The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has released a new policy statement that outlines the need for a transformative change in Australia’s skills training system.
The aim is to make the system more reflective of the demands of a dynamic economy, while also enabling students to engage in lifelong learning.
The policy statement emphasizes the importance of putting students at the centre of the skills training system. According to government data referenced in the ITECA State Of The Sector Report, independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), which represent over half of the apprentices and trainees, currently support 87.1 per cent of the 4.3 million students in skills training. This highlights the significance of the vision outlined in the policy statement.
The statement identifies five key areas for reform, all aimed at improving outcomes for students, employers, and taxpayers. However, the overarching theme is the imperative to prioritize student-centric reforms. The policy statement emphasizes the need for reforms that empower students to make informed decisions about their choice of providers, whether that be independent RTOs or public institutions.
The role of independent RTOs in delivering skills training is highlighted, with these providers supporting the majority of students in skills training. They cater to 70.9 per cent of Diploma (and higher) enrolments and 69.4 per cent of Certificate IV enrolments. Indigenous students also benefit significantly, with independent providers supporting 75.7 per cent of them in skills training. The policy statement calls for increased support from Australian, state, and territory governments for students choosing to study with independent providers.
As technology continues to reshape industries and automation becomes more prevalent, the demand for adaptable and future-proof skills is intensifying. The skills training system in Australia needs to adapt to this changing landscape by empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their education. The policy statement aims to create an environment where students can select programs and providers that will help them thrive in a time of constant change.
The policy statement also emphasizes the need for red tape reduction in the skills training sector. Governments at various levels are called upon to streamline compliance and reporting requirements, enabling RTOs to focus more on student outcomes and less on bureaucratic processes.
Additionally, ITECA proposes alignment between the skills training and higher education systems. The goal is to create an integrated tertiary education system where both systems operate as one, while retaining their respective strengths and identities.
“The significance of this ambitious vision can be found in the fact that government data referenced in the ITECA State Of The Sector Report shows that independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) support 87.1 per cent of the 4.3 million students in skills training, including more than half of the apprentices and trainees,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
“As governments embark on policy reform, it is imperative that they put students at the heart of the skills training system. Reforms should be student-centric and back the informed decisions of students to study with the provider of their choice whether this be an independent RTO or a public provider,” Mr Williams said.
“As technology continues to reshape industries and automation becomes more prevalent, the demand for adaptable and future-proof skills intensifies. Australia’s skills training system must rise to the challenge by empowering individuals with the knowledge and expertise needed to select the program and provider that will allow them to thrive in a time of constant change,” Mr Williams said.
“The Australian, state and territory governments need to streamline mandatory compliance and activity reporting in skills training based on the ‘report once, use many times’ principle, allowing RTOs to focus on student outcomes and not government red tape,” Mr Williams said.
“We need governments to support an integrated tertiary education system, in which the skills training and higher education systems operate as one but retain their separate strengths and identities,” Mr Williams said.
Formed in 1992, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.