24/06/2015 - 13:46

Non-compliance rife in training sector

24/06/2015 - 13:46

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Students at more than a third of Western Australia’s regulated registered training organisations (RTOs) have been exposed to range of serious breaches, including being taught by unqualified trainers and passing courses despite submitting incomplete or incorrect written assessments.

Non-compliance rife in training sector
WA auditor-general Colin Murphy. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Students at more than a third of Western Australia’s regulated registered training organisations (RTOs) have been exposed to range of serious breaches including being taught by unqualified trainers and passing courses despite submitting incomplete or incorrect written assessments.

The findings were included in an auditor-general’s report released today into a review of the Training Accreditation Council, which regulates 328 of WA’s 500 RTOs.

Of the 323 RTOs checked by the council during the 2013-14 financial year, auditor-general Colin Murphy said 35 per cent of RTOs were found to have either significant or critical non-compliance with national standards; an additional 22 per cent were assessed as being in minor non-compliance.

Examples of the worst type of non-compliance include: one RTO assessing students as competent in using a forklift despite written assessments on the subject showing incorrect or incomplete answers; an RTO marking electrical engineering students as competent despite them undertaking no practical assessments; an RTO assessing recreation students as competent even though their trainer and assessor did not have industry experience or competence and did not observe the students practise the skills they were being marked on.

As a result of these cases of non-compliance, the Training Accreditation Council applied sanctions to nine organisations, suspending two and cancelling two.

The report found most problems that led to non-compliance were fixed due to council intervention.

The council has accepted all five recommendations the auditor-general made in an effort to improve its functions, with a notable focus on making students and industry affected by non-compliant RTOs more quickly aware of breaches so as to reduce the risk that students receive inadequate training.

Recommendations include: implementing a revised approach to regulating RTOs within 12 months focused on high-risk organisations; seeking more industry input, including focusing checks on industry concerns; developing clear requirements for when its auditors should talk to students to verify the quality of their training; considering the need for legislative or policy change to allow for unannounced checks; and explicitly documenting the risk to students and industry affected by non-compliant RTOs.

Mr Murphy said while the council was found to be following the national approach when deciding which RTOs to register, check compliance and apply sanctions to, it was a concern to see more than half of its checks of RTOs found instances of non-compliance.

“Any non-compliance raises concerns that students may not get the training they need and that the industry expects,” Mr Murphy said in a statement.

He said the state government provided around $550 million in funding to WA’s vocational education training sector and changes could be made by the council, in particular to better target high-risk occupation training courses, such as construction, mining, and first aid, in its checks of RTOs.

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