Is self regulation for RTO’s a good idea

As most people in the VET industry are no doubt aware by now, the spectre of self regulation, at least for a number of ‘low risk’ RTO’s has raised it head again. So my question today is a simple one and that is, is self regulation of a Australia’s Vocational education and training (VET) industry a good idea.

Before I start to consider this however a couple of caveats. I intend to consider this question for a logical, purpose driven, objective viewpoint, so I won’t be considering or arguing whether a particular RTO could self regulate, I will be looking as whether, given the purpose of the VET system in this country, self regulation of training providers is something which is aligned with that purpose.  Nor will I be entering into arguments about the current state of the VET system and whether or not it achieves what its purpose is.

One of the key issues here in my mind is the link between nationally accredited training and licensing.  You can’t be a plumber for example without having a particular set of qualifications under the VET system.  The same goes for being an electrician.  It is hear that for me the rubber hits the road with respect to regulation and points to the problems with self regulation.  In order to ensure that the electrician who comes out and wires your home up there needs to be some form of regulation, some form of standard levels of competency around the skills and knowledge possessed by that person and by that group of people who call themselves electricians.  We achieve that through the assessment of such skills and knowledge against standardised performance criteria which form part of the relevant qualifications.  Who is authorised to deliver such qualifications and deem a person competent is regulated by a third party system which is by law allowed to sanction any delivering organisation who fails to meet the standards.

Without a third party to regulate the standards of competence and to enforce sanctions on those agencies who do not comply, it seems difficult for me to see why there would not be those who would seek to shorten, abridge and just plain not enforce the standards for competence which are deemed to have to apply.  In fact we have already seem numerous examples of this kind of activity in a system that is already regulated by a third party.  Any suggestion that removing the third party and sanctions even for a select group would improve that situation does not appear at least in my opinion to be logical.

Now some might suggest that the trades are a special case and there would still need to be some sort of third party regulation of those qualifications linked to licensing requirements and  qualifications such as for example the Certificate IV in front line management could be self regulated.  There are two problems I see with this kind of thinking, one is of course that organisation which deliver both plumbing and management courses would have to treat the regulation and compliance around those courses differently, which may actually increase the kinds of administrative burdens we currently see.  The other problem of course is that from my perspective if I have a staff member who has a  Certificate IV in front line management, then I have certain expectations about what the skills and knowledge of that person are, and under a system where training organisations were self regulating the level of faith in someone having a qualification would I think certainly decline.

I find it difficult to see how a self regulated system could provide the levels of quality that the current third party regulated system does.


Anyway that is my opinion.

On VET reform, some observations and comments

So everyone has been talking recently about the VET reform agenda of the current federal government and the changes needed in the VET sector to better meet Australia’s needs. The demise of the NSSC and a language focusing on the needs of Industry and outcomes points to a different landscape.

So I thought I might make a couple of observations and some comments on Australia’s VET system and what changes might be useful to see.

I think one of the things that we will see very quickly and are already seeing is a increased focus on the needs of industry or more particularly a focus on industry advising government on the direction that VET needs to take. We have already seen this happening in QLD with seemingly a much stronger link between government and industry in relation to the VET sector. Is this a good thing? While I applauds the idea of stronger links between the training sector and industry, a focus on industry opinion will certainly have an effect on priorities. One of these changes is the continuing discussion from industry around the need for delivery of skill sets. The use and delivery of skills sets either as an adjunct to or instead of qualifications to needs of organisations is a completely different model both in terms of delivery, funding and the commercial operations of an RTO.

One others comment I would like to make is about the focus of compliance activities. It amazes me and always has for that matter is that an audit can be carried out on a training organisation. An auditor can spend days with an RTO before deeming them compliant and never once actually have to look at the content and how it is delivered. No one ever sits through the face to face training or does the online training before they deem an RTO to be compliant. I have always found this more than a little weird. I know that the argument is that if the assessment tools are right and they are properly utilised then of course the training must be ok, because how else could have the participant successfully completed the assessments. I also know that this argument is rubbish. If we are going to change the system for the better then in my opinion one of the ways we could make that actually happen is by having auditors actually sit through some of the training that is being delivered by the RTO in in whatever form it takes.

Remember exceptional outcomes are the result of exceptional training.

Dealing with difficult people when facilitating


Great post by Sukh

Originally posted on Thinking About Learning:

There comes a time for most facilitators when they’re met with that person in the group who is difficult. In the context of the learning session, this is quite broad. A difficult person is someone who:
- is dominating a lot of the conversation because they have things to say
- are openly questioning and challenging the facilitator
- is making inappropriate remarks or comments to others in the room
- is cynical to an uncomfortable level
- is challenging because of recent change affected to them
- and other behaviours I’m not remembering to list

I’ve had cause in recent learning sessions to deal with these types of difficult people. And it’s caused me to reflect on what role I play in their behaviour.

First and foremost I have taken the opinion that if it is happening in the learning session, this is the right place for it. Something…

View original 576 more words

The future of L&D and The VET sector in Australia

Over the past few months I have been seeing an increasing number of concerning trends in L&D in Australia particularly in the VET sector, but in reality across the board.

One of these seems to be a move away from having specialist L&D people looking after training within organisations and a move towards having generalist HR folk, or senior management either in charge of or responsible for the training needs of either the organisation or their department or unit.

Now on the surface this may not seem like a bad idea, surely managers know what their staff need, or a good HR person can figure it out and get it delivered, however particularly in Australia with our quite complex VET system there is without a doubt, at least in my mind, at least some degree of specialist knowledge which is required in order to successfully navigate training within Australia, which goes beyond, ‘that program seems good and is a good price’.

