Ceretis Paribus is a Latin term commonly used in economics meaning “all things being equal”. In the Vocational nationally recognised training system where training is delivered from national training packages, one would expect this term to apply to the system. However in the VET (Vocational Education and Training) system all things are not equal. Currently, each state has its own VET regulator applying different auditing standards to their state providers. I was speaking recently with a large training provider that operates in multiple states. They outlined the auditing process they had been though in two states where they deliver the same course from the National training package. To their dismay, they were required to change areas of their compliance and delivery in one state but given a tick of approval in the other. Consequentially, this bring into question the whole notion of national training, why is their delivery accepted, even commended in one state while being found wanting in another? Furthermore, it devalues the qualification in the eyes of business and industry and reduces worker mobility between states. This is concerning as VET is a keymechanism used to train the workforce.
Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley in her review of the tertiary education system recommended a truly national system with the establishment of a single national body to regulate both the VET and Higher Education sector. After consideration of the recommendations and seeking feed back from stake holders, the Federal Government, through COAG decided to establish a National VET regulator and a separate higher education regulator. This is understandable considering the disparity in the approach and delivery of VET as apposed to Higher Education. However, this does raise some concerns for dual sector providers. A National VET regulator will ensure a consistent approach to VET is taken by auditors no matter what state the provider delivers in and also ensuring providers know what they have to comply with.
Currently, the legislation has been referred to a Senate committee and worryingly both Victoria and Western Australia have objected to handing all their auditing powers over to the Commonwealth. The objection lies with these states wanting to retain the right to audit their public providers and not subject them to the national audit process, while mirroring the National legislation. The question that must be asked is how we can have a truly national system when some providers are subject to different auditing regulators than others. Furthermore, why should the public provider be treated differently and how can quality be assured?
New South Wales has agreed to hand over all auditing powers to the new National Regulator ensuring single standards are applied to all state providers. This ensures quality in the system; VET is one of the keys to increasing national workforce productivity and participation. A truly national approach to VET regulation will further increase the value of a VET qualification, increase worker mobility and assist in increasing national output. Once the national regulator assumes control of auditing, with all states deferring all their auditing powers, we can truly say that Ceretis Paribus applies to the VET system to all our benefit.