2021 Skills First Contract Changes

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The Department of Education and Training released several draft documents as part of the Skills First contracting arrangements for 2021 last month. It had previously been announced that the Department would offer one-year Skills First VET Funding Contracts for 2021 only to training providers holding a 2018-19 VET Funding Contract (extended to 31 December 2020), without the need for them to participate in a full expression of interest process. As we all madly scramble to complete our PDPs for another year of funding, we take a look at the most significant content changes in the 2021 VET Funding Contract and its Guidelines.

Restricted Contract Discontinuation

The 2021 Contract obligations are more or less the same as under the 2018-19 VET Funding Contracts (extended to 31 December 2020). However, the Department has discontinued the Restricted Contract type to support a more consistent approach to contracting through the adoption of a single Standard Contract. Training providers holding a Restricted Contract at the moment, will be offered a Standard Contract in 2021 and their maximum Commencement Allocation will continue to be documented in Schedule 2.

Statement of Fees

The information that must­­­ be included in the Statement of Fees has been significantly reduced. In 2021, RTOs will only be required to include information about the cost to the student for their program, the relative amount of government contribution to their training and any other fees. The table below compares the requirements from Skills First contract to contract.

2018-19 VET Funding Contract2021 VET Funding Contract
Code, title and currency of the training productCode, title and currency of the training product
Estimated duration
Expected locations at which training and assessment will occur
Expected modes of delivery
Name and contact details of any approved third party that will provide training and/or assessment, and related educational and support services
Any work placement or practical placement arrangements
The hourly tuition fees relevant to the Eligible Individual enrolment taking account of any applicable concessions or waiver/exemptionsThe total cost to them for their program, taking into account any Fee Concession or Fee Waiver entitlement
The approximate value of the government contribution expressed in dollarsThe approximate value of the government contribution expressed in dollars
Any other applicable fees, such as student services, amenities, goods or materialsAny other applicable fees, such as student services, amenities, goods or materials

Register of Trainers and Assessors

The Department has removed the requirement for training providers to keep a Register of Trainers and Assessors. You must still sight and retain evidence that all Skills First Teachers hold relevant qualifications and experience, as specified in regulatory requirements, but you don’t have to keep this information in a formal register.

Online Delivery

The Online Delivery Restriction List is no longer required. You are expected to use professional judgement about the proportion of training delivery that is appropriate to be delivered online and justify this accordingly in your training and assessment strategies. Also, the requirement to have a specific professional development program for Skills First Teachers who deliver online training has been removed. You must still make sure though that Skills First Teachers have the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver and/or asses in an online environment.

Evidence of Eligibility

The Department will now accept as evidence of citizenship/permanent residence, a digital green Medicare card presented on a student’s digital wallet app on their mobile device. If you use this option to sight the card on their device, the evidence you will need to retain is a declaration (the same way you would if you sighted a concession card on a digital wallet). In addition to this, the Skills First requirements relating to sighting evidence of verification when using the Document Verification Service have been simplified. You no longer have to sight a “unique verification number or code” when using the DVS since not all Gateway Service Providers issue a number or code when they verify a document.

Evidence of Concession

The clause about using the Document Verification Service to sight and retain evidence of concession is updated to reflect that when the DVS checks this type of evidence, it doesn’t give information about the type of concession card as part of the verification. Therefore, if you use the DVS to check concessions, you’ll need to confirm with the student what type of card they have and check that it is a type accepted by the Department.

Students Under 17 Years Of Age

Additional information is added to clarify that when you are enrolling students under 17, this must either be in training on a full-time basis or to do a combination of training and employment. The Guidelines about Eligibility now have a table that sets out what evidence to sight and retain before enrolling a student who is under 17.


Evidence of Participation

The Department has updated the clause in relation to when supervised training and assessment has concluded and you are waiting for an employer’s sign off on competency. In this scenario, the relevant date for the second point of EOP is the date when all supervised training and/or assessment has concluded. The second point of EOP must be no earlier than 30 days before (and no later than) the date that supervised training and/or assessment has concluded, rather than the Activity End Date (which will be reported when the employer’s sign off is received). To support EOP in these circumstances, you must retain a record of the date when all supervised training and/or assessment concluded.


Unit Activity Start DateUnit Activity End DateUnit OutcomeEmployer Sign-OffConclusion of supervised training and assessment


The second point of EOP must be dated no earlier than 30 days before 21/04/2021.


Furthermore, a new clause is added to say that the Department may accept evidence of learning and/or engagement activity that occurs as part of a Practical Placement as EOP. A Practical Placement agreement alone is not accepted as evidence of participation under Skills First.


When planning for next year, bear in mind that due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department will not be able to finalise 2021 Contract offers, including Funded Scope and allocations until early December 2020.

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