WorkReady – shake rattle and roll for VET in South Australia

When the announcement was made last Thursday about WorkReady’s new subsidised training list I made this video WorkReady announcement pre-blog stating that I needed to sleep on the blog that I had written.  This is the blog after I slept on it for three nights as there was more to think through than I first thought.

There have certainly been signs that Vocational Education and Training (VET) in South Australia is set for a shake up.  Back on 17 January 2015 the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) suggested that providers needed more funding certainty with an article published in The Advertiser.

JobsThe Training and Skills Commission in their Skills for Future Jobs five year plan, called for the introduction a of capacity management system linked with a smaller number of quality providers.

Skills for All was launched back in 2012 and whilst there have been changes to make the VET system in SA more job outcomes focused, WorkReady seems to take a 180 degree different approach although this may have been lost in communication.

In April I wrote  a blog on these changes and the introduction to WorkReady highlighting,

For training providers who are reliant on government funding, they will need to review their business approach, products, programs and alignment to priorities.  Where a training provider might gain 75% of their income from state government funding, insight, intelligence and information on the market and competitors will be critically important.

Pre-release consultation

In the pre-release consultation, the WorkReady courses for consultation list identified qualifications where there hadn’t been any student enrolments in recent years as well as those deemed as having low public value for example:

  • Certificate III in Business, Business Services
  • Certificate III in Business Administration Business Services
  • Certificate III in Retail Operations Retail Services
  • Certificate III in Events Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Certificate III in Hospitality Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Certificate III in Tourism Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Certificate III in Travel, Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Arts and Culture qualifications

Other qualifications were identified as having a no new enrolment date.

WorkReady Subsidised Training List

Reading over The Subsidised Training List v1.0 Published May 21 2015 Effective Period: 1 July 2015 – 31 December 2015 the state government made the same mistake as the very first Skills for All list as it didn’t have a key or much explanation and this is an example of missing on the communication again.

The list basically includes qualification codes and titles with course features like foundation skills, the number of places for TAFESA and then notes on the non TAFESA subsidised training (shake) places:

  • JobsFirst: STL Projects
  • TGSS
  • Training Contract Only
  • Unlimited (places), mostly in Certificate III trades

Some qualifications have combinations of the above, for example, Training Contract Only and Unlimited places.  For TAFESA, some of the place allocations are as low as 10 and you’d have to ask whether that is a viable number?

It is not clear to me what it means where there is a qualification listed but then there are blanks or dashes – if they aren’t being subsidised then why have them on the list?

Jobs First Employment Projects

Last week’s announcement seems to be the first component as there will also be the option for Jobs First Employment Projects as outlined in the Jobs First Guidelines,

In the second half of 2015, expanded Guidelines for WorkReady Jobs First will be provided to guide contracting for employment projects and services with ‘line of sight’ to demonstrable job commitments.

These projects will include tailored activities for specific groups, industries and regions, assisting people to either progress towards employment or move directly into a job. Jobs First will contract for support services that address barriers to employment, such as individual or family case management, structured mentoring, work experience and career services. It is expected these will be provided alongside skills development, work readiness preparation and brokerage into a job.

Providers

There is narrowing (rattle) of the providers that the Department of State Development (DSD) will work with,

Courses identified for Jobs First STL projects were determined through: feedback from industry on recognised pre-vocational and industry entry-level qualifications; mix of strategic industry sectors; likely levels of activity and spread of this activity between public and private providers; previous success through Training Innovation Pilots; and government’s economic priority areas.

Skills for All Training Providers whose submissions are successful will be offered a variation to their Skills for All contract which will enable them to deliver the course as part of WorkReady Jobs First.

All submissions will be considered together to ensure total volume limits for Jobs First STL projects are not exceeded.

Categories of Courses and Training Places

Submissions are sought for delivery of:

  • Foundation skills courses
  • Pre-vocational courses
  • Job entry courses.

Training places are for full time enrolments only… [and] will address specific requirements identified for …qualifications listed…

Foundation skills courses will be fully subsided. Pre-vocational and Job entry courses will require a co-contribution.

Expectations of the level of performance of providers is stepped up too:

The outcomes sought from WorkReady Jobs First STL projects are:

  • 70% course completion, qualifications issued
  • Transition into further training. If training is pre-vocational, the transition is to vocational training. If training is in foundation skills, the transition is to pre-vocational training. If training is job entry level, the transition is to employment and/or higher level study
  • Employment, including increased hours of employment and entry into casual, permanent, part-time or full-time new employment (this includes apprenticeships and traineeships).

Submissions must include the outcomes that will be achieved for each nominated course and the strategies in place to achieve these outcomes. Evidence of strong engagement with employers is required. Industry based supervised work placements will be a key consideration in assessing submissions. In the assessment of submissions a higher weighting will be given where direct links to employment outcomes are evident, for example commitment to offer work placements or employment opportunities to suitable participants documented in employer letters of support.

Changes to training subsidies put up to 100 training businesses and thousands of jobs at risk, industry leaders warn, was the headline for the press release from ACPET.

Where are the priorities?

In the WorkReady application information there are provider requirements, course delivery and provider performance requirements and then C. Strategic Benefit assessment criteria:

  1. Regional priorities
  2. Industry priorities
  3. Target group priorities
  4. Existing students in the training system
  5. Training market in region/industry
  6. Contribution to employment growth.

It is positive to see a strategic framework for assessing priorities which matches somewhat with the approach that I have been advocating with a hierarchy of:

  • economic priorities and critical capabilities
  • industry and regional priorities identifying critical job roles and
  • motivational priorities (for tatget groups and individuals)

What needs more of a focus?

Skilling for jobs of the future, not just the current job roles and the connection to The Premier’s 10 Economic Priorities, needs to be front and centre for WorkReady rather than as a side reference (roll).

In August 2014 I wrote a blog post on South Australian Workforce Vision needed to address State’s Economic Priorities where at a high level there was a mapping to workforce capabilities and industry priorities.  For someone with experience in developing job skill profiles all mapped to National Training Packages and qualifications, it would be a useful step to identify specific qualifications and courses that match the 10 priorities.  This mapping would demonstrate a logical connection to a subsidised funded training list as its not clear why some qualifications are on the WorkReady list and where the numbers came from.

Allocating a small amount of funds to the flexible Jobs First Employment Projects (see the pre-cursor which is the Strategic Employment Fund) should shift as I think that it is under this funding stream that we are likely to see more examples of truly demand (from employers, industry and regions) driven initiatives.  Identifying critical job roles and capabilities for these projects will be important with input from businesses, employers and industry groups.

There needs to be a mechanism to deal with critical capabilities that are needed across industry sectors and regions like entrepreneurship and innovation.

Finally, if you had a very small pool of funding, wouldn’t you prioritise employment or job outcomes that means unemployment rates would reduce and training outcomes would improve?  Australian Apprenticeships including School-Based and pathways into training contracts should be a number one priority for WorkReady and the subsidy should be for any qualification.  This is the most accurate reflection of ‘demand’ plus an indication of business growth!

What happens next?

Consultation sessions on draft Guidelines Early June 2015

Information sessions on final Guidelines and Application Form Late June 2015

Submissions open 1 July 2015

Submissions close July 2015

Assessment process July to August 2015

Letter of offer August 2015

Commencement of delivery From receipt of contract variation, with training accounts created by 30 June 2016.

After the reaction of some people in the VET sector last week I think we’ll see much more discussion about the implications for the system including TAFESA and private providers.  So, what do you think of the WorkReady announcements?

May 2015.

Leave a Reply