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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 3986 ..

program, it is imperative that these funds be managed effectively and responsibly. It is also important that the user choice program continues to be flexible and responsive to the needs of employers and the ACT economy and that it reflects our training needs and priorities.

To this end, the ACT government has undertaken a review of the user choice funding model, with the goal of modernising it and bringing it in line with the skilled capital program. A great deal of research went into skilled capital, which we launched earlier this year. As I have mentioned in this place before, this has been a very good success story.

We have applied the lessons from skilled capital to the user choice review and made a number of important changes. The new model standardises qualification pricing. This will increase clarity for registered training organisations offering the programs. The rate of subsidy will depend, in part, on how much economic need there is for a qualification rather than focusing only on the qualification’s cost. To reflect the importance of market forces in the training sector, registered training organisations will be given greater flexibility in their ability to determine fees. RTOs will also be required to publish their fees so that employers and students alike are able to make well-informed choices, and the government will retain strong oversight of fees being charged.

To ensure access to user choice programs remains open to everyone, concessions of up to $500 will continue to be available to concession cardholders. We will provide additional training subsidies or loadings to reflect the ACT’s training priorities and future skills needs. Further loadings will be introduced to account for thin markets and areas where only the public provider or CIT is able to offer a qualification. Registered training organisations will be paid by government on outcomes and the achievement of competencies and will no longer receive a significant up-front payment prior to any training actually taking place. If a qualification is not offered in the ACT we will continue to provide students with a travel allowance so that they can study interstate. A number of other minor changes have also been made to ensure fairness and consistency in this new funding approach.

To ensure the smooth implementation of the proposed changes, we have consulted extensively with stakeholders, RTOs, students, employers, and peak industry bodies. This has allowed us to garner broad-based support and ensures the changes will be communicated effectively and accurately to all parties. None of these changes could have been made possible without the development of the ACT vocational education and training records management system, or AVETARS for short. It offers users a vastly improved experience and allows the Education and Training Directorate to respond more quickly and effectively to changing market conditions. The changes to user choice should encourage increased enrolments and qualification completions. The new user choice model will play a key role in supporting a vibrant VET sector and will ensure that the training needs of students and local businesses are met.

VET in general and apprenticeships and traineeships in particular must be seen as career pathways. We must continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that people who finish apprenticeships and traineeships are able to access a broader range of

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