This year’s National VET Conference was a raving success again thanks to the incredible team at Velg Training and included a massive coup for Velg of a full day stream of sessions from the national regulator ASQA.
I was lucky enough to attend and for those that couldn’t, have included highlights from a range of sessions and the exhibitors.
In line with previously released comms, the message from the regulator stayed on track with the focus across four key areas:
Student Audit Model
Overall, the regulator is seeing the success in this model, with the focus not just on paperwork, but based on evidence through discussions with students and staff. The student model will continue, with RTOs needing to stay focused on ensuring that students stay at the centre of training and remain well and truly informed about your practices. Two key pieces of advice in the student audit model: do what you say and say what you do. Your policies and procedures need to match your actions and students shouldn’t have any surprises when they arrive for class. A good comparison slide was provided which I have included below.
So, there was a few interesting statistics provided about the TAE in David Garners session, again, I have included the slide below, but as ASQA has previously indicated that it was expected that approximately 300 providers were expected to enter the TAE16 market at one point, we are a fair way off reaching market saturation less than a month out. Additionally, with approximately a 30% failure rate, we are seeing that much of the market wasn’t ready for the TAE. A specific warning went out to RTOs to beware of purchased resources, especially those that were making claims of being ASQA approved! Yes, ASQA knows and they are watching! Additionally, Michael Lavarch was keen to point out that all TAE providers should expect to have a monitoring visit within the first six months of delivery to confirm that they are doing what they said they would do, so we can expect to see this area continue only to trickle through providers. Some of the issues identified with TAE were poor assessments, lack of trainer competencies and currency and yes, unduly short duration.
Strategic Focus #1- International CRICOS Providers
ASQA was keen to point out that International Education is a billion-dollar business and part of their role was to protect the reputation of VET for Australia, with David Garner noting that now, more than ever, we need to protect VETs reputation and highlighted that the damage done over the past three years by VET FEE HELP was done by less than 30 providers and it was an only a handful that made the most damage, no need for me to name names here. However, since the end of VET FEE HELP, CRICOS applications have gone up five-fold, so the government sees this area as a really priority, initial applicants should expect heavy rigour and the potential introduction of limits on addition to scope in their first year of operation.
Two other key takeaways here is that the ESOS Act has been updated, I haven’t been through it yet but there are changes involved and will have more out about this over the next few weeks.
Additionally, a review of the act was conducted and it was made very clear by ASQA that there are NO circumstances in which a provider can enrol an international student where they do not have the qualification on their scope for CRICOS. This includes White Card, RSA, First Aid and other short courses, so I strongly recommend to all providers out there to review your enrolment process and ensure that you have mechanisms in place to ensure that you are not enrolling international students without your knowledge! In summary; No CRICOS, no international students allowed!
Strategic Focus #2- Trainer & Assessor Capability
So here at Understand TAE, we have been shouting this from the mountains all year long: The quality of your training and assessment is determined by the quality of your trainers & assessors!
It seems that we are on the right track as similar sentiments have been mirrored by the regulator with a strong strategic focus on trainer & assessor capability and how RTOs are handing the ongoing professional development of their trainers & assessors. Discussions with regulators, ASQA auditors and consultants remain mixed and the question was directly asked to the regulator: will advise be provided in the new user guide as to the extent RTOs need to go to map competencies (e.g. element or PC/knowledge/performance evidence level) when the trainer does not hold the unit of competency? The answer? No, it won’t provide advice and while moderation supposedly continues, we will continue to see a mixed bag. However, it was reaffirmed that trainers do not need to hold the unit and could demonstrate equivalency, so we continue on!
In a moment of cheek, UTAE also asked ASQA if they had any comment or position on a Trainers Registration System or Board, new Commissioner Dr Irene Ioannakis and David Garner confirmed that comments have been submitted recently on this subject but that it had not been released yet, so definitely watch this space as Understand TAE will be following this closely! And David, if you are reading this, thank you for your gracious response and patience with me as always!
In a side note, Dr Iaoannakis was at the conference, attended several sessions to watch her new staff and presented as an incredibly intelligent and passionate VET professional so I am personally looking forward to seeing what she will accomplish with ASQA in the new role! You can read more about her here https://ministers.education.gov.au/andrews/new-commissioner-joins-australian-skills-quality-authority
There is lots more information, tips, tricks and advice on managing trainer & assessor competency and currency on the Understand TAE website, so if you need more go to www.understandtae.com and check out all our articles, products and services.
A final note from the regulator, there will be a new User Guide released shortly which is great news, they are aware of the delays in timeframes at the moment and are working on it, they are also open for consultation at the moment re the new fees they are proposing so check all of that out on the ASQA website if you would like more information.
Many of you would have seen me at the launch with the great team from aXcelerate, I love this group and even donned the aX t-shirt on Friday for a bit to help talk to clients about the new feature that Understand TAE has been working on with aXcelerate in and around more functionality for tracking and managing trainer currency, as well as helping to explain about their most recent feature launch assessment tool development! More info to come soon but if you are thinking about switching SMS, then I cannot recommend these guys enough!
IBSA & Futura have combined!
Announced a few weeks ago, CEO Matthew Trounce was at the conference with the new group Australian Training Products. There is lots more to come from this group so stay tuned…
The Institute for Quality In VET jumped into the conference last minute but Javier Amaro and Nic Thomas were both around to talk about their why. This group is still in its infancy but we are hoping to see them promote their why because it’s a good one! For more info see https://iqvet.com.au/about/
Lynne and Bruno Cozzi joined in the fun as usual, if aX is not for you, then BlueGem is the only alternative. With their solid understanding of how RTOs work, great customer service and a dedication to quality, these guys are great.
