled with the rise of new tech waves such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, which are poised to drive ICT innovation, this means graduates and future professionals in the field must be equipped with the skills needed to solve 21st-century problems and evolve with future industry demands.

ICT’s importance can be felt in just about any industry. Factors such as the rise in global internet usage, affordable mobile devices flooding the market and the increasing popularity of streaming platforms can translate to rising demand for animation and visual effects (VFX) content, be it for entertainment or things like advertising, cutting through a saturated market. Meanwhile, as companies adopt more technology into their operations, more talent is needed in managing their information systems and the like, fuelling the need for professionals in the field.

The European Commission estimates that Europe faces a shortage of around 756,000 ICT professionals by 2020. Meanwhile, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for computer and ICT occupations is projected to grow 13 per cent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. They add that these occupations will add some 557,100 new jobs, with demand for such workers stemming from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data and information security.

For more information, please refer here.

Australia should try to keep more international students who are trained in our universities

Australia’s education system takes almost one in ten of all international students from countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

That’s according to the latest Education at a Glance report from the OECD.

But Australia should do more to retain some of those students after graduation or it risks losing good talent overseas.

For more information, please refer here.

How Vocational Education in the USA Got a 21st Century Reboot

Suriana Rodriguez is only 19, but she’s already lined up a full-time job at IBM. After her junior year in high school, she interned at the tech giant’s Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus, 20 miles north of her hometown, for $17 an hour. For a year, Rodriguez has worked 40-hour weeks as an apprentice test technician, examining IBM mainframes to confirm they work before shipping them to customers. In January, she’ll move to a permanent position with a future salary that she says is “definitely much more than I ever thought I’d be making at 19.”

For more  information, please refer here.

Australia-wide plan to ban mobile phones in schools divides educators

A push by the federal government to impose an immediate ban on mobile phones in Australian classrooms has divided education professionals across the country.

The technology crackdown, raised by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, is intended to curb cyberbullying and follows Victoria’s decision to introduce a phone ban in all state schools from next year.

Mr Tehan met with state and territory counterparts on Friday to persuade them a ban on phones during class time would help alleviate anxiety and depression, as well as combat cyberbullying among students.

“We’re also starting to see a causal link when it comes to social media and the impact that is having on student wellbeing,” Mr Tehan told ABC radio.

For more information, please refer here.

Minister urges TAFEs to get closer to universities, business as part of VET reform

The Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships Steve Irons has urged TAFEs to examine closer links with universities and businesses at the local level as part of a “once in a generation” effort to reform the VET sector.

Speaking at the TDA Convention in Brisbane, Mr Irons said everyone in the sector would need to be “open to new ways of working and being ready to collaborate across traditional boundaries.”

For TAFE, he said this may entail stronger links with universities and larger employers in the regions, as well as bringing together small business, community groups, and different levels of government to devise local solutions to skills gaps.

He said the recent COAG agreement by the Commonwealth, states and territories should be seen as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen VET.”

 “I cannot overstate how important it is that we now have this top-level agreement across jurisdictions on the future direction of VET in Australia,” he said.

He noted the key elements in the planned reform process to date – the National Skills Commission, National Careers Ambassador, National Careers Institute and new Skills Organisations. 

“These organisations will benefit greatly from practical input from TAFE representatives, and this in turn will make them more useful to you,” he said.

See the full speech here.

Unpacking ASQA audit reports and files (Part 1)

Let’s look into what is actually going on in the audits and ASQA practices. We are referring here a number of examples from the audits conducted and the matters discussed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal by the Australian  Skills Quality Authority. 

1. ASQA Auditor considering online documents on a Google drive as “Student Portal” and “Learning Management System”, and using these links to pass on their professional judgement: 


2. How can a trainer/assessor who has been deemed 100% compliant in an audit of one RTO become non-compliant in the same week for another RTO? 


3. Auditors trying to change the “spiky profile” developed under Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) guidelines during the audit:


4. ASQA auditors making a training organisation non-compliant on marketing standards because they did not use “currency” when they were using the most current AQF code and AQF title for all qualifications.  


5. Auditors trying to add their preferences, choices and expectations completely outside the regulatory framework and guidelines in an audit: 


6. How something not provided to the auditors can be reviewed on the same evening? 


7. Finding non-compliance in the areas actually not non-compliant: 


8. Auditors asking something not part of any legislative or regulatory framework or guidelines: 



9. Refusing application of an RTO because ASQA could not identify a trainer exists or not within the organisation:


10. “Conflict of interest” anyone? 


The auditors and officers involved in making all these decisions are still part of the Australian Skills Quality Authority. Why did no one question the competence of these officers? Have they been provided with any professional development or much needed training?

Why is so much money wasted fighting these kinds of matters in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal? 

A number of critical questions coming from these kinds of audit reports are as follows: 

  1. How is the VET Regulator is currently encouraging or promoting confidence in their practices, ethics and values? 

  2. What kind of regulatory auditing is going on at present? 

Please note: The names and other relevant information has been blacked-out to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the individuals. 

What has been your experience with the current regulators and legislative guidelines and instruments? Share your views with us via email

Conducting validation in your training organisation

 What is validation?

Explanation: Checking that the assessment tools, methods, judgement, evidence and processes to ensure that the training product meets:

  • Principles of Assessment – i.e. valid, reliable, flexible and fair

  • Rules of Evidence – i.e. valid, authentic, current and sufficient

  • The judgment made by the trainer/assessor is benchmarked* with colleagues or industry experts

  • There is sufficient evidence to support the judgment of the trainer/assessor and

  • Whether the requirements of the Training Package or accredited course have been met.

Typical benchmarks used during the validation process include:

  • National training package which are developed by Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)/ Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and can be found on the website.

  • Units of competency which consist of competency standards and need to be unpacked so that those validating the assessments can compare the actual competency against the tools being validated.

  • Industry standards and consultation will vary, and these standards form the basis of the skills and knowledge required to perform work roles.

  • AQF Guidelines and Framework

  • Information to candidates, assessors and third parties

  • The legislation is relevant to the assessment such as privacy, health and safety, and anti-discrimination, copyright law and so on.


The outcome may include making recommendations for improvements to the assessment tool/assessment processes/ assessment methods or assessment products.

What are the timing and occurrence for validation to occur 

Validation can occur before, during or after an assessment is conducted. Validation can be pre-assessment validation or post-assessment validation. Validation is ongoing.

What is the primary purpose of conducting validation? 

The primary purpose to conduct validation is “continuous improvement” so that you can provide training and assessment that meets industry expectations, regulatory guidelines but most importantly training package requirements and assessment and learner resources do not negatively affect your audit outcomes. 

Issues that may negatively affect your audit:

  • Your assessment does not address all requirements of the packaging rules

  • You do not gather sufficient valid evidence for competency assessment

  • inappropriate or lack of simulated environments

  • The authenticity of assessment, particularly in the distance and online delivery.

It is vital that RTOs undertake their validation and moderation process as it is a crucial part of meeting learner’s needs and quality assurance requirements of Standard 1 and 2 of the Standards for RTOs 2015.

In meeting student’s needs and the quality assurance, RTOs are too bound by Clauses 1.9 – 1.11 of the Standards for RTOs 2015:

Clause 1.9 (Validation)

‘RTO implements a plan for ongoing systematic validation of assessment practices and judgements that includes for each training product on the RTO’s scope of registration

  1. when assessment validation will occur;

  2. which training products will be the focus of the validation;

  3. who will lead and participate in validation activities;

  4. how the outcomes of these activities will be documented and acted upon.’​


Clause 1.10 requires:

  • Each training product is validated at least once every five years,

  • At least 50% of products validated within the first three years of each five-year cycle.

