Achieving high quality in the VET sector
Improving the quality of training and assessment across Australia's vocational education and training (VET) sector is a key commitment in the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform. It is important that sector is underpinned by a strong regulatory framework that ensures quality and confidence for the VET sector including students and industry.
These quality reforms aim to create a shared understanding of high-quality training delivery across the sector and move it beyond compliance with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 (the Standards) to excellence in training provision.
The first phase of consultation took place between December 2020 and March 2021 through surveys, online workshops and webinars, and meetings. Consultation was informed by two issues papers - RTO Quality and Supporting the VET Workforce.
The Department received 1276 survey responses and 641 people participated in workshops and webinars.
Stakeholders suggested there needs to be a clearer definition of quality to help RTOs reflect on their performance and identify areas for improvement. The consultations identified the following as the key characteristics of RTO excellence.
Student-centred and supportive of individual learning needs to ensure students have a positive learning experience and achieve their desired learning and/or employment outcomes.
A focus on continuous improvement, including using student and employer feedback to improve processes and delivery.
Adaptable, flexible, and responsive, especially to meet the needs of students and employers and to keep up with changes in technology.
Has strong links and partnerships with employers. This enables them to better contextualise training and to meet the needs of industry.
High-quality trainers and assessors with strong links to industry.
What stakeholders said about the Standards
Overall, 64% of survey respondents were satisfied or moderately satisfied with the Standards.
While generally satisfied with the Standards, stakeholders did identify areas where improvements could be made, and generally reported:
that the current minimum requirements are appropriate, but elements could be refined to improve clarity for both RTOs and regulators and focus more on outcomes for learners and employers
that there should be a greater focus on training delivery and learner wellbeing
ensuring any new requirements align with, but do not duplicate, existing obligations and requirements
the need to balance flexibility and clarity in the revised Standards so they set an appropriate baseline for quality while enabling excellence and innovation in training delivery
the importance of ensuring the Standards work for the range of different RTO types and sizes, and contexts in which training is delivered.
What stakeholders said about quality issues
As a current common area of non-compliance and confusion, assessment was a common suggested area for improvement and additional guidance.
Some RTOs reported that validation of assessment is burdensome, and inconsistently understood and practised.
Requirements for recognition of prior learning (RPL) need to be clear with support provided to RTOs as RPL can be complex and from a learner perspective the process can be inconsistent.
Some stakeholders also suggested that quality-assured standardised assessment tools would allow RTOs to focus more on delivery, rather than resource development and compliance.
High-quality RTOs have strong connections to industry and can produce outcomes for employers. Stakeholders identified many ways to engage with industry, such as establishing reference committees and advisory groups.
Current industry and employer engagement requirements could be clarified, including for enterprise RTOs.
To enable better engagement from industry, industry and employers need to be shown, and understand, the benefits and value of engagement.
Professional networks and RTO collaboration
Stakeholders raised the value of collaborating with other RTOs to share and develop resources.
Stakeholders noted that the focus on competition (especially for private RTOs and those in niche markets), and protection of intellectual property are barriers to RTO collaboration.
Learner wellbeing is important, and stakeholders noted the value of wraparound support services and language, literacy and numeracy support.
Some stakeholders would like to strengthen existing learner support requirements, but not all RTOs have the resources and capability to offer comprehensive support services.
Some stakeholders reported delivering training and assessment to learner cohorts with specific or complex needs, but there were differing views around whether RTOs have the necessary supports in place to deliver effective training to these cohorts.
Some RTOs consider current transition/teach-out arrangements administratively burdensome and disruptive for students.
This is exacerbated by non-substantive and/or multiple successive changes to training products.
Amount of training
- Further clarification and guidance are required around the amount of training required, as the concepts of amount of training, volume of learning and nominal hours tend to be conflated.
Many stakeholders said that capability frameworks and professional standards have a positive impact on performance planning and management, professional development, workforce planning and self-assessment of performance.
Stakeholders focused strongly on the importance of linking trainers with industry to maintain industry currency through mechanisms such as return to work programs, structured time for trainers to engage with industry, and industry groups and forums.
It was identified by stakeholders that access to effective and appropriate professional development helps to support quality, while mentoring can support and improve the confidence and skills of trainers and assessors.
There were mixed views on whether the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment adequately prepares entry level trainers and assessors for their role. Gaps identified include its limited focus on teaching practices, non-recognition of role diversity, and lack of trainer and assessor preparation for learners with more complex needs.
Some stakeholders raised concerns about the 'one size fits all' approach towards entry requirements for trainers and assessors, noting that flexible requirements could help to attract more industry experts to the role and highlight the diversity of VET roles and settings.
Stakeholders frequently raised issues relating to training packages, reflecting the impact they have on RTO training delivery.
Common issues include frequent non-substantive changes to training packages, which place undue burden on RTOs and disrupt learners, as well as training package inflexibility and not reflecting current or local industry practice.