August 2019 saw the release ASQA’s regulatory strategy for 2019 to 2021.

As the CEO’s message in last issue of VDC News reported, one of the strategy’s key target areas is the capability of VET’s trainers and assessors. Read more

Targeting trainer and assessor capability

ASQA’s strategy is targeted at those areas where they see the greatest risk and so are the areas for the greatest regulatory focus. Not surprisingly, teacher, trainer and assessor capabilities are one of these. Why? Because their capability has been a concern in the last three regulatory strategies as well. Stakeholders consulted by ASQA point to:

“both a shortage in supply of appropriately skilled trainers and assessors and the need to upgrade the knowledge, skills and industry currency of the current workforce.”

A related issue is that the Certificate IV TAE (TAE40116) remains a ‘product of concern’ because of stakeholder feedback. Some think the qualification does not produce quality trainers and assessors while other see it as too onerous. The constant changes to the qualification with requirements to upgrade have also been seen by some as unhelpful.

ASQA has carefully scrutinised providers applying to put the Cert IV on their scope and also monitors them in relation to their quality of delivery and assessment of the qualification. In this latest strategy these processes will continue. However, ASQA also aims to:

“Undertake further investigation of VET workforce challenges and identify actions and responsible organisations to drive improvement in trainer and assessor capability.”

This, the strategy says, “will be done in collaboration with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.”

In a complimentary initiative NCVER has conducted a survey to gather information about the nature of the VET workforce. The survey’s outcomes are expected to be published later this year, and we will summarise its findings when they become available.

Accessing good training and PD to improve

One of the real issues in improving the quality of VET’s trainers and assessors is the availability of high-quality professional development. A paper released by the L H Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne last year looked at how VET teacher education and development could be improved. While pointing out that there are no ‘silver bullets’ to improving the quality of VET teacher education and development, it argued for promoting the development of strong workplace cultures that enable quality staff development, adequate funding and having “a range of comprehensive and high-quality professional development experiences and opportunities” as well as having high quality teacher/trainer qualifications accessible to providers and individual teachers alike.

Other regulatory issues

Trainer and assessor capabilities is not the only target area in ASQA’s current  regulatory strategy: the other is VET in schools. In part, this is because there are concerns about the appropriateness of the qualifications of teachers/trainers and assessors delivering VET in schools and the “alignment between training and assessment delivery and the requirements of the relevant training package.” In the first instance, ASQA aims to undertake a scoping study to examine the issue.

The strategy outlines a number of other initiatives. One builds on work to recognise and support VET sector quality. Another focuses on international education. The last issue of VDC News highlighted ASQA’s strategic review in this area, and the 2019-21 strategy proposes further initiatives and focal areas. The new strategy also looks to ‘raise the bar’ on the requirements for initial provider registration.

Products of concern

Finally, the strategy has identified a number of ‘products of concern’ that have a “a degree of risk that warrants closer scrutiny.” The Certificate IV TAE is there of course, and so is Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015) because of the rollout of the NDIS and the significant employment growth that brings with it. There was concern from stakeholders that providers may use this growth in employment opportunity “to mislead job seekers about the benefits of training, despite no specific qualification being required to work in the sector.”

Another qualification of concern is the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50113) because of the quality of “training and assessment practices, poor work placement management and a lack of confidence in the job readiness of graduates.”

The Diploma of Business (BSB50215) and ‘Prepare to work safely in the construction industry’ (CPCCWHS1001) will also be under closer scrutiny.

And, of course, the amount of training and the implementation of effective assessment systems continue as significant regulatory issues.