1. CONTEXT The Productivity Places Program (PPP) was developed under the Council of Australian Governments’ National Reform Agenda which has an overarching theme of enhancing workforce productivity and participation, with human capital as a key component. This program will assist Northern Territory industry by providing opportunities for existing workers to develop their skills through training, and access to skilled jobseekers. Registered training organisations are vital to achieving this goal as they will provide the training that will lead to a better educated, highly skilled and more flexible workforce.
The Northern Territory’s current employment strategy, Jobs Plan 3, is a comprehensive, long-term strategy to create a highly skilled and flexible workforce and to maximise employment opportunities for all Territorians. These goals are in line with the outcomes set under the PPP. Jobs Plan 3 complements existing Northern Territory economic and industry strategies, and provides a broad and coordinated approach to planning for jobs and future economic growth. The development of a new employment strategy is currently underway.
The Northern Territory economy is still relatively strong but not immune from the global financial crisis. The Northern Territory’s unemployment rate for September 2008 reached a low of 2.6 per cent, below the national rate of 4.2 per cent, however, it increased to 3.8% in December 2008. The number of people employed throughout 2008 continually grew with a record 111,700 employed in September 2008. However, employment decreased marginally to 111,081 by December 2008.
Approximately 30 per cent of the Northern Territory’s population are Indigenous, the majority of which live in remote or very remote areas. Unemployment is high amongst the Indigenous population and a high proportion of long-term jobseekers are Indigenous. The Northern Territory’s Indigenous population face a number of other barriers in addition to remoteness, including relatively low levels of literacy and numeracy, access to training and a lack of employment opportunities in their communities.
Darwin is establishing itself as a ‘gas centre’ – there is the LNG plant at Wickham Point and the future onshore site for INPEX. The $23 billion INPEX project will be a catalyst for development, driving economic growth and social growth in the city and beyond. A final investment decision is expected towards the end of 2009 or early in 2010. Employing up to 2,000 people at the peak of construction and creating about 300 new and ongoing jobs, the INPEX gas project is the largest single private sector investment in Australia – one that will secure the Northern Territory’s economic future. The first LNG shipment is expected to be made in late 2014 or early 2015.
The Northern Territory Government recognises the fundamental need to boost workforce participation and invests funds in training that stimulates jobs growth and reduces skills shortages. Priority areas for funding include skill shortages, new and emerging industries and occupations, and strategic training priorities that will enhance the economic and social well-being of all Territorians.
The Northern Territory Government is committed to working with the Commonwealth Government to ensure that Territorians receive an equitable share of national investment under the Productivity Places Program and will ensure that places delivered through this program complement Northern Territory Government priorities for training and employment.
2.TERM OF PLAN This National Partnership is created subject to the provisions of the National Partnership Agreement for Productivity Places Program, and should be read in conjunction with the Agreement. These arrangements will commence on 1January 2009 and expire on 30 June 2012.
This Plan may be revised through bilateral discussions between the Commonwealth Government and the Northern Territory Government through the Department of Education and Training (DET).
3. PROPOSAL This implementation plan has been developed to achieve efficient and effective ‘roll out’ of the Productivity Places Program and to ensure achievement of program’s objectives which is to address the specific training needs of the Northern Territory. This Plan will target the following:
priority areas that meet industry, occupational and geographical skills needs
quality training outcomes and value for money in competitive markets
increasing participation for disadvantaged and under-represented groups
addressing the skills needs of existing workers in industries experiencing significant skill and emerging skill and labour shortages, including priority areas where skills need to be maintained
fair and equitable access to the program for public and private and not-for-profit enterprises
access to the program for all public and private registered training organisations.
3.1 Eligibility Criteria 3.1.1 Participant Eligibility Access to the training available under the Agreement is limited to people aged 15 years or over who are:
An individual is eligible for a job seeker place if he or she is:
registered with an Employment Service Provider (ESP); or
an income support recipient who is not currently required to meet activity test or participation requirements; or
a participant in the Community Development Employment Projects scheme; or
not currently working and seeking or intending to seek paid employment or self employment after completing the qualification; or
a participant in the Commonwealth’s Access Program; or
not working and participating in volunteering activities.
An existing worker is defined as someone who, in the previous week, worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind. This definition excludes those people who may work for more than one hour per week, but are particularly disadvantaged1 in the labour market.
3.1.2 Registered Training Organisation Eligibility Training places will only be provided for nationally recognised qualifications and registered training organisations participating in the Productivity Places Program must:
have appropriate registration for nationally recognised training product(s) which consist of national training packages and nationally accredited courses;
comply with the Australian Quality Training Framework standards for registered training organisations;
have public liability insurance for at least $10 million arising out of any one event in respect of death, injury, loss or damage howsoever sustained to any person or property;
have professional indemnity insurance;
have workers' compensation insurance in relation to their employees, in accordance with the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 or relevant legislation in their home state or territory for interstate registered training organisations.
