Hi everyone,

Many of you will be aware that offers were sent out last month for the Smart and Skilled funding contract in NSW. We have had clients contacting us constantly since the 8th October, some with elation (mainly Sydney based) and most with absolute dismay at the small allocation they have been offered. Particularly hardest hit is the greater Newcastle and Hunter region with the majority of the available funding being handed to TAFE. This is an area of traditional growth and has one of the strongest training networks in the country. Businesses which have up till now received long term consistent funding to deliver training to their communities have been devastated by funding allocations that are simply not financially viable. A client of ours that delivered funded training last year to the value of $720,000 was this year offered a contract value of $20,000. No notice given. In fact, the local State Training Service representatives gave private RTOs significant confidence leading up to the funding release which then dealt a devastating blow to their businesses.

There are numerous cases like this particularly in regional NSW which appears to have been the hardest hit. This is clearly a deliberate strategy by the NSW government to technically meet its obligations under the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform but to centralise the allocation of funding into the public providers in regional areas. Many private RTOs have already begun to layoff workers in order to survive and meet their obligations to pay employee entitlements. This will certainly not lead to greater competition and will have a severe impact on the NSW private training market. What can be done? Other than seeking representation through political channels, there is nothing that can be done. The Department has the contract so locked tight that those private RTOs affected really have no options other than to shed staff early and try and generate new revenue streams. We all accept that to survive in the training industry, you need a diversified revenue model and government contracts cannot be relied on. That’s fine, but to have such a dramatic change in a long term funding model virtually overnight is certainly not good form and will ultimately result in less specialised training providers and less choice for employers. 

Enjoy the news and good training!

Joe Newbery

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Compliance and Regulatory News

ASQA update

Information sessions for RTOs on the new standards. To coincide with the implementation of new National Standards from 1 January 2015 for new RTOs and 1 April 2015 for existing RTOs, ASQA is holding 27 information sessions in 17 metropolitan and regional cities during November.

These full-day, interactive information sessions are targeted at CEOs and Training Managers and will provide guidance on the new standards` and how ASQA will regulate against them. In addition, workshopping sessions will be held on key topics such as assessment and marketing. Read more at the following link.

VET stakeholder and consultant information sessions. ASQA has also announced that it will be holding customised information sessions on the new standards for non-RTOs, RTO consultants and advisors, and other VET sector stakeholders. See the following link.

ASQA annual report 2013-14. ASQA tabled its current annual report in Parliament on 29 October 2014. The report covers key achievements and developments for ASQA over the last financial year, including the outcomes of the first three Strategic Reviews, the continuing increase in regulatory activity, and the first stage of the implementation of ASQA’s program of VET Regulatory Reform. Access the report at the following link.

Additional funding for ASQA

The national training regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), has received allocations of an extra $68 million over four years to implement new VET Standards for training providers as well as to introduce a new professional development program.

“This is the first time ASQA has been properly funded to focus its attention on serious breaches of standards, after being forced to act as a book-keeper under the previous Labor Government,” the Minister said. See the Minister’s media release at the following link.

VET reform

New standards for training providers and regulators. If you missed the special edition of VET News regarding the newly released standards, here is the link where you can download all the new regulatory goodness!

You can also view our quick analysis of the new standards at the following link:

Training packages discussion papers. On 31 October 2014 the Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP released two discussion papers for consultation.
The first is the Industry Engagement in Training Package Development – Towards a Contestable Model Discussion Paper which seeks views and suggestions about contestable approaches to the development of training packages. It can be found at link below.

The second is the Review of Training Packages and Accredited Courses Discussion Paper which is designed to start the conversation with industry, employers, training providers and students about whether training packages and accredited courses are meeting their needs. It can be found at link below.

Industry innovation and competitiveness agenda. On 14 October 2014 the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, launched the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. The Government seeks to achieve four overarching ambitions in the Agenda:

  • A lower cost, business friendly environment with less regulation, lower taxes and more competitive markets
  • A more skilled and flexible labour force
  • Better economic infrastructure
  • Industry policy that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.

For further information on VET reform as part of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda see the factsheet at the following link.

Youth pilot programmes discussion paper. The Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane has released a discussion paper for the Industry Skills Fund – Youth Pilot Programmes, Training for Employment Scholarships and the Youth Employment Pathways. Businesses, training providers, community organisations and other groups are being encouraged to provide input on the implementation of the Training for Employment Scholarships and the Youth Employment Pathways. Read more at the following link.

Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Tender. A Request for Tender for the provision of support services through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network is now available on the Australian Government’s AusTender website at the following link.

TAC update

New standards for VET regulation. In a special bulletin on 23 October 2014 regarding the new standards, the Training Accreditation Council (TAC) has indicated that in recognition of training providers needing time to develop systems to support the new requirements, it has decided that the transition date to the new Standards will be 1 April 2015 for both prospective and existing RTOs regulated by TAC. This differs from ASQA’s approach for prospective RTOs who will need to comply with the new standards from 1 January 2014. Read the full bulletin at the following link.

