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Edition 576, 20 October 2014

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In Focus

Monday, October 20 2014

My thoughts as we move into a new week.

Quality Issues
A lot of members will have seen the Current Affair story about a so called dodgy provider. I have been asked what ACPET is doing about the RTO in question. As is the case in all such situations your Governance Audit and Risk Committee will be asking the member to show cause and explain the situation from their point of view. Not one wants to be judged on one media story. We have had previous examples where a disgruntled employee or student has created a story to get back at the organisation they are aggrieved with. Due process and the presumption of innocence are critical in these situations to ensure fairness. KAPs has issued a statement refuting the claims made in the program.

Everyone needs to be assured that I will be asking the member for an explanation and will be paying a visit to the site.

There are more stories being reported about poor practice when recruiting students. Any time a student is enrolled in a course that is inappropriate for their level of skills the industry should be concerned. It is an even greater concern when the student ends up with a loan that will adversely affect their future. These stories damage the image of the whole industry.

We need to keep this issue in perspective, however. There is often a focus on the marketing strategies involving the provision of an ipad or similar inducement. The questions need to focus on whether or not there was appropriate student enrolment processes including understanding the students skill levels and expectations. Unfortunately offering inducements is part of marketing strategies in many industries, “do you want steak knives with that” or buy one and get one free. Ultimately the whole package has to be paid for.

ACPET is close to finalising a number of new clauses to be added to its Code of Ethics to strengthen our commitment to quality in the marketing area and in particular the use of brokers. This will be supported be a set of guidelines and standard letters of engagement when involving brokers as part of the marketing strategy. It is a priority for us and I plan to have it to the Board by the end of the week.

Contestable Funding
Last week we had a large number of NSW members very concerned with the roll out of Smart and Skilled. They have been made offers that in many cases they are not happy with or have not been offered a contract at all. Those who have been offered contracts have been sworn to secrecy and must accept or reject the contract by cob Tuesday. When they have tried to ask questions or seek clarification they are given the all too common government response of an impersonal email response. The rationale, not just in this case but across Government, is that the probity and procurement policy dictates that there are standard answers to ensure fairness to all. I think many government agencies have forgotten the notion of public service and by ensuring consistent answers they are ensuring no one gets a reasonable or useful answer.

Peter McDonald and I met with David Collins of the Department of Education and Communities and were pleased with his preparedness to provide some of the policy context and limitations the Department have been operating in. I found it a little scary discussing the issues in NSW and reflecting on how similar the issues were to the situation in WA just 15 years earlier. Good luck to our NSW members I think you are entering a process which will eventually see a relatively open and competitive market but I fear it is at least 5 years away. That does not mean that ACPET will cease seeking to see the process move a lot quicker than that. The losers in this process will continue to be the students.

In a couple of recent meetings it has been very clear that we must challenge this notion that public VET and public Higher Ed Providers deliver on a community service obligation. In a recent meeting with TEQSA where this concept was raised, almost like a self-evident truth, I asked for evidence of this thing being delivered. Many people who trot it out can’t even describe what it is. I worked with a not for profit organisation in regional WA. Our RTO helped disadvantaged members of the community reconnect with the training system, gain a qualification and get a job. The public providers in the region were good at employing people to get disadvantaged people into courses to meet their community service responsibility targets but hopeless at getting the participants into work. The result was a lot of disadvantaged people having 4 or 5 qualifications without ever working. Whenever you hear the words “community service responsibility” please ask for an explanation and for evidence of outcomes. You will do the community a great service.

National Training Awards
Congratulations to all Australian Training Awards finalists for 2014 and especially the following ACPET members:

Northern Territory

  • Liam May from Advanced Training International Incorporated - Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year


  • Charlton Brown - International Training Provider of the Year


  • Seafood Training Tasmania - Small Training Provider of the Year
  • Carmen Gumley from Avidity Training - VET Trainer of the Year


  • Train 2 Learn - Disability Training Initiative

Western Australia

  • Marr Mooditj Training Inc - WA Small Training Provider of the Year
  • Activ Pathways Western Australia - Disability Training Initiative

Good luck for the finals to be announced in Adelaide on Friday 21 November.

For more information click here

That’s enough from me for the time being. Next week I will be very pleased to be welcoming Rod Camm into the role of CEO.

Enjoy your week.



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