Queensland dumps vocational education providers over poor performance

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday June 30, 2021

vocational training-queensland
Twelve training orgs dropped from Skills Assure suppliers in Queensland. (as-artmedia/Adobe)

The Queensland government has dropped 12 training organisations registered as Skills Assure suppliers for failing to meet vocational education standards, and sanctioned another 43 providers.

Di Farmer, Queensland’s training and skills development minister, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that she made no apologies for throwing the book at registered training providers who ‘refused’ to meet high standards.

“In the past we have heard too many stories of RTOs letting down students through dodgy practices and poor performance,” Farmer said. 

“That’s why in July 2020 we started something called Skills Assure suppliers (SAS) agreements with RTOs, which means they have to meet quality and training delivery standards to access taxpayer funding.”

Under the new SAS arrangement, registered training organisations (RTOs) are subject to checks for data compliance and further auditing if any of those checks raise a red flag.

RTOs at risk of failing to meet standards are provided with advice and ‘rectification plans’. Providers who fail to engage with the SAS process to either improve or, in some cases, produce assessment records are dropped from the register. 

“Students are at the centre of everything we do, and where a provider refuses to work to meet the high standards we expect we won’t hesitate to remove our government funding,” Farmer said.

“We will also refer providers to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) where appropriate.”

The government’s latest auditing blitz for the past 12 months resulted in the termination of 12 SAS agreements. Some of the providers’ agreements were terminated over false and misleading advertising complaints to the ombud.

We have now implemented four of the six [Queensland training ombud] recommendations, with the remaining two well underway,” Farmer said.

“This includes the creation of the Queensland VET Quality Forum in December 2020, which has met twice since then and is meeting again next week.”

Other non-compliant RTOs were in breach for poor record-keeping, which the minister added was critical for ensuring that training met an appropriate standard. 

Farmer also said the government would increase its oversight of third-party arrangements RTOs had implemented — vowing that students deserved quality services, even from subcontractors.

“This financial year we are continuing to strengthen these standards to ensure all students in Queensland, no matter who they are or where they live, are able to access good quality training,” Farmer said.

The state government will support any students who were affected by the latest RTO decisions and offered personalised support from the Queensland Department of Employment, Small Business and Training.

The minister said impacted students would be contacted directly and asked whether they want to transition their courses to other training providers.

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