The Department of Immigration has informed stakeholders of a change to the policy guidance relating to industry training funds.No Commission can be paid from Training Benchmark A contributions and Training Benchmark A contributions cannot be made to TAFEs and Universities if there is a statutory Industry Training Fund operative
This is due to an audit being conducted by DIBP of known training funds in response to recent allegations of misuse of funds for meeting 457 training benchmark requirements. The concern was that TAFEs and Universities would be allocating part of the amount spent on contributions to pay commissions to registered migration agents or other institutions for referring clients to them, which clearly goes against the objective of the training fund contributions. This issue of misuse of Training Benchmark A funds was also raised in the October 2014 edition of ME magazine.
The change in the departmental policy has been updated which specifies that:
- No percentage of a contribution made to either a recognised industry body or a scholarship fund operated by a university or TAFE college, for the purposes of satisfying training benchmark A, may be allocated to a commission.
In the same report in the October edition of ME magazine, I had also raised the issue that Training Benchmark A contributions made to scholarships funds of TAFEs and Universities may be invalid contributions as those contributions can only be made to TAFEs and Universities where a statutory Industry Training Fund is not operative.
The DIBP email dated 19th February 2015 to stakeholders indicates that Training Benchmark A contributions can be made to Statutory Industry Funds only where such Funds are operative. Industry training funds are statutory authorities responsible for providing funding for training of eligible workers in certain industries. The email from the DIBP states that if there is no statutory industry training fund operating in the same sector as the applicant for approval, for the purposes of meeting training benchmark A, the department will accept evidence of contributions made to:
- a recognised industry body who provide training opportunities or
- a recognised scholarship fund operated by an Australian university or TAFE college.
The Department goes on to state that 457 sponsorship applications which do not meet these training benchmark requirements will be refused.
In view of this we would like to inform RMAs that they should ascertain whether an industry training fund is operative or not before they advise their clients to pay Training Benchmark A contributions to the scholarship funds of TAFEs and Universities. Alternatively, RMAs can consider the option of Training Benchmark B if their clients are eligible for Training Benchmark B. If you have any questions or would like to know more, you may write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
DIBP also advises that a formal government response to all 22 of the recommendations made by the integrity review is expected to be announced shortly and implementation will begin immediately following this announcement.