Massive congrats to Marc Ratcliffe and Jason Ash who got confirmation two days prior to the conference in their success at getting TAE40116 on scope, the boys not only gave great presentations (as usual) but are well and truly open for business so if you are looking for a TAE upgrade, give them a call!
MindWorks Laurie Kelly gave yet another outstanding presentation, I don’t know anyone that hasn’t come away from Laurie’s presentations inspired and impressed! He is well worth checking out if you haven’t before! http://mindworksteam.com.au/
Takeaways from the sessions:
Skilling Australians Fund
I attended the Skilling Australians Fund session and the Assistant Minister intentionally departed from her planned speech to talk about the need for this fund and the focus on apprenticeships and traineeships. There was a lot of figures that were floated around, although I won’t mention them as many I haven’t been able to confirm (more from the session than the Minister), but overall, it’s clear that this will be an initiative led by the states so I can’t see a lot changing here from what we already have. I have included the slide with the governments priorities, as well as others.
The highlight from this session? One of our Young Australian Apprentices of the Year, Tyrone, who spoke very confidently and eloquently about his experience in VET and the amazing path it has led him down.
A few questions came about as to whether this initiative would support those industries such as the health and social service sectors where most of the workforce is casual or needs to be trained prior to entering job roles, unfortunately, while there are very limited funds that may be available for projects such as these within the SAF, it’s unlikely and the vast bulk will go more to traditional trade apprenticeships, some Cert IV – Adv Dip post trade traineeships and the like.
Focus on the Student Experience & Engagement
Several sessions focused on student experience and enhancing student engagement, which as we have seen above, is a key focus for the regulator and with the interest in longer courses, RTOs need stronger skills to train, help the learners learn and help them stay engaged! These are always well received and there was some great advice provided by Laurie Kelly and Jason Ash. Laurie’s session focused on the lighter side of becoming a master manipulator, leaving participants with some great answers to do we:
- stimulate their brain’s curiosity?
- touch their hearts?
- shift their headspace and thinking?
- equip them with hands-on skills?
- move their feet into action?
Jason presented a brand-new session, building on his and Mr WEDs wheelhouse, looking at the how we balance meeting compliance requirements with the importance of the student experience and the pendulum that we swing between. As always, there was lots of interaction, options to discuss at the table and a good dose of humour thrown in between. If you want more info check out Mindworks or Mr WED for more info.
Several streams were available including DET, e-learning and foundation skills streams which I was unable to attend (too much good stuff). Full presentations have been made available to all conference participants, but you can email presenters director or contact the team at Velg Training if you would like more information or may be able to access or purchase the slide notes from any of the sessions.
Start with Why; Compliance, Engagement & Quality will follow
A big thank you to everyone who came to the session and in the hours after I was completely overwhelmed by the compliments and feedback! The session focused on how we set up the dialogue of compliance with our staff and the talk centred around lessons from four very brilliant minds:
Simon Sinek: Start with why
Why have you chosen to work in VET? Why have your staff chosen to work in VET? Often there is a singular why which unites us and it’s that why, the want to make a difference that we lose sight of, Sinek understand the importance and has a range of talks, and books which focus on the importance of why, and why we need to talk about our business purpose with our staff. Instead of framing a conversation in terms of “we have to do this because of the standards’’ let’s flip the conversation to “let’s explore how this links to or evidences how we provide quality training and assessment.” By reframing even some of the conversations, we can refocus the business on the why and allow our staff to reconnect.
Carol Dweck; The Power of Yet
Once we allow ourselves to reconnect with our purpose, then we need to ensure that we can continue to grow, and this requires a growth mindset. Do you avoid or embrace challenges? Do you become defensive or do you persist in the face of a setback? Do you see the failure of now or are you steeped in the knowledge that you are just not there yet? Some employers worry that we are already working with a generation that cannot get through the day without an award, in Dweck’s talk she explores how we can provide feedback that focuses on process and we discussed how we can build resilience in staff through the power of yet….
Tim Ferris; Fear Setting
Building resilience in staff is fantastic, but building trust is just as important, and one of the things that holds us back as managers, is fear. Fear that if we lose control for just a moment, everything will collapse. As the regulator has increased its scrutiny on providers, a culture of fear mongering has developed by compliance managers and consultants alike, so rather than focusing on what we could achieve through trust and engagement, we focus on what can go wrong if we release control. Tim Ferris fear setting exercise can help owners, managers and compliance staff alike to take a more balanced look at what can happen, as Seneca the Younger states "We suffer more often in imagination than in reality." So, whether its trusting staff to develop assessments, trial a new enrolment process or the decision to get that new SMS, it’s important to consider the real potential payoffs rather than just focus on your fears.
Tony Robbins; Why we do what we do
Tony Robbins has overcome humble beginnings and incredible personal adversity to become the success he is today and is a great example of how living your why, with the right growth mindset and having the confidence to overcome your fears can lead to personal success. The last ingredient is fulfillment, which comes from having a purpose bigger than oneself, as Tony puts it “the secret to living is giving’ and in VET, our purpose aligns so beautifully to this as, ultimately, education is about giving back, giving to others and helping others in their path to personal growth and success, and through their success, we succeed.
So that’s it really, let’s reframe the way we talk about VET, no more fear, no more we must for compliance, but let’s celebrate our why, let’s encourage our students and more importantly our staff, to have a growth mindset, let’s steep ourselves in YET. Let’s overcome our fears about what may befall us and open ourselves to the possibility of beautiful growth, engagement and connection across our business. Let’s celebrate the beauty that is VET…
That’s it, thanks for sticking through to the end and I look forward to seeing you all again at next year’s conference or in between!