Hopes for a more streamlined VET system

However, with a new Minister in Canberra, there is hope that progress will be made under the guidance of Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who was initially responsible for vocational education and training (VET), announced within his first six months in office that the Federal Government would take a long hard look at the VET sector with a view to ensuring graduates are job ready and the system is responsive to all stakeholder needs.

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) has been actively participating in many aspects of the review of VET to convey the views of our members to the government.

This has included meeting Senator Birmingham’s Chief of Staff in the first few weeks after his appointment as Assistant Minister.

In particular, APGA has made submissions to two elements of the review: the discussion paper on the model used for VET and the discussion paper on the content of the training packages.

APGA also took part in one of the consultation forums held around the country in February and many of the issues raised there were echoed in the APGA submission.

For instance, much discussion focussed on the quality of the training provided with many participants arguing, APGA included, that the focus should shift to measuring outcomes – the result of the training – rather than inputs – for example, the number of hours the student was in class.

Much of the VET required by APGA members is included in UEG11 – Gas Industry Training Package (Release 2.0).

The package relates to five qualifications ranging from Certificate II level (Certificate II in Gas Supply Industry Operations) to Advanced Diploma (Advanced Diploma of Gas Supply Industry Operations) and covers six skill sets:

  • Basic gas supply industry work activities;
  • Construct and lay nylon or PVC gas distribution mains;
  • Construct and lay polyethylene gas distribution mains;
  • Construct and lay steel gas distribution mains;
  • Construct, lay and connect a gas distribution service to steel mains; and,
  • Construct, lay and connect gas distribution service to plastic mains.

With more than 100 units of competency included in the package, keeping it up-to-date and relevant to industry needs is a major undertaking.

APGA works with an Industry Skills Council, E-Oz Energy Skills Australia, in developing the training package.

APGA is a member of E-Oz’s Gas Technical Advisory Committee which provides industry input into the drafting of these units of competency and the addition (or subtraction) of units of competency.

While the process may be a little lengthy, adding or modifying units of competency is always possible provided there is sufficient demonstrated industry need.

E-Oz provides the technical expertise needed to ensure the drafting meets the required national standards, while the Gas Technical Advisory Committee ensures industry needs and standards are accounted for.

In its submission and in the consultation forum, APGA joined many other participants in calling for a more streamlined system in VET.

A common theme was that the fundamentals of the system work well, but the processes and linkages could be improved.

This is particularly the case in Victoria and Western Australia where the states’ system is retained along with the national system.

It was also generally agreed that the one-size-fits-all approach to developing and regulating training packages should be changed so that specificity and flexibility were applied with industry requirements in mind.

Several changes have recently been introduced to the VET sector.

These largely relate to regulation of registered training organisations (RTO), new standards for RTOs signing up students, and adjustments to funding for apprentices.

The government has also introduced a new $476 million Industry Skills Fund, supporting industry, particularly small to medium enterprises, to take up growth opportunities that are outside their usual business.

As part of its reform to the VET sector, the government has defined six industry sectors as priorities for reform.

Oil and gas is one such priority and APGA is participating in the Oil and Gas Industry Roundtable, which will guide an in-depth examination of the sector to assess current and future skills requirements.

APGA will continue to represent members through participation where possible in reform of the VET system.

If you have questions about the Gas Industry Training Package or would like to suggest additions or modifications, please contact {encode=”training@apga.org.au” title=”training@apga.org.au”}

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