How to ensure your training organisation is compliant with government regulations

If you’re running a vocational education and training organisation in Australia, you need to ensure that your organisation is compliant with government regulations. This article will outline some of the regulations that you need to be aware of, and provide tips on how to ensure compliance.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET) in Australia. They work according to set regulatory standards for quality education and training and their role is to ensure training organisations meet these standards. ASQA is the regulatory body for vocational education and training in the following states and territories:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania

These jurisdictions are referred to as referring states and territories since they delegated their regulatory authority to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) in 2011-12. Victoria and Western Australia are referred to as non-referring states because they have not yet delegated their regulatory authority to the federal government. ASQA is also in charge of regulating all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that provide courses to international students studying in Australia on student visas, regardless of where the RTO is based.

ASQA is responsible for regulating the quality of vocational education and training. ASQA audits training organisations to ensure they are complying with the VET Quality Framework and can take enforcement action if they find any non-compliance.

It governs RTOs in accordance with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 and approved courses in accordance with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012.

For more information, please visit About us | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA)

In Victoria, the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority (VRQA) is the regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET), and it is in charge of the following:

  • Training organisations that only provide training to domestic students in victoria.
  • Accrediting courses, but only if the course is operated by the Victorian government or if the course owner is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been registered with VRQA.

VRQA regulates RTOs in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) – Essential Conditions and Standards for Continuing Registration and the VRQA Guidelines for VET Providers, and it regulates courses in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework AQTF 2007 Standards for Accredited Courses.

For more information, please visit VRQA

Training Accreditation Council – Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Training Accreditation Council (TAC) is the regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET), and it is in charge of the following:

  • Training organisations that only provide training to domestic students in Western Australia.
  • Accrediting courses, but only if the course is operated by the Western Australian government or if the course owner is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been registered with TAC.

TAC regulates RTOs in accordance with Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015, and it regulates courses in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework AQTF 2007 Standards for Accredited Courses.

For more information, please visit Training Accreditation Council

Non-compliance with the regulatory standards and guidelines

If your organisation is non- compliant with the applicable standards and regulations, you could face penalties, such as fines or being shut down. Here are some important tips on how to stay compliant:

1. Make sure you’re registered with the appropriate regulatory body

The first step is to make sure your organisation is registered with the appropriate regulatory body. This means your organisation has met the minimum standards required to be registered and can offer courses that are nationally recognised.

If you’re not registered, you won’t be able to offer any nationally recognised courses and you will also face penalties if you are caught doing this.

2. Follow the General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools

The regulatory bodies release a set of guidelines that organisations must follow in order to stay compliant. The General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools cover everything from governance and management to teaching and assessment practices.

Make sure you’re familiar with the General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools and are following their instructions and guidelines closely. This will help ensure your organisation meets the standards set by the regulatory bodies.

For more information, please visit Resources for providers | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

3. Keep your records up to date

One of the most important things you can do to stay compliant is to keep your records up to date. This includes keeping track of your student’s progress, as well as your organisation’s administration, reporting, finances and governance.

The regulatory body may request to see your records at any time, so it’s important that they’re accurate and up to date. Failing to provide requested records or providing inaccurate records can lead to penalties.

4. Meet all quality assurance requirements

To make sure your organisation is delivering quality education and training, you need to meet all quality assurance requirements. This includes having systems in place to monitor and improve the quality of your courses.

You should also conduct regular reviews of your courses and make sure they’re being delivered effectively. If the regulatory body finds that your organisation isn’t meeting quality assurance requirements, you could face penalties or adverse consequences.

You must have structured audit and compliance processes in place to ensure you stay compliant with all regulatory requirements and guidelines. Having access to an independent auditor is always beneficial from a compliance perspective.

