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Could things get any worse for the VET Sector?


It is often said there is no such thing as a stupid question. However, as people don’t know what they don’t know, stupid answers do exist.

For the smallest and most protected segment of the VET sector in Australia, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), it may seem like a stupid answer that it couldn’t get any worse. But the fact is, the RMS TAEtanic hit an iceberg 2 years ago that has sealed the fate. For many RTOs and consultants in the training industry who are still placing a bet that the RMS TAEtanic won’t sink, it could get worse, if it does sink (more so when).

But it is not all bad news for RTOs, the formal VET sector has been primed for a hostile takeover of the segment by L&D and informal learning providers (business consultants etc…) for a while now.

So things are likely to get a lot better for the Vet sector as a whole coming out of COVID-19 given things that are already happening.

For example, here are some dots to join for you:

  • A shift in the number of industry experts employed doing training under supervision under an endpoint assessment system would mean RTO would only be required to employ a few assessors with their full TAE40116. Plus, could even employ assessors who don’t have their full Cert IV TAE as they only the Assessor skill set. This would also mean massive job losses for an assessor who did not have strong industry currency. You would only need around 1 assessor to supervise 4 or 5 trainers, so even if you do have industry currency there is only a 20%-25% chance you will keep your job
  • Using the above system, Unis could take over the assessing for CRICOS RTOs, which would represent a 50% increase in revenue for Higher Education in Australia as CRICOS provides make up 20% of the AUD100 billion p.a. formal VET sector (Uni’s turnover AUD38 billion per year)
  • TAFE could take over VETiS under the same model. Out of the 400 Schools that are also RTOs, 300 are in Queensland, just in case you were wondering why ASQA is getting someone from TAFE QLD to talk in their education webinars? QTAC has introduce VeriSkills badges, which can be issued down to AQF 3 (cert III) right up to AQF 9 and used for entry into Uni course as advanced standing.
  • And the one no one seems to think will happen, RTOs become a franchise, with the Master franchise contracted to the SSO. Maybe it is just because I have 25 years in franchising that I see it, but why do you think ASQA is moving to a full cost recovery model, and one of the 3 biggest accounting firms in the world took on the SSO role for only $6 million?

For the last one, do I need to remind people that the RMS (in Titanic’s name) stood for Royal Mail Service. Do you think it is a coincidence that I say RTOs are on the RMS TAEtanic when AusPost is Australia’s largest franchise? Seems some people still can’t take a hint. But if you want to get out, the Master Franchisor that co-signed my first ever shop lease, Mark Crapper, is now a business broker, so sure he can help you out.

Why don’t people think it could get worse for them?

I don’t know why they still think the RMS TAEtanic won’t sink. The dunning-Kruger effect seems to be the most logical explanation I’ve heard. You may look back and say “what were they thinking”? But it seems that it was a lack of thinking that sealed their fate.

Another comparison would be to people that believe the Earth has the only life in the Universe. How would they know that there is no life on another planet if they not looking for it, and would they even recognize it as life even if it was right in front of them?

Or, maybe it is a religious belief? Muslims may say “we will survive, inshallah”. Translated, if Allah wills it. Whom is God’s RTOs are praying to again? I can’t tell anymore.

Raised as a Catholic, I was told the parable by a Priest of the man who died hanging off a cliff (yes ladies, it always seemed to be a man in the story); when the man entered into heaven, he asked Saint Peter “why didn’t you save me?!?!”, and saint Peter responded with “Sorry, I don’t know what went wrong. I sent you a boat, a man with a rope, and a helicopter, but I guess you just didn’t want any help to survive”.

And if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, you would have an issue with the parable above as the only thing worse than a Jehovah’s witness that renounces their faith is a Catholic priest.

Go to HELL!?!?!

The difference between a diplomat and a political is usually defined by their actions. A politician tells you to go to hell. And only needs the support for their opinions of a vocal minority (AKA ‘influencers’) to stay in their position. Whereas a diplomat tells people to go to hell is such a way that people actually look forward to the journey.

This is also a trialed and trusted sales technique developed over thousands of years. More commonly know these days to business coaches as diplomats sell the benefits, not just the features.

Whether you are just selling ideas or products “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it’s selling him” – Peter Drucker.

