THE national vocational training regulator says its “blitz” on mandatory safety training for construction workers signals the start of a new Tax Office-style approach of thematic audits.
Australian Skills Quality Authority chief commissioner Chris Robinson said the “strategic review” of entry-level occupational health and safety training for people working on building sites – known as “white card” training – would be the first of three such blitzes this financial year.
The others are aged and community care training, which has attracted scathing criticism over fast-tracked courses – leading the Productivity Commission to call for a national audit – and inappropriate marketing by registered colleges.
Criticisms of white card training echoed the concerns about aged care courses, with ASQA told some were “simply too short to give participants the knowledge and experience they need”.
Mr Robinson said there were reports of poor quality training and concerns about online assessment, “particularly whether students are assessed on the [required] communication and comprehension skills”.
RTOs couldn’t even be sure of the identities of people completing online assessments, he said.
Mr Robinson said genuine white card training was vital, with on-site safety hinging on it.
The review will be overseen by a committee of industry and union representatives, the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council and the Tertiary Education Department.
An ASQA spokesman said the review would combine a desk audit approach with visits to targeted RTOs to “talk about ways training could be enhanced”.
ASQA is seeking submissions from safe work agencies, the review committee’s networks and other interested parties.
The review is due for completion by June, with ASQA undertaking to report its findings and intended actions, possibly including recommendations for other agencies.
The spokesman said ASQA’s new approach mirrored the Tax Office practice of targeting red flag areas for particular scrutiny.
Mr Robinson said strategic reviews were the next stage of VET regulation. “They are about identifying training hot spots and targeting resources,” he said.