15 March 2017
It’s fair to say that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in Australia have received their share of bad press recently. While some of this is deserved, the vast majority of RTOs deliver quality training courses that lead students to rewarding future careers. Sadly, Aurora Training Institute and another reputable business were demonised recently in an article published by News Limited which alleged underpayment of a worker.
What is worse is that this blatantly one-sided story also continues to perpetuate myths that reinforce unreasonable employment expectations and delegitimise vocational training programs.
The story published online on news.com.au contains a litany of biased and inaccurate assertions about the role of students, employers and training organisations. Each of these is listed below together with corrections:
“The Aurora Training Institute declined to comment. On its website, the organisation says: “We pride ourselves on delivering quality accredited School Programs. Students are provided with quality training programs, advice and the opportunity to enhance future career prospects.”
Aurora was not afforded an appropriate opportunity to respond to the journalist’s questions. The CEO was contacted while he was on leave and the journalist was requested to call back for a response. The journalist however, did not call back – this does not therefore mean we ‘declined to comment”.
She says she was abruptly fired once she turned 16 and asked for a pay rise in line with the award wage, in a case that raises questions about the State Government’s $20 million school-based apprenticeships and traineeships program.
There is no contract for ongoing employment with an employer as part of any training course and there are many legitimate reasons why employers do not employ a trainee once their training period finishes. The fact that an individual student is not offered employment certainly does not mean a training course is deficient or that the training scheme itself is a “rort”. Employers may offer ongoing employment where vacancies exist and where a trainee has demonstrated they are a stand-out candidate for employment. The reality is the latter is crucial in the equation but is not always the case.
“After a few sporadic appearances by the new trainer, who was “supposed to come to school every second week”, Sarah said she became worried that she would not complete the coursework requirements in time to start Year 11, as planned. Dad contacted them and said ‘what’s going on?’”
The training plan signed by both Aurora, the Employer and the student clearly stated the course completion was due by June 2017 – not prior to school year commencement as asserted. The student’s father applied significant pressure to have Aurora complete the student earlier than agreed. Aurora reluctantly agreed to do so in the interests of providing good customer service and all course requirements were met.
“A Queensland Government spokeswoman did not say whether the Aurora Training Institute — which the government gave the institute $2.4 million in 2014-15, $2 million in 2015-16 and $1.3 million to date in 2016-17 — was being audited.”
All RTOs are highly regulated and audits are a routine part of operations. However, Aurora is a ‘low risk provider’ with both ASQA and the Queensland Government and there is no investigation into this matter.
Aurora and its staff take a deeply personal approach to working with our students. The media article was offensive to our organisation and highlights the need for students to clearly understand the conditions of trainee placements and maintaining reasonable expectations about ongoing employment past the expiry of the training. The training plan between the student, employer and RTO is also critical to articulating all training goals and schedules and students should consider them carefully prior to signing.
Without employers to provide on-the-job experience for students, the vocational training scheme does not fully prepare students for real world employment conditions. Painting employers as exploitative discourages them from participating in trainee programs and ultimately reduces opportunities for students to forge new career paths.
Should you have any questions please visit http://www.aurora.edu.au/contact-us/ or phone us on 1300 936 864.