Victoria's Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall has slammed his federal counterpart Senator Chris Evans for playing politics with the state's training system.
Mr Hall said Senator Evans' claims, made on last night's 7.30 Report, that Victoria's training regulatory body, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), was not doing enough to crack down on dodgy training providers were deliberately misleading and part of a concerted attack by Senator Evans on the state's training system.
Mr Hall said in the past 12 months the VRQA had cancelled the registration of 75 registered training organisations, compared to the national body the Australian Skills Quality Authority, which, according to its own website, had only deregistered 12 providers – just three in Victoria.
Mr Hall said Senator Evans' claims that the VRQA undertook "tick and flick" assessments of providers were also false with the authority undertaking site inspections of all organisations seeking registration as a training provider, providers renewing their registration, following the first year of operation and as part of any high risk investigations.
"Senator Evans either doesn't know his portfolio or is deliberately playing political games to undermine confidence in Victoria's training system," Mr Hall said.
"Contrary to Senator Evans' claims, around 80 per cent of all registered training organisations receiving State Government funding to deliver training to Victorians are regulated by the national authority.
"We know for a fact the overwhelming majority of the state's training providers, including not-for-profit, industry training groups, TAFEs and private providers deliver high quality training that meets the needs of apprentices, business and industry.
"Surveys undertaken of trainees and their employers show that 87 per cent of participants are happy with the quality of training provided by private training providers."
Mr Hall said recent Victorian Coalition Government training reforms had introduced more rigorous financial assessments, a stronger focus on information about the quality of training offered by providers and greater product disclosure from training providers.
"All Victorians deserve quality training and we, as a government, will not tolerate anything less," Mr Hall said.
"The Coalition Government inherited from its Labor predecessors a demand-driven training system with little or no architecture in place to weed out dodgy providers.
"Recent training reforms introduced by this government have tightened the conditions all training providers must meet if they wish to receive State Government funding."
- more rigorous financial assessments for providers wanting to offer government subsidised training;
- a stronger focus on the quality of providers' training record;
- more rigorous contract compliance;
- greater product disclosure by providers, including the publishing of indicative fees and results of previous registration audit reports; and
- a new Market Monitoring Unit (MMU) to investigate the efficiency, quality and competitiveness of the training market in Victoria.
Mr Hall said the Market Monitoring Unit would complement the role of VET regulators, consumer protection bodies and contract compliance monitoring and would feature a rapid response team to ensure any complaints can be immediately investigated.
More than half of Victoria's training providers are regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), with more than 80 per cent of government subsidised training dollars going to ASQA-regulated providers this year. Victoria's remaining training providers are regulated by the VRQA.
Anyone with quality concerns about a Victorian training provider can contact the VRQA on 03 9637 2806.