Clause 1.11 requires:

Validation is undertaken by one or more persons who are not directly involved in the delivery and assessment of the training product being validated,

who collectively have:

  1. current Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

  2. vocational competencies and current industry skills relevant to the assessment being validated;

  3. current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning; and

  4. Industry experts may be involved to ensure there is the combination of expertise set out in (a) to (c) above.

Why do you need us to conduct independent validation?

We provide this service to RTO’s, TAFE’s and other educational institutions. In some cases, we have found that the validation process is non-compliant. Our experience has shown that RTOs do not comply because they do not address all requirements of the packaging rules, do not gather sufficient valid evidence for competency assessment, they do not have complaint learning and assessment resources and lack authentic assessment, particularly in the distance and online delivery.

Important information if you deliver any AQF qualification or assessor skill set from the Training and Education Training Package:

From 1 January 2016, to deliver any AQF qualification or assessor skill set from the Training and Education Training Package (or its successor), your RTO must have undergone an independent validation of its assessment system, tools, processes and outcomes in accordance with the requirements contained in Schedule 2 (and the definitions of independent validation and validation).

What we will provide/do for you

We will:​

  1. Meet with you to discuss your specific requirements and needs

  2. Scope what you need to do and recommend a path forward

  3. Provide qualified industry specific validation and moderation experts

  4. Work with you to ensure your assessment system, processes, materials and practices produce valid assessment judgements

  5. Develop or assist you in writing and implementing your quality policies and procedures

  6. Develop a timetable for validating all your training products

  7. Lead or participate in your validation team OR undertake your assessment validation on our own (depending on your requirements)

  8. Work out a statistically valid sample size for your Post-Assessment Validation

  9. Recommend future improvements for your training products, systems and procedures.

  10. Provide a report for you detailing the above.

If you would like us to administer and manage the process for you, we will:

  • Ensure compliance in every aspect of your validation and moderation process

  • Assess your registered qualifications and the associated assessments for validation and moderation purposes  

  • Develop a five (5) year validations and moderation timetable

  • Recommend a sample size

  • Prepare all documentation for distribution to participants

  • Prepare all record keeping documentation

  • Hold and moderate the meeting/s

  • Provide a report for you detailing the above  

*Only available in some industries where we have access to qualified and experienced trainers/assessors in the relevant industry.  

Until 1 December 2019 we are offering 50% off on our resource validation package. We can identify any gaps in your training and assessment resources, suggest ways to fill them, or fill them for you. 

For more information, please contact us at 1800 266 160 or via email to

The VET Sector News – September 2019

ASQA’s Sample AQF documentation gets updated to meet the requirements of third-party arrangements

The ASQA Fact Sheet Sample AQF documentation has been updated for a clarification in light of recent Third Party arrangements guidance.

The fact sheet now states “Only the name of the issuing organisation (your RTO) can be included on testamurs/statements of attainment. Refer to the Fact sheet—third party arrangements for more information” 

All VET Providers should take note of this clarification and review any AQF documentation arrangements where other organisation’s names or logos might be used in prior ‘dual branding’ arrangements of testamur documentation.

You can read more information here.

New $1.6 billion blueprint aims to lift the status of teaching

Australia’s best and brightest school graduates are turning their backs on teaching – but a $1.6 billion reform package proposed by the Grattan Institute aims to lift teaching’s slumped professional status.

You can read more information here.

Tech challenge leaves Australian Unis vulnerable

Where pen and paper were once king, portable pads now reign supreme. We are no longer at the point where tech is a nice-to-have addition to the learning process, but rather a revolution in culture and lifestyle that educational institutions need to ensure their future success.

With faster and more innovative technologies entering the market every day, there is no shortage of solutions built to accommodate this shift in behaviour and students value quick access to smart technologies. So much so, that a huge 85 per cent recently rated up-to-date technology or good online options as either the most important or highly important factor when choosing a college or university. So, this begs the question, why aren’t educational institutions falling over themselves to provide the highest spec tech for their students?

You can read more information here.

Australian universities are overly reliant on international students for revenue

Australian universities have been warned against overly relying on international students as their major source of revenue.

A report by The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) is sounding the alarm, calling the practice a “high-risk” and “multi-million dollar gamble” on taxpayers’ money. 

You can read more information here.

TAFE NSW campuses join I-CAR Education Resource

I-CAR and TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga and TAFE NSW North Wollongong Campuses have signed the Education Resource Agreement to deliver select I-CAR courses to meet the requirements for AUR32116 – Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology and AUR32416 – Certificate III in Automotive Refinishing Technology training packages for apprentices.

Ian Chalmers, Head of Department, Autobody South Region said “With TAFE NSW being the leading provider of vocational education and training in Australia, we aim to provide high quality, personalised vocational education and training to build prosperity, sustainability and innovation throughout New South Wales. We’re passionate about helping you build skills, create success and become inspired to achieve a better future. We believe in helping students and businesses to unlock their potential and helping them achieve long term success.”

Read more here.

Spotlight on Vocational Education & Training

Today the country celebrates the important contribution Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) makes to the economy and to the lives of everyday Australians, with National Skills Week.

“National Skills Week is an occasion to promote our vocational training system as being equal to a university education to school leavers, job seekers and career changers who are looking for pathways into good job outcomes and long term fulfilling careers,” said the Australian Chamber’s director of employment, education and training, Jenny Lambert.

“We should be celebrating the many successes of VET graduates – their valuable skills are much needed in the economy. Often a graduate of an engineering or construction apprenticeship goes on to run their own business, employing people and reaping the rewards of self-employment.

“This week is also an opportunity to focus on the vocational training system. It should be seen as a catalyst for industry and training providers to work together with the Federal, State and Territory governments to improve the system for students and employers.

Ms Lambert said the Council of Australian Governments’ latest agreement to commit to a new vision for VET and seek a road map for genuine reform was a vital start.

“We also need to highlight the benefit of vocational education to the broader public. Business and Governments need to work together with schools, career advisers and training providers to understand where the job opportunities are for the future and encourage students to choose VET as a career pathway.”

For more information please refer here.

Government-funded students and courses – January to March 2019

This publication provides a summary of data relating to estimated students, programs, subjects and training providers in Australia’s government-funded vocational education and training (VET) system.

For more information, please refer here.

Rising international student numbers in New Zealand

Official statistics from the Ministry of Education show that international student numbers made up 18% of university students throughout New Zealand in 2018. NZISA welcomes this increase, but warns universities that rising numbers must be matched by improved wellbeing policies to continue the sustainable growth of the export education sector. 

For more information, please refer here.

Top universities lowering English standards – Report

A new report says top Australian universities are using backdoor entry programmes to lower English standards for overseas enrolments amid a reliance on foreign student income that is unmatched in the English-speaking world, write Jordan Baker and Adam Carey for the Brisbane Times.

The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) research paper said the institutions, including the universities of Melbourne, Sydney and New South Wales, were compromising standards and taking “massive financial risks in pursuit of this pot of gold”. The report’s author, Sydney University sociologist and CIS fellow Salvatore Babones, called on vice-chancellors to urgently raise admissions standards and reduce international enrolments to reduce their vulnerability to sudden revenue collapse.

Overseas students now make up a quarter of Australia’s university enrolments, and two of the country’s most prestigious institutions, the universities of Sydney and New South Wales, rely on a single country, China, for almost a quarter of their total revenue, the report said.

