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Employers losing faith in training system

The Australian     |      31 July 2013

TAFE qualsA  Victorian government-commissioned survey has found that employers are losing faith in the quality of training qualifications, adding more ammunition to ongoing criticism of the state’s open market for training subsidies that has led to a proliferation of private providers.

The report from Queensland-based consultants Ithaca Group, and obtained by the HES, surveyed about 140 Victorian employers as part of an effort to assess their training information needs, but it found many would rather buy qualifications than trust the training system to improve staff skills.

“More than half the employers surveyed would prefer a recruitment solution and many say that they are deterred from the training option by their waning confidence in skills outcomes,” said this month’s survey report for the state’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. “That is why they may choose an informal, in-house skilling option rather than participation in nationally recognised training.”

But Victoria’s Skills Minister Peter Hall has hit back, noting that the government has already boosted regulation and was directing higher subsidies to areas of skill shortage while cutting subsidies to other courses. Writing in the HES today, he blames the previous Labor state government for opening up the market without having sufficient regulatory capacity in place. He also says that more than 100 providers have been removed from the system and tougher auditing had recovered $10m in government money that had been rorted by providers.

He told the HES that the latest National Centre for Vocational Education Research survey of employer satisfaction found that 84 per cent of Victorian employers surveyed in 2011 were satisfied with vocational qualifications, little changed from 84.5 per cent in 2009. “By any measure that is still a fairly high level of satisfaction,”

Australian Industry Group director of education and training  Megan Lilly said the failure of regulation to keep up with the  expansion of the Victorian market had led to a perceived and actual drop  in quality.

“It is definitely a perception issue, but there is also some evidence  of a real drop in quality given the proliferation of short duration  courses. It is a result of opening up the market so widely and not at  the same time fixing the quality system,” she said.

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