Ok, so the VET Reform Taskforce is currently doing their work and has called for submissions from industry participants to inform their review of the VET Sector.  Just for the record, here is my three point plan for the reform of the VET Sector:

  1. Industry Skills Councils. Consolidate the 12 Industry Skills Councils into one organisation called the Australian Skills Council. I see this as an organisation with 12 distinct industry representative cells. Typically each cell would have a staffing of 4 to 5 senior personnel undertaking training package maintenance and development. These personnel would be supported by an administrative and management section which would handle the corporate function of the organisation. This reflects the fact that we have a mature national skills framework that is very much in maintenance phase of its lifespan. By consolidating this function into the one organisation it would enable better direction and quality control over training package maintenance and lead to obvious cost saving for us the tax payer. We did this back in 2005 when we consolidated the 26 ITABS into 11 ISC and its time to take the next step. I also suggest that the cycle of Training Package revision should be changed from a continuous improvement cycle to a four-five year cycle. This would give much needed stability to training providers and provide a predictable basis for the project management of Training Package maintenance. Seriously, our investment to build a national skills framework is sunk. The job is done and congratulations to all those who contributed. Now is the time to maintain the asset and reap the productivity benefits from our investment.
  2. VET Sector Regulation. Maintain the Australian Skills Quality Authority but with needed cultural change in its approach to sector regulation. We need to get back to a situation where the regulator is approachable, collaborative and supportive of providers to improve the quality of their practices. We need the publication of guidelines that supplement the standards and provide explanatory information about how to comply with standards. We need a regulator that provides professional development workshops aimed at strengthening compliance and improving the quality of outcomes providers are achieving. We need a regulatory model that acknowledges continuous improvement opportunities as a valid outcome of a regulatory process. We need far greater specificity in the standards to remove the variability in interpretation that occurs every day between auditors. We need a national approach to auditor moderation that supports the reliability of audit interpretations and removes the subjective influence of auditors. It must also be a priority of COAG to bring all states under a single regulator.
  3. Government Subsidised Training. Change the current funding model to enable the training and assessment services provided by RTO’s to directly link with job outcomes. We could do this by establishing direct links between providers, Job Agencies and Apprenticeship Centres. This already occurs to some degree but there is a huge amount of funding flowing into qualifications where there is no direct link between an individual and the placement into a job either during or at the end of their training. If it does not link to a job outcome then it does not qualify for funding. The funding model needs to provide certainty to providers and be commercially viable. Acknowledging this, we need to ensure that every tax dollar spent on a training place is directly linked to achieving a job outcome for the individual. This would require an end to end approach to connect job opportunities with training services that leads to employment outcomes. This should be the basis for government funding of all providers both public and private under a competitive model. This would result in a more measurable spend on government subsidised training and encourage growth in the fee-for-service market for courses that are truly professional development based. This would require true collaboration and case management of individuals between providers and job agencies to work. I know this is a big jump from where we are at today but, hey, this is what we are meant to be doing!

That’s my say. Have you had your say yet? If not, do it today and send your input to: vettaskforce@industry.gov.au

Good training!

Joe Newbery

Published: 6th April 2014

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