The buzz word around the Vocational Education and Training (VET) industry is “Quality”. By definition Quality is, the degree of excellence of something. In the context of modern quality management practices, quality is more and more defined by our customers as fit-for-purpose.
Does the product or service do what we expect? For example, if we’re a customer buying a loaf of bread, we want it to be fresh, tasty, soft, etc. In a VET context, what does quality mean? What is the purpose and does the customer define it? As we have entered a new era for VET there is a combined effort from the sector to align to Quality VET Outcomes.
This blog outlines 3 positive changes within industry to support this.
Breeding a culture of quality
Enhancing the VET system has been a priority for the Australian Government for several years with a recent overhaul including The 2015 Standards for RTOs and the 2017 Student-Centred Audit Approach. The focus is on strengthening industry engagement, improving the quality of training, reducing the regulatory burden on training providers and protecting consumers. education.gov.au emphasises that, “There has been a focus on assessment to support improvements to the quality of VET and ensure confidence in the outcomes of training.”
In ASQA’s Corporate Plan, 2016-20 their number 1 priority was, “To protect the quality and reputation of the VET sector”.
Previously ASQA would only audit to defined standards, these are still in place, however now the opinion of the students heavily defines audit outcomes. Thus shifting to a quality driven, fit-for-purpose, assessment of an RTOs performance.
ASQA’s Training Provider Briefing 2018 gave an overview of their plan to no longer measure compliance but quality. This risk management approach will see those who show signs of non-compliance to be heavily regulated and those who consistently meet requirements will be rewarded, breeding a culture of quality.
Unifying the industry
Hon Karen Andrews MP, who spoke recently at the Velg Training, VET CEO Conference, has pioneered, “Real Skills for Real Careers”, which is a long-term, sustained effort to unify and promote the sector. She states, “It offers a single focus, around which all other facets of the sector can unite. The government has teamed up with a group of extraordinary VET graduates whose real-life stories of success, found through VET, will be the vanguard of the strategy.”
Raising the profile of VET
The, “VET – It’s right now”, campaign aims to remove preconceived ideas that VET is a secondary choice to University. Research reports such as, the McCrindle Research and Skilling Australia Foundation report, found that up to 67% of university students find work after graduation compared to, 78% of VET graduates. A massive 92% of VET graduates who studied as part of an apprenticeship, find work after completing their studies. The report also found that the highest paid graduates are from VET.
Now more than ever research is championing the quality of VET. The quality of information available for school age children and others considering further study is moving towards comparing VET with University Education on an even playing field.
In summary, the Australian Government are kicking goals with the focus on quality and are raising the profile of VET as a competitor to University education, which is a massive leap in mindset. Combine that with ASQA’s push to reward those who show consistently good levels of quality and as quality goes hand in hand with profitability, the future is bright for RTOs.