The NSW Government has doubled down on its commitment to citizens (now called customers) by creating a new Customer Service Cluster with a budget of $3.1 billion to prioritise, fund and improve the experience of how we interact with all government services.

Written by Stephen Cartwright, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Business Chamber

The NSW Government should be applauded for this focus on making our state work better, but it should be extended to vocational education and training (VET) as well.

As Peter Drucker often said “you can't manage what you can't measure”. The NSW Government undertakes an annual Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey and quarterly Pulse Check Surveys on TAFE and other government agencies, but the results are only reported at a whole of government level.

There is a need to start measuring customer service in VET. This would involve providing greater transparency around customer satisfaction ratings at a more granular agency level. 

Publicly available performance data could help drive improvements in enrolment processes, student support and improved student outcomes, as well as helping to ensure more contemporary course content is delivered to address key skill requirements of the modern workplace. Reporting could commence with a focus on TAFE and then be extended to encompass private training providers that receive public funding.

Such a framework would help the Government to identify whether it is achieving its intended outcome of delivering a skilled and employable workforce, and would help to lay the foundation for a rebuilt VET sector in NSW.

TAFE in NSW continues to struggle to deliver the basics of efficient student enrolments and timely provision of results. The performance of TAFE in meeting these basic requirements, as well as the experience of students and employers alike, should be reported and accompanied by concrete plans to improve sub-standard results. 

After all, teachers have no problem in providing assessments of student performance, so why shouldn’t it operate both ways?

Students, parents and employers should be provided with clearer information to ensure their investment in education and training is delivering the skills needed in the workplace.

More of the same in NSW is not going to cut it. It is time to start treating those interacting with VET as customers as well.