Future Skills WA – forward looking?

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The west’s approach to implementing the national VET entitlement model, Future Skills WA, has been announced which will commence on 1 January 2014.

If eligible, a guaranteed place in state training priority programs reflecting the growth in construction, health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services plus demand for higher level skills is what’s on offer.

Similar to South Australia, WA will implement a system including approved training providers, with subsidies for training and loans to cover the costs of the fees for Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas.

Taken directly from The Department of Training and Workforce Development’s website:Future skills

What does the guarantee mean?

For qualifications that are categorised as a state priority, the government will not limit the number of training places that will attract a government subsidy, except where there is evidence that the number of enrolments in a state priority qualification may lead to an oversupply of graduates. Enrolments in state priority qualifications will be monitored on an ongoing basis and should there be a risk of oversupply, the government may, with prior notice, cease providing a subsidy for any new enrolments in that qualification. 

Given the experience in Victoria and South Australia, an open ended approach without limits seems risky.

I’m starting to think that a qualification and skills sets list really isn’t the way to go.  Rather an evidence based application process showing how demand will meet supply plus consideration of an individual’s career goals and regional issues may make for a better, more manageable approach.

A ‘forward looking’ approach to determining state priorities will be based upon determining a list of occupations that are in high demand.  This is a sound approach however it all comes back to how occupations are matched with qualifications.  From our competency framework, skills profiling and training needs analysis, it is clear that an occupation is made up of around 2-3 qualifications, from 2-3 different Training Packages and across multiple qualifications (AQF) levels.  I would like to understand how the relationship between the occupation list and qualifications will work, for example if on the ‘list’ an occupation equals one qualification then this will be a fundamental flaw.

From 2014, there will be more than 600 qualifications on the State priority list including over 500 apprenticeships and traineeships, over 80 qualifications under the Priority Industry Training category and two foundation courses that provide essential literacy and numeracy support for students to complete their studies.

Four categories of funding will include Diplomas and above; Apprenticeships and Traineeships and Priority Industry Training* (Cert II to IV); General Industry Training (Cert I-IV); and Foundation Skills. (* = highest rating of funding)

“…the overall number of courses the Department of Training and Workforce Development will subsidise will be capped and allocated through selected training providers”

What is very interesting and perhaps different to other states, is the fee arrangements:

Training providers may charge three types of fees:

  • course fees;
  • resource fees (for materials used in training, including internet charges); and
  • other fees not directly related to training (for example parking and security passes).

All approved training providers that offer government subsidised training will charge the same course fee rate as specified in the course fee schedule.  However, they may charge different resource and other fees.

If you are an RTO who wants to provide subsidised training in WA, A fact sheet outlining the 2014 application process will be made available on the Department’s website www.dtwd.wa.gov.au in the week beginning 2 September 2014.”

Take this decision carefully as for some providers in other states and territories, becoming an approved provider and offering subsidised training, has adversely affected their fee for service market.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint and VET Specialist, WPAA, September 2013.

PS. If you want to read about revolutionary VET reform, lessons learnt and implementation of this model in other states and territories, follow the links above to blog posts.

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