AN apprenticeship network, a new IT system and changes to the Australian Skills Quality Authority will see red tape slashed in the vocational education and training sector, as part of the second tranche of reforms revealed by the federal government.

Speaking at the National VET Conference in Brisbane, Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane announced the next wave of changes to be made as part of the federal government’s VET reform package.

Included in the changes is a plan to replace current apprenticeship centres.

“The government will introduce a new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to replace the existing apprenticeship centre model,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“It will be a smarter and outcome-driven way of apprenticeship training with a focus on providing the skills industry needs.

“The Australian Government will invest around $200 million per year in the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.”

The network is expected to launch in 2015 and will be supported by a new IT system to transition from paper-filing of apprenticeship documentation to e-filing in an effort to cut red tape.

Additionally, the network will focus on:

  • Job-matching of potential apprentices and employers
  • Providing advice about different training options
  • Mentoring for apprentices identified as needing extra support
  • Guidance for businesses about taking on an apprentice
  • The administration of an apprenticeship including the training contract
  • The administration of apprenticeship payments and employer incentives

Mr Macfarlane also announced plans to reform the Australia Skills Quality Authority to further cut red tape.

“At the moment training providers are required to constantly seek approval from ASQA before they offer new courses or make changes to the courses they are already delivering,” he said.

“Under this government’s reforms, ASQA will more broadly delegate the power for training providers to make decisions about changing the scope of their registration.

“What this means in practice is that the training providers who have consistently demonstrated the highest of standards and regulatory compliance will no longer have to seek ASQA’s permission to make changes to their registration.”

ASQA will also automatically update the scope of training providers’ registration to include new, equivalent versions of training products, at no extra cost, and will no longer conduct financial viability assessment for re-registering training providers.

“ASQA will operate more on a risk-based model focusing attention on the poor performing providers and high risk courses and its fees won’t change for the foreseeable future,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“We want to move towards an ‘earned-autonomy’ regulatory system for those proven high performing providers and more will be said about these measures in the coming months.”

Additionally, the government will also crack down on training brokers ‘who act unscrupulously to undermine the reputation of the training system’.

“We have all heard about brokers who mislead people to get them to sign up for training. They offer dubious incentives to encourage people to enroll. They don’t tell people about the debt they are signing up to – or any real information about whether the training will lead to a job,” Mr Macfarlane explained.

“The government is determined to stamp this out and we are looking at measures to achieve this.”

The new reforms accompany the establishment of two new programs targeting youth unemployment levels and the VET advisory board of which AMMA executive director Tara Diamond is a member.

For more information about the VET reform, click here.