In the news – Quality worries as private colleges grab lion’s share of money for skills training

Ok, I’ve been up half the night trying to get this blog site ready for action so I couldn’t go to bed without posting at least one thing of interest. A colleague of mine sent me this a couple of days ago – should prove of interest to anyone who’s been involved in PPP funding – SR …

Quality worries as private colleges grab lion’s share of money for skills training

PRIVATE training companies have been springing up to exploit the $2.1 billion on offer from the government’s key training program.

Accompanied by a skewing of enrolments in low-cost courses such as business, there are fears the factors that sent international colleges to the wall could be reproduced in domestic training.

The mid-term report on the Productivity Places Program, which has been obtained by The Australian under Freedom of Information legislation, reveals that private colleges secured about 75 per cent of the program’s allocations – despite normally receiving about 25 per cent of government training funds – and the proportion of business services places leapt more than tenfold in a year.

The report also unearths prohibitive administration costs and punitive cashflow arrangements, which underestimate the real costs of training and overestimate the number of dropouts.

TAFE Directors Australia chief executive Martin Riordan said the private sector skew indicated a “scandalous approach where private colleges in a near state of collapse [after] the international student implosion switched to other areas [funded by PPP money]”.

But Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief executive Claire Field said public and private providers alike had encountered problems with PPP funding and distribution.

While the report acknowledges that providers receiving PPP funds for the first time are likely to be quality risks, it assumes the training meets quality standards.

“All training is delivered by accredited [registered training organisations], which are subject to ongoing quality audit processes,” it explains.

Gavin Moodie, tertiary education policy analyst at RMIT University, said this was a brave assumption. “There are numerous grounds for doubt from the scandals in vocational education for international students.”

Dr Moodie also highlighted “extraordinary” growth in the proportion of PPP-funded business courses, from just 3 per cent of places in 2008 to 40 per cent in 2009-10. “It would be good to know why,” he said, suggesting the PPP could be subsidising shop assistants’ wages.

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2 thoughts on “In the news – Quality worries as private colleges grab lion’s share of money for skills training

  1. Given the very low approval rating of the Government right now (and the PM in particular), if Labour fail to win the election I wonder what effect a change of government might have on funding…any thoughts?

  2. Sorry, me again (I do a fair bit of PPP stuff so this is a subject somewhat ‘close to heart’).

    I have to say that we’ve had a VERY high success/completion rate with our PPP progs – I think the key is to recognise that (as with any VET (or similar) program) the participants need to know EXACTLY what’s expected of them before they commit to the program, their Managers (and the organisation as a whole) need to be on board (and make this clear to the group of course) so that they will prioritse accordingly, it needs to be delivered in a timely manner (in order that the participants aren’t expected to meet unrealistic timeframes and can take the appropriate time out of the workspace), and, most importantly, the participants need LOADS of support at a variety of levels (e.g. organisational, managerial, from their HR/People & Culture team, from the RTO, their Facilitator, their coach, etc).

    We worked very hard at this and have consistently been getting results of over 90% successful completion…at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve heard (from a relaiable source) about a local council that tried to do a PPP funded Cert IV FLM in five days (and five back-to-back days at that!) – I can only imagine the delilvering RTO (I have no idea who it was) didn’t properly think through how they were going to successfully get the group ‘over the line’ and must be wondering how their going to get their funding as my understanding is that there was zero completion!!!

    Quite what the learning outcomes were is anyone’s guess…


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