House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Data Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2023; Second Reading

11:13 am

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Skills and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector delivers outstanding education and training through a variety of institutions, through public TAFE and private registered training organisations (RTOs), within universities, and through schools. It is a dynamic and responsive sector that supports millions of students each year to obtain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in an ever-changing economy.

It provides flexible opportunities for individuals to engage in education and training as a starting point to a career pathway or as a solution to upskill or re-skill. At the heart of its agenda, the government is uplifting the VET sector, including by delivering 180,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places in 2023, upgrading essential TAFE infrastructure through the $50 million TAFE Technology Fund, and supporting new energy apprenticeships for a modern economy.

Today, I introduce the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Data Streamlining) Amendment Bill 2023(the bill)to amend the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (the NVETR Act). The amendments in the bill will:

      More broadly, the amendments will support data reforms which will be implemented as part of the VET Data Streamlining program and which will help to deliver high-quality training outcomes.

      The Australian government is working with states and territories and the NCVER to improve the availability and quality of VET activity data through the VET Data Streamlining program and its reforms. This reform will modernise the way TAFEs and other RTOs manage their collection, validation and submission of VET activity data.

      There are currently data lags of up to 20 months in national VET activity data collection which is published annually. Current data lags make it difficult for governments to respond effectively to emerging skills shortages, or other policy and funding issues as they occur.

      VET data streamlining will introduce:

                                'Better data, faster' will support government priorities for the VET sector including:

                                    The NVETR Act established the National VET Regulator and the framework to provide nationally consistent regulation across the sector. To inform the regulation of the VET sector, the NVETR Act places data provision obligations on RTOs to report data in accordance with the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Data Provision Requirements) Instrument 2020. The bill engages with this legislative framework.

                                    I will now outline several aspects of the bill.

                                    To ensure VET activity data remains responsive to the needs of governments and other VET data users, the bill will enable the Skills Ministerial Council (made up of the Commonwealth and state and territory ministers) to agree that a specified body or person can agree to amendments to data provision obligations of RTOs. Currently, the relevant Commonwealth minister and the ministerial council must agree to such amendments. This amendment will streamline future processes to update the new VET information standard, making the data standard more responsive to the needs of governments and other VET activity data users.

                                    The amendments in the bill will authorise the access and use of VET activity data by ICT system operators engaged under a contract to collect, use and disclose VET activity data through a new legislative instrument, the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (VET Data System Information) Determination 2023.

                                    The amendments in the bill will remove an ambiguity by expressly incorporating the authorisation for the national VET regulator, ASQA, to make an administrative decision to exempt an RTO from providing specified data that is prescribed by the data provision requirements.

                                    Finally, the amendments in the bill will permit the Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations to release information collected in accordance with the data provision requirements if agreed by the ministerial council or a specified person or body agreed by the ministerial council.

                                    Improved VET data collection will also support other agencies and projects, including ASQA and the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project, and is aligned with the principle of open data exchange with states and territories under the Intergovernmental Agreement on data sharing between Commonwealth and State and Territory governments.

                                    Consultation with these stakeholders, and peak bodies and training providers, has demonstrated the support for improving the quality and timeliness of VET activity data. I would like to acknowledge the contributions of these stakeholders in advancing these important VET data reforms.


                                    The bill is a key step in modernising the collection and use of VET activity data. The data reforms in VET data streamlining are important: they will enhance both the quality and relevance of VET by making timely and quality VET activity data available to governments, regulators, training providers, students and the VET sector as a whole. This bill and VET data streamlining will provide the government with 'better data, faster' as it delivers its agenda to uplift VET, be it through fee-free TAFE and VET places, the TAFE Technology Fund, or the many projects which depend on reliable VET activity data.

                                    I commend this bill to the chamber.

                                    Debate adjourned.