Full report on the Brisbane Times site 

International student fallout becomes too big to ignore

Last week’s damning report on Australia’s international trade from the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) has finally awoken the mainstream media to the substantial hidden costs arising from our universities’ extreme over-exposure to international students.

In its report, the CIS warned that Australia’s universities have badly lowered standards to gain the world’s biggest per-capita intake of international students:

For more information please refer here.

Destination Australia open for applications

The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education, officially launched the Destination Australia Program today. The 2020 application round will be open for four weeks from Monday 19 August 2019 until Thursday 12 September 2019.

The aim of the Destination Australia Program is to attract and support international and domestic students to study in regional Australia, to grow and develop regional Australian tertiary education providers and offer students a high quality learning experience. 

The $93.7 million Destination Australia Program High-quality allows tertiary education providers, including vocational education and training and higher education providers, to apply for funding through a competitive grants process to administer and promote scholarships for Australian and international students who live and study in regional Australia. Scholarships are valued at $15,000 per student, per year, and will be available for students undertaking a Certificate IV through to PhD.

For the purposes of the Destination Australia Program, a regional location is classified as any area outside of Major Cities of Australia, in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Statistical Geography Standard Remoteness Structure. 

Further information about the Destination Australia Program including how to apply can be found at

Chinese students have already stopped coming to Australia

While the government hauled the Group of Eight universities to Canberra to caution them over research collaboration with China and the Centre for Independent Studies warned of a “catastrophe” if Beijing stopped students coming to Australia, the vice-chancellor of Melbourne University was in India.

Professor Duncan Maskell was the latest of Australia’s higher education chiefs to make the trek to the subcontinent in search of new markets. Unusually among VCs he stopped at Jakarta on the way back to tie up some new connections for the university.

If you ask Professor Maskell what he hopes to get from such markets he bristles: “What do you mean by markets? Supermarkets?”

He is not alone in university chiefs resisting the implication that Australian universities are in the business of student markets.

Privately, universities admit the flow of students from China is so large it is effectively commoditised.

For more information please refer here.

New performance-based funding system for universities

Australia’s federal government has promised to allocate an additional AU80 million (US$54 million) to universities next year – but only on a ‘performance-based’ set of criteria.

Adoption of the so-called ‘performance-based funding’ scheme was the main recommendation in a report to the government by an independent panel of senior academic leaders.

Subsequently, the government announced that funding for bachelor level courses would be capped at 2017 levels for 2019. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said that from 2020, funding for student places would increase according to population growth in the 18- to 64-year-old age bracket.

He added, however, that universities would only be able to access additional grants if they met specified performance requirements.

For more information please refer here.

Telugus second largest Indian group on Australian campuses

Telugu students are the second largest group from India on Australian university campuses, reveals an internal study by Australian education providers based on the number of visa applications. Punjab students make for the biggest group from the country.

A total of 5,161 students from Telangana and 2,299 from Andhra Pradesh have applied for visas this year, according to the study. Punjab region students are said to be 12,644 while those from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh combined are 17,277.

The actual visa issuance was around 80% of applications for Telugu students while that for Punjab students would be lesser than Telugu students, say education consultants. “The actual figures can’t be revealed as they are yet to be made official,” a consultant says, seeking anonymity.

For more information please refer here.

Why reskilling can seem so difficult

Well for many of us, work not only provides us with an income but an identity as well. If we work in the medical profession, we may be known as a doctor or nurse. We ask each other, “what do you do?”, as our daily tasks often define our identity. In this context reskilling into a new role is not just about gaining new skills to transition. It is also a shift in our identity.

At an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference in 2018,  Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French Minister for Education explained this point further, “[Reskilling] is not just about supply meeting demand. It is essentially a human process: people digging down deep within themselves to bring new skills to the surface.”

It is clear that the effectiveness of reskilling is not just about acquiring new skill sets, it’s also about a change in mindset, shifting from jobs to skills, and away from our occupation defining us. So how do we equip workers with the mindset to more easily transition across jobs and reskill when necessary?

For more information please refer here.

From Netflix to Edflix: now it’s on-demand education

The future of tertiary education is an on-demand, Netflix-style model where learners get to pick when, what and how they study, says Macquarie Business School Associate Professor Lan Snell. As organisations restructure to deal with constant disruption from new technologies, the nature of work and workers are fundamentally changing, says Snell – opening up new horizons for education providers such as Macquarie University.

“We have had what is called a front-loaded model of education, where most of the formal education is done in one place, typically at the beginning of a career,” says Snell, the Academic Program Director for Macquarie’s Global MBA.

“But now, to keep apace of those constant changes in the marketplace, we need to continually reskill, upskill and retrain ourselves, and that’s the spirit of life-long learning.

For more information please refer here.

Student debt is an impediment to lifelong learning

About 45 million Americans now collectively owe $1.6 trillion in student debt, and it’s a burden that is taking a toll on both workers and their employers.

A recent survey found that half of employees say they feel worried about student loan debt most or all of the time — and more than 65 percent say they have considered finding a second job to help them keep up with their loan payments. Another found that some 40 percent of borrowers believe student debt has stopped them from obtaining their career goals.

Employers should be troubled by these findings. They paint a picture of a generation of workers paralyzed by student loan debt, fueling unprecedented turnover at a time when the labor market is already tightening. About 40 million employees quit their job last year. And churn is even higher for millennials (now the largest generation in the workforce) which accounted for more than half of these separations.

For more information please refer here.

TAFE figures hit new low

Enrolments at Albany’s TAFE campus last year dropped to their lowest level since it opened in 2013.

Department of Training and Workforce Development figures showed 3786 students enrolled at South Regional TAFE Albany in 2018, down nearly 19 per cent on its opening year.

That continued a trend of decreasing enrolments recorded in the previous year.

South Regional TAFE Albany opened with 4653 students in 2013, and enrolments remained steady in 2014 before dropping to 4100 in 2015.

For more information please refer here.

The universities which rely most on international students for cash

One university received almost a billion dollars in international student fees in 2018, while eight received more than 30 per cent of their revenue from international student fees, with major sandstone universities spearheading a race for the lucrative market.

An analysis of university financial statements reveals that three of the elite Group of Eight universities – University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Monash University – earned more than one in every three dollars from international students last year in a rising trend.

For more information please refer here.

Federal Government launches an investigation into foreign interference at Australian universities

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced the new measure, which he said would be a collaboration between government, security agencies and the university sector.

He said it would have a wide-ranging role in looking at foreign interference in the nation’s education sector, from assessing cybersecurity to the theft of research and intellectual property.

Mr Tehan said he was concerned at recent reports that information about pro-democracy students had been collected during protests about China.

“One of the things that the taskforce will be doing will be looking at security on our university campuses, to make sure that students can go about their business freely, and be able to express their views freely,” he said.

Punches were thrown at the University of Queensland last month as students clashed over their views on China and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

For more information please refer here.

International students stranded, asked to pay for new visas as education provider goes bust

The private business institute’s collapse in New Zealand has left more than 200 international students in the lurch, with students now claiming that neither the education provider nor the regulator, New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) are coming to their rescue.

NZQA claims that the Kiwi Institute of Training and Education known as KITE had requested them to cancel their registration as a private training establishment, as a result of which it was put into liquidation, earlier this month.

For more information please refer here.

US No Longer Top Choice for Foreign Students

In the past decade, the U.S. saw a steady rise in the number of international students who enrolled in colleges and universities here. But because of high tuition and fees, immigration concerns, divisive political talk and perceived crime, international students are considering other options. Top competitors to the U.S. include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and China. These countries are making it less expensive and more convenient for students. 