3.2 Outputs, Funding and Purchasing Arrangements The target level of outputs and trajectory of delivery is as follows:
Quantum of training places – Northern Territory
Job Seeker Qualifications
Job Seeker Enrolments
Existing Worker Qualifications
Existing Worker Enrolments
The key features of the Northern Territory Productivity Places Program will include the following:
3.2.1 Additionality Additionality is defined as any commencement above the average of the Annual National Report (ANR) data over the three years 2005, 2006 and 2007 at the qualification levels in scope for the Program from 2009.
Additionality of course and qualification enrolments over the baseline will relate to government funded activity limited to qualification levels within the Productivity Places Program and be calculated in aggregate over the life of the agreement.
A framework will be developed to ensure training under the Productivity Places Program can be reported separately to standard training delivery.
3.2.2 Enterprise /Individual Contribution The requirement for the collection of the minimum 10% enterprise/individual contribution for existing worker places will be included in registered training organisation and brokerage contract arrangements. It will be the responsibility of successful registered training organisations to account for the contributions received.
There will be scope to increase this minimum contribution:
where industry has the capacity to invest; or
where the qualification is a lower priority as determined by industry; or
where the qualification would normally be delivered through a fee-for-service arrangement.
This increased industry contribution may also be necessary to support quality service provision where the cost of delivery is above the Australian Government’s notional set price (for example, more expensive qualifications, regional and remote delivery, priority groups, small groups and flexible delivery).
3.2.3 Purchasing Arrangements New activity funded will align with the objectives of the Productivity Places Program, including the national qualifications profile, participant eligibility and contestability.
All registered training organisations wishing to engage in the Productivity Places Program will be given an opportunity to apply to deliver training based on the qualifications placed in the market place by the Department of Education and Training. The application will be inclusive of following information:
Name of program funding recipient/ABN/address
Qualification code and title
Training program summary and plan
Evidence of industry, community and Training Advisory Council or national Industry Skills Council support and collaboration
Program objectives, deliverables including key performance measures for outcomes.
Registered training organisations will be invited to apply for program funding by submitting a written application. Each application will be reviewed and evaluated based on the objectives of the program by a panel consisting of members from the Department of Education and Training, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (NT office) and an independent invited participant. In conjunction to this, further evaluation will be conducted based on evidence of past performance in relation to:
Australian Quality Training Framework 2007 compliance including financial viability and registration in the Northern Territory;
scope to deliver qualifications in the Northern Territory;
quality training outcomes including student support initiatives;
meeting reporting requirements including compliance with the AVETMISS for publicly funded training.
The Northern Territory will participate in national discussions with other states and territories with a view to implementing protocols to govern the administrative and financial arrangements for national enterprises operating in more than one jurisdiction to ensure that they only have to deal with one point of contact to arrange cross-jurisdictional delivery of training.
The Northern Territory will ensure funding is used for payments to registered training organisations for the provision of training only and not for administration of the Agreement2.
Industry will be consulted in identifying priorities for the training to be delivered under the Productivity Places Program.
3.3 Industry and Enterprise Engagement and Brokerage Industry in the Northern Territory will be consulted in identifying priorities and partnering with government to achieve the allocation of places.
Where national Industry Skills Councils broker training, the Northern Territory will ensure clients so brokered are given priority access to training, where they meet eligibility requirements, align to industry and qualification profile priorities, and the allocation of training places has not been exhausted.
To broker training, a national Industry Skills Council will need to work in partnership with a registered training organisation that is eligible to deliver training under the program. The Department of Education and Training will inform national Industry Skills Councils of the purchasing arrangements in the Northern Territory and the criteria that will inform selection of registered training organisations to deliver places under the Productivity Places Program. A briefing session will be offered to Industry Skills Councils once the Program arrangements have been finalised.
The Northern Territory has and will continue to encourage Northern Territory Training Advisory Councils to work in partnership with national Industry Skills Councils to identify occupations and qualifications that are experiencing current and emerging skills shortages.
The Department of Education and Training will, in consultation with these stakeholders, review priorities for training places on an ongoing basis to ensure maximum benefit and uptake can be achieved.
The Northern Territory will endeavour to ensure that clients brokered by Employment Service Providers are given access to training where they meet eligibility requirements, align to industry and qualification profile priorities, and the allocation of training has not been exhausted. Fees will not be charged for job seeker places. A briefing session will be offered to Employment Service Providers once the Program arrangements have been finalised.
Upon request, the Northern Territory will provide data and information to Skills Australia to assist it in identifying industries, occupations and regions that are experiencing skills shortages.
The Northern Territory will endeavour to ensure all enterprises (public, private and not-for-profit) have fair and equitable access to the training available through the Agreement.
3.4 Providers 3.4.1 Contestability and Pricing Training places under the Productivity Places Program will address areas of skill shortage, gaps in training, and maximise quality and value for money in areas of high interest and contestability by having a competitive arrangement accessible by both public and private registered training organisations.
It is anticipated that contestability will be achieved through a range of procurement strategies including:
a public registered training organisation tender administered by the Department of Education and Training
preferred supplier lists established through existing contestable programs such as User Choice
enterprise or industry directly selecting registered training organisations to be contracted.
The Department of Education and Training will advertise and hold information forums to encourage all training providers to enter the market to provide training places under this program.
