ACPET slams AEU study

ACPET NMU     |     16 February 2015

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Rod CammACPET CEO Rod Camm writes that the recent report by Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney – commissioned by the Australian Education Union – which claims that large private training college chains have been generating extraordinary profit margins on the back of their recent access to public subsidies is seriously flawed.

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I remember a former Prime Minister coining the phrase ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy.’ I can only imagine he was thinking about VET.

The importance of the sector can never be overstated. Skills shortages will again become the topic of conversation and we know they will largely be VET related skills. Yet despite this, a minority appears to be doing their best to bring the sector to its knees.

I should say public providers are our partners in the sector. Both public and private providers have strengths, but they also both have weaknesses. Both private RTOs and TAFE know this so they have been silent in the debate.

However, unfortunately that does not stop the commentary. Media and now the Greens continue to cite the flawed AEU report on the private sector, plus any other story they can drum up. I can only assume they haven’t read the report or Fact Checked it. The inappropriate use of single pieces of data is not defensible.

I continue to see the report used in editorials on the private sector, without any comment from ACPET. I can only wonder why!

I would like to thank the researchers from across the country who have contacted me and expressed their dismay at the report.

I just want the argument to be balanced. Yes there are problems out there. But yes, our industry is committed to fixing them. According to the AEU report, based on ASQA data (narrowly interpreted) our sector has poor quality and TAFE represents quality.

I have many friends and colleagues in TAFE.I respect them and love their work. I strongly believe we must keep the higher ground wherever possible. However, we must also defend our integrity.

Mmmm, a quick analysis of TAFE audits is revealing. In one State the last time TAFE’s re registrations were due (noting that TAFE has not yet been fully exposed to ASQA – I can report on that next week), across all of the TAFE institute reports that have been sent to me show that EVERY ONE of the Institutes have either or both:

  • Trainers and assessors without vocational competence, and
  • Non-compliant assessment tools and practices.

I think that is 100% non-compliance. I can’t find mention of this in media scrutiny.

In the reports concerns were raised about the competence of the teachers and the standard of the assessments. Additionally, the competence of staff to deliver and assess the programs was brought into question, plus teaching, learning and assessment deficiencies. A final mention, the assessments used by the TAFEs were non-compliant and did not meet the standards required by industry.

This is not a new trend.

So why is the private sector singled out. Surely not politics?

Colleagues, let us get to the table and work this out together. We should collaboratively commission proper research and influence the debate. Politics must be removed from this discussion. Genuine change is needed – I do not resile from that.

A joint ACPET/TAFE review with immediate and effective actions that help target strategies to stem the bad practices whilst celebrating the great provision that is out there is a starting point.

On another front, the Victorian Skills Minister Steve Herbert launched this week the VET Review for Victoria. You can find the link to the terms of reference at http://www.vetfundingreview.vic.gov.au/

I encourage you all to be involved.

On Friday ACPET submitted our response to the Senate Enquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training providers in Australia. Please find out submission here.

Our arguments are simple and are based on the facts:

  • The private sector has a proud history of quality – the evidence supports this assertion,
  • The delivery of VET by our sector has proven to be more efficient and of high quality – our clients, students and employers agree,
  • It is not about public or private – we all must protect the integrity of our sector,
  • Regulation must be effective, as must the design of contestable programs,
  • Completion data and outcomes must be more transparent, and be a feature of regulation,
  • There have been issues with recruitment and marketing – we can, will and are fixing them, and
  • Government design of funding programs must be a key feature.

 

 

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