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.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

3 Responses to On VET reform, some observations and comments

  1. Derek Bailey says:

    Great article.
    My feeling after seeing the debacles occurring in the Australian FE(VET) system is and I thought I would never contemplate it adopt the UK “Ofsted” system where an Inspector comes in to the classroom with an observer nominated by the organisation being inspected.
    It is not a direct report on the teacher but to check that process is correct and gives an indirect report on the deliver on what is happening.
    Even to adopt into our system that the deliver of the “stuff” is doing their job properly by inspection and Independent survey would go some way to raising the bar.
    Yes I can hear the howls now but why if you are doing your job one should embrace the idea to get proper feedback on how you are doing so you can then reflect on the critique and thus aim for improvement .

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Derek, I wholeheartedly agree and you are right if you are doing your job well or even adequately what is the problem with having and independant assessment.

  2. Jacquie Watson says:

    I could not agree more, and it has always amazed me too. BUT, what amazes me even more, is the indignation of trainers when you suggest you would like to have their teaching notes lesson plans etc examined as part of industry consultation, and the attitude of industry representatives when they are asked to examine the whole package. The trainers are mortified if it is suggested that they be observed while teaching, often claiming their years of experience indicate their ability. In the past I have been part of a two teacher class by combining small classes into one, a practice that has fallen away with VET funding reforms and a move to larger class sizes. I found that wonderful, I could bounce things off the other teacher, get feedback and collaborate on resource development. Its too easy to fall into bad habits if you don’t get looked in on occasionally, and I don’t think trainers do them selves any favors resisting it.

    Lets face it, RTO compliance is all about paperwork compliance, not quality in the classroom or training room. Sometimes the popular trainer is only popular because they get friendly with learners, and easy with assessment. That can be hidden from audit by not showing marking on assessment just final marks, and by marked assessments not being audited.

    I think the whole thing is a bit of a joke, and an excuse to privatize everything while trying to pretend the quality is being controlled!!

    I don’t think Industry always has the best interest in training people properly at heart either. No one is vetting Industries ability to guide what people should be taught, as your comments on skill sets indicate. They would rather see just in time training for the job at hand, rather than someone training with a career view rather than a job view. Also the funding of the first qualification only and I believe CIII only with some exceptions is a joke. A CIII is barely job entry, its really only task ready training. A lot of jobs start at CIV and so they should. People deserve a chance at something more than a CIII. Sometimes its not even a pathway to a career.

    Badly thought out policy is very much governments forte, short term views based on dollar values and the influence of the rich rather than the needs of growing enterprises who are genuinely interested in the interests of employees. Its not in the Nations interest either.

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