For more information, please visit Registered Training Organisation | TEQSA Standard Resources | CAQA

5. Respond to the audits

The regulatory body may audit your organisation at any time to make sure your orgnisation is compliant with all applicable guidelines and regulations. During an audit, they’ll request to see your records and talk to your staff. They may also observe your training and assessment practices and resources.

It’s important to cooperate with the regulatory body during an audit and provide them with everything they need. Failing to do so could lead to penalties.

For quality training and assessment resources, please visit CAQA Resources

6. Compliance calendars and registers

Keep compliance calendars and registers that provide you information related to:

  • When to conduct training and administration activities
  • Meeting ongoing auditing and regulatory compliance
  • Information related to meetings with different team members and departments such as enrollment, marketing, training and so on.

7. Understand the quality framework that you operate under

Familiarise yourself with the VET Quality Framework and other applicable standards and guidelines to make sure your organisation meets all the standards.

Note: Your RTO must comply with all legislation and regulations it operates under such as (but not limited to):

  • The Work Health and Safety act
  • The Discrimination Act
  • The Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
  • The Working with Children Act 2005
  • National Police Check
  • The Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
  • The Student Identifiers Act 2014
  • The Copyright Act 1968
  • The Public Records Act 1973

For more information, please visit Complying with legislation | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

8. Focus on personal and professional development

Focussing on personal and professional development is key to keeping your organisation compliant. Employees need to be able to constantly update their skillset, and be confident in their ability to carry out their roles. Training is a vital part of this process and should be tailored specifically to your workforce.

9. Follow what you say you are doing or going to do

Once you have a good understanding of the National Standards, you need to develop policies and procedures that ensure your organisation meets these standards. Your policies and procedures should be tailored to your specific organisation and should be reviewed and updated regularly. It is also important to keep up to date with any changes to the legislation. ASQA’s website is a great resource for information on any changes to the National Standards. By staying informed of any changes, you can ensure that your policies and procedures are always up to date and compliant.

10. Communicate the requirements to all staff members

It is critical that all staff members are aware of the requirements set by the government. This includes understanding what is required of them in terms of their behaviour and responsibilities.
If staff members are not adequately informed about the requirements, it can lead to your organisation being non-compliant. This can have serious consequences, such as heavy fines or even the loss of your licence to operate.

Communicate the requirements to all staff members on a regular basis and make sure that new staff members are given this information as soon as they start working for your organisation.
Following these strategies will help to ensure that your training organisation is compliant.

Resource Validation Services: Why outsourcing can be a great option

Following the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2020, ASQA has made a significant upgrade to the architecture of the vocational education and training (VET) sector and its approach.

The rapid change roadmap includes strengthening ASQA’s strategic stakeholder engagement and education to build provider capacity for self-assurance.

In line with this new approach, ASQA has shifted its regulatory approach into practical engagement with providers. Five best practice principles underpin this method – one of them being a focus on self-assurance, i.e., to support the quality of RTOs through their self-assurance.

Thanks to ASQA’s new blueprint, more than any time ever, ASQA is driving engagement and cooperative relationships with RTOs and promoting and building a shared understanding of self-assurance and excellence in training outcomes.

In a working paper issued in April 2021 under the title “Approach to Assessing Performance”, ASQA has made it clear that the performance assessment (the new language for auditing) will mainly focus on self-assurance. The paper also clarifies that ASQA’s increased focus will be on clause 2.2 of the Standards for RTOs. In other words, RTOs existence will depend on their validation and the self-assurance attested through their validation practice.

In light of ASDA’s new approach to self-assurance, validation has become the centre of gravity of compliance. Having such clear communication by ASQA, the ball is in the RTO’s court.

What is self-assurance and clause 2.2, and why is validation in the centre?

Self-assurance refers to the way the RTO’s operations are managed to ensure a focus on quality, continuous improvement and ongoing compliance. In contrast, Clause 2.2 systematically monitors training and assessment strategies and practices to ensure continued compliance.

