Competency Training News

Upfront: Cutting through the bull

POSTED: April 24 2017


If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the past 12 months, you’ll have noticed a lot of focus on the challenges in the vocational education industry, particularly where students have enrolled in courses operated by less-than-reputable providers.

A number of high profile cases have further underlined how important it is to avoid some of the common pitfalls that you can be trapped into when you’re seeking a career or business edge by enrolling into a technical, trade or professional development course. It will become even more important if the Federal Government proceeds with the internship programme it announced in the May budget.

The Federal Opposition has suggested a National Vocational Education and Training Sector Review to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs, as well as establishing a VET ombudsman.

In the meantime, our concern is to protect our students and graduates from mistakenly investing time and money where the returns just don’t stack up.

A number of training providers have come into disrepute for their hard sell practices, signing students to high fees they can’t afford and failing to deliver on their promises.

Putting it bluntly, training providers are breaking the law if they mislead you about the goods and services they supply.

It can be confusing when you sit down and try to work out where you want to invest your time, money and energy. Our recommendation is to take every promise with a grain of salt. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

So how do you make the right choice of training provider?



Start by asking yourself, “What skills do I need to start or advance my career? What do I want to get out of the course? How much time can I invest? How much will it cost and what can I afford?”

Write a list of skills you want to come away with and explore what courses are available. Then you’re on your way to matching your needs with the training offer and identifying the type of course that’s right for you.


An offer of an iPad or a laptop can be a big incentive when you’re about to launch into a new course. It can be an impressive way for training providers to introduce you to their company, and provide you with the technological support you need while you’re studying. But what other financial commitments are you making by accepting the offer? Are you going to be locked in to fees you can’t afford, even with VET-FEE help? If the promises and dollars don’t add up, walk away.


Just because a high profile person fronts an organisation, it doesn’t mean they’re hands-on with your course and responsible for delivering results to you. It will draw attention to the offer, and it may well be the offer is great, but it may not be great for you.


Check with the National Register on Vocational Education and Training (VET) at to see if the training provider is registered to provide the course. You can also check with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and any of the state consumer protection organisations should you have concerns.

The purpose of training is to help deliver pathways to employment and career progression for students. Remember, there are no guarantees of jobs at the end of any course, so after having examined the pros and cons of what’s on offer, we’d suggest sticking to the rule that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

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