Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address your conference today.
It is great to see the focus of today’s CEO conference is ‘what goes into owning and managing a successful RTO’.
As we, all know in any business, success does not just happen. Many different factors need to be considered by Registered Training Organisations to ensure their organisations are successful.
When I think about what sits at the core of success, I believe a reputation for quality is key. Without a trusted name, without a quality product or service to offer, a business can never rise to the top.
While individual providers are responsible for building their own brand, there is a broader brand of VET that needs to be taken into consideration – the Australian VET brand.
A brand that is actually long-standing, has taken many years of effort to establish and deserves to be protected. Many countries look to Australia as an example of best practice in the vocational education and training sector.
The VET sector contributes to a thriving economy. It creates jobs and stimulates growth – locally and regionally, as well as on a state and national level.
That’s why the Turnbull Government is working in a number of ways to establish quality within the sector and to promote our brand to a wider audience.
If we are going to promote the VET sector as a product, we must have confidence that what we are offering is of the highest quality.
Results show nearly 80 per cent of VET graduates find employment soon after completing training. On average, those who are employed straight out of training earn a median annual income of around $55,000.
This demonstrates a sector that delivers real, quality outcomes for students and in turn, this delivers real quality outcomes for Australian businesses and industries.
While it is true, the stigma of VET FEE-HELP has lingered over the sector, it is important to recognise we have made significant progress with VET Student Loans and as sector, we need to promote VET as positive pathway and a sector that is based on real achievements
To ensure we continue to move forward with a quality system, providers are being held to a much higher standard of accountability and quality.
The changes to loans caps introduced in 2017 has resulted in keeping a downward pressure on course fees and criteria for course eligibility have been strengthened to ensure training aligns with industry needs.
We know this is having an effect, because the results are beginning to speak for themselves.
During the last 6 months of 2107, over 35,000 students have been able to undertake study with the assistance of a VET Student Loan and within this same period unit completion rates have improved by 16 percentage points above what was experienced under VET FEE-HELP.
This shows students are getting the financial support they need, and have the confidence to undertake the study they need.
We are also working to ensure VET maintains its quality through effective regulation. ASQA is an essential pillar of the Government’s commitment to a quality VET sector.
Previously, I commissioned Professor Valerie Braithwaite to review the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (NVETR) legislation to determine if ASQA has the appropriate legislative capacity to effectively regulate the sector.
Professor Braithwaite has delivered her report to me and my department are working across government to respond to her findings and recommendations.
I would like to thank everyone present who made submissions to the review.
It was important for the review to ensure that the regulator must have powers to act swiftly to protect students, employers and the public against providers who do not meet quality standards.
The review looked at best regulatory practice and how well the system meets the needs of industry and students. I look forward to delivering our formal response to the review in the near future.
We will continue to support the important work of ASQA. In last week’s Budget, the Treasurer announced the Government will increase ASQA’s resources to increase its ability to oversee the VET sector.
This investment is an important part of the Government’s commitment to supporting ASQA’s risk-based approach to regulation, to make sure that student outcomes in the VET sector are protected and enhanced.
While we are continuing the work to maintain the sector’s quality, we also need to sell our product.
To raise the profile of VET, I launched the VET Information Strategy- Real Skills For Real Careers.
This strategy is the first step to build awareness and improve perceptions about the broader VET system and the diverse opportunities it presents.
It is designed to support the coordination of a range of communication activities across the VET sector.
There is a culture where families and schools often look to encourage students down the university path as a first choice. While it is important that people have university access, it is just as important to promote the clear benefits in choosing a VET pathway
Our unifying tagline, real skills for real careers, gives us an important central message that can be used by everyone – and I do encourage everyone to embrace and promote the real skills for real careers theme.
We have recruited our Australian Apprenticeship Ambassadors and the VET Alumni who have found real success through VET stories.
We are creating a presence through a range of different activities and online channels, including career expos and VET events around the country, as well as targeted advertising.
The strategy’s primary target audience are potential VET consumers (namely youth aged 16-25) and their influencers, such as parents, career advisors and carers.
The call to action for you all here today, visit www.myskills.gov.au, which has been redesigned to serve as a first port of call for VET information.
The new look myskills website has been redeveloped to include fifteen industry pages, to give consumers more information so they can make the best decision, and pick a VET pathway that is right for them.
The Department of Education and Training has partnered with ten organisations to help deliver the Strategy’s key messages in raising the status of VET.
This includes everything from AFL SportsReady and the National Rugby League to Tradeswomen Australia and Student Edge.
AFL SportsReady has undertaken a great been doing to promote the value and importance of vocational education and skills training – using former players and legends like Kevin Sheedy to drive home to footy fans the message that real skills lead to real and rewarding careers.
We are focusing on information videos featuring members of the Australian VET Alumni, getting the word out on social media, blogs, advertorials and eMagazines.
As you can see, we are covering every base in our mission to get the word out, But for this to work we need everyone in this sector to get on board and partner with us.
You can participate in this strategy by:
• including the real skills for real careers tagline on your website and information products
• incorporating the strategy’s key messages in your information products
• using/sharing the resources available at www.myskills.gov.au/more/resources/
• encouraging the use of the myskills.gov.au website as a first stop for authoritative information on VET
• booking an Australian VET Alumni ambassador for your next event.
I am sure you will all also have your own great ideas about how we can mobilise people to get involved and build the highest quality VET sector we can.
I look forward to how things will progress, and I know that the more we work together, the better the outcomes, for the sector, for students, for families and communities.
Thank you for again inviting me to address you today.
I wish you all the very best for the remainder of your conference.