27 May 2015

Is the quality of our vocational educational training at risk?

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Have you ever been offered laptops, iPads or even cash-back offers as an incentive to enrol into a training course? 

Or were you ever promised that you’ll be able to finish a 2 year training course in just 6 months?

All of these sound good, almost too good to be true. Vocational education and training is vital in building a skilled workforce in Australia, however the quality of training is under the spotlight.

Media reports relating to dodgy marketing practices and poor quality training by several RTO’s and private colleges have continued to make news over the past couple of months. Additionally, many students have come forward about the experiences and how they were incentivised to enrol into a training course.

To tackle this, new ASQA Standards have come into effect as of April this year, with a strong focus on marketing practices for RTOs. RTOs now need to keep their marketing and advertising practices compliant with the new standards or will face substantial fines.

In an article, Senator Birmingham said “The new scheme will come in to effect tomorrow, and along with tough new standards and new laws to crack down on dodgy marketing practices by RTOs and third parties or brokers, will give ASQA a full suite of powers to act on rogue operators, something that didn’t exist under Labor."

The penalties range from a couple of thousand dollars to $10,000 for a single breach.

In a recent article, Senator Birmingham also mentioned that from April 1 colleges would be banned from offering students laptops, iPads, prizes, meals or cash to sign up for expensive courses bankrolled by the taxpayer. He said students should sign up to training courses “to get a job, not a free iPad."

While the new standards are substantive and require more documentation, they have been established to ensure that RTOs will provide effective training delivery and that students are getting the best possible outcome they can from their RTO.

Here are a few tips to training providers on how they can strengthen the reputation of RTOs and how to be effectively compliant to the new standards from our expert speakers from our previous Managing VET Reputation Conference:

Have a plan

  • Continuously evolve and document
  • Participate with Industry, Conferences, professional development. As a learning organisation it is critical for the RTO/learning and development department to lead and encourage the learning culture. 
  • Have a plan
  • Continuously evolve and document
  • Participate with Industry, Conferences, professional development. As a learning organisation it is critical for the RTO/learning and development department to lead and encourage the learning culture. 
  • Focus on quality service delivery at all times
  • Always try to accommodate the needs of employers
  • Build-in routine compliance reviews on a monthly basis
Margaret Stinson, HR/IR Manager QLD, National Training Manager, MSS Security  
Karen Kearns, Director, International Child Care College Pty Ltd


Lastly, a word of caution to everyone out there – if something sounds too good to be true, it most probably is therefore, think twice before you say ‘yes’ and enrol yourself into a course! 







When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.  

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