The announcement of the outcomes of the Skills First selection process took place in mid-December. Congratulations to all training providers that have successfully participated in the application process! All RTOs that have been offered a 2022 VET Funding Contract, have also received their commencement allocation across all training programs and/or initiatives outlined in their Schedule 2.
Meanwhile, the Department has already published the first version of the 2022 VET Funding Contract and its supplemental documents. In this article, we will look at some slight, yet important, changes relating to the Eligibility requirements and evidence retention.
New Zealand Citizenship
Just like Australian citizens and permanent residents, New Zealand citizens are also eligible for Skills First subsidised training. Previously, the evidence that training providers had to sight and retain was either a current New Zealand Passport or a current green Medicare Card (New Zealand citizens are eligible to enrol in Medicare upon provision of identity and residency proof). In 2022, the Department will also accept New Zealand Birth Certificates and New Zealand Citizenship Certificates as proof of New Zealand citizenship.
The corresponding section of the 2022 Skills First Program – Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration Form has been updated to include two additional checkboxes associated with the above pieces of evidence:
Training providers that utilise the Document Verification Service (DVS) must be aware that any documents issued by the New Zealand government cannot be verified on the Australian DVS. Therefore, when enrolling eligible New Zealand citizens these providers will have to either sight the original document or a certified copy.
Proof of Age
There are two scenarios where an individual’s age is relevant to their eligibility:
- If the individual is under 20 years of age as at 1st January in the year of commencement of training and wishes to enrol into a government funded course, other than Foundation Skills, Apprenticeship and VCE/VCAL, that is at a lower qualification level than the highest qualification held at the time of the expected commencement. In all the above cases, the upskilling rule can be ignored.
- If the individual is eligible to enrol under a specific funding initiative (e.g. JobTrainer) due to their age.
In both the above instances, training providers must sight and retain proof of the eligible individual’s age. This evidence may be the same form of identification document that the training provider has used to determine whether the individual fulfils the citizenship/residence requirements (e.g. Australian or New Zealand Passport or Australian Birth Certificate). If the identification document used for this purpose doesn’t include a date of birth (e.g. Green Medicare Card) or the date of birth hasn’t been verified through use of the Document Verification Service, then the training provider must sight and retain an additional form of identification document as per the instructions of the 2022 Skills First Program – Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration Form.
As shown in the screenshot above, the Department has updated this form’s section to include a “Foreign passport” as acceptable proof of age and to clarify that training providers only need to collect separate evidence of age if it is relevant to testing eligibility and only if the student’s evidence of citizenship/residency doesn’t show their date of birth.
Furthermore, the Department has also clarified in the 2022 Guidelines about Eligibility that digital “Keypass Cards” can be sighted when checking evidence of age. This can be done by using the Australian Post Digital ID mobile application on the student’s mobile device. The digital card may not be sighted via a screenshot of the card that is emailed or otherwise reproduced.
Please note that if you use this option to sight the card, you’ll need to complete and attach to the student’s file a written declaration including the following:
- Name of the authorised delegate who sighted the card
- Date the card was sighted
- Document number of the card
- Name of the card holder
- Card holder’s date of birth
Foundation Skills Programs
Since 2021, “Course Ins” have been treated as Skills Sets and the skill set eligibility settings have applied to them. Training providers must use Section B2 of the 2022 Skills First Program – Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration Form to document information about the Education History of an individual enrolling in a Skills First subsidised Skill Set. This includes individuals enrolling in any of the “Course Ins” that form part of the Foundation Skills List.Individuals enrolling in a Foundation Skills course must not hold an AQF qualification issued by an Australia VET or higher education provider that is at AQF level 5 (Diploma) or higher.
The Department has now added a new question to Section B2 of the form to help Training Providers check if a student is eligible for a Foundation Skills Program that is also a skill set. This asks students if they hold a qualification at a Diploma level or higher, because those that do are ineligible to enrol in Foundation Skills Programs.
Training Provider Declaration
Training providers will no longer need to identify the number of programs an individual is eligible for. All the relevant checkboxes have been removed from the 2022 Skills First Program – Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration Form.
In addition, new and clearer checkboxes have been added to record whether the student is either eligible, not eligible at all, or not eligible but an eligibility exemption has been granted.
Asylum Seeker VET Program
Previously, only TAFEs and Learn Local Organisations could accept a self-referral from asylum seeker students and use the Commonwealth Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) to check the students hold a valid visa type. Now, all training providers can accept self-referrals and use VEVO.
When checking an individuals’ eligibility for the Asylum Seeker VET Program, training providers need to use their IMMI card to conduct a check against their study entitlements. The document extracted from VEVO will display information in relation to the individual’s visa subclass and their study rights. A separate check against their work entitlements must also be conducted if the individual wishes to enrol in an Apprenticeship/Traineeship or in a qualification with work placement requirements.
The Department has also updated the Skills First Program – Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration Form to clarify that a student must hold a specific visa subclass with each visa type to be eligible under the VET Asylum Seeker program. In 2022, this program will currently include four valid visa types:
- BVE (subclass 050/051)
- SHEV (subclass 790)
- TPV (subclass 785)
- BVF (subclass 060)
- Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) (subclass 449) visa
VEVO-generated documents are date and time stamped. Therefore, training providers must complete this check prior to course commencement, as per the Skills First contract relevant requirements.
Other Special Programs and Initiatives
TAFEs, Learn Local Organisations and Private Training Providers may enrol individuals under the Eligibility Exemptions Initiative. The maximum number of commencements for which exemptions may be granted under this initiative will no longer be calculated as a percentage (e.g. 10%) of the total 2022 commencements. It will now be a set number based on a percentage of the total number of commencements delivered in 2021 and will be documented in each training provider’s Schedule 2.
The JobTrainer initiative will continue until 31st December 2022 while the COVID-19 Response – Funding to Deliver Infection Control Skill Sets initiative isn’t included in the 2022 VET Funding Contract as it finished at the end of 2021.
An important change has been made to the JobTrainer initiative’s settings and eligibility criteria. Several qualifications and skill sets on the JobTrainer Funded Programs Report have been labelled as “JobTrainer Priority Programs”. For individuals applying to enrol in a JobTrainer priority program, training providers are not required to sight and retain any additional evidence (e.g. proof of age, proof of individual being a job seeker, Centrelink concession card etc.).
Training providers were previously required to indicate their interest in delivering under JobTrainer as part of the Program Delivery Plan (PDP) submission process. However, the final decision on Funded Scope under the JobTrainer initiative and the corresponding allocation has been determined and communicated to training providers as part of the announcement of the outcomes of the selection process in December 2021.