New ASQA governance structure on the way

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will have a new governance structure that will replace its three commissioners with a single chief executive officer, as well as a new advisory council to help guide ASQA’s strategic direction.

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2020, introduced into parliament last week, aims to give the VET regulator greater transparency while enhancing its educative role with the VET sector.

ASQA has welcomed the new governance arrangements. The Bill sets out a structure that replaces commissioners with a single chief executive officer, supported by enhanced internal senior executive capacity. It also introduces an advisory council comprising experts from regulatory practice, sector and business engagement, and education and training.

The Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, Steve Irons told parliament on 12 February that the advisory council would be drawn from a diverse pool including experts in regulation, communications and training delivery.

“The advisory council will not be a decision-making body but rather a valuable source of strategic advice, a vehicle for confidential information-sharing and a strong foundation for stakeholder confidence in the regulator,” Mr Irons said.

ASQA Chief Commissioner Saxon Rice commented: “The model represents a significant shift and step forward for ASQA, and will support the agency to continuously improve as a regulator while maintaining independence with respect to regulatory decision-making.”

This Bill supports other proposed legislation being considered by Parliament that focuses on improving the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of ASQA, responding to the recommendations from the 2018 Braithwaite Review and the 2019 Joyce Review. Additional legislative changes are anticipated in response to other aspects of the Braithwaite Review and further outcomes from an independent review of ASQA, once complete.

The Bill also includes new data sharing arrangements between ASQA and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

The Federal Labor opposition has backed the legislation.

The ABC Radio PM program on 13 February on VET regulation features Bruce Mackenzie (Mackenzie Research Institute, and former Victorian TAFE leader); Ged Kearney, Labor Shadow Assistant Minister for Skills; and Claire Field, VET consultant

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