Seasons Greetings! Not the Holiday Season, which is fast approaching, but rather, the yearly trial (and error) that is the VET Reporting Season.
For those delivering VET Training, this means Total VET Activity Reporting . For some, it might be reporting for funded training programs like CSO. Everyone, it means frustration, confusion, and long hours put in to meet what seems to be an impossible deadline.

Part of the problem seems to be in the timing. NCVER’s deadline for the Total VET Activity reporting is due on 28 February 2016, for all data up to 31/12/2016, and while the 8 weeks seems like a long time, the reality is that it can be a nightmare of staff on annual leave, poorly submitted paperwork and pressing need to get new year’s classed up an running.

It’s can be difficult and time consuming, but it’s mandatory for any organisation with an RTO registration that has delivered training of any unit of competency within the 2016 calendar year. Failure to submit your AVETMISS data can mean a loss of your registration.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the stress and hassle of this time of year. I’ve written five of my favourites from my time on the data lodgement end. 
Many of you will have your own hints and tips on how to navigate the reporting requirements, and I would love for you to add your comments to this post.

1. Start as early as possible
The earlier the better. Validation errors are not always clear and it can take some time to figure out what a error means, and how to address it. Starting early gives you time to resolve the issues without the pressure of a deadline.

NCVER's Validation software, AVS, will let you run a validation on NAT Files without submitting them. This means you can run all the data up to the current date, review the errors, and fix them before the reporting season strikes.

Unfortunately, CSO does not have a special validation rules built into the Oliv or AVS validation tool, so CSO data that is AVETMISS compliant, but not CSO funding compliant, won’t be picked up automatically. It will be accepted as supplied, and you may not realise it is doesn’t meet the funding guidelines.

The data you submit will not be notified as incorrect until many months later, when it is possible you will be advised that you haven’t met your funding target. You can combat this by doing your own ‘validation’ against the known or most common errors. ish has compiled some the most common CSO errors and how to check for them before you submit. Starting early will help you to complete the self validation process and get the most of your funding.  

The few weeks leading upto Christmas is often a slow time for training organisations, and while you can’t check the full year data, you can check all the data up to December, which will greatly reduce the workload in January/February.

2. Know the deadlines for your organisation
Failing to plan is planning to fail. This is especially true for reporting season. Missing a deadline can mean non-compliance with a contract or with a the RTO Standards, and it’s important to get a clear understanding of what needs to be submitted, as well as how and where to submit it.

Each State Training Authority will publish the reporting deadline on their websites, and NCVER has published a map that shows the different states, their reporting deadlines, what to lodged, and where to lodge the data.

For Subscribers with student in Tasmanian User Choice, Queensland Cert III Guarantee, SA WorkReady or ACT’s Skilled Capital program, you are required to submit your total VET Activity quarterly to the State Training Authorities (STA).

Subscribers reporting for WA and NSW funded training will need to the funded to the State Training Authority and their Fee for Service activity to NCVER.

State Training Authorities are required to report their data to NCVER, and this means you have to report to them so they can report to NCVER. State Training Authorities may bring the lodgement due dates forward for their data to accomodate their own validations. Depending on the state, it can be as early as 15/01/2017, so make sure you confirm the lodgement deadlines as soon as possible.

3. Read or Re-Read the Manuals
Some subscribers will lodge throughout the year for funded programs, and others are not required. Depending on how long its been, a review of the onCourse Manual AVETMISS Reporting and RAPT-AVETMISS Reporting sections will help you when you lodge. These sections includes an great overview of the different types of NAT files, and this can help to give you an idea of where and what data is causing the errors.  

onCourse had not changed the process of producing NAT Files, but different states may have changed their processes, so it’s good to double check their requirements and conditions as well.

State Training Authorities will publish this information on their websites and their mailing lists leading up to the reporting season. State Training Authorities can have some quirky requirements compared to NCVER,  like SkillsTAS double lodgement, double validation system, so it’s recommended to check. 

Even if you lodged last year, it’ best to check the requirements again, as they’re updated frequently and may have changed for the 2016 data.

4. Clear as Mud
AVETMISS errors can be difficult to understand, as the language used isn’t always reflective of the what the error is, or how to locate it. This is compounded by there being multiple error types. Some are data entry issues. Others are state based validations. Still more complicated issue that and don't seem to have a clear solution.

Information on the reporting issues is not always easy to come by, and often it’s only after having an error come up that you find out the error even existed in the first place!

While NCVER offer some excellent assistance with understanding your reporting errors, your first port of call should really be your Student Management System support team. Remember that if you are an onCourse customer, you have unlimited support access, so ask away!

There’s a lot to cover with reporting errors, too much of one post, so out next few blogs will go into more details about it. We’ve also set up a section on the forum for AVETMISS reporting, so feel free to check there as well and ask any curly validation error questions.

5. Plan now for next year’s reporting
The fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper comes to mind with thinks about Total VET Activity. Organisations that collect and assess their data regularly, like the Ant, will have much less workload during reporting season. Organisation who leave it to the last minute, like the Grasshopper, might find it difficult to make the deadlines.

Total VET Activity data can be collected or modified over long periods of time, without having a someone collate and review it. The validation software is is a good tool to review your data, and doing it frequently is a great way to monitor and improve your data integrity.

Best Practice is for providers to run the validation in AVS throughout the year. Depending on how many student you have to report, this can be done monthly or quarterly. That way you can fix the errors you find without a looming deadline.

This information is also a boon for your Continuous improvement. Getting the same error repeatedly is a sign that your processes aren’t meeting your reporting needs, and you can address the process before the end of the year to reduce the error for the next. year.

Long term, continuous improvement and regularly checking your VET Activity data is will help to cut down on the number of error you get, and make the process of lodging VET Activity much easier.

Pro Tip
When reporting to NCVER, the final upload must have all students. The only data accepted in the last upload, so you can’t report in batches of students, such as by state, as the data you upload will override the earlier submission. Total VET Activity means every reportable student is reporting in the one file.

Comments Please!
Already got this under control? Fantastic! Please leave a comment with your Pro Tips for reporting.