Claire Field warns there are short courses that are way too, short


More than one in every nine courses funded through the $1bn JobTrainer scheme is significantly shorter than it should be

If an undergraduate degree takes only 6 months to complete is it still an undergraduate degree?

This is not a question besetting higher education but the equivalent question in VET should be front of mind in negotiations for the next National Skills Agreement.


Because more than one in every nine (13 per cent) courses funded through the $1bn JobTrainer scheme is significantly shorter than it should be, given its classification on the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Keep in mind these are priority qualifications identified by states and territories as crucial for Australia’s economic rebuild post-COVID 19 and funded jointly with the Commonwealth. It is not a random list I compiled to highlight a few anomalies in the sector.

Of the JobTrainer courses there are eight Certificate II qualifications ranging from two weeks to four-month duration when they should be a minimum of six months.

33 Certificate III qualifications are between 14 days and 10 months duration when the minimum should be 12 months.

 Four Certificate IV courses run from just six days to 540 hours, when the minimum should be six months (or approximately 600 hours).

At diploma level there are seven short courses (two months to 30 weeks) when the minimum duration is 12 months, and 14 of the Advanced Diploma courses are under the minimum 18 months.

What purpose does the AQF have in VET if it is being applied so indiscriminately and what value do these short courses offer learners? These are the questions policymakers should be confronting.

At this stage only four jurisdictions (ACT, NSW, SA and WA) have published comparable data on the MySkills website of the JobTrainer courses they are funding. There are also other issues which warrant attention, including the number of courses with mandatory pre-requisites which serve to exclude the young people the scheme is supposed to assist.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector