|Hello and welcome to VET News,
I hope you are all well. Before I launch into a bit of a rant, I just want to remind those who have not yet became aware that, the smart and skilled contract is currently open to new applications and it closes off in 8 days (5 pm, 30 Nov). This is a very rare opportunity to secure a contract to offer subsidised training to your students in NSW. If you have not previously looked at this, please do so today.
Now my rant. I know who our readers are of this newsletter, and I know how experienced you all are in the national VET sector. You may share my concern about the current quality of training being delivered out in the sector which seems to be occurring without sufficient oversight from the national regulator. I just want to give you a sense are some of the things that I see on a weekly basis. I see Certificate III in individual support courses being delivered to new industry entrants in 10 weeks part time and this includes 4 weeks of work placement. I see first aid courses being delivered in 4 hours without any skills training. I see highly practical qualifications being delivered online without any skills training. I see completely unqualified trainers teaching students and assessment being completed without any observation of the student’s performance, none! I see highly technical training courses with 5-7 units of competency being delivered in two days without any apparent performance assessment. It seriously is the wild west out there at the moment and it seems to be getting worse. Some RTOs are operating with total disregard to the standards with not the slightest shred of concern of being caught out.
What effect does all of this have on the training market? It creates an unfair and uneven market and the RTOs trying their best to operate according to the standards simply scratch their head in despair. With increasing operating costs, these RTOs are under pressure and the risk is, a race to the bottom. What is ASQA doing about this? Since the 2019-20 financial year, ASQA has reduced its performance monitoring of the sector by a whooping 68%. In 2019-20, they undertook 1128 compliance monitoring audits. In 2021-22, they undertook 356 performance assessments. Over the same period ASQA had a 16% increase in its total funding which went from $54.8 million to $63.6 million. You can check all of this out in their annual reports (click). Now, we appreciate the more friendly and helpful ASQA compared to the dark period of 2016-2019, but there needs to be a balance. This risk based approach might be targeted, but it is not providing systematic compliance monitoring. Now, ASQA would argue what a great job they are doing, but I dont care, you need to see what is happening on the ground.
It is very difficult to explain to my client how they need to tow the line when they know full well what their competitors are getting away with in broad daylight. ASQA needs to redirect some of their additional 8.8 million back to performance monitoring whilst being friendly and helpful. At an average cost per performance assessment of $12,000 that give you 733 additional performance assessments which gets us somewhere back to a systematic monitoring regime. If this doesn’t happen, we are going to see a significant loss of confidence in VET from the general public and the slow degradation of skills in industry. I know this sound dire but, the last thing we want is the wild west where the cop is not out there maintaining public order. Those of you who have invested to build a great business are having that opportunity stripped away by shonky operators who are charging next to nothing for rubish services. ASQA needs to wake up to this situation and get back on the beat.
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