Palaszczuk Government backing state’s students

Published Tuesday, 29 June, 2021 at 12:46 PM

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development
The Honourable Di Farmer

One year after introducing tough new measures to ensure Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) contracted by the Palaszczuk Government are delivering courses to a high standard, 12 have had their agreements terminated and 43 have faced sanctions.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said the government’s message to Skills Assure RTOs was clear.

“Make no mistake: if you’re an RTO refusing to meet the high standards we expect of our training providers, we will throw the book at you and I make no apologies for that,” Minister Farmer said.

“We put investing in skills at the heart of our Economic Recovery Plan, and every Queenslander should know that when they access vocational training subsidised by the Palaszczuk Government they’re going to have access to a world class education that leads to a great qualification.

“In the past we have heard too many stories of RTOs letting down students through dodgy practices and poor performance.

“That’s why in July 2020 we started something called Skills Assure Supplier (SAS) agreements with RTOs, which means they have to meet quality and training delivery standards to access taxpayer funding.

“Those RTOs are subject to full data compliance checks, with further audits carried out on those that raise red flags.

“As a result of this we have terminated SAS agreements with 12 organisations and issued sanctions to a further 43 in the last 12 months.”

Minister Farmer said a small number of providers would not have their agreements with the government renewed for the 2021/2022 financial year.

“We work with over 400 RTOs, and the vast majority are excellent,” Minister Farmer said.

“I am lucky enough to travel around Queensland and meet students whose lives have been changed by our investment into training and skills, with more than $1 billion this year alone.

“We’ve seen an increase of over 25 per cent in students enrolling in TAFE Queensland in the last 12 months, and over 35,000 students have benefitted from our free training arrangements over recent years.

“Unfortunately, a tiny minority of RTOs are doing the wrong thing, and they will not have their agreements renewed.”

Minister Farmer said some SAS agreements had ceased because of investigations relating to complaints of false and misleading advertising.

“The Queensland Training Ombudsman published a report into ‘training delivery linked to advertising of vacant positions’ last year and we have now implemented four of the six recommendations, with the remaining two well underway.

“This includes the creation of the Queensland VET Quality Forum in December 2020, which has met twice since then and is meeting again next week.

“The forum is made up of senior departmental staff, as well as representatives from organisations including the Queensland Training Ombudsman, the Office of Industrial Relations, the Office of Fair Trading and the Australian Skills Quality Authority.”

Other training providers have not had their agreements renewed for a range of compliance breaches, including poor record keeping which is critical to ensuring that training is being delivered and is of an appropriate standard.

“Our first course of action is to work with providers so they can meet their obligations under the agreement, and most importantly to their students.

“We will work on rectification plans and provide advice, but sadly a small number of providers don’t engage with this process and refuse to improve or produce important assessment records.

“In one case the provider went from 12% compliance to just 16% compliance over an 11-month period, despite repeated attempts to help them improve.

“Students are at the centre of everything we do, and where a provider refuses to work to meet the high standards we expect we won’t hesitate to remove our government funding.

“We will also refer providers to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) where appropriate.”

Students affected by the changes will receive direct and personalised support from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training.

“Students will be contacted directly and offered the support they need to ensure their training isn’t impacted by the behaviour of their training provider,” Minister Farmer said.

“Some students may choose to transition to new training providers, and the department will work closely with them throughout that process.”

Minister Farmer said the Palaszczuk Government will only work with RTOs that provide the very best vocational education and training to students right across Queensland.

“This financial year we are continuing to strengthen these standards to ensure all students in Queensland, no matter who they are or where they live, are able to access good quality training,” Minister Farmer said.

“This will include greater oversight of third-party arrangements that RTOs have in place. In order to protect students, we need to make sure that the standards applied to RTOs flows on to any subcontracting arrangements they have.”

All providers offered a new contract will be supported to implement the new requirements through compulsory information sessions.

Media contact: Kate Talbot 0439 803 211