Competition for the provision of training is open to all public and private registered training organisations that meet the following conditions:
registration in relevant jurisdiction with capacity to deliver that specific qualification (have existing scope of registration)
data compliance with the AVETMISS for publicly funded training.
3.4.2 Contractual Arrangements Registered training organisations in receipt of grant funding from the Department of Education and Training or other funds coordinated through the Department will be required to sign a Resource Agreement that outlines the details of the services being purchased and the associated accountabilities and reporting responsibilities.
3.4.3 Enterprise Arrangements The Department of Education and Training will ensure that enterprises operating in more than one jurisdiction can choose to have one State or Territory allocate training places but will remain within the Northern Territory budget. Under such arrangements:
The funding and training places will be counted and based on the jurisdiction of location of the jobseeker or existing worker and not the jurisdiction tasked with the allocation of the place.
The Territory will put in place protocols and financial arrangements to transfer funds from the jurisdiction of location of jobseekers or existing workers participating in the Program to the jurisdiction tasked with the allocation of places.
3.5 Qualification Profile Target The Northern Territory Government will endeavour to achieve the qualification profile target outlined in the National Partnership for Productivity Places Program through the new activity funded under the program and the progressive realignment of existing strategies.
The Northern Territory’s capacity to achieve the qualification profile target will be impacted by investment priorities established with industry, the drivers of the Northern Territory’s economy and the impact of the global financial crisis on the demand for training.
The annual trajectory and qualification profile indentified in 3.2 Outputs, Funding and Purchasing Arrangements will be used as the starting point. It will be continually under review and will be revised if circumstances change and there is evidence that the pattern of demand is different. The Australian Government will be advised of these changes in circumstance and, consistent with clause 36(c) of the National Partnership Agreement, both Governments may wish to renegotiate target outputs.
3.6 Priority Industries and Occupations New activity funded under the Program will align with the national priority list of industries, occupations and qualifications, which may be updated to realign to the changing economic environment.
Where an occupation or qualification prioritised by industry is not on the national priority list of industries, occupations and qualifications, the Northern Territory will submit a business case from industry to provide evidence to support the addition of the proposed area of focus.
The Northern Territory will only provide new funding under the program to support qualification commencements once the Commonwealth has confirmed acceptance of the industry’s business case.
3.6.1 Additional Qualification Endorsement from Phase II Under Phase II of the Productivity Places Program in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth endorsed courses and qualifications currently not on the national priority list of industries, occupations and qualifications. Training in these areas is to continue into Phase III. These qualifications are:
Certificate III in Indigenous Education Work (to be replaced with the relevant training package qualification when it becomes available).
Diploma of Government (Workplace Inspection)
3.7 Reporting and Evaluation Under the National Partnership Agreement there will be three types of reporting:
six monthly reports on progress against Productivity Places Program output targets and an analysis of barriers and achievements in meeting the targets; and
annual financial reports to acquit Australian Government funding under the National Partnership Agreement, and report on both the Northern Territory contribution and 10% minimum private contribution for existing worker training places.
4 FINANCIAL REPORTING The Northern Territory Government will provide an acquittal of Commonwealth Government funding each year. The acquittal will include:
a detailed statement of income and expenditure for the Program funding
a definitive statement that the financial accounts are true and fair
a statement of the balance of the established special purpose account
a certified statement that the funding was expended in accordance with the Program requirements.
The Northern Territory will report on arrangements in place to ensure that the minimum 10 per cent contribution is collected in aggregate from employers/ individuals for training places allocated.
5 TARGET REPORTING The Northern Territory will provide monthly data reports through PIMS as necessary until such time as all reporting can be done through the AVETMISS platform.
All registered training organisations and other organisations funded for new activity under the Program will be required to input data directly into the Productivity Places Performance Information System (PIMS). These data will be made available to the Australian Government on a minimum of a monthly basis to meet the monthly reporting requirements under the National Partnership Agreement.
All registered training organisations funded under the Productivity Places Program must provide to the Department of Education and Training, statistical information that:
is up-to-date as at the specified timeframes of reporting
complies with the current version of AVETMISS as at the date of the Agreement
is accurate for key indicators relating to student demographics and enrolment.
Biannual performance reports will be provided by 31 January and 31 July each year to demonstrate progress against output targets and to provide an analysis of barriers and achievements.
5.1 Publications and Communications The Northern Territory will acknowledge this Agreement as a joint Commonwealth and Northern Territory initiative in all publications, promotional and advertising materials, public announcements and activities or any products, processes or inventions developed as a result of the implementation of the Agreement.
This requirement will be incorporated into all contracts with registered training organisations and other organisations funded for new activity under the Program.
5.2 Reconciliation of Phase II of the Agreement The Northern Territory will work toward meeting the additional training targets set under the Memorandum of Understanding and will seek to fully reconcile the achievement of 2008 training against targets under Phase II by mid May 2009.
1 Particularly disadvantaged in this context means:
An income support recipient who is not currently required to meet activity tests or participation requirements; or
A participant in the Community Development Employment Projects Scheme.
2 Independently from this agreement, Heads of Treasury may determine cost-sharing arrangements between governments for the administration of election commitments.