Building a strong workplace culture in your RTO

In every workplace, the culture of the company is imperative to the organisation’s success. The company culture has an impact on nearly every aspect of the business.

So why is it so important for your RTO to have a positive workplace culture?

Having a positive workplace culture equals a happy workforce. A happy workforce means higher productivity and higher retention. It is an integral part of the organisation, as it creates your identity. Having values and goals that everyone understands and align with is an important first step to creating a positive culture.

It is important to also understand that you cannot enforce a strong workplace culture. It has to be something that everyone buys into and believes in. An organisation is a team and not a hierarchy. So how do we start? What do we need to do? What are the benefits?

Think of your workplace as a family. We spend a great deal of time together at work, several days a week. Sometimes these days can be long and busy and being part of a team that supports each other is a great way for everyone to love what they do and not feel like work.

‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’ – Steve Jobs

And this stems from an organisation having a culture that supports this. Think why so many people loved working for Steve Jobs. He worked hard, respected everyone’s voices in the company, listened to everything (even if he didn’t want to hear it!), encouraged honesty and openness, and gave the same back.

So what are some tips for building a positive and strong workplace culture:

Grow off your current culture: Ask everyone what they like and, more importantly, what they do not like about their current workplace culture and workplace environment. Use these suggestions to help create a positive culture.

Emphasise employee wellness: This can be a foundation for a strong positive workplace culture. If employees are not at their best – mentally, emotionally, and physically – then it can be hard for them to contribute to a positive culture. Ensure you have the tools and resources required to enable them to have a healthy outlook, both at work and home.

Having meaning: Imagine coming to work, every day, and not having meaning to the work you do. You need to provide a purpose and meaning for employees to have job satisfaction. Have a positive mission statement. A set of values that are relatable and achievable. Ensure employees understand how their role contributes to the organisation and how they positively have an impact to the company and clients (or students).

Encourage positivity: Simple gestures can make a world of difference. Saying ‘thank you’ to an employee can go a long way. Having a positive attitude, even when situations are tough, can encourage others to stay with you throughout it. Smiling, positive body language and positive expression all play vital roles in encouraging positivity in the workplace.

Create goals: How can we achieve something if we do not know the end goal? How do we start if we do not know what we need to achieve? This is something that many leaders know but struggle to communicate. It can leave others feeling unsettled, unsure where to begin or end and the road they need to take to get there. Having clear goals and paths allow employees to feel confident and positive in achieving them.

Social connections: As we said earlier, we spend a considerable amount of time together at work. How do you grow a strong, positive workplace culture if there is no interaction between them? We need to provide opportunities for social interactions in the workplace. Simple things like having a team meal once a week, social get-togethers outside of work hours, or just encouraging communication in the workplace can all be simple ways to get things started.

Listen: And we mean really listen, not just hear what an employee has to say. You may not always like it but having an open and honest relationship with employees encourages a positive workplace. And who knows, even the negative can turn into a positive. If we listen to what our employees have to say, it provides us the opportunity to continue to mould and grow a workplace where everyone wants to come and work.

These are just some of the basic things we can do in our organisation to create a strong, more positive workplace culture. A place where everyone wants to come to work, and a place everyone wants to work.

With so many challenges thrown at us in this age, being an organisation that provides a strong and positive culture enables you to handle any situation thrown your way.

Writing your Training and Assessment Strategy – Part 2 of Part 5

To refresh yourself, please find Part 1 here

In our part 1, we had the opportunity to cover a number of topics relevant to writing a compliant and useful training and assessment strategy. Topics covered included:

  • What is the definition of training and assessment strategy?
  • Why is it known as a high-level view of a course/ training program or a “Helicopter—document”?
  • What are the other terms we use for training and assessment strategies?
  • What should we call our document according to regulatory requirements and guidelines?
  • What information must be included in a training and assessment strategy?
  • How a training and assessment strategy should be saved?
  • How auditors use the training and assessment strategy?
  • Why do we need a fit for purpose training assessment strategy?
  • What a training organisation must consider when designing a training and assessment strategy?

In this part of the series, we will cover the following main points:

  • Can a training and assessment strategy be used for different learner cohorts?
  • What are the different learner cohorts?

Can a training and assessment strategy be used for different learner cohorts?

A simple answer to this question is “no”. The regulatory requirements require the training provider to ensure they have employed suitable and effective training and assessment practices after evaluating and assessing the needs of each of their learner. You can certainly categorise the learners, according to their preferences, needs and requirements into separate learner cohort but then you must design a learning and assessment strategy for each of your learner cohort.

