Rebuilding VET

So  a number of people over the past few weeks have asked me about my opinions about how we can rebuild and revitalise VET in Australia.  While I have in the past spoken about what I thought might be specific changes to particular parts of the system, I have to at least some extent shied away from proclaiming my view for a future of VET.  One of the reasons for this is that, to me, a lot of what happens in this sector, a lot of what the sector does and the vast majority of the outcomes which are produced are excellent.  I am not sure that the sector needs a reimagining or wholesale reenginerring of how it operates.

If you listen to the left you will hear the constant chant of TAFE TAFE TAFE, get rid of private providers and the system will be right.  If you listen to the right, it is all about market forces, competitiveness, and the free market and here of course is the rub, they are both right and they are both wrong.  The answer lies somewhere in between.

We need a strong public provider and a strong network of private providers to make the system work effectively, more importantly though we need both groups to be treated the same and regulated the same, and not just in name only, in actual practice.

We need to recognise that trainers and assessors in this industry need to have three skill sets.  They need to have a deep understanding and relevant, up to date knowledge of their industry; they need vocational currency.  They need to have and understanding of the VET sector; how assessment processes work and what it means for someone to be competent, and they need to be good at presenting the material they are covering in an engaging and meaningful way, so that students actually learn what they need to.

We need the owners and senior managers of of all providers, be they public or private to really actually put students and their outcomes first.  Yes sustainability is vitally important, but we are in the business of education, so the actual education should be our focus, not how much money we can make, or whether or not we have the best office or the best view, or what awards we get.  The outcomes for students should be at the heart of what we do and if it isn’t we should probably get out and find another sector.

We need the regulator to actually regulate.  More than that however, we need to regulator to act fairly, consistently and in timely manner.  It is essential that providers regardless of whether they are public or private, new entrants or longtime RTOs, catering to 100 students of 10,000 students that they will be treated and assessed fairly and consistently and that breeches dealt with appropriately.

We need to government to invest in the VET system and to invest in it properly.  There is a need for sensible long term commitments to funding plans, be they direct entitlement style funding, organisational funding or contingent loan facilities.  The commitment however has to be long term and it has to address the skills and knowledge needs of this country moving forward.

Sounds really simple doesn’t it.


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.

6 Responses to Rebuilding VET

  1. Wayne says:

    I really like this message Paul. I agree with most of it but I think you are being soft against both Left and Right. The issues around trainers Capacity and skills should have been learnt or taught and obtained within TAE or TAA etc but we know how that went when RTOs RPL or fast track cheaply for less then 199.00 what quality is embedded in that process. Lets put aside the bad RTOs for a moment and their are plenty. My major issue is ASQA has the worst communications process i have ever had to deal with the Complaints regime is very poor and does not follow governance and best practice to keep complainants informed of course of actions or outcomes sometimes never and sometimes 9 Months later. The system is flawed when it expects Complaints to be lodged on the asqnet system by those who don’t use it and leave or get timed out trying to decipher the rules in lodging a complaint. Also confusing is the term Inquiries or feedback lines are they the lines or email accounts for complaints or just inquiries . Yes I support positive Change Good Governance but most importantly knowing where we stand and what action they take and timely. Please answer this why are they at Initial registration audits tougher on new comers but existing Clients can extend scope items without submission of any resources being audited or reviewed. I see RTOs every day that claim we have no resources for what we have on scope how can that be.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      I will take that one on the chin Wayne, I probably am being a bit soft on both sides, a lot of what has happened and lot of the reason that we are in the state that we are in falls directly on the shoulders of our governments over the last years. I agree the ASQA communications processes leave a significant amount to be desired, particularly when it comes to complaints and issues. One of the main reasons behind Queensland putting a training ombudsman in place was to try and close the loop so to speak with ASQA because so many complaints were being made and then nothing was ever heard of them again.

  2. Mark Jones says:

    Hi Paul, as always another great insight. Couldn’t agree more or to any extent wrote a better piece myself.

    The key points that resonated for me were those of equality and fairness for all regardless of RTO size or as a public or private provider, however more important is the role we all play in educating todays and tomorrows workforce … “We need a strong public provider and a strong network of private providers to make the system work effectively, more importantly though we need both groups to be treated the same and regulated the same, and not just in name only, in actual practice.”

    Well said my friend!

  3. Tony says:

    This is how the govt is investing and funding:
    Parliament ignorant of details on ‘rushed’ VET loans bill
    The devil is always in the details, including those in sweeping reforms like federal education minister Simon Birmingham’s VET Student Loans scheme. A spokesperson for Birmingham has admitted that MPs and senators voted on the VET Student Loans scheme without knowing the full details of what they were voting for. The legislation containing this information was not made publicly available …
    Courtesy of: CAMPUS Review -Campus Review is Australia’s leading independent tertiary education publication and website.
    Josie Wallace
    02 9936 8666

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