For more information please refer here.

Canada wants to diversify international student intake

Canada’s new five-year international education strategy is calling for greater diversity, innovation and global ties.

The federal government’s strategy, released this week, recognizes the strong presence of international students in Canada, noting that 570,000 foreign study permit holders contributed over $21 billion to the Canadian economy since the start of 2019.

A key aim of the new $148-million strategy is to increase the variety of source countries for international students. It has pledged almost $30 million to diversify recruitment efforts in this domain.

As is, more than 50 per cent of Canada’s international students come from China and India, and they are concentrated in large cities such as Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. The strategy’s expanded recruitment efforts will target Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Morocco, Turkey, France and Ukraine.

For more information please refer here.

How Rod Jones grew Navitas

Australian universities could learn from the recipient of the AFR Higher Education Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2019, Rod Jones, co-founder and part owner of education company Navitas.

Navitas prepares international students for university and had revenue of nearly $1 billion in 2018, drawn from a global operation.

For more information please refer here.

Australia’s education system is stagnating at best, heading backwards at worst.

We have recorded a decade of declining school and student performance against OECD standards and the most recent NAPLAN results revealed there’s been no significant improvement across most year levels since 2008.

Children and young people who are disadvantaged are most vulnerable to the impact of an education system that is no longer fit for purpose or designed for their future needs. Mounting evidence is telling us that too many learners are struggling with an education system that is not setting them up for success in life and work.

Australia is currently ranked as having the fourth-most socially segregated school system in the OECD, with 51% of disadvantaged students concentrated in disadvantaged schools. We have also seen the largest increase in social segregation since 2006.

Education is not meeting the needs of a diverse community of learners at a time when skills and jobs are changing faster than ever before.

For more information please refer here.

VET in Schools participation declines

Over a five year period, the number of school students undertaking vocational education and training (VET) as part of their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) has declined by 6.7% to 230 700, according to new data released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The report VET in Schools 2018 also reveals that the number of school-based apprentices and trainees decreased to 18,200 in 2018, down 13.3% from 2014, while those undertaking other VET that contributed to their SSCE decreased to 212,500 in 2018, down 6.0% from 2014.

Certificate II qualifications continued to be the most popular (undertaken by 54.8% of all VET in Schools students), however the number of students undertaking qualifications at this level has declined by 2.6% since 2014.

In contrast, the number of VET in Schools students enrolled in Certificate III qualifications has increased by 1.7% since 2014, with 34.6% of all students undertaking training at this level in 2018.

Tourism, travel and hospitality remains the most popular training package, with 14.8% of all VET in Schools students undertaking qualifications in this training package in 2018.

Business services training package was the second most popular, with 12.4% of VET in Schools students undertaking qualifications in this training package in 2018, followed by the Sport, fitness and recreation training package.

Australian vocational education and training statistics: VET in Schools 2018 is now available from:

For the latest data and further year-on-year and state and territory comparisons please visit here.

National Skills Needs List to be updated

The government will replace the National Skills Needs List (NSNL) after a review of the program.

Since 2007, the NSNL has determined which jobs are eligible for payments under the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA) program.

Senator Michaelia Cash announced the modernisation project on Thursday.

“The review will ensure skills shortages are identified using a forward-looking, up-to-date methodology and that apprenticeship incentives are targeted at addressing critical skills shortages in the Australian economy,” Minister Cash said.

For more information please refer here.

Education policy should be based on evidence and worthwhile goals, not on borrowed fads

This week has seen the annual commotion around Australia’s standardised testing regime, the National Assessment Program —  Literacy and Numeracy. 

Once again, despite huge increases in taxpayer funding, there is little to give parents, employers and the public any confidence that students are mastering the essential knowledge and skills they need for success in life and work. 

The reality is that NAPLAN cannot deliver the improvements we seek unless it — like the other elements of the so-called national education architecture — is rebooted in purpose, design and operation to establish the highest possible national standards of teaching and learning, from kindergarten to Year 12. 

For more information please refer here.

ESOS Changed Reporting Requirements 

Amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students Regulations 2019 (Cth) will mean that from 1 October 2019 providers will be required to include additional student data on the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) database. The reporting obligations includes information on agents, English language proficiency tests and breaches of visa conditions. 

For more information please refer here.  

Education sector could boost a soft economy 

The higher education sector could be used to boost a flat local economy, with the deteriorating global trade environment adding to the case to increase student numbers, Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony said. 

For more information please refer here.

No Regulation or Bad Regulation – has ASQA failed as a VET Regulator?

We are starting this article by quoting the now very famous speech of MP   Laming in the Australian Parliament: I rise after a nationwide investigation into the performance of ASQA … This is not just a domestic issue; this is about brand Australia … This aggressive and adversarial conduct is an enormous concern”.

The full speech available here: 

It is  of great concern when the chair of a federal parliamentary committee launches an extraordinary attack on the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), claiming “its audit activity is being misused to damage and, ultimately, wipe out some private training colleges and that the regulatory body is not currently focused on outcomes but rather administrative processes and  although these are an extremely important part of any RTO’s system, the idea of what the VET sector is all about quality training focusing on the student, leaves people asking the question, what happened?

Unrealistic expectations of the VET regulator 

This is one of the most common issues, we have been told by industry representatives, training providers and other stakeholders. Even the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has discussed this in one of the recent events organised by Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) “From my perspective that’s not good enough”.

Courtesy: ASBFEO.

Auditors unreasonable demands and expectations at the time of the audit 

Professional judgement is a complex issue in audit and its process is influenced by a number of critical factors. However, auditors must avoid unprofessional and unethical conduct during the audits.

Auditors must conduct audits to review the systems and processes according to a set agenda and framework.   One of the most common feedback from the private sector is unprofessional and unethical behaviour from the auditors. The manner in which some of these officers interact with training organisation representatives has been explained as simply “bullying or harassment”. One of the RTO representatives commented on ASQA auditors demands and expectations as:

“The auditor was putting unnecessary demands and pressure on me,  asking me to print everything in hard copy when it was given to her as a softcopy on a USB. She kept on pressuring that she wants to see the hard-copy documents in 1 to 2 minutes until I had to step up and say, “It takes me 2-3 minutes for me to go to my desk from the board room and then another 2-3 minute to print the document, how can I provide you with the requested copies in 1-2 minutes”

Chasing an ever-changing goal post 

Training organisations are currently chasing an ever-changing goal post.

The State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments have collectively made 465 major reforms in the VET sector in the past 21 years. More information is available here

This means one major reform every fortnight, every year, for more than two decades. This figure does not include changes made in the International Education Sector.

How this is affecting Australian businesses providing training and education to students? How many more reforms or changes should the VET sector expect? Every time a regulatory framework changes, there is talk about reducing the red tape and getting a better, quality, effective training system in place.

Are these changes causing more reputation damage to the VET brand? Who has made these policy decisions and how many of the decision makers have actually been employed or worked in the vocational education and training sector? How can organisations deliver quality if they do not get the required time to effectively implement and consolidate?

Approving organisations only to close them down later 

A number of training organisations that were recently approved by Australian Skills Quality Authority are currently going through audits.  The audits are called when they are applying to add courses to their scope or are post-initial audits. The problem is not that they are going through audits within the 12 month period, the concern is that the majority of these are being shut down by ASQA on the use of assessment materials, marketing practices, training and assessment strategies etc and other documents that ASQA reviewed and approved 12 months earlier or less.

Where is the consistency? What kind of regulatory body does this?

