RTO and Business Coach
Internal Audit,  RTO Compliance

Is the VET sector in crisis? Where to from here?

or is it just me?

Hi this is Merinda. Today I wanted to discuss the VET sector. My thoughts have been brewing for a while so I decided I wanted to really share what my thoughts are at the moment.  So this is from my own perspective, they are my feelings, thoughts and ideas. I get it that others may see it differently, as we are all our own thoughts, and that is great.

The VET sector is in a major crisis.

That crisis might be just within your own RTO, or it might be spread across the whole of the VET sector, all your stakeholders, including your students, clients and the regulator. Daily I read stories of everyone jumping up and down against the regulators, the auditors and about ASQA this or ASQA that. Yes the auditing criteria and focus keeps changing up and getting pointier (if that is correct grammar). Meaning they (the auditors) are focusing on the detail you have in your assessments. For assessment this detail includes:

  • Providing the assessor with sufficient context and/or guidance and instructions in conducting each assessment activity. Such as:
    • the context (scenario/simulated work environment)
    • roles and responsibilities of all parties
    • timeframes
    • resource requirements and requirement to complete checklist
    • requirements of assessment materials and evidence gathering requirements
  • having checklists that are not – a simple dump of performance criteria
  • showing an assessment system that reflects actual practises

Now I’ve been in this business of consulting for over 10 years, and managing RTOs for about 9 years prior to that, so I’ve had many audits and much experience with auditors. Let us not go back too far, and we may as well stick to the current standards. So what got through audit in 2016 doesn’t cut it now. Not even what got through in 2018 is making the grade now in 2019.

What others say…

So there is great excitement in our office when we receive an email stating:

We love these

You can see more of these comments here.

These people, like the ones who sent me this email, are motivated. They cared enough about their registration renewal to make get me in to do an audit. I suggested changes, they made them, they prepared new materials, and I validated them. They asked me lots of questions, and we set up a plan. They passed.

There are ones that don’t, like the other email I got today showing me their non-compliances audit report – which says exactly what I told them to implement!

Let’s look at what we find is currently happening in the VET sector. These comments come from experience with conducting internal audits and providing recommendations to the RTO.

  1. The RTO and its staff don’t believe there is a need to change.
  2. They’ve been doing like this for years, and it has passed audit before (see above).
  3. The staff feel they are being hit upon by us (the consultancy contracted to conduct the internal audit), and fight back – “no that’s not how we do it here” when we suggest they really break down the assessment instructions to show the context required.
  4. The RTO believe they are ALL great and they don’t need a review (see point 1).
  5. The RTO is about the students, and getting people into courses. So compliance is secondary.

Over the past few months I’ve been pondering WHY this has happened. Is it because trainers went through a quick BSZ, TAA, then TAE course (or even just a tick and flick from one to the next)? Is it because the ones that trained them didn’t actually know any better themselves? Is it because the audits in the past have been less specific, and people felt they knew what was required? Are the Auditors themselves, better trained, and upskilled, so they now collaborate and have a set criteria they need to audit against? (Yes I know they audited to the RTO standards, but to what level?)

Seriously I’ve heard from RTOs who tell me they passed their initial audit with “these same tools”. So why do I have to change them now? AND Let me tell you those “tools” are rubbish. Or we passed a desk top audit with the same materials….so that tells me things have really changed. Or every RTO I talk to is making up the same story.

So where does this little story of mine leave me?  Well as much as I am still capable of getting people through audit, it is down to the individual in the RTO to make the final changes. My philosophy is to mentor and coach people so they can run there RTO without calling me every week. Therefore I will coach you through the process, and not do the process. If you are one those individuals who is motivated to make the changes as I suggest, then and only then can I get you through. Is this stressful – yes it is. There have been many times in the past few months where I look around and wondered why I continue as a consultant. Initially, when I started this business, I wanted to help others in making a change. Have I done this? Yes I have. Will I continue? Time will tell.

Tell me what you think

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