Hi everyone,

Sorry for this month being a little late. There has been a bit happening lately! There are a few spectacular news items this month. No doubt some of you will have already heard about these. I will let you read about those but I did want to reflect on the progress the department is making with my ten point action list.

I think we can consider that action item number 1 is well underway (Launch an investigation into the poor training quality and deceptive / unethical marketing practices occurring in the VET Fee Help market.) The Minister announced at the National VET Conference that the department in conjunction with others are stepping up the regulation of the VET fee help market and particularly the student recruitment agents that are doing so much damage to the integrity and reputation of our sector. I hope he follows through on that but it is also pleasing to see this week the ABC publish the results of their own investigation.

Action item number 3 (Disband all Industry Skills Councils) also appears to be progressing. The government has announced that they will soon be releasing a discussion paper to present options for the privatisation of industry training package development. The proposal primarily seems to be tendering out the development of training packages to an approved panel of providers. One would assume that this includes industry skills councils who will need to be much more self-reliant for funding themselves. The Minister made it very clear in his presentation that he expects this to be a true competitive tender process and no traditional providers should take anything for granted. I think that’s great. I have to admit this is an option that I didn’t see coming. I think it’s quite innovative and achieves the same outcome. I can see industry getting organised around this and playing a much greater role in training package development and positively influencing the validity of units of competency and qualifications.

I am happy to report that I really enjoyed my time at the National VET Conference organised and ran by Velg Training. Those guys do a great job at these events. The conference was well organised and executed to a military precision. I will say that some workshops I attended were fairly ordinary. I won’t name those but the presentation and content was really not at the level you would expect. Absolute highlight positives for me though were the workshops delivered by Dimity Redcliffe (on using social media in a marketing strategy) and Francis Kneebone (on e-learning). Both of these guys are absolute experts in their field and I walked away from those sessions feeling motivated and better informed about those subjects. Fantastic! I also enjoyed the trade exhibits. I deliberately went to every stall, said hello and got to understand the product or service being offered. Some of those services we have already engaged with following the event.  It was also great to meet up with old friends and clients and we met a number of new people that we will continue to talk with in regards to opportunities. Overall I would rate my experience at the 2014 National VET Conference as 8 out of 10. I will definitely be attending next year’s conference in Adelaide and will recommend it to our friends. That’s it from me. I hope you guys have a great month. 

Enjoy the news and good training!

Joe Newbery

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Compliance and Regulatory News

ASQA update

Delegating regulatory responsibility. In line with the announcements by the Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP (see news item under VET reform), ASQA is rolling out a package of regulatory reform initiatives which includes:

  • enhanced information and guidance for training providers to assist them in complying with the required national standards
  • reduced regulatory scrutiny on providers with a track record of compliance, and
  • a sharper regulatory focus on providers who remain seriously non-compliant with the required standards.

A key element of the reform package is giving high performing RTOs the ability to manage their own scope of registration without the need to apply to ASQA and pay a fee each time they wish to add a new qualification or unit of competency to their scope of registration. Read further details on this delegated authority will work, at the following link.

ASQA obtains criminal prosecution for fraud. The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has secured a criminal prosecution against a training manager of an RTO who used fraudulent documents in an attempt to demonstrate compliance with the National Standards.
On Friday 12 September 2014 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, Magistrate Judith Daley convicted Joseph Johnson of Community Training College Pty Ltd on five counts of knowingly producing false documents in purported compliance with a law of the Commonwealth, contrary to section 137.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth). Magistrate Daley fined Mr Johnson $2000, with a conviction being recorded. Read more at the following link.

Recent changes to PRISMS. In early July 2014 changes were made to the Provider Registration and International Students Management System (PRISMS) that now allows CRICOS providers to submit course cost changes in bulk. For more details and links to the PRISMS website, click on the link below.

Further red tape reduction for training providers. In a further effort to reduce its regulatory burden, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will waive the fee payable by training providers when applying to change course duration details on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Read more at the following link.

