On the 3rd April 2014 the newly formed COAG Industry & Skills Council met for the first time to discuss objectives for national VET reform, among other things. The inaugural meeting brought together ministers from industry and skills portfolios with leaders from various industry sectors.
According to its website (http://www.natese.gov.au/cisc) the COAG Industry & Skills council replaces the former SCOTESE, established in September 2011, of which the NSSC was a committee. Unlike SCOTESE whose jurisdiction related to tertiary education, skills and employment, the primary focus of this council is industry and skills, which implies quite a different focus or way of framing problems.
At the April meeting, VET Reform was discussed amongst other non-training related topics (such as manufacturing). The council agreed that ongoing VET reform was necessary to ensure the system ‘effectively supports the current and future skills and needs of businesses across all sectors of the Australian economy’ (Communique for the COAG Industry and Skills Council Meeting – 3 April 2014).
VET Reform priorities:
As identified in the April meeting Communique, VET reform will aim to:
- ‘examine the standards for providers and regulators to ensure they better recognise the different level of risk posed by different providers, enable the regulators to deal more effectively with poor quality in the sector to improve confidence, and meet the Australian Government’s deregulation objectives
- ‘reduce the burden on the VET sector arising from the constant updates to training packages
- ‘ensure that industry is involved in policy development and oversight of the performance of the VET sector and to streamline governance arrangements and committees.’
However, VET Reform is not a new issue and discussions and publications to come out of this meeting have not yet made public mention to the previous standards review, initiated by NSSC in June 2012. The newly proposed standards which came out of the NSSC process have been under public review and discussion particularly during 2013, and it’s hard not to wonder if all of that work is now effectively going to waste.
The government has clearly stated its agenda to minimise the red tape and ‘unnecessary cost burdens’ (Ian Macfarlane – MP), however, it’s not clear what has or will be achieved by the reforming of regulatory committees and if all of the previous reform discussions and proposed changes will still be considered or if we are effectively starting from scratch.
Some thoughts and questions this raises:
- Where does this leave us (as RTOs and consultants) in terms of planning for changes to standards? Will we get an outcome on the previously proposed AVQS and when?
- Since the NSSC has been disolved who will be approving new training packages and can we expect to see less training package reviews?
- Reducing regulatory burden may sound appealing to many but will it sacrifice on quality across the board and how will this really ensure needs of industry or business are better met?
Have your say:
Join the ‘VET Reform’ group started by the Australian Government on Linked In. In particular; there is a discussion from Kathryn Shugg, General Manager at Department of Industry, the discussion is titled ‘Ministerial Council outcomes’. We cannot post a link here as you will need to request access to the closed group prior to reading discussions.
COAG Industry & Skills Council website:
Comminique from the meeting 3rd April:
Articles in The Australian:
Ministerial Media Release (Ian Macfarlane MP):