By CASEY NEILL
FAKE job ads and dodgy doorknockers are swindling up to $30,000 each from south-east students.
Some have racked up the debt without even attending a class, warned South East Local Learning and Employment Network (SELLEN) CEO Andrew Simmons.
“I’ve had conversations with at least a dozen, but I’d imagine the numbers would be higher,” he said.
Mr Simmons said some registered training organisations (RTOs) were signing up unwitting students to get their hands on Federal Government funding.
“There are some really good RTOs out there and we don’t want to tarnish everyone with the same brush,” he said.
“But we’ve got RTOs or brokers who are literally doorknocking.
“They’re promising laptops or tablets or gift cards as incentives for people to enrol.
“We’ve got kids who are being sold courses and racking up huge financial debt through the Federal Government without even attending a class.”
He said some RTOs were advertising job positions that didn’t exist.
When applicants arrive they’re told they don’t have the qualification and are encouraged to sign up to complete the required training.
“Training seekers need to be really aware of what they’re signing into and the consequences,” Mr Simmons said.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
He said some swindled students were subsequently missing out on proper training because they couldn’t access any more government funding and couldn’t pay upfront.
He urged training seekers to ask RTOs where their graduates worked before signing up.
“If it’s an early learning centre, call and ask what they think of the RTO,” he said.
Mr Simmons said SELLEN surveyed school leavers for the State Government’s Track Connect project and received several reports about scams.
He said they lodged complaints with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) and Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and investigations were ongoing.
Mr Simmons said the Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) System released on 29 June also identified issues in the training sector.
The State Government pledged to implement the report’s 19 recommendations and announced a $9 million blitz on low-quality training providers.
Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert this was “a crucial first-step in ensuring Victoria’s training system is the best it can be by removing providers that provide poor or fraudulent outcomes which do not meet industry standards”.
SELLEN is a community-managed network of south-east organisations interested in working to give 10 to 19-year-olds a better go at successfully moving through the education system to employment.
It has about 250 members including schools, TAFEs, businesses, youth welfare agencies and individuals.