VRQA update

New standards for VET regulation. The VRQA has announced that amendments to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 would be required prior to the VRQA implementing the new standards and any Victorian legislative changes will be delayed due to the November state election and the need for government to move to caretaker mode. The VRQA has advised that until the required legislative changes occur in Victoria there is no change to the Victorian regulatory arrangements for VRQA-registered RTOs. In the interim, the Australian Quality Training Framework and VRQA Guidelines for VET Providers will be retained. Read the news item at the following link.

VET fee freeze for 2015. The Minister for Higher Education and Skills, the Hon. Nick Wakeling MP, has approved a Ministerial Order to hold 2015 VET fees for VRQA-registered RTOs at 2014 levels. The freeze is a temporary measure for 2015. For more information on VRQA fees, click on the link below.

Standing application to amend scope of registration. On 18 August 2014, the Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills directed the VRQA to allow eligible RTOs to make a standing application to amend their scope of registration in certain circumstances. A standing application will authorise the VRQA to amend an RTO’s scope of registration when:

  • An amendment to a training package product already on the RTO’s scope of registration occurs; and
  • The training package product has been determined by the relevant Industry Skills Council to be equivalent to the current unit of competency or qualification it is superseding.

VRQA-registered RTOs wishing to lodge a standing application will need to complete Form E: Standing Application for Amendments to Training Packages and submit this to the VRQA. Find out more at the link below.

Strategic Plan 2014-16 and Annual Report 2013-14. The VRQA has recent published its Strategic Plan and its Annual Report. Click on the link below to download the publications.

USI registry now active

The USI Registry was activated on 15 October 2014, although it is not compulsory for students to obtain a USI until the scheme comes into effect from 1 January 2015. Supporting materials are available for both students and training organisations on the USI website at the following link.

Red tape reduction delivers $83.5 million saving for industry

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has outlined savings and cuts to red tape in the vocational education and training area in the government’s latest Spring Repeal Day.

“This reduction in red tape in the Industry portfolio alone will deliver an $83.5 million benefit to Australian industry through lower costs for paperwork and complying with red tape, giving the business community more time to focus on building Australia’s productivity,” Mr Macfarlane said. Read the media release at the following link.

Training Package News

Recent Training Package endorsements/updates

  • HLT Health – Release 1.3 – 16 October 2016
  • UET Transmission, Distribution and Rail Sector – Release 2.1 – 5 November 2016

For detailed release information go to http://training.gov.au/

New release of first aid units HLTAID001 – HLTAID007

Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CSHISC) has published a new release of first aid units (HLTAID001 – HLTAID007) on training.gov.au. This new release is a CSHISC upgrade, making the units equivalent to previous releases. RTOs that already have HLTAID001 – HLTAID007 do not need to apply to transition.

It is noted that this release does not change the existing transition period for the old versions of first aid units, i.e. the transition period for HLTCPR211A, HLTFA211A, HLTFA311A, HLTFA302C, HLTFA412A, HLTFA404C ends on 30 October 2014.

Events, Resources & Funding News

Australian apprenticeship & traineeship update

Click on the links below to view the Training Package qualifications recently implemented in States and Territories.

Smart and Skilled backlash

According to an article published in The Australian on 22 October 2014, NSW RTOs are reeling after receiving “unviably small contracts” as part of the NSW government’s Smart and Skilled funding allocation. Smart and Skilled is the NSW government’s response to the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, which requires them to guarantee their citizens subsidised training places at “any registered training organisation, public or private”.

As reported in The Australian article, “Community Colleges Australia chief executive Kate Davidson said some of her members had been offered as little as 1 per cent of their allocations under the approved providers list, the existing contestable funding arrangement that ends this year.”

For more information click on the link below (Subscription may be required to access the full article.)

Additional qualifications on the Queensland Training Subsidies List

Minister John-Paul Langbroek has announced the Queensland Government will subsidise training in a further 38 selected qualifications and skill sets in areas including engineering, health, hospitality, mining, tourism, transport, utilities and agriculture.

The qualifications and skill sets were added to the Queensland Training Subsidies List on 8 October. The Certificate 3 Guarantee will fund 11 additional qualifications and 27 qualifications and skills sets have been added under the Higher Level Skills program. For more information go the links below.

Speaker presentations from the SkillsDMC 2014 Conference

SkillsDMC has published the presentations from its recent conference and the resources can be accessed at the link below.

Skills Tasmania releases two funding programs

On 25 October 2014, Skills Tasmania released the following two funding programs:

  • Career Start ST05
  • Career Start Program – Provision of Language, Literacy and Numeracy training service ST10.

Both programs are designed to supports individuals through the provision of subsidies for entry level training to enhance their job prospects and by giving them an opportunity to make an informed choice about their future career. Find out more at the link below.

Newbery Consulting releases early bird offer

Newbery Consulting has released an early bird offer to all licence holders of RTO Policies and Procedures. This offer is exclusive to existing licence holders and provides the opportunity to upgrade this product to meet the impending Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015. Further information can be obtained at the following link.


