Clouds hang over subcontracted training courses

by L&D07 Jun 2017
Concerns have been raised after training company Navitas subcontracted its popular Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to MAX Solutions, a fellow training company under a regulatory cloud.

Major US services company, Maximus – of which MAX Solutions is a subsidiary – recently applied to run a set of new courses but was rejected due to of “issues” identified by the vocational education regulator.

Following this, the subcontracting of AMEP has raised questions over how its tenders are assessed.

Some have voiced doubts as to whether the Federal Education Department, which administers the scheme, assessed MAX facilities before allocating the contracts.

Sharon Bird, a Wollongong-based MP, told The Australian she had “real concerns” about the sorts of facilities that students will be using, and whether the program will be available in the places it is currently being delivered.

“What sort of support services will they provide around access, transport and childcare?” Bird said.

“When those things become difficult for students who are very vulnerable, it becomes increasingly hard for them to participate.”

At a Senate estimates hearing last week, Brendan Morling, the Federal Education Department’s group manager of skills programs, said tenders were “assessed on capacity, capability, innovation and value for money.”

“Our direct contractual relationship is with Navitas,” he said, adding the Education Department’s compliance checks on MAX had raised no “red flags”.

However, Australian Skills and Quality Authority chief commissioner Mark Paterson said a recent audit had found MAX “non-compliant after rectification”.

MAX Solutions insists it will have the appropriate facilities, qualified teachers and trainers.

A spokeswoman for Navitas told The Australian that MAX Solutions was finalising recruitment of teaching staff who met AMEP’s “strict qualification requirements”.

“The partnership and subcontracting model has been an integral part and strength of our delivery,” she said in a statement.

She added that Navitas had been providing contracted work for 20 years to third-party providers including universities, community colleges and government agencies.

Assistant Skills Minister, Karen Andrews, said AMEP contracts allowed subcontracting to third parties, but she would be “happy” to re-examine this in the future.

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