Trainers are failing people in security and childcare, signing off on qualifications for people with inadequate skills or little chance or getting a job, the United Voice union says.
The union gave evidence to an ACT Assembly inquiry into vocational education last week, where it said that training organisations were training people as security guards (and taking their course fees) when they had little or no chance of getting security work because they didn't have permanent residency.
ACT branch secretary of the union Lyndal Ryan said people without permanent residency or Australian citizenship weren't eligible for government and other work, but weren't warned by training organisations and only discovered the waste of the money and training when they tried to get work. New security guards faced a minimum cost of $1019 in course fees, licence and police fees.
"That is a tragic set of circumstances for those people who think, 'OK, I don't have any skills or I don't have much in the way of education in this country, even if I do have overseas qualifications. What can I do to obtain employment? Aha, I can pay for this course, I can go and undertake the training. At the end of that I can go and get my licence. Great, I am ready ... to be employed now'.
"In fact, they will never obtain employment because the requirements in government buildings is actually that you must have permanent residency or citizenship," she said.
The union was concerned about training across many industries, but childcare was one of the worst. Training organisations were paid once trainees had been given their qualification, but little was done to check what they had been taught.
Anna Whitty, the director of children's services for childcare operator Northside Community Service, said as an employer she saw childcare workers who had been given their qualification but whose English was so limited they couldn't fill out employment forms without help. Quality and content in training varied markedly, depending on the training organisation.
"It's really concerning and slightly alarming because even though someone might have been granted their certificate or they've been signed off, often they don't come with the knowledge or the skill that I would expect," she said.
Ms Ryan tabled statements from a number of childcare trainees complaining about lack of contact with the training organisations that were issuing qualifications. One said the trainer had visited rarely, with the work done online or by correspondence.
"These workers they were not necessarily even given workbooks, any supervision -sometimes they were advised to chase up through the registered training organisation to an online website that no longer existed," Ms Ryan said. "So their experiences were particularly bad.
"But what you also need to know is even with this outrageous situation they were all signed off as having the certificate III [qualification]."
The trainees had lost their jobs once they qualified, with the employer instead turning to new trainees, who were cheaper, she said.