I hope this newsletter finds you all well. I highly recommend reviewing the VET Fee Help audit report released by ASQA recently. I think that we must keep in mind that the majority of providers in the VET Fee Help market are providing great services. I am certainly please however that ASQA is taking action to clean up this sector of the industry.
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Compliance & Regulatory News
Findings from VET FEE-HELP audit. On 20 October 2015 ASQA released the findings from its VET FEE-HELP audit project. The project was launched in April following an increase in the number of complaints against RTOs approved to participate in the VET FEE-HELP scheme.
ASQA undertook 21 targeted audits and interviewed more than 400 students.
You can read the media release here;
You can read the report here;
ASQA Deputy Chief Commissioner to retire. Dr Dianne Orr has announced that she will retire from her statutory office as Commissioner with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) next month.
ASQA annual report 2014-15. ASQA released its annual report in Federal Parliament on 22 October 2015.
The report covers key achievements and developments for ASQA for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, including its regulation of training providers and the implementation of reforms aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on high performing providers while targeting activity toward poor quality providers.
ASQA welcomes ACCC action. The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Unique International College for allegedly making false or misleading representations and engaging in misleading or deceptive and unconscionable conduct when enrolling students into VET FEE-HELP funded courses.
ASQA announced last week that it had cancelled Unique’s registration as a provider of vocational education and training and educational services, including to overseas students.
Article 2 in ASQA’s guidance series for VET accredited course developers. The standard addressed in this second article is VAC 7.2. This standard relates to the use of nationally endorsed units of competency where these are available, and where these are not available, the development of units of competency or modules.
Free webinar for aged and community care training providers. RTOs offering qualifications in aged and community care will shortly receive an invitation from ASQA to register for one of three free webcasts being hosted later this month by ASQA and the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC).
Employers lose ability to employ commercial cookery apprentices. The VRQA has investigated 76 employers employing 152 commercial cookery apprentices to check that apprentices were being properly supervised and trained as part of a regulatory campaign.
A range of problems were uncovered and as a result of the investigation 93 training contracts have been cancelled (including 29 voluntary cancellations) and 45 employer approvals have been revoked.
VRQA Annual Report 2014–15. The report provides details of significant achievements during the 2014–15 financial year, as well as operational and financial data.
VET FEE-HELP reform
On 15 October 2015, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills the Hon Luke Hartsuyker, introduced legislation that will strengthen the protections for students in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and push unscrupulous training providers out of the market.
The Higher Education Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and seeks to prevent inappropriate enrolments and debts by:
- introducing a two day cooling off period between enrolment and the application for a VET FEE-HELP loan so that course enrolment is no longer confused with the loan application process;
- introducing minimum pre-requisites such as literacy and numeracy to ensure students can complete the higher level VET courses (diploma level and above) for which VET FEE-HELP is available; and
- requiring a parent’s or guardian’s signature before a student under 18 years can request a VET FEE-HELP loan to protect younger students.
The Bill will also further protect students and taxpayers by:
- making it easier for a student to have their debt cancelled where they have been signed up for a loan inappropriately and for the Government to recoup the cost from providers;
- introducing minimum registration and trading history requirements to ensure new VET FEE-HELP provider applicants have a proven history of delivering quality training;
- introducing infringement notices and financial penalties for breaches of the VET FEE-HELP Guidelines; and
- technical amendments to strengthen the Department’s administration of the scheme and its partnerships with ASQA to monitor and enforce compliance.
The latest publication from TAC includes the following updates:
- Maximum registration period increased from five to seven year
- Addition of new training products
- Removal of superseded training products and removed / deleted qualifications
- Inclusion of Skill Sets in RTOs’ implicit scope of registration
- Planning for 2016/Christmas Shutdown
New standards for higher education
A new Higher Education Standards Framework legislative instrument has been made by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and was tabled in Parliament on 12 October 2015
Events, Resourcing & Funding News
Australian apprenticeship update
Click on the link below to view the Training Package qualifications recently implemented in States and Territories.
