New Year – New VET or does nothing really ever change

First off I hope that everyone had a wonder Christmas and New Year and that at least some of you got away from the daily grind for a little bit of  break.  For me it has been interesting to have an actual significant break over the Christmas and New Year period.  Usually I take holidays at other times during the year and simply escape the office for public holidays and maybe a couple of extra days.  So between Christmas itself, seeing Weird Al Yankovic at falls and renovating my kitchen I for once in a long time have not paid significant attention to the various machinations within the sector.

The big thing that has happened of course are the changes to the VFH system.  There has been substantial commentary from a number of sources around this so I won’t say a lot.  My one concern out of the whole bag of tricks is the requirement that providers must have been delivering Diploma Qualifications for 5 years or more, regardless of how long you have been an RTO for.  We would be ineligible under these new provisions despite the fact that we have been a successful, low risk, NFP RTO since 1998, but because our business for many years was focused on new workers and workers with disabilities we until relatively recently never bother to put diploma level qualifications on our scope.  I can understand why it is the government has decided this, but I also sincerely hope that in the fullness of time they rethink this and make allowances for those reputable RTOs who have well established track records, but who for many legitimate reasons had previously chosen not to deliver diploma level qualifications.

So enough of that and two the year ahead.  First things first, for those of you who are interested I will be presenting at the AITD conference in Sydney on 5-6 May this year on the topic of reconnecting L&D and VET, so if you are going to attend the conference, come and say hi.

What then are we gong to see in the sector over the next 12 months.  Firstly I think we will see more prosecutions by the ACCC and more actions from ASQA.  I suspect we will see somewhere in the vicinity of 8-10 providers (including some large ones) investigated by the ACCC as well as a number of the brokerages.  We will also see more cancellations of registrations over the coming months as well, both voluntary and involuntary and further constrictions on how the VFH systems operate with a view to a revamped system being run up the flag pole prior to the end of 2016 for commencement in 2017.  What that system might look like and where it might be focused I think will depend to a very large extent on the outcomes of the next federal election which PM Turnbull has already suggested will be in September or October.

I think we will also see further TAFE campuses close as the costs associated with maintaining large facilities for smaller numbers of students becomes financially difficult to swallow.  In fact if rumors are to be believed the Dapto campus will be closing this week and moving to leased facilities to reduce their $650,000 operating expenses for 10 students.  We will also I think see a shift in the educational brokerage market.  We will see less RTOs utilising these third part providers and more bringing the student recruitment processes back inside their own walls, where to be honest I thing they belong and where the RTOs themselves have far greater control over what is happening.

We will of course also see some significant changes in how the various states deal with their direct funding initiative.  We are in fact already seeing the Victorian government change the structure of its funding programs and we will see other changes, in some cases significant and in others tweaking of systems which are already working fairly well.  I suspect in Queensland we will see a more rigorous process around becoming a contracted provider when the current contracts come up for renewal in June.

Will it be a tough year, I think for those providers who haven’t built sustainable and ethical income streams, particularly those who have relied on ever-increasing student enrollment to fuel growth it will be particularly hard and we will see job cuts and business changes in those organisations if they manage to continue at all, but for the rest of us I think it will be pretty much as it has been for long time, business as usual.


Anyway that’s just my opinion.


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.

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