This reform will provide clearer and more accessible information about vocational education and training to employers, students and governments.
A more transparent training system – what the Commonwealth is seeking
- All governments will support the implementation of a new My Skills website, delivering more publicly available information to allow comparisons between courses and training providers.
- Training providers will publish standardised information, which could include data on the costs and delivery of the training they provide.
- The Unique Student Identifier will be implemented to provide a single, portable record of training for students.
- Private training providers will provide the same level of information about privately funded students, including students who take out income-contingent loans, as they do for publicly subsidised students.
The VET system has grown over the past two decades to nearly 5,000 providers who compete for student, business and government investment. As bodies like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Skills Australia have noted, the diversity and flexibility of training on offer is one of the strengths of Australia’s national training system, along with its capacity to satisfy many different needs at many different points in people’s lives. But the lack of simple, accessible information on the different training providers and the quality of their performance makes it hard for students and businesses to select the training option that best suits their needs.
Similarly, lack of information on training outcomes and pricing makes it difficult for governments to ensure taxpayer dollars are targeted to high quality and efficient providers.
For business, the lack of clear, comparable information on training providers and courses makes it difficult to assess which training option is best suited to their needs. Information on which providers offer flexible training delivery, student outcomes and provider performance would enable business to select the right training for their business and provide assurance that an investment in training will be worthwhile for their staff and for their bottom line.
It is also hard for students to keep track of their training over time, particularly if they complete different types of training at different stages of their career. Gathering evidence of prior learning for a student entering a higher level course later on can be difficult, and as the workforce becomes more mobile and the number of career changes in an individual’s lifetime increases, this will be a growing problem.
For system managers, there are gaps in the information available to assess how the VET system as a whole is performing. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports that the Commonwealth Government invested around $2.4 billion in 2010. States and territories invested a further $3.4 billion in 2010. However, gaps and delays in the provision of training data mean governments do not have the full picture on training activity, they cannot be sure what activity is being funded privately, and they have little reliable information to assess the efficiency of the funding they provide.
Students and industry will have better information to be able to choose the training that suits them
A new national website: My Skills
The Commonwealth Government will ask states and territories and training providers to support the implementation of a new national website in 2012: the My Skills website.
Better transparency will make it easier for users to engage with the training system and drive improvements to the national training system
As a result of these reforms
- Business and students will have access to a My Skills website to compare courses and training providers on a range of factors, which could include quality, price, cost, subsidies and incentives, and student outcomes.
- The VET sector will be more open and transparent because better data on the sector will be collected and publicly released.
- Students will be able to track their vocational education training throughout their life using their Unique Student Identifier.
- Governments, in the longer term, will have more evidence about the operation of the VET sector and be better able to improve the design, operation and funding of the national training system.
It will be similar to the MySchool and MyUniversity websites: a public on-line database that employers and students can use to find out about their training options. My Skills builds on Skills Connect and will mean that all employers, including those not eligible for assistance under Skills Connect will have the opportunity to assess which training options are best suited to their business needs.
Once fully implemented in 2014, the new website will provide comparable information about training providers, courses, training outcomes, fees and other costs, available subsidies and provider performance – enabling employers and students to choose the right training option for them. The state and territory governments and registered training providers will be responsible for contributing high quality and timely information to My Skills to make the website beneficial for students and employers.
Unique Student Identifier
VET students currently have no control over their training data and cannot easily find, collate and authenticate all of their educational attainments in a single portable record. In order to create a transcript of their VET achievements (for enrolment in another course, to show an employer or to establish credit for recognising prior learning) students currently need to contact and request the information from all of the VET institutions they have attended. To address this issue, the Commonwealth Government will seek a commitment from the states and territories to fully implement a Unique Student Identifier, known as the USI. The students who will benefit most from the USI are those who:
- access VET multiple times to upskill or retrain during their working life;
- transfer between institutions and jurisdictions during their training; and
- seek recognition for their prior learning in order to reduce the amount of training needed to upgrade their skills into a qualification.
Because the USI will seamlessly link all the information about a student’s vocational education record, the process of returning to study or moving between courses and providers will be easier and more efficient for students. Importantly, there will be rigorous privacy safeguards to ensure that an individual student’s record can only be accessed by them, unless they expressly give permission to provide data to another party.
The USI will be implemented progressively and the first students to benefit will be those enrolling in vocational education in 2014.
Currently, training providers are only required to provide data on publicly subsidised accredited training. As part of the reforms the Commonwealth Government wants data collection arrangements to be enhanced so that the national standard data on course enrolments and completions will be provided to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research for all accredited training – whether publicly or privately funded.
As a result of these reforms, governments will have a better understanding of the complete training market, adding information on privately funded training to the existing information from the public system. The increased transparency of the private training sector will enhance student and employer confidence in all VET training regardless of who provides it or funds it.
Getting information on training to start a career*
Ben is 18 and has just finished year 12. He is a bright young man who enjoys practical hands-on learning, and he’s interested in a career in Business Management or Information Technology (IT).
He knows that qualifications will make the difference between starting a career and just getting a job, but he’s not interested in going to university. Some of his friends have been looking into training providers and researching company requirements on the net. There are some useful blogs, but they are finding it hard comparing what they find and deciding which training providers offer them the best training.
Ben decides to research local IT and management training options on the My Skills website. He can see all the relevant public and private colleges delivering courses in his area, the types of courses, the fees and government subsidies, the method of delivery, and information on employment prospects for graduates. It also tells him which courses he can do part time while he is working.
Ben has done his homework. He works out three training options he can choose between, depending on the job he gets. This will allow him to gain the qualifications he needs, and the hands on experience he prefers, to kick start his career. And he’s ready to go well before his mates!
* Possible scenario once the reforms are in place