VET Data Streamlining
Information is key
Information is key to many domains in Vocational Education and Training (VET). The range of users and requirements is accelerating with the increasing complexity and sophistication of user needs and expectations. Historical approaches to data collection and reporting are changing across the VET landscape driven in part by growth in the private market, more timely reporting for government-funded training as well as the introduction of the USI and the student transcript service. As the repository of much important legacy data and systems, NCVER is looking to position itself to respond effectively to these needs. NCVER seeks to provide an effective and efficient service to Commonwealth, state and territory governments, to providers both public and private, to regulators, and to students as well as others in the industry.
With today’s broader technological advancements, more powerful and better integrated systems provide for shared data collection and access. It is crucial for the ongoing quality of management and funding of the sector that VET data systems are able to adopt the right combination of new technology, standards, and processes in order to pursue higher standards of digital services.
We are undertaking a discovery process
NCVER has engaged Nous Group (Nous) for a discovery process to develop a response on behalf of the VET sector to questions about the VET information management system, including:
1. What are the necessary requirements for a renewed, modern and fit-for-purpose national VET information management system that improves quality, timeliness and access?
2. What is the set of possible opportunities and actions that can deliver on this for all stakeholders across the VET system?
This discovery process aims to build on the improved capabilities that have been delivered by investments in national VET IT infrastructure (at NCVER) as well as that by governments to further strengthen overall VET data management and its IT architecture, to reduce complexity and increase efficiency.
As a key stakeholder, we would like to engage with you in order to ensure the discovery process delivers robust solutions to the two questions above. We ask that you please consider and provide comment on the requirements and future opportunities and actions described below.
Requirements for a new VET data and information system
The conceptual framework
The VET data system is complex and interdependent. A conceptual framework for a new system is outlined against four stages in the data system. Each stage needs to be supported by enablers to achieve success (Figure 1).
We want your advice
We are seeking your input to build on these requirements to help discover options for an improved system. We seek your consideration of some specific questions:
- Which requirements will add value for your operations (consider stakeholders and shareholders)?
- What limitations might need exploration and focus for resolution?
- Are there additional requirements that are critical or would add value for your organisation?
Please provide your comments to VET_data_streamlining@nousgroup.com.au by COB Monday, November 20th. These will be incorporated into future stages of the discovery project, culminating with a Discovery Report, and a Roadmap for opportunities and actions .
Requirements to consider
Collection and validation
The burden of data collection and validation on RTOs should be reduced, and the mutual value of data submission made clearer. Validation should include validation at point of entry: this first step could include pre-population of SMS from reference sites. A streamlined VET data system would need to have standardised validation rules, but to the largest possible extent this would be automated at point of entry through programmed validation logic to minimise demands on RTOs.
Opportunities for enriching datasets and reducing burden by data linking should be pursued. At the student level, the Unique Student Identifiers (USIs) provide the opportunity to link records to other administrative data reducing burden on students and RTOs. The USI also provides the opportunity to link training activity across collections and potentially education sectors. Harvesting information from the national training register (www.training.gov.au) can reduce the burden on RTOs and ensure data validations against training information are up to date.
Submission and data transfer
This is the transfer of collected data from an RTO to users. A streamlined submissions and transfer process would aim to minimise the number of times data is manually handled, and would aim to remove requirements for training organisations to report to multiple bodies. It would provide flexibility for new collection fields to be included, and other specific information required by individual jurisdictions and users.
This would require a move from the current ‘batch’ collection approach to a more ‘shared transactional system’ including the possibility of event-based submission with data flowing to or exchanged by users as pertinent to their need.
The new system could better accommodate contractual and reporting issues faced by RTOs, particularly where they deliver funded training across jurisdictions and enable accurate reporting on students who train with more than one provider and/or across jurisdictions. There would be clear guidelines regarding sub-contractors reporting in lieu of RTOs. There should be mutual benefit for RTOs in submitting data.
Data management and sharing
This is about how data is held and shared with users. To be effective, governments and other players in the VET system, would need to retain or improve on current levels of access and reporting enabled through individual or jurisdictional custodianship of collection processes. In effect, this means consideration of:
- clear accountability and custodianship with defined data management roles and responsibilities
- immediate and ongoing access to data as it is collected
- ongoing authority and transparency over the use of data for a period of time
An information sharing function would allow for jurisdictions and NCVER to share their data with other parties as they see fit and release information to the public under the privacy laws.
Practically the value of taking a registry approach to data management would be reviewed, with the possibility to move to a model which can receive continuous updates, and stores data in a relational database that can be either student-centric, RTO-centric or course-centric, and that supports longitudinal analysis.
Utilisation and analysis
The VET data system would provide outstanding value to stakeholders with self-service access to data. New data would be available in the database as soon as possible after being collected, however it could undergo additional checks and be enhanced (for example the addition of derived fields) before being finalised for reporting purposes. Data could be linked, integrated and analysed to increase data insight and innovation. Users could access data as required using intuitive data tools with appropriate security features to protect the privacy of the individual and ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability information. It could enable multiple use of data by RTOs, VET related bodies, regulators and governments, as well as students (e.g. via a transcript) and consumers looking for a course/RTO.
Other considerations and enablers
- The volume of data will continue to grow. There is business and technical need to consider options for long-term storage of data that maximises data use and improves utilisation, discovery, availability and security, as well as short term data storage to support data processing, automation and real-time usage. Technology that supports digital data transfer is also a key enabler.
- The system needs to ensure the data is managed in line with Commonwealth and State and Territory regulatory and statutory requirements i.e. privacy, data protection, records management, intellectual property, copyright management and freedom of information.
- For cooperation and collaboration, it is important that all parties enter into clear, mutual understanding of the data transfer rules so that they meet each other’s expectations. All players will have a role and influence in the new system.
- People, capability and culture will be an important enabler to focus on increasing information capability through education and by providing opportunities to share knowledge. The aim will be to improve data management practice by building individual capability and responsibility.
tell us what you think
Please provide your feedback to VET_data_streamlining@nousgroup.com.au by COB Monday, November 20th.
Next steps - designing an improved system
We are designing a future road map
We are also seeking your input into future opportunities and actions for VET data collection and reporting. In the course of this project we will further test the issues discussed on this site. This will inform a broad conceptual model which will address the current challenges of the VET data system and prepare it for the future. This conceptual model will be used to build a future Road Map.
The opportunities in the table below are some possible components of an improved VET data system. There are no doubt others. We’re seeking your expert views and opinions regarding:
- Do these possible components align with your requirements and have potential to deliver a successful improvement to the VET data system?
- What else could be useful to explore?
Possible components in an improved VET data system
COLLECTION AND VALIDATION
Consider using cloud-based validation software and storage providers that allow for updating of rules and automatic validation at point of entry.
SUBMISSION AND DATA TRANSFER
Explore enabling data uploads to the system directly from RTOs and Student Management Systems (SMS) through digital processes. Consider other enablers which allow for “continuous upload” and more real-time data.
DATA MANAGEMENT AND SHARING
Feasibility to create shared access to a national relational database without compromise to access, authority and accountability, containing longitudinal data, and allowing multiple uses of data.
UTILISATION AND ANALYSIS
Improvements to data sharing services to support data linking and analysis alongside other data sets.
Please provide your comments to VET_data_streamlining@nousgroup.com.au by COB Monday, November 20th.