We have provided a heavily edited version of our submission due to privacy and confidentiality issues but in our traditional approach to transparency and accountability, we are committed to sharing as much as possible with you regarding what we believe.
This submission is based on identifying what we see as some of the core issues that are currently plaguing (and destroying) our world-renowned system and proposes some suggestions for changing the status quo. This submission intentionally provides an overview of the historical context of VET in Australia, what the purpose of VET appears to be in today’s economic market, discusses who might be the stakeholders of the VET sector currently and discuss the current perception of VET in Australia because typically, as is shown in the initial stages of our submission, history does have a habit of repeating itself in this sector. Until these key concepts are clearly understood, there is little point in trying to improve the quality of VET.
There is discussion about the quality and inconsistency of auditing staff around the country and the impact that this has had on the VET sector and the impact it will continue to have if left unaddressed. An area of significant concern to RTO Doctor is the discussion that needs to be held surrounding Industry Skills Councils, the Quality Assurance Panel of the now defunct National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) and the quality of the training packages that they are required to produce, continuously improve and endorse.
There is a discussion regarding the accountability and transparency of the complaints and appeals process being implemented by ASQA and a final discussion about the concept of de-regulation proposed by the current government as being the most appropriate way forward. The report concludes with a summary of the RTO Doctor position on the reform taking place as well as summarises our recommendations (31) for an improved system that we can all be proud of. We included reference to a range of LinkedIn discussions as well as provided the threads in the relevant appendices as supporting evidence for our recommendations.
It is a very lengthy report that was delivered directly to the VET Reform Taskforce email address as well as directly to Michael Read, Policy Adviser, Skills & Training for the Minister.
What we have attempted to achieve through this VET Reform Consultation is perhaps somewhat misguided in that it believed (with good reason, that the ‘national peak bodies’ that it was consulting with, did genuinely understand the needs of this industry. What is clear is that not only was this not true and that they do not adequately represent the views of most members of the VET sector, but the key drivers of this critical sector to the economy has not consulted widely enough.
It has consulted with its traditional stakeholders but not really consulted with all of the stakeholders that matter such as the small business owner who needs the system more than the big unions, the students of the system, etc.
If the current reform efforts do not go back and look at the historical development of the VET sector, how it came to be and closely analyse the successes and shortcomings from the past, we will never end up with a reform effort that adequately addresses the needs of this country and our reputation internationally as a leader in the provision of education and training. What is currently being demonstrated is a real knee jerk reaction to a political issue that is not really addressing the fundamental flaws of the system by introducing changes that are heavily influenced by a political message that should never have been applied to Australia’s education and training sector but it is in order to appease voters and protect the Prime Minister’s election pledge of de-regulation and reducing the red tape. If the government’s commitment to our future is to provide a system that develops the skills and knowledge of our future country members (and those around the world), it is negligent in believing and promoting that a de-regulated and/or self-regulated approach is the way of the future. In a sector where people’s lives are put at risk on a daily basis and will continue to get worse in the future, when the only time they consider ‘self-regulation’ is when there’s an audit coming otherwise it is ‘free for all and let’s get away with what we can’, our future generations are in trouble. Either the Taskforce really engages in genuine reform and makes the changes that need to be made as opposed to the changes that would equate to maintaining election promises or it has also been negligent and let down the current and future generations of our nation.
The current proposals laid out to the sector are not fit for purpose, the current regulatory framework is not fit for purpose, the proposed AVQS is not fit for purpose and the concept of de-regulation or self regulation is not fit for purpose. While it is understood that the terms of reference of the taskforce are great and that it is going to be near impossible to develop a one size fits all approach, it needs to look much further and deeper than it is currently to really see the issues that are the most critical that need to be addressed.