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Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. – John Maxwell
Anyone working in the Vocational Education and Training sector in Australia will have experienced this roller coaster of change and know that falling asleep on the job for a minute can quickly lead to trouble with compliance.
Staying on top of the changes can be challenging and if you want your business to grow, you need some clever strategies to keep current and confident!
The end of 2013
At the end of 2013, after a long consultation period, the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC), a committee of the Standing Council on Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (SCOTESE) made recommendations to the government regarding changes to the VET system. The impending changes included a move to the Australian Vocational Qualifications System and the introduction of ‘Licensed Training Organisations’.
But how quickly things can change….
March 25, 2014
On March 25th 2014 the Australian Newspaper reported that the NSSC may not be retained, following the establishment of a new body – the Council for industry and Skills, part of the coalition government’s overhaul of ministerial councils.
The ‘Australian’ reported that ‘the NSSC’s uncertain future also adds to doubts whether the government will proceed with a move to an “Australian Vocational Qualifications System”, with the current registered training organisations forced to jump through higher hoops to become “licensed” training organisations. The NSSC recommended the change last year.’
April 1, 2014
On the 1st April it was reported that there were a series of VET reform workshops and webinars held to hear the views of industry, employers, training providers and VET service providers on the strengths and weaknesses of the VET system, and ideas for reform.
April 3, 2014
On 3rd April in a Communiqué for the COAG Industry and Skills Council Meeting it was reported that the Ministers of the newly formed group have 3 key priorities for VET, to:
- examine the standards for providers and regulators to ensure they better recognise the different level of risk posed by different providers, enable the regulators to deal more effectively with poor quality in the sector to improve confidence, and meet the Australian Government’s deregulation objectives
- reduce the burden on the VET sector arising from the constant updates to training packages; and
- ensure that industry is involved in policy development and oversight of the performance of the VET sector and to streamline governance arrangements and committees
April 8, 2014
Finally on the 8th April the following announcement was published. “At the inaugural COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting on 3 April 2014, it was agreed to streamline and simplify the governance arrangements for the national training system. As a result, the National Skills Standards Council, a committee established under the previous Standing Council (SCOTESE) has been dissolved.” – www.nssc.natese.gov.au
Does this mean more change or no change? And how will it impact your day to business?
What should you be telling your team?
The advice we give our clients is to stay calm and stay compliant. And here’s my top 10 tips on how to do this:
My top 10 tips on staying calm and compliant
1. Change is inevitable
Regardless of what type of RTO you operate or how long you have been in business, you will know that change is an inevitable part of the cycle of business. We would all be familiar with the regular changes to training packages and regulatory changes. But change can also come from within your RTO as you seek new opportunities, change your services, your processes or your staff. If you want your business to grow, it is critical to embrace the change and move with it.
2. Plan ahead
Take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to managing your RTO. If you are continuously improving what you do, planning for change is just part of everyday operations. Do you have a systematic and continuous improvement cycle in place in your RTO that includes all aspects of your business. If not, now is the time to invest in establishing this proactive approach. Without a systematic approach to improvement you will find yourself having to react to every change which is disruptive to your normal flow of business.
3. Use the PDCA approach to managing the RTO
The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a management cycle that can be used within your RTO to manage business processes and continuous improvement. Use this systematic approach to schedule tasks, assign responsibility, make sure jobs are done, report the need for improvement and fix the problems.
4. Equip your team for change
Keep on top of change and compliance by identifying the key result areas of your business and developing strategies to manage those areas for success. Start with the business functions and align what you do to the VET Standards to ensure you maintain compliance. Involve all your staff in this process. Continuous improvement works best when all staff understand their roles and are focused on activities that will maintain compliance and grow your business.
5. Document what you do
Make sure you keep good records of all your continuous improvement activities, you need a good evidence base to satisfy audit requirements. Use your RTO’s management and meeting structures to ensure that you communicate across the whole organisation. It doesn’t matter how big or small your RTO is – you must document what you do!!! Keep your policies up to date with changes so that when big change comes you are starting in a good place.
6. Recruit the right people
When you recruit people into the team, make sure they have the right qualifications and the right attitude towards improvement and learning. Get help to improve your recruitment and HR processes to make sure you build and maintain the best team for your RTO.
7. Provide professional development opportunities
Make sure you and your team members know how to do their jobs. Provide professional development opportunities – seminars, webinars, books, mentoring to make sure that staff are equipped for their current positions and are ready for the changes ahead.
8. Monitor industry trends
Keep an eye on the industry and the government. Three easy ways to stay in touch are;
- subscribe to all relevant government and industry newsletters
- make a time each week to read all this information and
- let the team know what’s happening by email or during meetings.
9. Conduct regular internal audits
Use audit processes to make sure you keep on track with the current system. Routinely conduct internal audits across all areas of the RTO. Involve staff from all areas of your RTO to give them experience in dealing with audit processes. It is also a good idea to invite external consultants to conduct audits. This gives you an objective perspective and can help to maintain the element of surprise with your staff which will give you an indication of current level of compliance.
10. Contribute to the debate
If you want to contribute to the debate, sign up to the VET reform newsletter and LinkedIn forum so you can have your say and hear what others are discussing.
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