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What’s happening with the TAE?

I’ve been doing my best not only to keep up with the twists and turns of this saga, but also try in my own small way to influence the outcome towards a bit of common sense.
You will see details of the status quo, as I understand it, on my web page for TAE40110. [link]

At the beginning of the year I had a meeting with Ian MacFarlane who, at the time, had just lost the portfolio for VET (when I made the appointment he was still the Minister). This was a wide ranging discussion focused on doing something about the quality of VET training and assessment. My colleagues with a stake in this have also been pushing for reform. I’ve received a letter in response from Simon Birmingham that was very long but didn’t actually say anything concrete about what will be done. We’ve also made a proposal to IBSA in relation to proposed changes to the TAE Cert IV. Another of my colleagues has also written to the current Minister.

As we all know, there are two types of RTO – those who are committed to quality and the “tick and flick cowboys”. Unfortunately, this situation will continue until ASQA steps up and targets those who are offering qualifications in ridiculously short time frames for knock-down prices. The quality RTOs simply can’t compete. As I have said on a number of occasions, it’s not exactly rocket science. All that ASQA needs to do is a Google search to find them. Then target these RTOs for audit. A Senate Committee report noted the problems and recommended additional funding and powers for ASQA. I don’t see how throwing more public money at the problem will resolve it and ASQA already has power to de-register RTOs.

However, ASQA has decided the problem is the wording of the TAE qualification and units. They want it beefed up because trainer/assessors don’t properly understand or use assessment tools. Hence, IBSA has been instructed to make further changes to the draft TAE Cert IV. As a result, it’s pretty unlikely to be endorsed this year.

There’s no doubt that the standard of training and assessment of TAE40110 is a major cause of lack of quality, as it is the foundation for all training and assessment practices. The question is, will changing the qualification change the practice? Not in my opinion. The only way to deal with tick and flick practice is to police it properly.

My take? Let’s get the new qualification endorsed so as to remove the confusion and frustration. At the same time, ASQA, why don’t you target those RTOs offering TAE40110 in 3 to 5 days? Make the RTO justify how they can achieve any kind of learning outcome in such a short time frame. If ASQA starts with the TAE, it will be dealing with the problem at its source.

Sandy Welton

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