Investing in Skills for Queensland – practical or too complex?

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This seems to be a sensible mix of strengths from the South Australian and Victorian system plus Queensland practicality but elements of pricing and priorities could be complex and difficult to understand, particularly from a client point of view.

Starting on 1 July 2013 we’ll see Queensland’s response to reform and changes in Vocational Education and Training (VET) – Investing in Skills for Queensland – with the introduction of the entitlement model with an additional $42 m of contestable funds.

Building upon the Government response to the Skills and Training Taskforce final report this next step aims to target the key sectors in the four pillar economy and reduce Queensland’s unemployment rate to 4% in 6 years.

Queensland

From 1 July 2014 a fully demand driven funding framework will be implemented for the majority of the government investment in the skills system.  In 2013/14 the investment framework will include:

  • Certificate III programs aka national training entitlement (entry level including Foundation Skills)
  • Industry Partnerships (second chance and industry priorities) for Certificate IV, Skill Sets and additional Certificate III qualifications via regional and place based strategies and other areas of market failure via strategic interventions
  • Higher level qualifications with VET Fee Help, Diploma and Advanced Diploma, and Certificate IV qualifications with an income contingent loan trial

A number of strategic interventions for equity and target groups will be funded, for example the Cape York Strategy, Disability Support, User Choice and VET in Schools.

The key theme for industry partnerships is matching training to job outcomes with revised industry engagement arrangements to gain information from all size enterprises and in all locations.

Decisions on the Certificate IV qualifications to trial will be made in 2013/14 and TAFE will deliver higher level qualifications with greater contestability from 1 July 2014 onwards.

The Certificate III program (1 qualification only per eligible Queenslander) will be available to Queenslanders aged 15 years and above (not at school), undertaking their first post school qualification and who do not currently hold a certificate III or above.  Clients will be able to choose a training provider from an approved list and training will be incentivised where it is directly linked to employment outcomes.  Value for money for the government and informed consumers are fundamental to this component.

Price will look at User Choice methodology and key inputs with 3 base rates A. $5.23, B. $7.03 and C. $9.86 applied to the funded course hours.  The formula is Qualification Funded Hours x Funded rate per Hour with 100 hour bands and a cap at 1100 hours max.  May I suggest the Queensland Government looks at our VET costing tool to work out the true costs of qualifications and skill sets and undertake some evidence based benchmarking across industry sectors and providers?

Priority 1, 2 and 3 will reflect skills shortage areas, where supply and demand are in balance, and where supply exceeds demand respectively with the priority determining the government subsidy (% of indicative course cost).  Students will be required to make a minimum contribution to the cost of training (lesson learnt from South Australia here where a number of courses are free).  All approved training providers will be required to publish the fees that they intend to charge and submit them to the Department with a discount for concessional students.  Foundation skills will be funded at the full indicative course value and providers may choose to set a student contribution fee.

Purchasing arrangements means that if a provider is currently a User Choice provider (pre-qualified) then they can apply to deliver qualifications for 2013/14 via an Expression of Interest process as long as they agree to a number of additional contract requirements.  These include publishing their price list, increased awareness and disclosure of information for students, reporting on completions, employment or further study outcomes, and demonstrate ongoing engagement with employers, industry, government and community (aka partners).

If you are a training provider in the Queensland market, become familiar with the process for implementation, the requirements you must meet and how you could become an approved provider with further information here.  View the first list of selected contestable qualification proposed here and read the draft Certificate III Program Policy for 2013-14.

So here are my questions:

  1. Is Certificate III the new entry level?  How relevant is Certificate I and II?
  2. How old, is old for an existing Certificate III qualification?
  3. How will the Certificate III qualification cover lower level skills if needed?
  4. How are skills shortages being identified?
  5. How will demand and supply be identified and linked to skills and qualifications?  What evidence based methodology will be used? and
  6. How small is the first list of proposed contestable qualifications?

What are the things to watch?

  • If you are a provider, do you want to become an ‘approved provider” – this is your business decision
  • Consider the impact on the local fee for service market
  • There is the language of demand and supply but where is this represented in the proposed contestable qualifications list
  • There is a need for evidence based industry and regional workforce plans

Most importantly, skills shortage and critical job roles need to be mapped to skills and qualifications to inform priorities, as one job role generally equals 2-3 qualifications, at different Australian Qualification Framework levels and from different Training Packages.

I look forward to seeing how Queensland progresses this important reform.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, 27 May 2013.

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