Both are centred at one point – Validation. The best way to systematically evaluate and use the outcomes of the evaluations to continually improve the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices is through evaluation information collected under clauses 1.9, 1.10, and 7.5, validation outcomes, client, trainer and assessor feedback and complaints and appeals.

It is for obvious reasons that in 2020, ASQA identified the following clauses of concern in its regulatory strategy, which are directly related to lack of thorough validation:

1.8 implement effective assessment systems
1.1 have appropriate training and assessment strategies and practices, including the amount of training
1.3 have the resources to provide quality training and assessment, including sufficient trainers and assessors, learning resources, support services, equipment and facilities
3.1 AQF certification is issued only where the learner has been assessed as meeting training product requirements
1.2 appropriate amount of training is provided, taking account of the learner’s skills, knowledge, and experience and mode of delivery.

Time and history have repeatedly testified that RTOs do not focus on validation; hence, more than 60% of RTOs have their assessment tools deemed non-compliant..

There are very few, if any, who have not been handed a dreaded report by ASQA, a non-compliant report. The two common non-compliance that consistently turns up in audit reports are the Training and Assessment Strategy and the Assessment tools – the latter being the top non-compliance.

The main reason for the above is the lack of conducting appropriate validations and ensuring compliance with Clause 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11 of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations.

These clauses relate to the requirements for assessment validation, including the need to have an assessment validation plan, meet minimum validation benchmarks and conduct it in a way that ensures its validity and integrity

ASQA has identified systemic risks in the following qualifications: Equine, Security, Early Childhood Education and Care, Aged and Community Care, Construction (white card training) and Training and Education (TAE). ASQA advises that for Clause 1.10, training products in these areas may need to be validated more frequently.

Despite ASQA’s reminders that assessment validation is a vital tool for providers seeking to get the best results from training and assessment systems, many RTOs are not clear about validation’s role in ASQA’s performance assessment process.

The price tag that comes with the 1.8 non-compliance is dire because if the RTO is found to have non-compliance in 1.8, that will by default trigger non-compliance in 3.1 as non-compliance in 1.8 means issuing AQF certification where the learner has NOT been assessed as meeting training product requirements.

The result is a recall of all students who have participated in the unvalidated assessment tool and revoking their qualifications.

But why do RTOs fail the validation audit when they think they have validated their assessment tools?

There are several factors. The main reason is that not many RTOs realise that the compliance requirements that RTOs face when conducting validation are more complex than many understand or acknowledge.

Validation is more than:

  • Having a checklist that ticks and flicks,
  • Having a compliance officer that signs the signature boxes
  • Having a validation schedule that never materialises.
  • Finding consultants who are happy to endorse any validation without worrying about professional and ethical obligations and the RTOs risks.

So, the questions are:

  • How do you ensure that training and assessment strategies align with training package requirements?
  • How do you ensure that practices align with training and assessment strategies?
  • How have the outcomes of industry engagement been incorporated into your strategies and practice?
  • How do you know, from an organisation perspective, that you issue a qualification to a competent student?

Multiple questions, but the answer is one – organise quality-focused validation by an independent validator, who is not employed or subcontracted by the RTO and has no other involvement or interest in the operations of the RTO.

Validation requires systematic processes and ethical and pragmatic components to compliance. It requires more than an internal team to manage and maintain a positive reputation. It requires experts to decipher confusing or abstract standards and establish and integrate best validation practices. It requires engaging external validators to evaluate your training and assessments.

This is the very reason why RTOs should involve independent subject matter experts like CAQA in their validation plan and practices

Here at CAQA, our seriousness starts from our definition of Validation.

CAQA goes beyond the classical definition of validation as an assessment health check tool. We see validation as the destination of high-quality training and assessment. For us, validation is the cornerstone of high-quality training and assessment that equips students for employment or further study, and a means to success in their chosen career.

How does CAQA conduct Validation?

Our validation’s overarching vision and purpose is comprehensive and does not focus on the assessment tool only.

