Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

In Focus

Monday, September 22 2014

Ten days ago at the VELG Conference in Brisbane Minister McFarlane made some very significant announcements about the VET system in this country.

He prefaced the announcements with this statement, “The most important goal of the skills and training sector is to provide industry with the skilled and productive workers it needs to capitalise on the opportunities of the future and to give young Australians the best opportunity to get a job.”

The Government is going to introduce a new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to replace the existing apprenticeship centre model. The new system will involve less red tape and a lot more support for apprentices and employers. This is long overdue.

The new arrangements will shift the focus from administration to integrated, client-centred support including:

  • job-matching of potential apprentices and employers,
  • the provision of advice about different training options,
  • personalised mentoring for apprentices identified as needing extra support, and
  • guidance to businesses about taking on an apprentice.

It is to be hoped that these changes will see an increase in the number of apprentices successfully completing their training and going on to be productive trades men and women. Increasing the number of apprentices starting does not always lead to increased completion numbers. The selection process and support are critical and in the past we have seen incentives result in selections being skewed to follow the money.

The Minister also made some important statements about changes to be made to ASQA. The regulator must be a modern risk based regulator. However, there needs to be a focus on maintaining very high standards and to do this the regulator’s time and resources will be best spent by dealing with clear cases of breached standards, not micromanaging the delivery of on-the-ground training. “ASQA should be a regulator, not a book keeper.”

Equally, the time and resources of high performing training providers will be best spent in getting on with the job. There will be a level of self-regulation for those RTOs that have a good track record.

Another area that has received considerable focus in recent weeks has been the need to deal with brokers of training. Some brokers, who act unscrupulously, are undermining the reputation of the training system. Those members who have had experience in the international training sector are used to the operation of brokers and managing them.

The new standards make RTOs responsible for the behaviour of any brokers subcontracted by an RTO. ASQA will therefore be able to take regulatory action against an RTO using a broker, if the broker is breaching these standards.

ACPET already runs a very popular webinar on how to manage brokers and has started work on a how to guide of managing brokers. It is important for members to make sure they are on top of this issue rather than allow government to believe they need to intervene in the system. ACPET will be doing everything possible to help provide a quality approach to managing brokers.

ASTAS Rework.
The ACPET Board has been successful in reducing its insurance costs underwriting the ASTAS and has passed on a 20% reduction in fees. The Board has further agreed to review all aspects of its ASTAS offerings and asked staff to have this ready by the end of the year. I will keep you updated on developments.

The ACPET Board met on Friday and I will provide an update in the next NMU.

Thanks for all the feedback I received about last weeks In Focus article. Always encouraging to know that people are reading NMU and have strong opinions.


Larry Davies


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