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VET Review Submission – An equal playing field for all

Monday, February 4 2019

ACPET National Monday Update – 04 Feb 2019

Troy Williams, ACPET Chief Executive Officer

Following extensive input from independent providers across the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) has tendered its submission to the review of the VET system being undertaken by the Hon. Stephen Joyce..  ACPET’s submission sets out a strong case for reform to create an even playing field in which independent providers and public sector TAFE colleges are able to deliver quality outcomes within the one funding and regulatory system.

As ACPET’s submission sets out, independent providers deliver around 60% of all VET student enrolments nationally and about 90% of international student VET enrolments.  Significantly, student satisfaction rates for independent VET providers are equal to those of public sector TAFE colleges.  It is in that context, backed by independent data, that ACPET has addressed a number of priority issues including the following:

Fully Contestable Funding —

The independent sector emerged because of inadequate public supply for training places and higher demand for skills in the early 1990s. Following a series of public policy reforms, the independent sector started to deliver publicly funded training through state and territory government’s contestable funding sources such as the “User Choice” initiative. Over time these funding methods have increasingly allowed individuals and businesses to access government funding using a provider of their choice.
In 2017, just 27.7 per cent of the $2.1 billion of government funding invested into VET was awarded to non-TAFEs, which represents a reduction of 7.1 per cent on 2015-16 figures (Productivity Commission). In a training system where 60% of students choose to study with an independent provider, there is clearly a mismatch in funding support to students.

A well-designed entitlement model is one that does not promote one provider sector over another, nor does it enable government policy to support the public VET sector at the expense of independent providers.  For this reason, ACPET has advocated for an entitlement and demand-driven funding model for VET with full contestability for all training providers.

Reducing Red-Tape & Preserving Quality —

Recent failures in the sector have largely been due to flawed government-funded program design and implementation, and the failure to administer existing regulations, together with a lack of ethics in a small number of providers. Regulators have ‘doubled down’ on regulation in response to their program administration failures and these have had a significant impact on the sector, its students and employers who rely on the sector for their training needs.

ACPET members report that the VET sector is experiencing the most challenging regulatory environment in the last 25 years. The raft of recent federal and state and territory government regulatory measures (and funding restrictions, particularly to the independent sector) are significantly adding to the burden on quality independent providers, their students and industry.

To ensure a regulatory framework is fit for purpose it’s important that there is proactive and regular engagement. To this end, ACPET’s approach is to step-up engagement with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) so that together, outcomes are agreed, performance is monitored and there is a shared focus on quality and continuous improvement.

ACPET’s focus is on ensuring that the work of ASQA is open and transparent, with private providers treated in the same way as public TAFE colleges and that a greater focus is on building a culture of compliance across the sector.

ACPET’s submission clearly highlights that independent VET providers play an important role in ensuring the diverse needs of students, industry and the Australian economy are met. These providers enjoy high levels of student satisfaction on par with publicly funded institutions.   Recognition of this, and creation of an environment in which independent providers can operate sustainability whilst delivering quality outcomes for students and employers is what ACPET has sought in the submission, that can be downloaded from the link below:

The work of preparing the submission was led by the Canberra-based ACPET Policy & Research Manager, Mr Robert Wilson, who received advice and guidance from members serving on the ACPET Vocational Education and Training Steering Committee.  The product is an excellent example of what member-driven advocacy is all about.

Troy Williams FIML MAICD
ACPET Chief Executive
Twitter: @TroyWilliamsAus


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