By engaging in the validation process, we will make sure that we:

  • Check that your assessment tools have produced valid, reliable, sufficient, current and
    authentic evidence,
  • Enable your RTO to make reasonable judgements about whether training package (or VET
    accredited course) requirements have been met
  • Review a statistically valid sample of the assessments and make recommendations for
    future improvements to the assessment tool, process and outcomes and acting upon such
    requests.
  • Ensure your assessment validation plays a vital role in ASQA’s performance assessment
    process(audit).
  • Make it an integral part of your self-assurance to achieve excellence in training outcomes,
  • Make it an integral part of the systematic monitoring procedure of your training and
    assessment strategies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard
  • Ensure it becomes routine practice to evaluate systematically and use the outcomes of the
    evaluations to continually improve training and assessment strategies and
    practices
  • Review how practice aligns with systems and how to monitor, review and improve
    techniques.
  • Align assessment practice with the requirements of the relevant Standard.
  • Ensure you own a system for ensuring ongoing compliance with the relevant Standard.
  • Ascertain a mechanism to monitor, review, and continuously improve
    (self-assurance) to ensure compliance with the relevant Standard requirements on an
    on an ongoing basis.
  • Strengthen the interaction between practice, systems and continuous improvement
  • Provide validation related professional development to management and staff to help

you manage your operations and ensure a focus on quality, continuous improvement and
ongoing compliance.


Call us on 1800 266 160 or email info@caqa.com.au to find out more. Let us bring CAQAs Validation professional team to you – don’t wait until your next audit is due.

Education standards and politics

We are all well aware that in any country, it is hard to separate politics from educational issues and standards. However, it is quite sad when politics begins to have an impact on education for a variety of negative reasons. Educational standards should be upheld at all times, but using education to score political goals, allocating funding or free-tafe in a way that best suits political agendas rather than sorting out the actual needs and requirements of the industry, approving or disapproving contractors close to politicians, preparing and approving training packages or standards that are outdated, full of errors and mistakes, not useful, and impractical create a number of issues for the industry and the general public.

As it is well recognised that politics is related with the distribution of scarce social, economic, and cultural resources to individuals, organisations, regions, and social classes, it should come as no surprise that the allocation of resources to education is impacted highly by political influences and motives.

The result of almost every educational reform since the early 2000s has been an increase in bureaucracy, a system that is always evolving to serve students while really creating a great deal of bureaucratic work for the organisations.

Ludwig von Mises believed that governments should keep out of education altogether, we are not sure if this is the solution, but we want to ensure that Australia has an education system that is:

  1. Adaptable and changes with the time
  2. Free from bad politics
  3. Free from corruption
  4. Has access to most up-to-date, state of the art technologies
  5. Support us becoming a global leader in education and training
  6. Support our infrastructure and industries
  7. Meet the needs and requirements of the stakeholders

Even if we assume that we will never be able to completely remove politics from our education system, our focus should always be on electing leaders who come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, who are committed to achieving excellence in education and training, from TAFE and private sector education, who are free of biases and judgements, and who only work to achieve excellence through developing and upholding the appropriate and suitable educational standards.


Quality Reforms

Have your say to support the delivery of high-quality training in the VET sector. Click here, skillsreform.gov.au

RPL Kits-Let’s discuss compliance with clauses 1.8 and 1.12

The legislative requirements

The legislation is very clear regarding compliance in RPL kits and why you need to have RPL Kits for every unit of competency you are training and assessing.

The legislative instrument includes the following clauses:

Assessment

1.8. The RTO implements an assessment system that ensures that assessment (including recognition of prior learning):

a) complies with the assessment requirements of the relevant training package or VET accredited course; and
b) is conducted in accordance with the Principles of Assessment and the Rules of Evidence.

