Australian Government Announces Reforms to ASQA

In a joint media release made on Friday 27 September 2019, the Australian Government has announced that it was implementing reforms to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector.

Highlights

  • The Australian Government announced reforms to the agency responsible for regulating the vocational education and training sector, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).
  • Mark Paterson AO, the Chief Commissioner of ASQA, has decided the proposed shift in direction for ASQA provides an appropriate time for him to step down, and pass responsibility for managing the next phase of ASQA’s evolution to others
  • ASQA’s Commissioner Saxon Rice will act in the role of Chief Commissioner as of 7 October 2019.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said that “Improving the quality of Vocational Education and training is a priority of the Australian Government, and this includes ensuring the sector’s regulatory environment is reasonable, transparent and effective.” She also said that the reforms are in response to key recommendations of the Braithwaite and Joyce Reviews.

Mark Paterson AO, the Chief Commissioner of ASQA – Stepping Down.

In her statement, Michaela Cash advised:

“As part of these changes Mark Paterson AO, the Chief Commissioner of ASQA, has decided the proposed shift in direction for ASQA provides an appropriate time for him to step down, and pass responsibility for managing the next phase of ASQA’s evolution to others,” Minister Cash said.

“I would like to thank Mark for the leadership he has provided to ASQA since January 2017, including managing the removal of a large number of poor-quality training providers that arose as a result of past practices and the VET FEE-HELP debacle.”

In line with this, ASQA Commissioner Saxon Rice will act in the role of Chief Commissioner as of 7 October 2019.

Background

In an earlier news article released on 4 April 2019, ASQA announced the outcomes of a review in a report Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System. The Review was conducted by Hon Steven Joyce, former New Zealand Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment.

The Review made 71 separate recommendations around the six points of the plan, which are:

  • Strengthening quality assurance
  • Speeding up qualification development
  • Simpler funding and skills matching
  • Better careers information
  • Clearer secondary school pathways
  • Greater access for disadvantaged Australians

The report also recommended several actions that the Australian Government can immediately take:   

  • Bringing forward implementation of reforms to strengthen ASQA and quality assurance in the sector
  • Piloting a new business-led model of Skills Organisations for qualification development, and extending work-based VET further into less traditional areas
  • Establishing a new National Skills Commission to start working with the States and Territories to develop a new nationally consistent funding model based on a shared understanding of skills needs
  • Revamping and simplifying apprenticeship incentives to increase their attractiveness to employers and trainees
  • Establishing a new National Careers Institute.
  • Creating new vocational pathways for introduction into senior secondary schools.
  • Providing new support for second chance learners needing foundation language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

In another statement, Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons MP, said the Government has set a strong direction for the future of VET. “With appropriate regulatory reforms, we can deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities of Australia’s modern economy.”

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