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VET Fast 5 - Tamara Simon on shorter training opportunities

June 18, 2019

Tamara Simon

Tamara Simon is a speaker, author and coach helping RTOs solve problems and find untapped opportunities to build successful businesses. She has over 20 years experience in VET and business management including CEO of Queensland’s Forest Industries ITAB (FITAB). Tamara recently spoke at the VET CEO Conference and will be presenting at the National VET Conference later this year. She is also the driver of Take Another Look, specialising in solving problems and finding untapped opportunities for RTOs. You can read more of Tamara’s writings on her blog and connect with her on twitter.

1. What is the biggest opportunity in VET right now?

I believe there is opportunity for all RTOs to change their focus from being driven to offering clients (individuals and companies) full qualifications to offering shorter training programs which meet the needs of the employer/industry who want short, sharp programs which help them improve productivity and profitability.

Regulators focus on a student centric model. I believe RTOs need to really listen to what their customers are wanting from their training program rather than being presented with ‘this is it’. Organisations have many challenges they have to consider including budget constraints (the cost of training and the cost to backfill the position while someone attends training), delivery constraints (many employers can’t release their staff for a whole day of training), and whether accredited training (qualification or statement of attainment) is truly the answer they are seeking or is it some other form of training (aka professional development).

VET should not be viewed as the only option to a client – they are many training options available to solve problems for clients.

Sometimes small training programs where a student does a few units to make sure they are suited to that industry, and the employer can see the return on investment is a much better way to start the client/RTO relationship. This would also help to increase completion rates.

2. Are RTOs thinking about innovation and cutting edge technology?

I believe some RTOs are highly innovative and embrace technology, but for most, this is a challenge as they juggle managing the day to day operations including financial viability. New technology is often something people jump on because they think it’s the right thing for them without doing the necessary planning to determine is it fit for purpose. I see a lot of apps on people’s devices and software in organisations that are rarely used or not used to their full capability because it’s deemed too hard. Preparation and clarity of purpose is key to successful implementation.

3. What can be done to ensure positive student experiences?

Phone students and check in regularly so they feel engaged and connected to their trainer and RTO. Follow up consistently with a combination of email and phone support and ensure your systems have these mechanisms in place to ensure a student is actually progressing each month and not lost for six months because ‘the student didn’t get back to me’. There’s always a reason why someone isn’t progressing – often it’s because they were enrolled in a program which wasn’t right for them or they didn’t want to do it, so check your initial selection (sales) processes to make sure you are enrolling your ‘ideal’ student at least 80% of the time.

4. Which app can’t you live without?

Otter – enables you to record conversations, speeches, articles etc and then transcribes them for you.

5. Who (or what?) inspires you in VET?

Anyone who is in the VET sector for the right reasons – passionate about making a difference to their students, their team, their RTO and their industry sector and also embraces compliance and all its rules and requirements as something which is ‘just part of our business’ rather than a thorn in their side which they complain about constantly.

My mantra is ‘if you don’t like compliance or don’t like change, then don’t work for an RTO or be one’ because that’s the space you CHOOSE to work in. If you don’t like this, then please leave the VET sector and deliver fantastic professional development instead of accredited training.

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