VET reform

First tranche of reforms announced on 8 September. In a joint doorstop interview in Queanbeyan with the Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott announced the first installment of the competitiveness agenda that the Government is rolling out for the VET sector. Mr Abbott stated that “We are moving to a new apprenticeship system; a system that will be employer-led and outcome focused, designed to ensure that we increase the completion rate for apprentices.”
Over time the management of apprentices will shift from the current Australian Apprenticeship Centres to a new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network. The new system will be supported by two new programmes as follows:

  • Training for Employment Scholarships: Money will go directly from the Government to employers for job focused training
  • Youth Employment Pathways: This is for individuals between 15 and 18 at risk of unemployment. Money will be available to community organisations to work with these young people to try to ensure that they get the jobs they need.

Read the full transcript of the interview at the following link.

Second tranche of reforms announced on 11 September. In his keynote address at the National VET Conference, the Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP took the opportunity to speak about the Government’s second tranche of reforms for the VET sector.
Announcements include:

  • Reforms to the way ASQA operates (see related news item in the ASQA update)
  • A contestable model for the development and maintenance of training packages
  • A full review of training products (training packages and accredited courses).

The Minister also confirmed that the Government is on track to introduce the new standards for training providers and regulators from January 2015.
For the Minister’s National VET Conference speech go to:
For the Minister’s media release go to:

TAC update

Changes to Financial Viability Assessment Requirements. In a Special Bulletin, the Training Accreditation Council (TAC) announced the endorsement of changes to its processes for assessing financial risk which will apply to registration applications received on or after 1 October 2014. The changes are:

  • RTOs applying for renewal of registration will no longer be required to undergo a financial viability assessment.
  • Enterprise organisations applying for initial registration will no longer be required to undergo a financial viability assessment.

Read the full bulletin at the following link.

TAC Secretariat relocation. On the weekend of 15-16 November 2014, the Department of Education Services will be relocating to its new site at 20 Walters Drive, Osborne Park. The TAC Secretariat will be closed to public contact on Friday 14 November 2014 as the Department’s networking and telephone equipment is moved to the new building. The Secretariat will reopen for business on Monday 17 November 2014. Keep an eye on the TAC website for further updates if needed.

VRQA update

VRQA Annual Report 2013–14. The VRQA has announced the publication of its Annual Report 2013–14. The report sets out details of operations and achievements over the past financial year and was tabled in Parliament on 16 September 2014. It is now available on the VRQA website at the link below.

Reminder: Form B – Applications for amending scope of registration. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are reminded that all Form B applications to amend the scope of registration must be received by the VRQA no later than Monday 20 October 2014 in order for any required site audits to be scheduled in 2014. For more information on the scope amendment process click on the link below.

Response to Ministerial Statement of Expectations. In response to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s 2011 Inquiry into Victoria’s Regulatory Framework, the Victorian Government agreed to issue Ministerial Statements of Expectations to Victorian regulators. The Minister for Education and the Minister for Higher Education and Skills have provided a Statement of Expectations for the VRQA outlining their expectations of the VRQA to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its regulatory activities while minimising the regulatory burden on education and training providers.
The VRQA’s response has been published on its VRQA website and can be accessed at the link below.

COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting

On Friday 26 September 2014, Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, chaired the second meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council in Adelaide which was attended by state and territory ministers.
Ministers agreed on a number of priority actions including:

  • to continue to work on apprenticeship harmonisation
  • revised Standards for registered training providers and regulators, noting further work is required regarding the qualification for teachers of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • a review of training packages and accredited courses, and
  • streamlining data reporting for training providers.

Ministers also agreed to establish a National VET Complaints Hotline.
Click on the link below for further information and to access the meeting communique.

Changes in AQF governance

In line with the Australian Government’s commitment to delivering a smaller, more rational government, the Commonwealth Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, with the agreement of the Minister for Industry and state and territory ministers, has decided to disband the AQF Council. The governance of the AQF and ongoing AQF support for stakeholders will be delivered through the Australian Government Department of Education in consultation with the Department of Industry and states and territories. Read more in the September 2014 edition of the AQF newsletter at the link below.

