Sukh Sandhu
31 January, 2022

Acute skills shortages in VET


Coming out of lockdown and re-opening RTOs have revealed one big problem. The VET sector has huge skills shortages, and there are nearly hundreds of vacant VET positions advertised in SEEK this week across Australia.
There are many factors that have contributed to this shortage, and it did not happen overnight. A big contributor has been the casualisation of the workforce and RTOs pushing for staff to become contractors.
Working as a casual or contractor can be alright for some time, but over a longer period of time, most people want to know that they have ongoing employment where sick leave, annual leave and superannuation will be paid.
Also, there are problems with regards to getting a loan when a person doesn’t have secure employment. The COVID lockdowns meant that many lost their jobs and started looking for other opportunities, and the ones remaining were ill-prepared for the online training environment.
Another problem is the requirements of current industry skills and current VET knowledge. There is nothing wrong with this, but when this is delegated back to the trainers to complete in their own time and without any remuneration, it does become a problem. There is also the constant changes of Cert VI TAE and the training packages.
Many qualified trainers have now gone back to the industry they came from and work under better conditions than the ones the VET sector provides. In the traditional apprenticeship areas, experienced tradespeople are often paid double or more than what they would be paid working as trainers and with no after-hours work marking assessments and no lesson planning. Boomers are also now retiring in huge numbers.
The skills shortage and lack of management-level people who can understand and implement the requirements of a compliant RTO are also at an all-time low. Many have left, tired of the constant changes and updates that have not led to any substantial improvement in the outcomes for students. If anything, they have contributed to lowering the skills level of graduates and added a massive burden on administration.
Have we got any trainers left in the VET sector that can actually teach? I do need to ask the question. When you are faced with statements like, and I quote:
“How can I teach this unit of competency when I don’t have the marking guide for the assessment?”
“We are starting the delivery of training today, and we need the assessment and marking guide for the trainer.”
“I didn’t take the position because all they wanted me to do as a trainer was tell the students the right answers to the questions.”
When did training delivery stop being just that, and when was training reduced to giving the students the answers to the questions? I wonder if some of the trainers currently working in the VET sector could actually complete an assessment themselves without a marking guide and with no access to Mr Google.
How are the students graduating from this type of “training” going to cope in the workplace? No wonder many employers say that it makes no difference if a person comes with or without a VET qualification because they need to be trained from basics anyway.


4 months ago