1.12. The RTO offers recognition of prior learning to individual learners.

Can you refuse a student RPL

Legislation involves the preparation and enactment of laws by a legislative body through the lawmaking process that it uses to accomplish its purposes. Something written in legislation eliminates all questions and assures that everyone adheres to the requirements, regardless of whether they want to or do not want to do so. As a result, training organisations do not have the privilege of refusing recognition of prior learning to people interested to achieve a unit of competency, skill set or qualification through recognition of prior learning. They have no choice but to offer it.

What should be included in the RPL kit

The regulatory body has not approved any structure or approved a template for RPL kits, the structure of RPL kits is up for debate at this time. However, the practise has been in place as long as RPL kits have allowed the following:

  • Self-assessment should be carried out by the student in order to evaluate their knowledge and abilities.
  • In addition to previous studies – both formal (e.g., TAFE, school) and informal (– for example, community education, workplace training courses), work experience – both paid and unpaid – and life experience, evidence should be gathered from the student.
  • Direct evidence can be gathered by observation, demonstration, simulation, and role-playing, among other methods. Indirect evidence can be gathered through the use of work samples, workplace documentation, third-party reports, projects, and a Portfolio of Evidence, among other methods.
  • Third-party proof can include letters of recommendation from supervisors, team leaders, and managers, as well as evidence of the student performing duties and responsibilities.
  • The assessor guide should be designed to ensure that different assessors should reach the same judgement about a student’s competency, regardless of who is assessing the student.
  • Comprehensive mapping assessment documentation that ensures that all of the training package requirements are addressed.

How can you prepare or evaluate the quality of your RPL Kit

When preparing and developing RPL kits, be certain that they meet the specifications given in clauses 1.8 (and sections 8a and 8b).

Principles of Assessment


Fairness in Assessment:

During the assessment process, the needs of each individual student are taken into consideration.

When necessary, reasonable adjustments are made by the RTO to accommodate the specific needs of each individual student.

Learning and assessment are explained to students by the RTO, who also gives them the opportunity to contest the results of their assessments and have them evaluated if necessary.

Flexibility in Assessment:

Assessment is tailored to the needs of each individual student by:

taking into consideration the student’s needs and requirements;

It is important to evaluate the competencies held by the student, regardless of how or where they were gained.

Making use of a variety of assessment methods and selecting those that are appropriate for the situation, the unit of competency and associated assessment needs, and the individual.

Validity in Assessment:

Each and every assessment decision made by the RTO is justified in light of the evidence of the particular student’s performance.

Validity necessitates the following:

Evaluation in relation to the unit/s of competency and the accompanying assessment requirements encompasses the entire range of skills and information that are required for competent performance;

Evaluation of knowledge and abilities is done in conjunction with their practical application.

It is expected that evaluation will be based on evidence that demonstrates that a student can exhibit these abilities and knowledge in other similar contexts; and

The evaluation of learner competence is based on evidence of learner performance that is related to the unit(s) of competency, associated assessment and evaluation standards.

Reliability in Assessment:

It does not matter who assesses the assessment because the evidence supplied for evaluation should be consistently understood and the assessment outcomes are comparable.

Rules of Evidence


Validity in Assessment:

Assurance is provided to the assessor that the student possesses the skills, knowledge, and qualities indicated in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements for the module or unit of competency.

Sufficiency in Assessment:

The assessor is confident that the quality, amount, and relevance of the assessment evidence will allow a determination of a student’s competency to be made by the assessor.

Authenticity in Assessment:

The assessor is certain that the evidence submitted for assessment is the student’s own original work by ensuring that the student has completed the task.

Currency in Assessment:

When the assessor receives assurance that the assessment evidence confirms current competency, the assessment is considered complete. This necessitates the use of evaluation evidence that is either current or very recent in time.

Contact us at info@caqa.com.au for more information and the availability of RPL kits and resources.

The drop in traineeships and apprenticeships. Why is it happening?

