2020 Skills First Compliance – Changes to the Skills First Contract

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With the Skills First contract extension granted until end of 2020, comes a series of contractual and data reporting changes with it.  Hopefully, you managed to navigate your end of year data reporting with ease and are now focused on updating your business processes to ensure compliance with the 2020 requirements.  In this article, we have outlined some of the changes we think you should be looking at carefully.

Training Plans (Schedule 1, Clause 7)

For non-apprenticeship/traineeship enrolments, RTOs no longer have to get the training plan signed or have it re-signed if changes are made to it.  To support this, your organisation is required to have a documented business process for how you authorise the information in the training plan and how you provide this information to learners.  The requirements to include the PSTACD and PUSH fields are also removed from Schedule 1, Clause 7.

Given the requirement for a documented business process in combination with the signature being required for all apprenticeship/traineeship enrolments, it may be easier for your organisation just to keep getting the training plans signed.

 

Determination of Eligibility

The eligibility form has predictably changed for 2020 with some additional instructions designed to make it easier to understand and complete accurately.  For non-TAFE/Dual Sector and Learn Local organisations, you may delete the fields that are not relevant to your organisation.  There is also a “Not applicable” checkbox for the question regarding a student’s age being relevant to their eligibility which caught out many RTOs at audit who sighted a driver’s licence even though the age was not relevant.

We recommend downloading and incorporating the new form into all 2020 commencements if you haven’t already.  Make sure you run some internal training for all RTO delegates to ensure (and demonstrate) that all relevant staff understand the new form and requirements.  In fact, it is worth running (and documenting) a PD session on the Skills First changes with all relevant staff.

 

Enrolment Privacy Notice

The Victorian enrolment privacy notice has recently had some minor tweaks so be sure to embed the new version into your enrolment paperwork.  This updated version can be found in the latest Victorian VET Student Statistical Collection Guidelines doc (pp 188-190).

Data Reporting Requirements

It’s no secret that Victoria has the heaviest data reporting requirements out of any state training authority and that’s not about to change for 2020.  In true predictable fashion, here are a few additional requirements for you.

 

Credit Transfers

This is more of a clarification rather than a new requirement but is worth mentioning as the Department flagged this as an important requirement.  Ensure you report any credit transfers being granted by reporting the unit of competency with an Activity Start Date and Activity End Date that aligns to the day that the CT was administratively processed.  In addition to this, CTs should NOT be administratively processed until commencement has occurred.  For example, if a student enrols on 01/01/2020 but commenced their first unit of competency on 08/01/2020, the CT units must be reported no earlier than 08/01/2020.

 

At School Flag

In the past, organisations could leave this field blank (which would populate the NAT files with the @ symbol).  Now, this will error in SVTS and you must answer Yes or No.

 

Outcome Identifier 79

Strictly applied to apprenticeship/traineeships, this new outcome code can be assigned to a unit of competency to indicate that the RTO is waiting for the employer to sign off on completion of the unit.  It is important to note that this is not a valid final outcome and it behaves in much the same way as a 70 outcome code.  In other words, it does not result in full payment of the unit and should have a future proposed activity end date.

 

Purchasing Contract ID

This newly activated 3-digit field in the NAT120 file will now allow your organisation to self declare and exclude data from claims processing. These options will be EXC which will trigger a Reject 20 for a subject with historical claims, or a R38 which will trigger a Reject 38 which could be used in examples such as a student who is enrolled as concession but has not yet provided the evidence. Because these fields have already existed in the NAT120 file for a while, your organisation may be utilising the field in its student management system without realising that it populates the NAT files. Make sure you are aware of where in your SMS this field is and ensure you are only reporting in this field where appropriate.

 

Workplace ABN

The workplace ABN is the ABN of the organisation where the student is participating in practical placement or workplace based training. It is initially released for free TAFE waiver students but is highly recommended for adoption among other contracted providers. You will need to ensure that your organisation’s enrolment process captures this data and that it is populated in your SMS correctly.

There are other changes that have occurred over the past several months including the payment logic of SVTS which has impacted on cash flow for a lot of providers as well as additional reporting requirements and contractual obligations. If you would like to stay updated with changes to the Skills First contract, subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates.

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