Submission to the Review of the Standards for the Regulation of Vocational Education and Training

“The MCA submission to National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) Review of the Standards for the Regulation of Vocational Education and Training Consultation Paper is an initial contribution to the consultation process leading to a new set of National Skills Standards for the VET sector in late 2013.

“The submission was completed with the assistance of the Chamber of Mines and Energy of Western Australia, the Queensland Resources Council and Skills DMC and heavily emphasises the direct link between industry-led training and VET quality.

Introduction

There is little disagreement among minerals industry stakeholders about the importance of quality vocational education and training for building both individual human capital and broader economic capital.

The primary function of a VET provider is to provide high quality, relevant and assessable education and training to enhance the skills and knowledge held by individuals, enterprises and communities within a context of national productivity, including:

  • entry level training or existing worker up-skilling and/or re-skilling;
  • preparing people for the world of work, including foundation skills and remedial education in key areas such as language, literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and financial literacy; and
  • providing life skills.

There are ongoing concerns about provider quality in the VET system, including the quality of the training outcome, agreed standards, monitoring and auditing and the availability of reliable information on providers.

Industry concerns centre on the flexibility and responsiveness of TAFE and the outcomes delivered by some private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

For many years, the publicly funded Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector has largely failed to meet the needs of the minerals industry. MCA has consistently advocated for reform of the VET sector as we believe that to make an optimum contribution to the Australian economy, the VET sector must be industry led and responsive to the needs of industry.

Progress towards a demand-driven VET sector is acknowledged, though concerns continue about the variable quality of training outcomes within the sector.

The minerals sector spends more on training per employee than most industry sectors and significantly more than the national average, with the overwhelming majority of training being privately funded. This covers all categories of employees from entry level employees, apprentices, up-skilling of operators and trades people, supervisor training, technical training and higher education. In reality, around five per cent of the minerals industry workforce is either a trainee or apprentice with many more undertaking training that is not part of a formal qualification.

The Australian mining industry has some of the most stringent and advanced safety regimes on earth, and it is of particular concern to the industry that some RTOs claim to deliver training with a safety component that would not stand scrutiny on site. Some of these courses are undertaken at significant expense to students, who find that they are of no value in gaining employment in the minerals industry.

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