A recent figures revealed that the federal government over the last five years has underspent close to $1 billion of its budget on TAFE, training and apprenticeships. This is on top of previous cuts.

At the same time, that these budgets cuts are happening, Australia is still experiencing critical skills shortages in several industries.  A number of experts have warned of serious effects on the Australian economy.

The report released by the Australian Industry Group can be found here: www.aigroup.com.au

It also identified: 

  • Skills shortages: 75 percent of respondents reported skills shortages in industry, a jump from 49 percent in the previous survey conducted in 2016. Shortages are most often in the technician and trades worker category, with difficulties recruiting for Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills, and new shortages for roles in business automation, Big Data and artificial intelligence solutions.

  • Literacy and Numeracy: 99 percent of employers (up from 96 per cent in 2016) are affected in some way by low levels of literacy and numeracy in their workforce. This is disturbing in a time when the workforce increasingly requires foundation skills that include not only literacy and numeracy but digital literacy and advanced soft skills.

  • Leadership and Management: employers are prioritising technology capability improvements for managers, 62 percent of whom believe a lack of leadership and management skills is having a high impact on the business (up from 56 percent in 2016). This reflects the major changes needed in the way work is done and managed as entire business processes and organisational cultures are upended in the digital economy.

At the time of its 2018 survey, Ai Group called for new approaches to education, training and re-skilling to maximise the benefits of the digital economy.

“Our survey has found major skills demand issues facing employers,” chief executive Innes Willox said.

“It provides an important gauge of employer sentiment around skill needs, education and training at a critical time for industry transformation.”

Image Source: NCVER, Apprentices and trainees 2015 December quarter

 

The number of Australians completing an apprenticeship or traineeship is lower today than it was a decade ago.

Let’s look at the apprentices and trainees data now over the last few years. 

Since 2013, according to data compiled by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), apprentice numbers have dropped by 25 to 50 percent.

The number of apprentices and trainees who commenced training in September 2013 dropped by 49.56 per cent from 71,600 to 36,115 by September 2017.

The number of apprentices and trainees who were in training during this same period dropped by 34.7 percent from 413,300 to 269,905.

Apprentice and trainee completion rates from September 2013 also dropped from 35,900 by 35.86 per cent to 23,025 by September 2017.

The figures from NCVER to the end of December 2018 show the number of apprentices and trainees who commenced training dropped from 71,600 in September 2013 to 33,760 in December 2018, representing a 52.85 per cent fall.

The number of apprentices and trainees in-training dropped from 413,300 in September 2013 to 259,385 in December 2018, resulting in a 37.24 per cent reduction during the time period.

The number of apprentices and trainees who completed their training in September 2013 dropped from 35,900 to 26,780 in December 2018.

What are the reasons for this fall in numbers? Some of the factors are: 

  • Government policies reducing the subsidised training courses offerings

  • Focusing on public education and training organisations and neglecting the private education providers

  • Too many expectations from employers and not enough rewards,

  • No effective education and training reforms No or less engagement of group training organisations

  • Too much bureaucracy and paperwork

  • Ineffective In-School VET programs

  • Few Multi-Industry Pre-Apprenticeship programs

  • A regulator that does not understand the changing needs of the time and learners or

  • A mix of all these factors? 

We believe the more investment in the public and private training and education organisations and policy and regulatory changes are the only ways to move forward.

 

Where are we going and why are we here?

If you have followed the recent discussion on social media ASQA’s practices, RTO closures, TAFE non-compliance, rorting of government funding (by now this is historical data being republished) it is one thing that stands out; students are not part of the discussion.

How did we arrive where we are at this point in time?

ASQA was set up in 2011 by the Labor Government. ASQA is completely independent and ASQA’s practices and existence can only be changed with a change of legislation. There is no doubt that some ASQA officers and auditors have acted outside their guidelines and that in the great “culling” of numbers many good RTOs have been closed down as well as some RTOs with really bad practices.  

