Are you ready for 2017?

Christmas is just around the corner, your social calendar is full, your 2017 to-do list is already growing – but you really need to catch up with all the regulatory and compliance news from 2016 before the holiday season begins…..

So what can you do to ease your mind and your list?

Well, we thought that you might just find time for a quick compliance recap of some key messages from the VET sector in 2016. (Of course you can read our full blogs over the holidays if you are at a loose end!) So listed below is a summary of 7 key compliance issues that occured during 2016.

Also below we have outlined 3 steps that you can take now to ensure a great start to 2017.

Compliance Recap 2016

  • VET FEE-HELP legislation update 2015 and 2016 Reforms were implemented to lift the quality of training providers and their courses. How does the scrutiny and change in VET FEE_HELP impact you? Besides the obvious changes to the legislation and to your processes, providers should be aware that VET FEE HELP continues to be an area of strategic interest for the regulator. The regulator has also changed the way it conducts audits of VET FEE HELP providers.  Are you ready for that scrutiny?
  • Additional clauses in the Standards for RTOs 2015 came into effect for all RTOs from 1 January 2016. These clauses relate to validation requirements and the competency requirements for trainers and assessors and RTOs applying for—or delivering qualifications or the assessor skill set from—the Training and Education Training Package. On 11th April 2016 changes were announced regarding changes to the TAE Training Package and strengthened requirements for delivery of training and assessment qualifications. There appears to be some confusion among trainers about these changes, in particular whether these is an immediate need for trainers to upgrade their current qualifications in training and assessment. We are still waiting on information about this but why not check out the changes and talk them through with your trainers for their peace of mind?
  • The new Service Skills Organisations (SSOs) were announced in January 2016. They will support the Industry Reference Committees as they develop training packages that reflect the needs and priorities of employers. The SSOs were ‘selected on the basis of their capacity to support Industry Reference Committees to achieve this goal.’ (DET Media Release 27th January 2016).  What does this mean for your RTO?  You should check out which of the new SSOs are relevant to you. If you are thinking of developing a course for accreditation it would be wise to contact your SSO and start talking about the need for the proposed course.
  • ASQA held trainer provider briefings in early 2016. In our blogpost: 5 reasons to review your RTO’s compliance management published on 1 June 2016 we commented on some of the findings that ASQA presented at these sessions. It is very clear that the quality of basic product of our industry i.e. training and assessment remains an area of great concern with only 25% of RTOS audited in 2015 being compliant for Standard 1 (Training and Assessment) and only 26% being compliant at audit for quality assurance. Where do you stand – are you sure that you are compliant against Standard 1 or should this be a focus in 2017?
  • ASQA announced a change to the regulatory strategy and a move to risk based auditing during 2016. They have change some of their regulatory and decision making procedures and the way they conduct audits. In late September they also launched the new asqanet. They are also regularly informing the sector of regulatory decisions such as cancellation of RTO registration etc. Our blogpost on 1 June 2016 and our webinars on Compliance and Risk and Maintaining a Healthy RTO presented an outline of the risk based approach. Whilst the regulator is moving away from a transaction based approach to audit, and the regular audit cycle of 5 years may change, we believe that there is even more reason now for you to be proactive about compliance and ready at all times for audit. In October our blogpost: Learning Organisations: How they keep up with Regulatory Change   presented a way for your RTO to ensure that it keeps up to date with regulatory change by becoming a learning organisation. Are you being proactive or reactive in your approach to compliance management? Does your RTO team treat the need for change like a new, high priority project, or just something to be done when there is time?
  • During a seminar presented by ASQA during 2016 regarding recent reviews in the early childhood education and care sector a number of general recommendations were communicated and will require consideration for the New Year. Firstly, if you have childcare qualifications on scope then you should know that the regulator audit those qualifications every time they conduct an audit in your RTO. Another recommendation announced during this seminar that will impact all RTOs is the need for RTOs to enhance the professional development offered for staff. The use of systematic models was mentioned. Check out our thoughts on this in the blogpost: A systematic Model for Professional Development we posted in November.

3 steps to prepare for a great 2017

Step 1: Be proactive and do a quick compliance assessment now
  • Is your policy suite are up to date (with current Standards)?
  • Do your training and assessment practices align with these policies?
  • Have you been systematically validating and moderating your assessments in 2016 and are you adhering to Standard 1 Clauses 1.9 and 1.10?
  • Do you have comprehensive Training and Assessment Strategies for all of the qualifications you deliver? Do your Strategies tell the story for each qualification or are they just compliance documents that dont get referred to in your day to day operations?
  • Is your marketing well aligned with your Strategy documents?
  • Is your engagement with industry effective i.e. does industry provide guidance for course development and do you regularly seek feedback on course delivery?

If your answers are all positive, then you should be off to a good start in terms of training and assessment practices in 2017.

How well prepared are you for the new risk based approach to auditing and the focus on the student experience? Should you be considering what is involved in switching to a proactive continuous improvement approach to RTO management?

Why not conduct an audit in the New Year to help your team focus on proactive compliance monitoring? This will also help you prepare for the completion of your annual declaration!

Step 2: Review and revise your goals for 2015

Take a moment to reflect on the year so far. Has your RTO performed well? Have you achieved your organisation and personal goals?

If yes, evaluate what helped you achieve your goals. If no, determine what prevented success.  List the possible reasons and reflect on any compliance issues you have been battling. Consider how you will address these in 2017 to ensure success.

Will you need extra resources to update policies, strategies, marketing materials and learning materials? Are all you trainers ready for the change? Is your management team equipped for the job?

Set aside some time in your diary in January to thoroughly review policies, processes, systems and relationships.

Step 3: Reward your team

Before your team disappears for Christmas, gather them together to celebrate successes and reward hard work, then outline the work to be done in the New Year.

Allocate tasks across your RTO teams making sure that all of your managers have a ‘to do’ list. Your growing list should now be shorter as you delegate tasks and involve the team in compliance management.

If this seems all too much for the end of the year you can contact us and we will be right by your side.

Here’s two ways we can help you get ready:

  1. Our audit services can be used as a health check to support your compliance activities and to transition your policies and procedures to the new standards.  Read more about our audit services here and either email us at info@thelearningcommunity.com.au or call us.
  1. Check out our book ‘The Essential Guide to RTO Compliance’. We are almost totally sold out of our hard copy book. But you can find an Ebook version from most Ebook retailers.

We hope you enjoyed reading out blog posts during 2016 and that you will join us again in 2017.

Gillian and Karen

Gillian Heard Polaroid

Karen Sell Polaroid

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