“We have never cancelled or suspended an RTO for administrivia” says Mark Paterson AO, Chief Commissioner of ASQA. How does Mark Paterson reconcile this with overturning 50% of the cancellation decisions when he reviews them (generally within 6 months of the original decision).

A solicitor has openly in a public forum questioned the practice:

“The overwhelming number of adverse decisions following audits are currently being signed by the Chief Commissioner or 2 Commissioners thereby depriving RTOs from applying for further reconsideration/reassessment internally.  This might explain, in part, why there has been such a drastic increase in cancellation decisions based on what many RTOs (and their advisers) consider to be less than serious non-compliances.

The interesting question is why almost all adverse decisions (that we are seeing at least) are being signed by the Chief Commissioner or 2 Commissioners directly following an audit.  There could be a reasonable explanation for this. However, the effect of this approach is that fewer RTOs are able to achieve compliance through internal reassessments/reconsiderations and therefore their registrations are cancelled upon signature of the Chief Commissioner or 2 Commissioners.

Engagement of the auditors 

Unfortunately, the regulatory body has moved away from recruiting officers that have a background in the education sector or even relevant industry experience to be able to effectively audit training organisations.

Questions have to be asked with regards to how auditors are selected and engaged by ASQA.

ASQA hire Lead Regulatory Officers to lead and supervise audit teams; make recommendations about RTOs compliance; make recommendations for Commissioners. Successful applicants are not required to hold legislated mandatory qualifications.

What process does ASQA use to put regulatory staff through their qualifications? According to AQF guidelines, Certificate IV and Diploma require a minimum of 1.5 years/1800 hours, up to 4 years in total/4800 hours to complete. So, does that mean that ASQA staff receive 4 years of training before they are in a position to recommend the shutting down of Australian companies? Who issues the qualifications?


When Mark Paterson AO commented on the first-ever strategic review as Chief Commissioner “a review of issues relating to unduly short training” did anyone review ASQA’s own recruitment practices or compliance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and other relevant guidelines?

Question regarding independence of ASQA’s Governance, Policy and Quality team

How many complaints against ASQA, its conduct and officers have been lodged since 2011? How many decisions were investigated and what actions were taken against the officers who conducted malpractice and were in conflict of interest situations?

There seems to be a significant disconnect between the lived experience of training providers and the messages that come out of ASQA and its auditors and officers. Where is the breakdown occurring? Who audits the auditors and officers?

Outcomes of the expert reports

Professor Valerie Braithwaite’s review of Vocational Education and Training Sector

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act (the NVETR Act) of 2011 was requested to be reviewed by Canberra-based academic Valerie Braithwaite in 2017. This act “underpins the operations and activities of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).” The report was submitted on January 2018 with 23 recommendations to the Government.

It is accessible here: All eyes on quality: Review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 report

The following items were identified and reported as part of the review process:

Concerns about the compliance burden on RTOs, the inconsistency of audits and auditors, the difficulty in making sense of ASQA’s regulatory approach, and a disconnect from what RTOs considered important for regulation of the sector. In short, ASQA’s regulatory task is made more difficult and the sector’s anxieties are increased by a lack of supportive regulatory conversations.

“ASQA [has an opportunity] to sophisticate its use of strengths-based regulation, in particular praise for RTOs that have done things well, while also improving the use of a more iterative and educational approach with those at risk, when it is within the capacity of the RTO to mitigate those risks.”

“Deepening VET professionalisation and the commitment of the teaching workforce to continuous improvement in the quality of teaching and learning are … imperative.”

“the legislative framework be revised to require an RTO to assess the quality of its teaching workforce and develop teacher quality improvement actions, which must be submitted to ASQA annually as a part of the Quality Indicator Annual Summary report.”


The Strengthening Skills : review conducted by Steven Joyce, former New Zealand Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and EmploymentOn

28 November 2018, the Australian Government announced an independent review of the VET sector.

  • The Commonwealth and the States and Territories to confirm their support for the Australian Skills Quality Authority as the single national regulator to provide consistent quality assurance to the vocational education sector.

  • There is a lack of trust in the sector, mainly owing to the reputational issues but also over the quality of private operators.

  • Mr Joyce recommended benchmark hours be set by ASQA, initially just for “high-risk” qualifications but eventually for all courses.


The confidence of training providers with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

What kind of confidence can industry have in the practices of a regulatory body whose affirmed decision ratio in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is one in twenty-two cases? Out of 446 applications to tribunals or courts seeking review of ASQA decisions between 1 July 2011 and 31 March 2019 are as follows:

  • Resolved between the applicant and ASQA = 52.0%

  • Dismissed by the Court or Tribunal = 11.4%

  • ASQA’s decision affirmed = 4.5%

  • ASQA’s decisions set aside = 1.8%

What is the role of the regulatory body?

If we look into the Section 2A Objects of the Act:

The objects of this Act are:

(a)  to provide for national consistency in the regulation of vocational education and training (VET); and
(b)  to regulate VET using:
(i)  a standards‑based quality framework; and
(ii)  risk assessments, where appropriate; and
(c)  to protect and enhance:
(i)  quality, flexibility and innovation in VET; and
(ii)  Australia’s reputation for VET nationally and internationally; and
(d)  to provide a regulatory framework that encourages and promotes a VET system that is appropriate to meet Australia’s social and economic needs for a highly educated and skilled population; and
(e)  to protect students undertaking, or proposing to undertake, Australian VET by ensuring the provision of quality VET; and
(f)  to facilitate access to accurate information relating to the quality of VET.

A common misconception in the industry is that ASQA exists to protect and promote quality in the sector, however, the act clearly outlines, it exists to protect and enhance quality, it exists to provide national consistency in its decisions, it exists to encourage and promote a VET system that provides quality, flexibility and innovation.

Is this really happening?

ASQA has obligations to be consistent irrespective of whether they are regulating a public education provider or a private education provider. The legislation does not differentiate between the two. Australians need confidence that the regulation of Vocational Education and Training sector is effective, evidence-based, comprehensive, consistent and coherent.

 Overall, as industry representatives and stakeholders we are all interested in getting the following information from the VET regulatory body:

Please note: This is not a comprehensive list, many more could be added.

Support and information for training organisations 

  1. What support is ASQA providing to training organisations? It is clearly stated in email templates and verbally, that ASQA is “not a consultancy firm but a regulator”. So, let’s discuss what the role of a regulator in the education and training sector is.  Is it  to provide the required assistance for businesses to be successful, student-focused and quality education and training providers?

  2. Who audits ASQA’s website? When is the information published reviewed? It is full of contradictions, errors and conflicting information. Who ensures the content and information ASQA has on its website aligns with the regulatory standards and legislative instruments. Let’s look at one critical example:

Validation requirements for training organisations explained in ASQA’s frequently asked questions:

How many units per qualification should be validated?

At least two units from each qualification must be validated; however, your RTO may choose to validate more if validation of the two units identifies risks or a potential harm to learners who may not have met the required assessment outcomes, inconsistent assessment judgements have been made by assessors or assessment has not been conducted in accordance with the Principles of Assessment or the Rules of Evidence.

WIll this meet legislative requirements? Let’s now look into what is the requirement under the standards.

Clause 1.10

“each training product is validated at least once every five years, with at least 50 percent of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle, taking into account the relative risks of all of the training products on the RTO’s scope of registration, including those risks identified by the VET regulator.”

So, how will 50% of training products be validated in three years if a qualification has for e.g.  22 units and you validate 2 units based upon the advice of the VET Regulatory Body?