It is, however, a bit of a surprise to see large non-compliant RTOs with bad practices come back from the brink of death and be resurrected.  Even after there have been clear breaches of the law and involvement of AFP somehow there has been survival eg. Is it because of enough money put in the right places miracles do happen?

Many TAFE`s have been found to be non-compliant in their practices and even now we hear stories from trainers who have been asked to deliver training at TAFE`s who require the trainer to “make up” their own training and assessment material. The recent promotion for apprenticeships where the picture shows a blatant disregard for basic WHS for a person working at heights did not paint a positive picture of how the VET system works.

There is no doubt that the move from employing full-time and part-time trainers to contractor positions has undermined the quality of the VET system. No job security, no annual leave, no super, no paid public holidays, no chance of being approved for a bank loan etc has meant that many experienced people have left to go back to the industry they came from.  Simultaneously, Australia is experiencing a building boom and there is a huge shortage of experienced trainers in the traditional trades areas.

The TAE qualification has been butchered to death and currently does not produce trainers with even the most basic idea of how to educate students. Qualifications completed in the shortest possible time, with minimum industry experience and to top it off a substandard trainer qualification is not a recipe for producing engaging competent trainers. No wonder we need to produce assessment material with “model” answers. How else would the trainers know what they need to assess students against?

Fees and funding for students are linked to outcomes and completions. Regardless of where a trainer is employed, in private RTOs, Tafe or Universities trainers are pressured to sign off students as competent. The only qualifications that have kept up the standards of the graduates are the qualifications where industry keeps a tight rein on who gets licensed and who doesn’t.

As we all know, politics is everything and with enough pressure, even the ABC will pull a current story, replace it with a “rorting scandal” and dig up a story about one RTO that is over 3 years old. 

Those of us that have been around the block all know that this was not the first time government funding has been rorted. There had already been the scandal when every man and his dog was signed in to Cert III IT and traineeship funding was claimed by 100’s of employers. (Who can forget the Workskills vouchers?)  There were so many warnings before the VET-Fee help scheme was launched but no one was listening and the outcome was no surprise.

ASQA auditors have pushed training and assessment into a corner where learning material is written not to inspire and educate students but in a manner that will keep an auditor happy. To pacify auditors we make up waddles of text published on paper in an era when everything you want to know about anything is already available online and for the most part free of cost. 

We also write assessments for auditors although to this day we have yet to see a version that all auditors can agree is compliant. We have evidence to show that when six ASQA auditors validated the same assessment from 1 unit of competency in different RTOs, five of made it compliant and the sixth one didn’t.  The feedback from the six did not make sense as they all thought different parts of the assessment could be improved (how is that for consistency?) and for the same section the comment from one auditor was that there was not enough information for the student and other auditors commented on the same section saying that there was too much information. It is also incomprehensible how training and assessment material audited 2 years ago and assessed as compliant can be re-audited and be non-compliant in a training package that has not changed.

The children of Australia go through an education system where teachers tell them to do their own research, evaluate information and draw their own conclusions.  Do this and become a self-motivated life-long learner. Then we send them to do Certificate III in whatever and give them learning material for 15 units of competency when 50% of the content is repeated because that’s how the auditors want it. No wonder they don’t want to come to class. Should auditors audit learning material? Does it matter how, when and where the student has acquired the learning? 

If you are following the VET debate on social media you would know that there is a war and that the battle lines are drawn. 

But where are the students in this conversation……..

Isn’t it a fact that education and training in its traditional form is fast losing its relevance and appeal?  Is the Australian VET sector becoming a dinosaur? 

The review of ASQA called for by Minister Michaelia Cash and the current petition on the Australian Parliament website calling for an investigation of ASQA will hopefully lead to a better regulatory system. As educators in the VET sector we are all familiar with the benefits and context of continuous improvement and this should apply across the board and include ASQA. If you have not already, sign the petition now. This is your opportunity to be part of building a better VET system. 

