Newbery Consulting


Thursday 19th October 2023

Hello and welcome to VET News,


As always there is lots happening in the VET Sector. The following are some highlights of what you will find in VET News today:

  • There is a new National Skills Agreement which effectively funds the Governments strategy to gradually withdraw from a competitive VET market and prioritise funding for vocational education and training into public TAFE. The agreement includes $1.3 billion in new funding for nationally networked TAFE Centres of Excellence and a National TAFE leadership Network to promote cutting edge curriculum for TAFE, amongst other initiatives.
  • There is the release of the long-awaited Jobs and Skills Report which reinforces the Government narrative of the primacy of public TAFE and promotes criticism of the Productivity Commission for it’s advocacy for “increased competition” in the VET market. It is an important report and worth reviewing.
  • The Minister presented at the National Press Club on the 3rd October in a speech titled Skilling the Nation for the Future. The Minister talked about “dodgy VET providers” and called for “restoring TAFE to its rightful place, at the heart of Vocational Education and Training”. See the link to the full speech transcript below.
  • ASQA has been given a war chest of $37.8 million in a strategy described by the minister as “Stamping out dodgy VET providers”. Very catchy! The minister said in his announcement that “These actions are aimed at stopping domestic and international students and graduates from being exploited by unscrupulous operators”. Check out the media release below.


You may be identifying a trend in all of these recent announcements. Yes, the trend is that the current Government is systematically setting about dismantling the competitive VET market and over the short and medium term and will strip away the market for private VET providers and centralise government support for vocational education and training into publicly funded TAFEs. They are certainly not doing it by stealth and have been very public in their deriding and negative commentary of private VET providers. This is doing untold damage to the VET brand overall and is doing very little to improve the perception of VET. The report from the current Parliamentary Inquiry into the Perceptions and Status of Vocational Education and Training is due by the end of the year and I predict this will be an important mechanism in their plan.


At the end of the day, the Government holds all the cards, so there is really nothing you can do other than petition your local member and make sure the quality and compliance of your operation is second to none. I would also actively start developing alternative and diversified revenue sources and start innovating. Your strength is your agility and connection to industry so start using that aggressively to your advantage. Remember, business owners want to do business with other like-minded business owners. If you are not already, get out consistently into those local business networks. Think about using your scope to offer flexible short courses. Undertake a review of your fixed cost and see if there is any waste that can be removed or lower cost alternatives. We will continue to follow this development, but if you are not awake to what is happening, hopefully this has got you thinking.


Draft Revised Standards for RTOs

A very important news item is that DEWR has released the next instalment of the Draft Revised Standards for RTOs. I spent yesterday going over them in detail. I think the changes look good and I am overall fairly positive. We didn’t get everything we recommended in our feedback be we certainly got changes on most of what we recommended. The primary changes in this draft edition are:

  • The standards are more prescriptive and have been reduced from 38 to 25.
  • We now have performance indicator statements which describe what compliance with the standards looks like. Something to aim for.
  • There is now a specific requirement for structured training to support the learners progress. Great.
  • The concept of “amount of training” is gone and replaced with a requirement that RTOs ensure training provides sufficient time for instruction, practice, feedback and assessment. This is significantly more measurable as long as ASQA auditors can apply a consistent audit standard.
  • The concept of validity as a rule of evidence has been retained. Thank God for common sense and not lowering ourselves to the lowest common denominator.
  • We are now “testing” assessment rather that undertaking “pre-assessment validation. Seriously, whoever proposed this really is insulated in a bureaucratic bubble. Somehow this is meant to make it “clearer”. I don’t recall in my past seeing any published doctrine on “testing” assessments. I certainly could point to a number of authoritative publications on conducting pre assessment validation. It makes sense, you want to make things clearer, so you introduce a completely new concept and then don’t define it in the glossary. Go figure!
  • Check out this requirement in relation to conducting post assessment validation “the person(s) undertaking validation must be independent, not be employed or subcontracted by the RTO to provide training and assessment and have no other involvement or interest in the RTO’s operations”.  If you thought conducting assessment validation was difficult now, wait until this comes in. Conducting assessment validation just got a whole lot more expensive. We will see a little cottage industry grow to meet this demand overnight.
  • They have kept the administrative process of credit transfer tangled up with recognition of prior learning at clause 1.7. I personally think that is a mistake, but we will just need to continue to educate people how these two processes are administered very differently. The last thing we want is people applying an administrative process to RPL or applying an assessment process to credit transfer. Unfortunately, common sense did not win the day.
  • The requirements for trainer current industry skills and knowledge has been lowered significantly. The requirement for the trainer to have industry experience has been removed entirely. We argued in our feedback that it needed to be specifically stated and reinforced in the glossary definitions. Unfortunately, the threshold has now been lowered to require that the trainer “maintains a practical understanding of current industry practices”. This should help with the current trainer shortage, but it will also mean we will have lots of people delivering training who have not necessarily undertaken the actual work.
  • It looks like the $1,500 fee protection measure is gone altogether but you will need to put “systems in place to ensure re-fund of pre-paid fees if the RTO is unable to deliver the training and assessment”. This might be some type of separate fee collection and holding account that can only be drawn down once the services have been delivered. We will keep an eye on this one.
  • They have retained their focus on using risk management as the basis for the organisation to manage its continuous improvement and compliance with the standards. I think it is going to be very difficult for most organisations to apply operational risk management properly. It is easy to put something down on paper but, integrating risk management into daily business processes can be difficult, especially in organisations that are small and have a more hands-on and reactive management approach. This initiative will need lots of support.


Good training,

Joe Newbery

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