New National Work Experience Programme
A new National Work Experience Programme is now available to help job seekers gain experience and confidence while demonstrating skills to potential employers.
The work experience programme will give employers the opportunity to see if a job seeker is a good fit for their organisation and offers employers the opportunity for a wage subsidy where they offer a job seeker paid employment.
You can read the media release here;
You can read the programme here;
Australian Government training resources
The Australian Government Department of Social Services has funded the development of complimentary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Training Resources to address the need for culturally appropriate training resources suitable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Recent VET Publications
Total VET students and course 2014
This publication gives a summary of vocational education and training (VET) delivered in 2014 by Australian training providers. This picture of training activity is otherwise known as ‘total VET activity’, to reflect that the information is now collected from all types of providers and not merely the providers receiving Commonwealth and state funding. In this publication, information is provided on the number of training providers, students, enrolments in programs, enrolments in subjects, hours of delivery and program completions.
Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2015
This survey collects information about employers’ use and views of the vocational education and training (VET) system and the various ways employers use the VET system to meet their skill needs. Information collected is designed to measure employers’ engagement and satisfaction with the VET system.
The 2015 survey data show that while employers’ overall use of VET remains steady, the proportion of employers with apprentices and trainees continues to decline. Despite this decline, 81.7% of employers were satisfied that apprentices and trainees are receiving the skills they require through training, a similar proportion to 2013.
Government funded students and courses – January to June 2015
From January to June this year, 1.07 million students enrolled in Australia’s government-funded VET system newly reported data indicates. For the second time, NCVER has published a quarterly report on government-funded training; it shows 63.4% of students were enrolled at TAFE and other government providers, 31.5% at private training providers and 4.5% at community education providers. In terms of qualifications, 37.2% of all students enrolled in certificate III qualifications.
Alternative pathways to apprenticeships – good practice guide
This good practice guide collates the relevant key findings for education practitioners and workplace supervisors from three research reports that look at different aspects of earlier completion such as competency-based progression and recognition of prior learning. Although the research highlights the benefits of completion, it also identifies gaps in communicating and supporting alternative pathways between policy-makers and program administrators, as well as communications between the training provider and the workplace. (NB. The three research reports can also be accessed from the link below.)
Other News of Interest
Queensland Government establishes Training Ombudsman
On 14 October 2015, the Minister for Training and Skills, Yvette D’Ath, outlined the remit of the Training Ombudsman, as part of the government’s commitment to providing quality training and reinvigorating the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Queensland.
Launch of Total VET Activity report
A more comprehensive picture of national training is emerging with the first release of new data that indicates almost a quarter (23.3%) of working-aged people (15 to 64 years) undertook some form of vocational education and training (VET) in 2014. The data, published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), was reported by 4601 Australian providers following the introduction of mandatory reporting of training activity.
Victoria training market half year report
The latest Victoria training market half year report shows a marked decline in government subsided training, with 12% fewer enrolments in 2015 compared to the same time in 2014. TAFE enrolments were at their lowest point in five years.
Federal government summit focuses on skills training
As reported in The Australian on 2 October 2015, the Turnbull government’s summit of business, trade union and community groups identified an overhaul of the training and education sector, a federal takeover of TAFE and changes to the work-for-the-dole scheme as key priorities. (The following link may require a subscription.)
Recovering student loans from overseas students
The federal government expects to recover up to $30 million a year following the passage of laws that will require people living overseas to repay their student or trade support loans. Until now, people who took out a loan under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or a Trade Support Loan (TSL) and moved overseas were under no obligation to repay it. The new legislation will make it necessary for anyone earning above the $54,126 threshold to repay the loan, no matter where they live.
The news articles presented in this edition of VET News have been researched and prepared by Anne Maree Newbery.
Copyright © 2014 Newbery