ASQA Audits 

  1. What kind of rigour is used to review the documents and information provided to ASQA during the audits? Who checks the documents during the desk audit? Are these auditor or ASQA officers making the decisions? What checklists or criteria do they have to check the information?

  2. There was a case where ASQA officers could not read the name of the RTO staff from their own audit report and internal documents and refused an RTO application. How this is possible? What actions have been taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

  3. How can ASQA review the documents of an organisation, find them compliant in writing, approve them for providing training and then six months later, after the initial audit, shut them down or use sanctions to disadvantage the RTO? How can that be possible? If ASQA made a mistake at initial audit then who should be held responsible? If ASQA made mistakes at following audits then where is the consistency in the system?

Rectifications and reconsideration 

  1. Why is ASQA is relying on AAT to solve the problems using valuable tax payer money? Take into consideration the number of decisions that have been resolved between the training organisation and ASQA, set aside or affirmed each year?

  2. Why have rectifications and reconsiderations no longer been allowed? Especially when there are a number of conciliation and reconciliation meetings that happen during the Administrative Appeals Tribunal process. Is this process put in place to drain training organisations financially and emotionally?

Conflict of Interest 

  1. How can an auditor, who is representing a Government body, not a private regulatory body, be allowed to work in an organisation they have been auditing after only six month gap?

  2. How can consultants be allowed to become auditors and then again go back to work as consultants in the sector and then again be engaged by ASQA?

  3. If there is a “fit and proper person requirements” for training representatives and high managerial agents, what requirements are applicable for ASQA officers and auditors? A number of these officers have been part of training organisations, either as consultants or employees, that have been closed down and had critical non-compliances and unfavorable compliance outcomes.

  4. Why are government officers allowed to provide consultancy services to RTOs? WHen and where do we draw the line for a conflict of interest?

ASQA Audit Practices 

  1. Why does ASQA not allow its audits to be recorded? If audits are conducted in a compliant professional manner then what is the problem? We strongly encourage all audits be allowed to be recorded.

  2. Why are comments outside of the scope of audit allowed to be made during audits?

  3. How is ASQA ensuring procedural fairness and transparency in its decisions?

  4. What risk management approach is ASQA using? After eight years, it appears that the core issues of the VET training system have still not been solved.

  5. Why there is no consistency, parameters and timelines in terms of when training representatives are audited and provided with audit reports?

  6. Are ASQA audit practices auditor-centred, rather than system-centred? Are auditors auditing outside the regulatory framework and guidelines?

Audit Reporting 

  1. Why are all audit reports not available on ASQA’s website?

Privacy and confidentiality 

  1. Why is ASQA allowed to circulate incorrect information and documents about consultants and RTO staff in the sector is direct conflict with privacy and confidentiality laws?

VET accredited course leads the way

There are two different kinds of training products delivered by registered training organisations (RTOs) within the VET industry: training packages and VET accredited courses. 

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA):  

“A VET accredited course has been assessed by ASQA as compliant with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 and the Australian Qualifications Framework AQF)” 

Accreditation is formal confirmation that the course: 

  • is nationally recognised

  • meets an established industry, enterprise, educational, legislative or community need

  • provides appropriate competency outcomes and a satisfactory basis for assessment

  • meets national quality assurance requirements

  • is aligned appropriately to the AQF where it leads to a qualification.

VET accredited courses are intended to offer training in new and evolving technologies and techniques, not covered by the training packages. VET accredited courses are intended and created by stakeholders in the sector and can be created and endorsed much faster than the training packages.

Such is the case of the recent VET accredited course by ASQA: 10747NAT Advanced Diploma of Blockchain. The time the application being deemed complete by ASQA to a decision being made on the application was approximately 10 weeks.

Developed by Blockchain Collective, it’s the first blockchain course to be accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), making it Australia’s first formal, nationally recognised, accredited blockchain course. 

If you have identified a need for nationally recognised training not covered by a training package, a VET accredited course could be an option.

VET accredited courses must comply with Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 and Users’ guide to the Standards for VET Accredited Courses if you are submitting your application to Australian Skills Quality Authority for the approval process. 

Once a course has been accredited, it is listed on the national register for training in Australia: You can use this website to check if a course is accredited by typing in the course code. 

If you need any assistance with preparing and lodging an application of an accredited course, please do not hesitate to contact us.

VET Delivery to Secondary School Students

Vocational Training offers learners the chance to gain the required knowledge and skills to work effectively in the workplace and be part of the workforce. Vocational education and training (VET) provide this opportunity through industry-developed training packages or accredited courses while learners are still studying at school. 

These courses are usually delivered in years 10, 11 and/or 12 (Depending upon when students commence the course). The duration of these programs is usually run over one or two years. 

Once a learner is assessed in accordance with nationally accepted standards, the qualification is awarded in full or partial by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

It is crucial to remember that the VET qualifications provided to secondary school learners are recognised nationally, and treated as equal to the VET qualification delivered in non-school settings, and held in accordance with the same quality standards. 

VET self-assessment tool for schools

The self-assessment tool is designed to assist schools plan, implement and review vocational education and training (VET) programmes that offer nationally recognised qualifications from industry-developed training packages or accredited courses. It can be used by schools across all educational sectors to evaluate and improve the quality of VET delivery and can be applied to individual VET programmes or form part of a whole-school approach to review VET delivered to secondary students.

The self-assessment tool is designed to be used by both experienced VET practitioners and those new to delivering VET to identify areas requiring improvement and support actions to enhance the quality of VET programmes. The tool provides guidance on good practice and directs users to support information and resources based on responses against each section. 

It is available to download and read here 

Information to training organisation’s to deliver a quality Vocational Education and Training [VET] course to Secondary Students 

  1. Choose a course that provides clear career pathways to the students to develop their industry-specific skills and make them ‘job ready’ in their industry 

  2. They must get practical skills and an understanding of a real workplace environment and what can be expected from them. 

  3. Make sure all your training and assessment materials are of high-quality, compliant and student-focused. 

  4. Organisations must comply with the third-party agreement requirements, according to their regulatory body  

  5. It should include “Structured Work Placement – SWP” to offer real-life training and work experience. 

  6. Provide credit into an apprenticeship by reducing the amount of trade training required and in some instances, reduce the duration of an apprenticeship.

In Victoria, for example, VETDSS (VET Delivered to Secondary Students), previously known as VET in Schools (VETiS), enables the students to gain practical, industry-related skills by combining their senior school studies with a Vocational Education and Training (VET) program.

VETDSS programs:

  • May be undertaken alongside, or as part of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL), or a School-Based Apprenticeship/Traineeship (SBAT)

  • Are approved by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

  • Are recognised within the Units 1-4 structure of Years 11 and 12

  • Can contribute towards satisfactory completion of the VCE. 

School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships

  • School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs) enable students to combine a senior secondary school certificate with part-time employment and training.

  • Like other apprentices and trainees, a school-based apprentice or trainee must have a training contract with an employer and are paid for their work by the employer.

  • School-based apprentices or trainees must be over 15 years old and enrolled in a VCE or VCAL program.

  • The secondary school must acknowledge and endorse a training plan to ensure the training will contribute appropriately to their secondary school studies.

If you need any assistance or have any questions, please feel free to approach us and we will guide you in the right direction.

VET & Higher Education –Two Pillars Of One Tertiary System

With the Australian Government’s recent and welcome focus on Vocational Education and Training (VET), some stakeholders have seen this as a pitch against the value of the higher education system. When the Prime Minister said “VET is as good as uni” he was simply saying what is self-evident, that for different people, for different employers and at different stages in our economic cycle, VET and higher education are of equal importance.

