The 2023 Victorian VET Funding Contract came with significant changes to the eligibility settings. In order to increase the ability of Victorians to reskill and to continue to participate in an evolving economy, the Victorian Government has modified the Skills First eligibility settings. Several limitations and initiatives have been removed while others have been simplified. In this article, we will cover all the 2023 changes relating to the Skills First eligibility requirements and evidence retention.
The upskilling requirement has been completely removed. This means that students can enrol into Skills First subsidised training regardless the highest qualification that they hold. For instance, an individual who holds an Advanced Diploma can enrol into a Skills First subsidised Certificate II, provided of course this program is a suitable and program training option for them.
Training providers are no longer required to check students’ highest qualification; although information about students’ “prior education achievements” must still be collected as part of the enrolment process and reported to SVTS.
“Two at a level in a lifetime” limit
The Department has removed this limitation as well. An individual can now started multiple programs at the same AQF level. For example, an individual who has commenced two programs at Certificate II level is eligible to enrol in more Skills First subsidised Certificates at AQF level II.
This initiative is no longer required and has been removed. Individuals who hold higher qualifications and/or have commenced more than two programs at the same AQF level in the past are now eligible for Skills First subsidised training and do not need to be granted an eligibility exemption. There are still some limited situations though, including the Asylum Seeker VET Program and the 22510VIC – Course in Identifying and Responding to Family Violence Risk, where eligibility exemptions must still be granted. These types of exemptions though are not subject to any maximum limit.
JobTrainer was a joint Commonwealth and State government initiative. It expired at the end of 2022 and therefore is no longer included in the 2023 VET Funding Contract.
Proof of Age
There were two scenarios where an individual’s age was 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.
Both the upskilling requirement and the JobTrainer initiative have been removed therefore training providers are no longer required to check their students’ age.
“Two in a year” and “Two at a time” limits
The limits have remained and apply to Foundation Skills Programs as well.
Unlike the “two in a year” limit, the “two at a time” limit applies collectively across both Skill Sets and AQF Qualifications. Therefore, an individual can start 2 skill sets and 2 qualifications in 2023 but cannot study in more than 2 programs at the same time.
Foundation Skills Programs
The eligibility requirements for enrolments into Foundation Skills Programs, either in an AQF qualification or in a Skill Set, have not changed. An individual is not eligible for a Foundation Skills Program if they:
- hold an AQF qualification issued by an Australian VET or higher education provider that is at AQF level 5 (Diploma) or higher
- are enrolled in the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Skills for Education and Employment’ program.
Sighting and retaining evidence of eligibility
All the existing requirements have remained in place. In addition, the Department has clarified that training providers can rely on Document Verification Checks (DVS) obtained about a student for a subsequent enrolment provided that the subsequent enrolment occurs within the same calendar year as the original DVS check. For example, if you have verified an individual’s evidence of eligibility on the DVS in 2022, you can’t rely on the corresponding transaction record for a subsequent enrolment occurring in 2023. A new DVS check will have to take place in this scenario.
The Commonwealth Government’s Document Verification Service (DVS) is a national online system that allows organisations to compare an individual’s identifying information with a government record. The Department encourages the use of it as an efficient and secure way to check eligibility for Skills First subsidised training.
Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration form
The latest version (v2.1) of the 2023 Evidence of Eligibility and Student Declaration form was released by SVTS on 30th December 2022. The Department has provided this form as a word document to allow training providers to edit it and remove any questions (e.g. TAFE/Dual Sector only questions) that are not applicable.
Sections and questions associated with requirements that are no longer applicable (e.g. Highest Qualification, Proof of Age, “Two a level in a lifetime”, JobTrainer-related questions) have been removed while Sections B1 and B2 have been merged into a single section including questions relating to the current eligibility rules and limitations.
Here is some guidance on which questions of Section B1 of the current eligibility form must be answered by the student, for different types of enrolment:
#1 Enrolment into an AQF qualification: Student must answer Questions 1 and 3
#2 Enrolment into a Skill Set: Student must answer Questions 2 and 3
#3 Enrolment into a Foundation Skills Program which is an AQF qualification: Student must answer Questions 1, 3 and 4
#4 Enrolment into a Foundation Skills Program which is a Skill Set: Student must answer Questions 2, 3 and 4
Section C of the form has not been re-designed. Training Providers are still required to declare whether the student is either eligible, not eligible at all, or not eligible but an eligibility exemption has been granted.