While some may take this opportunity to take a shot, I write this article because I am hoping most will read this and quietly nod their heads and reflect on the similarities between my experience and their own whether they are in a private or public RTO. Just a few days ago I celebrated my 1 year anniversary as the National Quality Manager of the training division at Ashley Services Group. Yes, the name will seem familiar and over the last few weeks and months, we have had our name splashed across a few articles, almost all of which have taken the opportunity to link us to that other publically listed and troubled RTOs in the Vocational sector. As the National Quality Manager, you can imagine my personal feelings about the correlation. But this article isn’t about that but about my experience with Ashley and how being a publically listed RTO affects us on a day to day basis.
At least from my perspective, my CEO, CFO and MD, well, that’s another story, but from the perspective of most trainers, admin, student coordinators, curriculum developers and the quality team, we just keep doing our jobs. Providing quality training to thousands of students including jobseekers, trainees, apprentices, employers and fee for service students.
This year has been truly exciting for me to be involved in some major internal investments.
This year has been a great year of internal development for me too, for those of you who work as the sole quality/compliance person in an organisation I know you can relate to the frustration of having to make all the calls by yourself and often feeling like it’s you versus the company. Working this last year at Ash with a team of quality staff, including an amazing National Program Manager and great CEO, being part of a team dedicated to quality can make all the difference in the world. Being able to bounce off ideas about quality, run ideas about policies through three, four or five sets of eyes, means that any decisions that are made are backed with concerted effort and care. We’ve successfully passed state audits in every state around the country, achieved re-registration for our largest RTO with the toughest ASQA auditor I’ve ever met (but whoa was it great PD), and received very positive praise from the last CRICOS and TAC audit we undertook (yes, most auditors we have faced have been great to work with).
There’s a huge level of irony to me that a drop in profits somehow indicates that a provider is low quality. And a level of sadness that we (and other providers) are being punished in a way for the investment in longevity, the decisions our training advisors have made to turn away VFH students who aren’t suitable and the slow careful development of new business as opposed to a broker all take all strategy.
While I will probably never get used to been tarnished with the same brush (I was in a meeting with some state reps just last week who noted that “the big private ones are the dodgy ones”), I can say that I get up almost every morning and look forward to working with my colleagues and making a small difference in this very big company made up of over 200 people who just want to make a difference in someone’s life. And whether we are public or private, more or less profitable, I think that’s a pretty amazing thing and I can't wait to see what 2016 holds...