It was with this understanding that we transitioned to the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) back in May 2019. It was a move that allows quality independent providers to take a leadership role, to highlight their important function in providing the education and skills that students and their employers are looking for. Whether it be in manufacturing, human services, business administration, construction, agriculture, aviation and a great many other sectors, ITECA members have a track record of delivering in-demand qualifications across both VET and higher education.

The Australian Financial Review carries an editorial under the heading “Uni growth must no longer come at the cost of trades training”. It argues that universities provide a wonderful and fulfilling education for many people. But, that should not come at the expense of the funding and administration of trades training. It, by implication, questions the fundamental approach of many secondary school careers advisors that pushes students to the university and often places a VET education as the second-best option.  Immediately after the article was published, some academics posted on social media comments that the editorial was an attack on the higher education system, a rather unfortunate manifestation of the ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ principle. What the editorial simply highlighted is that VET and higher education can sit comfortably side by side.

As ITECA works with the Australian government and its state/territory counterparts, it argues for the reforms that will break-down the separation of Australia’s tertiary education system. ITECA’s view is that it should operate as one system with two pillars – VET and higher education – that retain their separate identities. This requires us to look as a nation as to whether VET and higher education genuinely need their own regulator and their own funding system. An integrated tertiary education system will put students at the centre, realising that in the twenty-first century many workers will alternate between VET and higher education throughout their careers. 

Some key stakeholders have wondered whether an integrated tertiary education system is possible, arguing that providers simply couldn’t straddle both VET and higher education comfortably. It’s here that ITECA members have provided leadership to show what can be achieved. The greatest number of dual-sector institutions are independent providers with a strong track record of providing students and their employers with the quality outcomes they are looking for.

ITECA’s task in this debate is clear. With the support of our members, we’ll showcase the excellence of independent providers and the exceptional students that graduate from the system. Importantly, using the experience of our members we’ll advocate for the reforms that will reduce the red tape that plagues the system. 

As the Prime Minister said, VET is as good as uni, and it’s ITECA’s members in both the VET and higher education sector that show the nation why this is the case.

Troy Williams, 

ITECA Chief Executive


Note: the article has been published with permission from the ITECA Chief Executive. The article was first published at

Private registered training organisations vs Public providers

Please note: We have a number of TAFE and Government providers as our clients, and the reason for publishing this article is not to damage them or their reputation. All facts mentioned in this article are facts that have been established through reports. The main aim is to look into why the regulatory body is treating training organisations differently and inconsistently. 

In training organisation world, there seems to be discrepancies in how a private training organisation and a government provider are audited and treated.  There can be many reasons, but we have looked at the information available and thought we would share this with you.

Our research includes information about the importance of private training organisations to Australia, statistics and data from reliable sources such as NCVER, Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and other government and research bodies. 

Let’s look into the statistics and find out what has happened in the sector, the positives and negatives and where we are heading.

Private training organisations in Australia 

The number and type of providers delivering vocational education and training (VET) in Australia are almost as varied as the types of students they serve and the training they deliver. 

Private training providers are a very diverse group, covering adult/community providers, enterprise-based providers, industry organisations, commercial training organisations and other private providers. Private training providers offer a wide range of accredited and non-accredited VET courses across the full range of the Australian Qualifications Framework. Many deliver in only one state/territory. As well as their course offerings, many private training providers also provide a wide range of student services. Training is largely delivered face to face. 

Private registered training providers have an important role to play in offering diversity, equity and specialised training services across the sector. Private training providers make a substantial financial and economical contribution to the overall VET effort in Australia. 

What the current statistics are saying about VET sector 

In 2018, there was approximately 4.4 million enrolments in training and almost 2.9 million students (71.3%) were enrolled in nationally recognised training with a private training provider,  777,100 (19.1%) at a TAFE institute, 481,200 (11.8%) at a community education provider, 116,600 (2.9%) at an enterprise provider, 105,100 (2.6%) at a school and 69,200 (1.7%) at a university. 

Note:  The sum of students (n=4.4 million in 2018) will not add to the 2018 total (4.1 million) as a student may have enrolled in training with multiple provider types in a calendar year.

~ Australian vocational education and training statistics, Total VET students and courses 2018, NCVER 

For nationally recognised total VET qualifications started in 2017 the data shows that by training provider type, programs delivered by enterprise providers, schools and private training providers have the highest national estimated projected qualification completion rates. Enterprise providers 60%, schools 55% and private training providers 51% 

~ A clearer view of the total VET landscape is emerging, Media release, 28 August 2019, NCVER 

According to Australia’s Digital Pulse 2019– ACS’ latest annual investigation into the state of Australia’s IT sector – 100,000 more tech workers are still needed by 2024. 

How do we do that when there’s a massive decline of almost 12,000 technology subject enrolments between 2016 and 2017 in the vocational education and training sector?  

~ Australia still needs another 100,000 tech workers by 2024.  Sep 05 2019

 click here 

Misinformation and inconsistencies 

The number of  private training organisations that have been closed down has increased.  Decisions such as sanctions and cancellations, naming private RTOs through their website,  cases referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, show that an increased numbers of private training organisations are being deemed as not following regulatory and legislative requirements and failing audits. This is happening more frequently than for TAFE and other public training organisations. 

We  reviewed ASQA’s own Annual Report 2017-2018 and found the following facts: 

  • In 2017-2018 ASQA finalised 118 reconsideration applications. ASQA overturned its own regulatory decisions 50% of the time. 139 applications made it to a tribunal or court with 59 closed and 115 applications carried into 2018-19. Please refer here 

  • The private training organisations appealing ASQA decisions through courts and tribunals increased from 29 in 2015 to 139 in 2018. This was the result of ASQA removing the compliance and regulatory step of allowing the training providers to submit further rectification evidence. 

  • An increasing number of AAT reviews has had a negative impact on the availability of auditors. The federal budget funding increase will contribute to managing reviews of ASQA’s regulatory decisions, particularly those where applications are submitted to the AAT.  Is removing a compulsory compliance improvement step and spending unnecessary time and money in Administrative Appeals Tribunal wasting taxpayers’ money? 

Same sector, same regulatory body, different rules 

One of the most questions that the industry is currently asking is, why are there different rules? Should the expectation of quality training and assessment not be the same regardless of where a student enrols?

Questions raised:  

Our observation is that noTAFE or public education body has been cancelled since ASQA took power but over 660 private training providers have been.

Interview: Tamara Simon: Australia’s Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach from ‘Take Another Look’.

Here is a copy of our interview with Tamara Simon – Australia’s Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach.


Tamara Simon is the Australia’s Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach who knows the key to RTO success lies in your Business Strategy, People Performance and Systems Simplification.

Tamara has taken countless RTO CEOs, RTO Managers and RTO Owners from feeling stuck and burnt out to getting back in control with simple solutions because she is all about the HOW!.

With over 20 years experience in VET, change management and business improvement including being FITAB’s CEO, Tamara’s down to earth yet straight talking attitude provides her coaching clients and audience members with practical and fun ways to manage a simple profitable RTO business which everyone actually loves.

Tamara has written the first and only business book specifically for RTOs:  The Five Little RTO Pigs, and has developed Australia’s only 12 week webinar PD Program for anyone running or aspiring to run an RTO called RTO Grow.  She also hosts her monthly RTO Conversations Webinars where she chats with one of her 3 industry specialists (Compliance, Finance and Marketing) to provide RTOs with tips to build, manage and grow a profitable RTO business.

