Once in a lifetime consultations are coming to a head with The Hon Ian MacFarlane MP announcing the first of the major Vocational Eduction and Training (VET) reforms today at the National Skills Summit in Canberra.
Much of the VET sector is waiting with anticipation but those who follow the conversation are fairly confident they can predict the outcome.
Recently the Minister for Industry has revealed his philosophy on skills and VET with statements like,
“The Government will continue to work with the sector to ensure training is delivering the skills Australian businesses are calling out for, to boost economic growth and productivity.”
“…there has been too much of an attitude—I am not saying that it is overwhelming, but I am saying it is prevalent—where there has been training for training's sake.”
“…a key area that we will fix … is inconsistency in auditing. In fact, we see a whole opportunity within the skills space to streamline it.”
After analysing these comments and reading between the lines, Wendy Perry, VET Strategist, predicts the areas that will be included in the Minister’s address.
“I believe that the Minister for Industry will make announcements about more than one area of VET reform focusing on the following components:
There will be national consistency and harmonsiation across states and territories. A new regime with new contracts may mean a vastly different model from 1.7.15. The tender details are anticipated from September 2014 where the contract will allow for collaborative arrangements, encourage innovative partnerships and provide different support for apprentices (mentoring may feature).
Employers and Industry
The focus of the VET sector will be the needs of employers and industry with funding to address productivity and competitiveness challenge. A sensible approach to this would be making funding dependent on providing evidence of workforce skill needs both now and into the future.
Industry Skills Fund (ISF)
This fund is the main intervention outside of Australian Apprenticeships. Consultation on the guidelines and application process will probably open shortly. The ISF has a natural link to the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme where a national consultation has recently been undertaken.
Reducing complexity and increasing transparency
There will be announcements aiming to create streamlined systems that take advantage of technology for reporting, funding and contract management. The introduction of the Unique Student Identifier and improvements to the myskills website will put learners and employers in control of deciding the best fit providers and training options.
A model of cooperative compliance will be implemented that grants lowest risk Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), that run good training businesses and always meet their obligations, delegations and approvals without audit. For those RTO’s that run a good training business and aim to meet quality outcomes but where compliance may be trending in a negative direction then privileges will be removed.
Competency defined and refined in a work setting using the power of situational learning with job based training will overwhelmingly be the preference.
VET system structure
Consideration of a governance review (if not now, maybe later) across all VET bodies and agencies also aligned with reform in VET in Schools and Higher Education will mean major changes.
Whilst this is perhaps more of a focus from the education and employment portfolios I think this is still in the Minister’s mind and youth along with mature aged and indigenous people are specific target groups for programmes. The issue of youth employment participation may be addressed with changes to entry level training.
In addition to these key areas I think the Minister will reiterate the support being provided to the Automotive and Manufacturing sectors plus the Growth, Infrastructure and Regional Funds all with the creation of jobs at their heart.
Take-aways for the VET sector
Overall the theme for VET is twofold:
- Concentrate on building business capability that translates into jobs
- Focus on outcomes and performance - not regulation, funding or grants.
The Australian Government is about making big hairy statements - so don’t be surprised if there is something big, something from left field in Minister MacFarlane’s address.”
Presentations at the GTAV Conference in Shepparton on 19-20 June 2014 have provided some basis for these observations.
-- Wendy Perry, VET Strategist at WPAA.
Email: [email protected]
Ph: +61 8 8387 9800 l Mobile: +61 (0)416 150 491 l Fax: +61 8 8387 9820
Wendy Perry and Associates (WPAA) was established in 2002 as a Vocational and Educational and Training (VET) specialist with Workforce BluePrint (a division of the company) launched in 2006. The company provides workforce development and planning, VET and contact centre consultancy, and small business support services in addition to projects completed for Commonwealth, State/Territory and local governments.
Workforce BluePrint provides Workforce Development and Planning Services for Clusters, Community Development, Firms, Industry Development, Major Projects, Networks, Organisations, Regional, Rural and Remote Development, Small and Medium Sizes Enterprises (SME), Small Business Health Checks, Supply Chain and Value Chains.
Wendy A Perry, Head Workforce Planner
M: +61 416 150 491