The Australian | 30 August 2013
Claire Field, chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) has launched a scathing attack on the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC), the agency responsible for setting training standards, saying armchair experts are wrecking the sector.
Speaking at ACPET’s national conference, she said that non-practitioners with a “predominantly classroom-based” view of training were setting unreasonable and unworkable standards.
“The system has been designed to be driven by ‘experts’ – not those with real experience – and labelling them as experts encourages them to back their own judgement, rather than engage in genuine dialogue with those who know the sector best,” the speech says.
Field’s criticisms centred on the new Australian Vocational Qualifications System proposed in March by the NSSC, headed by Hawke-era education minister John Dawkins.
She attacked a proposal to mandate minimum capital requirements for colleges licensed to issue their own qualifications, while noting that this proposal had now been withdrawn.
“A truly expert set of reforms would not have included such nonsensical ideas in the first place “Rather than waste time fighting to get rid of rubbish ideas, we could instead have been engaged in dialogue about quality and how to improve it.”
The speech questions the operational viability of other suggestions, including a requirement for all licensed colleges to have accountable education officers. It criticises the NSSC for suspending consultations during the election period, saying caretaker conventions do not require this.
Field also mocked the proposal to rebadge colleges from the current nomenclature, “registered training organisations” or RTOs, to “licensed training organisations” or LTOs. Trucks should similarly be renamed “motorised vehicles for haulage” and trees should become “photosynthesising CO2 emission reducing organisms”, she said.