Clayton Christensen has long argued, understanding the characteristics of a customer leads to very little insight about why they make purchases. Instead, customers ‘hire’ products and services to do ‘jobs’ for them. By understanding the jobs the customer seeks to get done, he suggests that companies can innovate with greater insight and increased predictability. He suggests that innovators need to think about what experiences we need to create in order to do the job perfectly.

So while some trainers may see me as telling them they have to go to hell, others see it as me just questioning what job they are actually trying to do.

Christensen is also considered the father of “disruptive innovation” theory, which is more about finding new ways to get the job done. So if you can work out what job you are trying to do, you can also use this to work out how to keep your job in the future.

See you in hell?

If that is where you think you are going with all this… I look forward to catching up with you when you get there. Plenty of meetups and we can go for a coffee and you can tell me all about how you can’t believe you didn’t do it sooner. And all the other opportunities you now have.

Hell, as you may know it, is mostly run by L&D professionals in Australia. L&D, defined as “non-formal” learning by the formal VET sector, is at least 3 times the size of the Formal Vet sector (RTOs). So, there is plenty of work for you, and it usually pays a lot better doing corporate training too.

If that is your version of hell, do worry, you’ll be too busy shaking hands with all your mates from the training industry that have already left to worry. After COVID-19 social distancing is relaxed, of course. You may know them as the ones who got into the life rafts of the RMS TAEtanic while you have been locked below deck.

Oh, and don’t worry about me, I’m not going to get told to go to hell for this blog, religion is on my side. Hell is never mentioned in the bible, or so I’m told by a Jehovah’s witness, so it doesn’t exist. I can accept that.

For the RTO consultants telling me to go to hell after recent articles/blogs… maybe this might explain why I haven’t gone anywhere, and seem to live in a different reality to you? Does that make you a politician or a diplomat? Depends on the job you are trying to do I guess.

So, what is your point?

The point is you have to respect peoples’ decisions based on their beliefs if you want them to respect you. Otherwise, if you force someone to change their beliefs by taking away options, that is what abusers and terrorists do.

I respect that people have made the decision to stay on the TAEtanic. That’s their choice. But I am not prepared to sit back and let them convince others to stay with them because there are no other options. You always have a choice, and abuse is abuse.

Particularly when consultants make most of their income from “saving” RTOs from deregistration. Ask yourself, what interest do these consultants have in you passing Audit if that is not where they earn most of their income?

Just on religion, after spending 18 months working in the Middle East my Muslim friends tell me terrorist’s actions go against the teaching of Islam. So are no longer Muslims. Yet, the Government will tell “Muslim Terrorists” exist. So, if RTOs are waiting for the government to save you, this is whom you are betting on?

ASQA sent you a boat, a man with a rope, and a helicopter, and it seems they have now given up on you. Maybe that is because you have been saying ASQA are too harsh? That’s your choice, now you deal with it. go to your version of Heaven. You have what you wanted, and you were right, but leave us alone living on Earth as we have a life to live.

The opposite of both a good and bad choice is indifference, AKA not making a choice. But you have to live with the consequence of those choices (or lack thereof), and you need to be mindful some people can’t do that. Mental health is a serious issue, and band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.

You can put a cigarette out on a child’s forehead, say sorry, the child can forgive you, but it will still leave a scar. Is that whom you want to be?

“But I was just trying to help”

That is not an excuse for abuse. Abuse is a choice, and never a solution. Are you the best person to help “them”? That’s all about you, not them.

I’m not questioning the fact that people want to help save people. I’m questioning who will save them from you if what you want them to do is a bad choice for them.

I can’t help everyone, nor do I go out of my way to help people. If you don’t go out of your way to help people you can help more people. So if you think I am going out of my way to attack you, that’s not what I do. I’m an Aries, so if you believe in astrology, you mess with the bull, you get the horns. What do you expect from a snake but a hiss? They bite too, even if they are not venomous.

So if you are going my way, and want help, happy to do that for free as I’m already getting paid to do what I do.

If you want to pay someone to help you, I know plenty of people that you can do that with too.

But at the end of the day, and this blog, you still have to be the one to make the decision.

What do you want to do now?