Parliamentary Skills Inquiry Report Misses Opportunity To Focus On Students

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA)

A Federal Parliamentary committee report into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training offers mixed outcomes for students, according to the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent skills training, higher education, and international providers.

The report highlights the need to provide students with clearer information on their study options, something welcomed by ITECA.

“The recommendations that emphasise the need to provide students with a single, trusted source of information on education, training, and careers are welcomed by ITECA,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

The nature of the report, which focuses on the public provision of skills training, will concern around nine in ten students who choose to study with an independent Registered Training Organisation (RTO). The report overlooks the significant positive role of independent RTOs across the nation and data from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) highlights the significant role of independent RTOs:

  • 89.4% of the 4.5 million student enrolments are with independent providers.
  • 87.3% of students in remote, rural and regional Australia are with independent providers.
  • 78.3% of Indigenous students are with independent providers.

“It’s unfortunate that the report overlooks the fact that when it comes to providing Australians with quality skills training, independent RTOs do the heavy lifting. They support most students across Australia, including those with higher level qualifications and more than half of apprentices and trainees,” Mr Williams said.

Many Australians looking to gain the skills to enter the workforce or reskill to help them get a better job would be left behind if the government takes up many of the report’s recommendations. ITECA believes that the reforms need to support students studying with both independent RTOs and public TAFE colleges.

“The report contains many recommendations that merit consideration but as these recommendations are not student-focussed, potentially millions of students will be left behind,” Mr Williams said.

“The report is largely silent on the role of independent RTOs with a commitment to quality, and this is alarming. In this respect, the reforms in the report look set to leave behind Indigenous students as well as students from remote, rural and remote Australia as the vast majority of these students study with independent RTOs,” Mr Williams said.

Although comprehensive, ITECA argues that the parliamentary committee’s report lacks a cohesive vision that would strengthen the skills training system.

“There was the opportunity for the parliamentary committee to recommend some landmark reforms that recognised the complementarity of independent RTOs and public TAFE colleges. That this opportunity has been overlooked means that many reforms that would have put students at the heart of the skills training system are possibly off the table,” Mr Williams said.

/Public Release.