The accredited training environment in this country is complex, and navigating that complexity is something that a lot of organisations do not seem to do very well. They fall into the ‘we can give you free training’ line pandered by a lot of RTO’s, without real thought for the outcome for their staff and the organisation. Sure it may not cost them anything directly, but it doesn’t give them the targeted outcomes they may have got if they had examined the process and the offerings more closely, or if they had understood how the sector works and what ‘free training’ generally means.

Even if we step outside the VET sector and look at training in general, there is so much choice in terms of offerings and price, and who is delivering the material to sometimes make it difficult even for a seasoned professional to make a well informed decision about the best direction to take.

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe the good people in L&D have made it look easy and organisations creating a situation where organisations are not valuing the input and outcomes produced by their L&D folk as much as they once were.

Moving on and other changes and challenges

So as some of you may have noticed I have not posted much this month. The main reason for this is as of the end of February I ceased my role at UCC. There are always many reasons for decisions like these, but it has given me back sometime to get a range of things done that had been sitting in the wings, like finishing the renovations of our bathroom in the new house. Which is something that I now intend to either never do again or if we do decide to change it someone else is doing all the work.

So I am currently taking to people about some interesting and challenging roles, primarily in the VET/RTO sector, and when something is settled I will pass on my new role to all and sundry.

I intend to get back to regular posting and commentary next week, so look out.

Also if any happens to hear of any roles they think might interest me feel free to let me know through one of the many channels of communication.

I look forward to engaging with everyone again.

Queensland Ministerial Industry Commission Roundtable

So I am spending the day today at the Queensland Government Ministerial Industry Commission roundtable to discuss the draft of the Annual Skills Priority Report for 2013-14 for Queensland developed by Deloitte Access Economics.

It should be an interesting day and I will be updating this post as we go through the day with any interesting facts and discussion points as we go through the day.

Currently listening to Michael Roche the Deputy Chair of the Commission speak.

There is need to better link the industry and the outcomes of VET training to better target the public training dollar.

There needs to be a much higher level of flexibility in the delivery of government funded training in order to allow industry to be able to take advantage of innovation and changes in the economy.


Now it is time to hear from the people at Deloitte about their draft report.

Key Factors driving skill need in QLD

Demographic Change
Change of Consumer spending to be ore focussed on services
Productivity through technology and digital disruption
The Changing face of the mining boom
Development within interest rate sensitive sectors
lower Australian dollar

Demographic changes would be expected to show up in and increased demand for health and aged care services.

Housing construction should grow over the next three years while at the same time seeing a slow down in engineering construction.

This should see a 2.5% per year employment growth over the next 3 years.

It is expected that the big growth areas will be Managers, Professionals and Community and Personal Service Workers with growth in these areas expected to be will above the expected state employment growth averages.

There is an expected significant decrease in growth in the Cert i/ii qualification areas which I don’t think is a surprise to anyone. There is however strong growth in the cert iii/iv areas and solid growth expected in the Diploma/Adv Diploma level. There will be an overall increase in the number of VET qualifications held by Queenslanders from about 1.4 million to about 1.8 million.

key points of the report

Electrical trades are growing as there is need for these skills over a range of industry sectors
Generic business skills that are not necessarily business specific Ability to access skill sets to meet needs rather than full qualification.
A key challenge is for RTO and policy makers to be able to stay abreast of changes within various industry in order to be able to meet the industry needs
There is a narrowing of the number of RTO’s within forestry and agriculture
Technological advances are changing rapidly how training needs to be delivered
Low level of faith in a range of qualifications within the Health and Community services area
The skill needs within the Health and community Services sector is moving towards skills sets rather than full qualificiations

Apprenticeship and Traineeship numbers down

So the NCVER have released their December figures for Trainee and Apprenticeships and there is a decided downward direction to the numbers.

So what do these number mean if anything at all.  The Australian Industry Group suggests that “These downward trends reflect continuing employer uncertainty about the state of the economy” and to some extend I think that they are correct and when this is coupled with the changes made by the previous federal government to the funding arrangements for trainees and apprentices the effects has been increased.  Lack of commencement payments, a smaller list of qualifications available and smaller payments overall doesn’t just hurt RTO’s it damages the ability of business to be able to fund the training of staff, particularly in an environment where businesses are uncertain about the economic climate.  Organisations will where they can attempt to recruit staff who already possess the qualifications they require rather than recruiting and then training themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggestion that the government should fund qualifications all over the shop (we have seen the disaster that that can cause), nor am I suggesting that the government needs to increase the the amount of finding.  There does however need to be a rethink of how training is funded.  Take for example the idea of a commencement payment, even a relatively small one.  this payment can be used to alleviate some of the cash flow issues that can be involved with completion only funding.  The RTO wants and needs to be paid and doesn’t and probably shouldn’t have to wait up to two years for the person to finish in order to receive payment from the organisation. so business ends up carrying the cash flow issues of paying the training company upfront, or in installments, which can be sustained by larger businesses but which makes it more difficult on smaller businesses to be able to train their staff.

The other side of the coin is that there needs to be real vocational outcomes for people doing any program funded by the government.  If their funded qualification doesn’t have solid vocational outcomes and links then why  is it being funded when there are certainly lots of areas out there where there are clear needs for people with the right skills and qualifications.

or you know it could just have been because it was approaching Christmas.   :)

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