Her leadership and management expertise was recognised as a Finalist in the Queensland Telstra Business Women’s Awards and the Institute of Managers and Leaders (was AIM)’s Excellence Awards.

She loves sport including AFL, netball and tennis; and she is a passionate member of the Hawthorn AFL Football Club.


Contact Details:

Take Another Look

0438 262 727



Tamara, in a nutshell, what has been your experience of working in the training and education industry? 

For over 20 years, I’ve been working in what I call ‘RTO Land’ – firstly as an auditor and developer/implementer of Training Packages within the old ITAB environment which is now the SSOs which included being CEO of the Qld Forest Industries ITAB.

I also worked with Education Queensland and was the industry representative with a team of teachers when School-based Apprenticeships and Traineeships were first introduced in Qld.  My role was to help RTOs and Schools understand their roles inside and outside the school gate, as well as helping DET determine the funding model and processes for the three education sectors.

I have then run a number of RTOs and held every position (RTO CEO, RTO Manager, Compliance Manager and Trainer/Assessor).  I have also been a Velg Training Presenter and Compliance Consultant.

Since 2002, I have run my own small business which has 2 business brands:  Business Scene Investigation for small business owners, and Take Another Look for RTOs.

What is the purpose of Take Another Look and how can a training organisations benefit?

As a Speaker, Author and Coach, I helps anyone running (or aspiring to run) an RTO – be it Owner, CEO or Manager; and take them from feeling overwhelmed, burnt out and STUCK to SIMPLE SOLUTIONS which helps them better manage their day, their team and their RTO.

Why? Because I know there are so many fabulous RTOs out there doing great training and upskilling our workforce BUT unfortunately, they are not always running great businesses.  And if you run an expensive hobby instead of a simple profitable RTO business, no matter how good your training is, your business won’t survive.

And this happens because most people running RTOs are great at training but don’t always have the skills and knowledge to do all the other essential functions…. Strategy, Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR and Systems.

And without the business fundamentals of:

  • Time Management

  • Business Strategy

  • People Performance

  • Systems Simplification

the RTO becomes a place of:

  • Frustration

  • Confusion and

  • Overwhelm

Not only for those managing the RTO, but the staff and students as well.

So I help RTOs through:

  • Coaching sessions – either one on one or group sessions – to provide accountability, support and clarity from someone who understands and gets ‘RTO Land’

  • Professional Development – to help you manage the business side of the RTO, I have developed my RTO GROW 12 week webinar program (self paced) which provides the business fundamentals and templates needed to get you and your RTO back on track; as well as other free and paid webinars

  • Author – The Five Little RTO Pigs is the first and only RTO business book

  • Speaker – Keynote and Workshop for conferences as well as inhouse PD

What do you think are the main threats to training organisations in the current environment? 

The shift in the buyer’s mindset – students and organisations want short sharp training which immediately provides a return on investment (profitability and productivity).  They think short term so qualifications which take 12 months or more to complete sounds too long – they want quick outcomes NOW.

The change in training delivery methods – we are seeing a reduction in people paying to attend face to face workshops, conferences etc.  Online delivery via webinars, Zoom sessions etc provides a more cost effective option where people can undertake training at a time and place they want, rather than wasting time and money travelling and losing a day or two out of their business.

RTOs need to start thinking of their businesses as a training business which offers both accredited and professional development training to solve the problems of their clients.  Training is an outcome and not a product. It shouldn’t be an all or nothing approach – accredited training only because nothing else is good enough.

As an industry leader, what are your views on how we can improve the vocational education and training sector in Australia?

  1. I believe RTOs need to decide if they want to remain in a regulated space ie accredited training, and if they do, then stop whingeing about regulation.  It will probably always be there. I’ve been through at least 5 changes in standards since I started in VET in 1996. Can it be improved? Sure but it is a known space RTOs enter when you CHOOSE to deliver accredited training.  My mantra to RTOs is ‘if you don’t like compliance and don’t like change, then don’t work for an RTO or be one’. Why? Because you chose this space so embrace it and integrate it into your business operations instead of it driving you.

  2. RTOs need to look at their business models to ensure they have multiple income streams to ensure financial viability.  When more than 70% of your income is dependent on government funding, then your RTO is at financial risk.

  3. RTOs need to start listening to their clients (and potential clients) to see if accredited training is actually the outcome they want to solve the problem.  My personal view is unless you offer training which is required as part of a licensing requirement (eg first aid, trades, childcare, aged care), then people will start looking at alternatives – be it in Australia, overseas or online to meet their needs.  Case in point. I don’t need a business qualification to run a small business. Not everyone wants or needs the piece of paper but that doesn’t mean they don’t invest in professional development. They do but now it’s around business coaching, marketing, sales, social media etc.  And this training provides immediate results which increases the bottom line. Lots of people want the content and strategies but don’t want the hassle of having to undertake assessment. You have to determine what value assessment and accredited training provides to the end user – and the answer of ‘because it’s quality’ is not enough of a reason.  I do lots of professional development including having a Business Coach and I absolutely gain quality training but it’s not accredited nor does it need to be.

  4. I would like to see the Trainer/Assessor qualification simplified so it meets the needs of business operations.  I believe the current TAE is for a more experienced Trainer and Assessor who is skilled or wants to be skilled in development of training material, assessments and validation.  I believe this is a Senior Trainer and Assessor role within the business and everyone doesn’t have to have these skills, at least not initially because as we know, like any job, it takes time for anyone to become a competent trainer and assessor.

    I believe most RTOs need great Trainers and Assessors who hold the Presenter and Assessor Skill set – who are good at their technical skills, and gain the knowledge to get up in front of students and impart that knowledge succinctly – by following the approved training material (Trainer).  And then they understand the key elements of assessment and can follow a Marking Guide to conduct fair, valid and reliable assessments (Assessor).

  5. My concern by making the TAE qualification such a high entry level is we are making it too hard for people with great industry knowledge and expertise to come off the tools and impart this knowledge and experience to the next generational workforce.  We are already seeing the impact of the current TAE requirements by how difficult it is in the trades sector to get qualified trainers.

So I believe the biggest challenge for RTOs is how they ‘sell’ their relevance to an ever changing buyer who is only looking at the short term (3-12 months at the most).

Australia has a tech explosion, but there is a lack of workers and facilities

Australian workers could make thousands of dollars more every year by leaving their current work and reskilling in the technology sector, a new study has disclosed. Australia will have an extra 100,000 technology jobs in five years time, as the digital sector ramps up its contribution to economic growth. But local IT graduates and skilled migrants alone aren’t expected to meet the rising demand for technology workers.

The findings have emerged in the Australian Computer Society’s annual stocktake of the nation’s digital workforce and economy, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics.

An estimated 100,000 new IT roles will be created by 2024, bringing the total to approximately 792,000, said the Australia’s Digital Pulse 2019 report commissioned by the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

While retraining into the IT industry can give the average Australian worker an increase in the salary of $11,000, the country is expected to fight to find workers who can handle the upcoming tsunami, warned the report.

There has been a decrease in the stake in IT in the industry of Vocational Education and Training (VET), with 11,875 IT subjects enrolled between 2016 and 2017.

University completions in technology grew significantly over the same era to just under 6000. 

The ACS chairman Yohan Ramasundara said, “Meeting the voracious demands for more technology workers and increased investments from Australia’s businesses will be a huge challenge.”

Over the next five years, the four leading sectors expected to account for 66.4 percent of total employment growth are: 

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Construction
  • Education and Training

Reference: AAP