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Drastic change is needed in the VET sector

Along with the rest of the team at LMA, I am deeply concerned about the future of the VET sector in Australia given the growing lack of public confidence organisations and individuals have in investing in professional development.

RTOs are increasingly facing scepticism and negative media. This is largely as a result of the actions of a small number of unethical RTOs who should be held accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, the waste in effort, time and resources is broad and is not easily forgotten. Typically, there are 3 groups of stakeholders affected:

  1. The Participants (Students). Many participants see training and development as their opportunity to further develop their skills in their chosen vocation and advance their careers. Alternatively, earning an additional qualification could be their first step in starting down a whole new career path. Both of these objectives are undermined by courses which fail to deliver any real skill or knowledge improvement.
  2. Organisations/The Employer. If the course is being funded (in full or in part) by the Participant’s employer, the lack of results and measurable outcomes from sub-standard RTOs undermines the prospect of future investment in the training and development of their workforce. They want to see value for their investment in time and dollars.
  3. The Taxpayer. It is the taxpayers of Australia who largely fund the VET sector. Generally speaking, Australia embraced the findings of the Karpin report and the need for development of the Australian workforce in order to compete in a global marketplace. Australians still acknowledge the need to focus on up-skilling its workforce. Unfortunately, with the growing number of examples of RTOs abusing the system, the Australian public’s patience is wearing thin.

As a reputable RTO delivering true development and transformation to its Participants, measurable outcomes and ROI against pre-determined objectives to its client organisations and in-turn, fulfilling its incumbent obligation to the Australian taxpayer, we are aggrieved that we find ourselves in an industry which is overshadowed by scepticism and negative media as a result of the actions of a small number of unethical RTOs and providers.

Over the last decade, Australia has experienced a productivity slump. Our long term productivity growth ranks well below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, and significantly below that enjoyed by leading economies.

According to a recent Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey, only 16% of leaders believe their organisations are exceeding productivity expectations and 40% feel they are meeting expectations. There is clearly a great deal of room for improvement.

At a time when Australia has real and identifiable skill gaps in its workforce, we are finding it harder and harder to find those willing to invest in themselves and/or their workforce.

The State and Federal Governments must take action to address the diminishing public confidence in the VET sector. Swifter action and harsher penalties must be imposed on RTOs who rort the system. Recent examples of RTOs rorting the system have highlighted weaknesses in the existing compliance and audit systems.

At the very least, I believe a Rating System needs to be introduced which takes into account:

  • The quality of resources provided to Participants,
  • The duration of the course, and
  • The transparency of its costs.

Most importantly,

  • A process which measures an RTO’s success by the ACTUAL outcomes it is achieving with the Participants and, if applicable, the client organisations.

Given the facilities and opportunities available to our workforce, coupled with the Federal and State funding provided to the VET sector, Australia’s productivity growth ranking with the OECD is unacceptable.

We need to rebuild confidence in individuals and organisations to invest in their future through training and development. Rebuilding this confidence will not be easy, however if it not addressed, the work of the last 20 years since the Karpin Report will be wasted.

The Australian public, via the use of tax-payers money, has the right to expect RTOs to fulfil their obligations. At Leadership Management Australasia, we take this responsibility seriously. We:

  • Remain committed to the purpose of the VET Sector to upskill the Australian workforce.
  • Stand by the results we achieve with our Participants and the measurable outcomes we deliver, and
  • Implore the governing body(ies) to refocus audit activity on the ACTUAL OUTCOMES being achieved from the courses rather than paper-based compliance.

Training and development is too important to the Australian economy and jobs growth to be jeopardised by unscrupulous RTOs and providers. We welcome stronger regulation within the VET sector to bring about the change necessary to regain the Australian public’s confidence in investing in themselves and employers investing in their workforce.

Andrew Henderson
Leadership Management Australasia (LMA)