Recent VET publications

Readiness to meet demand for skills: a study of five growth industries
Francesca Beddie, Mette Creaser, Jo Hargreaves, Adrian Ong

This study considers issues pertinent to ensuring the Australian education and training system can respond to emerging skills demand in the following industries: food and agriculture; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; advanced manufacturing; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil and gas. The report finds a widening gap between education and skills demand and highlights the crucial role of employees in developing a skilled workforce, as well as calling for a shift in thinking about the way skills are generated.
NCVER Research Report 10 October 2014

Expenditure on education and training in Australia
Mitchell Institute

A comparative analysis of expenditure across schools, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education over the past ten years has found that while spending on schools and universities has risen significantly, there has been a much lower rate of growth in VET spending. The report draws on work by ACIL Allen and looks at expenditure on education by government, as well as public entities such as government schools, TAFEs and universities between 2003-2013.

Other News of Interest

Senate committee reports on university fees

The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee has tabled its report on the government’s Higher Education and Research  Amendment Bill after two months of hearings and 164 submissions from interested parties.

In an article published on 28 October2014, The Scan notes “It’s utterly predictable: the committee has split 3 ways, with a majority report by the 3 Coalition members, recommending passage of the bill, perhaps with amendments,  and dissenting reports by the single Labor member and the single Greens member, both recommending rejection of the bill.  Predictable as it is, the report is also disappointing:  the recommendations contribute nothing at all to the resolution of a fundamental issue: placing the financing of Australian higher education – and, from The Scan’s perspective, Australian universities – on a sustainable footing.” Read the article at the link below.

Vocation announces a settlement with the Victorian DEECD

The ASX-listed training provider Vocation has announced a settlement with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) in relation to its review into two of Vocation’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), BAWM and Aspin. Vocation will surrender $19.6 million in government funding, and restructure its Victorian operations under the direction of a new CEO. Read more at the link below.

Acquire under the regulator’s spotlight

According to an article in The Australian on 6 November 2014, the marketing practices of Acquire Learning are being investigated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) following complaints about cold calling and inappropriately ­enrolling jobseekers who had ­applied for positions advertised on the Seek employment website. Acquire is not an RTO, but works as a broker allocating students to its partner RTOs. Read more at the link below.

ACPET moves towards self-regulation

ACPET has confirmed that it is to fast-track a new code of conduct and a standards framework that will be externally monitored and validated. This move was endorsed at a meeting hosted by ACPET on 30 October 2014 and attended by leaders from Australia’s private higher education and training sector.  According to ACPET chief executive Rod Camm, “Our industry is not going to bury its head in the sand and pretend there isn’t a problem with a small minority of providers. We will not sit idly by while the behaviours of a few tarnish the reputation of many.” Read the ACPET media release at the link below.


Claire Field to take the lead on Vocation compliance

Vocation has appointed former ACPET chief Claire Field to head an independent committee to provide oversight over the company’s compliance with regulatory standards. The new oversight committee will “provide guidance and advice on quality and compliance to Vocation’s registered training organisations and higher education providers.” Field said the body would be “a model for governance”, and will be joined on the committee by Neil Edwards and Ann Doolette. Read more at the link below.

Minister will concede on interest in return for fee deregulation

The Commonwealth education minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed that, if the Senate will agree to his fee deregulation plan for universities, the government is willing to back down on the budget decision to set the interest rate for HECS debt at the 10-year government bond rate which is currently set at the Consumer Price Index. Read more at the link below.

Gap widening between education and skills demand

According to the NCVER the gap is widening between knowledge generated through Australia’s training system, and the skills demanded by employers. Read the media release at the link below.
NCVER Media Release 10 October 2014

Snapshot of VET in Australia: infographics

NCVER has released four infographics that provide an overview of publicly-funded training based on NCVER’s main data collections:

  • Students and courses – including key findings from young people in education and training
  • Apprentices & trainees
  • VET finance
  • VET outcomes – drawing key findings from student outcomes and employers’ use and views of the VET system

These infographics have been developed to present data in a different more engaging way. Check them out at the link below.
NCVER Infographics 28 October 2014

TDA calls for inquiry into private college profit claims

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) has called on federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne to order an urgent examination of marketing practices and information provided to students allocated VET FEE HELP loans for courses at some recently-listed and soon-to-be listed private training companies.

The CEO of TDA, Martin Riordan, said an inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the extraordinary revenue and profitability claims that have been reported by several ASX-listed companies now under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Read the media release at the following link.

Guidance on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Essential guidelines for the effective implementation of BYOD in VET, together with a range of user-friendly guides and tools, have been published on the E-standards for Training website. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), as it relates to Vocational Education and Training (VET), refers to the practice of learners, staff and guests using their own mobile devices and connecting to training organisations’ networks for the purposes of learning and work. Find out more at:
FLAG Media Release 29 October 2014


The news articles presented in this edition of VET News have been researched and prepared by Anne Maree Newbery.

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