Discussion paper on the reform of the ESOS framework

A review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework has suggested reforms to reduce the red tape burden on education institutions and a streamlining of domestic and international standards. A Discussion Paper was released on 30 September 2014 following consultations with stakeholders between March and May on ways to improve and deregulate the ESOS framework.

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, said the reform measures outlined in the discussion paper would deliver substantial benefits to education institutions, including a significant reduction in the compliance and reporting burden. Education institutions, training organisations, peak bodies and agencies are invited to make written submissions by 31 October 2014. Download the Discussion Paper at the link below.


Events, Resources & Funding News

Australian apprenticeship & traineeship update

Click on the link below to view the Training Package qualifications recently implemented in States and Territories. Latest information is current at 3 October 2014.

NCVER Data Support Bulletin

The NCVER has published a recent Data Support Bulletin that includes:

  • Classification and validation updates
  • Updated Standard documentation for AVETMISS 7.0 for VET Providers
  • New feature to extract business rules from the AVETMISS validation software
  • Reminder about the free 1-hour webinars providing practical help on how to meet AVETMISS reporting requirements.

NCVER Data Support Bulletin 18 September 2014

New round of Community Learning funding in Queensland

The Queensland Government is calling on RTOs and community organisations to apply for funding under the latest round of the $47 million, five-year Community Learning program. Community Learning provides funding for organisations to deliver innovative, community-based training to disadvantaged learners.
Applications for the new round of Community Learning funding opened on 1 October and will close on 31 October 2014. Click on the link below for more details.

TDA conference presentations available online

TDA 2014 National Conference presentations are now available on the TDA website at the link below.


Other News of Interest

Senate Inquiry submissions for the higher education reform package

As reported in The Scan on 25 September 2014, the sector submission to the Senate have been “Generally supportive but with significant amendments.” The first two links below will take you to The Scan articles that provide a summary and brief analysis of the submissions. The third link will take you to the Senate website where you can view the submissions.

  1. http://the-scan.com/2014/09/25/sector-submissions-to-the-senate-inquiry/
  2. http://the-scan.com/2014/09/30/sector-submissions-to-the-senate-inquiry-part-2/
  3. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_and_Employment/Higher_Education/Submissions

Swinburne reconsidering VET provision

As reported in The Australian on 22 September 2014, the dual sector Swinburne University is flagging a major restructure of its vocational training after falling short of revenue targets on the back of state government funding cuts and increasing competition from private providers. Read more at the link below.

NMIT to relaunch as Melbourne Polytechnic

In a media release on 2 October 2014, the Victorian Premier Denis Napthine announced the latest instalment in the Victorian Coalition Government’s plan to provide greater choice and more opportunities for training, which will position Victorians to secure a rewarding career.

The Napthine Government is investing$19 million in NMIT so the institute can implement a new strategic growth plan that will enable it to boost the job ready training opportunities it provides students. Dr Napthine said the new Melbourne Polytechnic will be an innovative and industry focused model of training for jobs of the future. Read the media release at the link below.

New Managing Director for NCVER

In a media release on 23 September 2014, The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) today announced the appointment of its new Managing Director, Dr Craig Fowler. In announcing the appointment, NCVER’s Chair, Professor Peter Shergold, emphasised Dr Fowler’s deep understanding of VET and the national training system and his strong background in research and commitment to the value of statistical data. Dr Fowler will take up the role in late October. Read the media release at the following link.
NCVER Media Release 23 September 2014

Vocation share trading suspended

Trading of shares in ASX-listed VET provider Vocation has been temporarily suspended, at the request of the company, given ongoing speculation regarding its Victorian government funding contracts. Read more at the following link.

Victorian training system failing, according to Service Skills Victoria

Enrolments in the service industry training in Victoria have fallen significantly over the last 18 months, according to new research conducted by Victoria and Federation Universities on behalf of Service Skills Victoria. The drop in enrolments is due to changes made to the funding of training in the service industries by the Victorian State Government. John Sweetman, chair of Service Skills Victoria, says that adjustments to subsidy rates has led to some colleges to stop offering courses in service sector qualifications altogether, while others have substantially reduced their course offerings. Read more at the following link.


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

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