The link for the petition can be found below:

https://www.aph.gov.au/petition_list?id=EN1129

Victorian TAFE free-for-all – is it beginning of another “Crisis”?

From January 2019, the Victorian Government will cover the cost of 30 TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeship courses. The free courses run for up to two years and include accounting, agriculture, construction, plumbing, engineering and nursing.


The free TAFE courses

Non-apprenticeship courses Apprenticeship pathway courses
Accounting, Certificate IV/Diploma/Advanced Diploma Automotive Air Conditioning Technology, Certificate II
Ageing Support, Certificate IV Automotive Body Repair Technology, Certificate II
Agriculture, Certificate II/III/IV Automotive Servicing Technology, Certificate II
Agriculture (Dairy Production), Certificate III Automotive Vocational Preparation, Certificate II
Allied Health Assistance, Certificate III/IV Construction Pathways, Certificate II
Building and Construction (Building), Certificate IV/Diploma Electrotechnology (Career start), Certificate II
Civil Construction, Certificate III Electrotechnology (Pre-vocational), Certificate II
Community Services, Certificate III/IV/Diploma Engineering Pathways, Certificate II
Concreting, Certificate III Engineering Studies, Certificate II
Construction Waterproofing, Certificate III Furniture Making, Certificate II
Dental Assisting, Certificate II/IV Glass and Glazing, Certificate II
Disability, Certificate IV Horticulture, Certificate II
Education Support, Certificate III/IV Meat Processing (Food services), Certificate II
Engineering, Certificate IV Plumbing (Pre-apprenticeship), Certificate II
Horticulture, Certificate III Printing and Graphic Arts (General), Certificate II
Hospitality, Certificate III Retail Baking Assistance, Certificate II
Individual Support, Certificate III Salon Assistant, Certificate II
Mental Health, Certificate IV Signage and Graphics, Certificate II
Diploma of Nursing
Plumbing and Services, Certificate IV

 

They will be reviewed each year to ensure they cater to community demand, with students who are already studying not eligible.

“This is the biggest overhaul of TAFE, skills and training in Victoria’s history,” Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney said.

Two new education centres will be created, including a precinct at Bendigo Kangan Institute McCrae campus ($59.9 million) and a Federation Training campus at Port of Sale in Gippsland ($25 million) while Federation Training’s Morwell campus will be transformed with $35.5 million.

Interstate and overseas students will be welcome to take advantage of Victoria’s free TAFE courses, but training sector insiders have warned the funding model may backfire.

There will be no residential restriction or other obligations for anyone wanting to study one of the courses, he confirmed on Wednesday.

“We live in a democracy, people have a free right of movement around this country and it’s not going to be this government’s intention to try and put a prohibition on that,” Mr Pallas told 3AW.

“Turn up, get yourself an education (but) the reason they’ll stay here, by the way, is there’s all this work going on, I mean $13.7 billion worth of infrastructure this year.”

He estimated an increased demand of about 30,000 places and said while some of the applicants may be from interstate, the vast majority will be Victorians.

The opposition has slammed the government for not limiting course participation to Victorians.

“(Premier Daniel Andrews’) desperate attempt to beef up student numbers by offering free training to people from overseas and interstate will come at the expense of Victorian students,” opposition training spokeswoman Steph Ryan said.

“This money should be invested to benefit Victorian workers and Victorian jobs.”

The Australian Council for Independent Education and Training said its members are annoyed about missing out on the funds and the Victorian government is risking student outcomes.

The council cited a recent TAFE “crisis” in South Australia where guaranteed funding led to substandard courses and fewer enrolments because of higher overheads.

“We have seen firsthand in South Australia that this type of approach is not in the best interest of the students,” Council chief executive Rod Camm said.

Mr Pallas, Mr Andrews and senior ministers started the post-budget sell on Wednesday with breakfasts, talkback radio, lunches and doorstops.