Tens of thousands of students are unable to meet workplacement requirements as the Covid-19 pandemic has seen the introduction of social distancing measures and closure of workplaces. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) was charged by the Australian Government with developing a solution to this issue but, many months later, it has shown no sign of progressing the matter.
Key Issues —
There are around 450 Training Packages that require a student to complete a formal workplacement before a qualification can be awarded. However, tens of thousands of students are unable to meet this requirement as their employer has closed, curtailed the working hours or limits have been paced on access for all but essential staff. As a result, these students are unable to meet the requirements necessary for them to complete their qualification.
Recognising this as a problem, the COAG Skills Council charged the AISC to arrive at a solution to what is arguably the most critical issue facing the vocational education and training sector arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides “actively considering” the issue over many months, there is no sign that the AISC has made meaningful progress on a solution.
Along with key employer groups, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) believes that workplacements are a vital component to many VET sector qualifications. As an assessable component of a VET qualification, a work placement provides students with the opportunity, and the means, to apply skills and knowledge obtained through the study of their qualification in a supervised and authentic environment. ITECA supports their focussed inclusion within VET qualifications without reserve. At the same time, however, the response to the Covid-19 virus pandemic has meant work placements can no longer be effectively offered as a constituent component of many VET qualifications.
The impediments to offering workplacement in the Covid19 context are real. In fields such as nursing, childcare, and aged care the host employers remain open but access to facilities has been curtailed in order to avoid the resident populations coming into contact with potential carriers of the virus. In other fields where work placement is required, such as hospitality and tourism, work placements are not possible as the host employer has been forced to close.
"ITECA has take a positive approach and presented some workable options for consideration, but the lack of action is disconcerting and not in the interests of students or their training providers. It's time for the COAG Skills Council to step-up and support students," said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
A further issue for independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) is that where a subsidy is payable by a state / territory for a student undertaking a particular qualification, payment of that subsidy is contingent on completion of the workplacement because, quite sensibly, full subsidy payment is linked to qualification attainment. As the workplacement requirement can’t be met, through no fault of the student or their RTO, the RTO is unable to receive a sizeable portion of their funding and is left carrying additional cost for a currently indeterminate time. This is directly jeopardising the viability of many RTOs, and
These issue of workplacement requirements within Training Packages are critical to independent RTO's that support around 80% of the 4.1 million students in vocational education and training.
Getting Involved —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Vocational Education and Training Reference Committee . ITECA Membership – It's a great time to get involved.
Further Information —
If you're an ITECA member and would like more information on this matter, the ITECA team would value the opportunity to talk to you. Simply send an email to email@example.com or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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