You can offer learners a learning experience that is unique to the cohort they belong to by categorising them into smaller groups based on category they fall into. You can separate and organise discussion topics by cohorts so that participants only communicate with people from their own group. You can design course material in such a way that different cohorts of learners receive different assessments or training materials designed and prepared to meet their individual learning and training needs and requirements.

Regulatory guidelines related to this matter are:

Standards for RTOs 2015:

Clause 1.1

The RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices, including the amount of training they provide, are consistent with the requirements of training packages and VET accredited courses and enable each learner to meet the requirements for each unit of competency or module in which they are enrolled.

Clause 1.2

For the purposes of clause 1.1, the RTO determines the amount of training they provide to each learner with regard to:

  • the existing skills, knowledge and the experience of the learner
  • the mode of delivery
  • where a full qualification is not being delivered, the number of units and/or modules being delivered as a proportion of the full qualification.

Clause 1.3

The RTO has, for all of its scope of registration, and consistent with its training and assessment strategies, sufficient:

  • trainers and assessors to deliver the training and assessment
  • educational and support services to meet the needs of the learner cohort/s undertaking the training and assessment
  • learning resources to enable learners to meet the requirements for each unit of competency, and which are accessible to the learner regardless of location or mode of delivery
  • facilities, whether physical or virtual, and equipment to accommodate and support the number of learners undertaking the training and assessment.

Clause 1.4

The RTO meets all requirements specified in the relevant training package or VET accredited course.

Clause 2.2

The RTO:

  • systematically monitors the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard 1
  • systematically evaluates and uses the outcomes of the evaluations to continually improve the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices. Evaluation information includes but is not limited to quality/performance indicator data collected under clause 7.5, validation outcomes, client trainer and assessor feedback and complaints and appeals.

Let us understand this concept using some practical real-life examples.

Example 1:

The training organisation has the opportunity to offer training through different training delivery modes such as online, workplace, distance, classroom or blended (combination of two or more delivery modes). However, as the training organisation will not be able to use the same strategies, resources, equipment, and materials for all the different delivery modes. The same condition applies to the training and assessment strategies as well. Online learners might need access to learning management system, discussion forums, interactive training sessions, online meetings and so on when traditional classroom learners may need face to face, live interactions with trainers and assessors, set time and set location for training and learning activities, physical distancing, different set of equipment and training materials. Therefore, you will not be able to design a single strategy that can meet the requirements of these completely different kinds of learner cohorts.

Example 2:

Another example is for learners who may or may not require prerequisite learning and assessment criteria before enrolling into a course. There are several courses where students are required to have adequate and sufficient knowledge, skills and understanding to enrol into the course. Without meeting these fundamental enrolment and admission requirements, that can be set by the training product, a regulatory body, at state or federal level or by the training organisation, the learners should not be able to enrol, study and complete a course. You will therefore require two separate set of training programs, one for learner cohort who can commence training after demonstrating they meet the admission and enrolment criteria and another one for learners who must complete the prerequisites before enrolling into a course. This example also includes learners who need to improve their English proficiency skills before they can enrol to complete a training program, completing a training course before enrolling into a pathway program, completing a hand—on employment training program or work—experience for a certain time period and so on.

Note: Some of these requirements can be co-requisite (must be studied at the same time of completing other components of the training and assessment) and others are pre—requisite (must be successfully completed before enrolling into the training program).

Example 3:

We discussed this example in part 1 as well but thought to include again to ensure the readers understand why we need to develop separate training and assessment strategies to meet the needs of the different learner cohorts.

For example, a TAS initially developed to deliver training to mature students with substantial industry experience with a shorter delivery time frame and assessment methods which utilise the candidates prior experience- or application to the workplace.  If the RTO’s new learner cohort has little to no experience, the TAS will not be fit for purpose.

There is also no “single size” template for a TAS. All variations must be correctly recorded through a customised or new training and assessment strategy.

What are the different learner cohorts?

The learner cohorts can also be based on a number of other factors such as:

  • Location where training and assessment will be delivered, is it online, classroom, workplace, blended etc.
  • The facilities, equipment, materials, support services and resources required to deliver the training.
  • Skill gaps identified in the learner cohorts or expected pre-requisite knowledge, skills and work experience required to enrol and complete the course
  • The course duration and timings and arrangements to cater these needs.
  • Course entry and exit requirements
  • English language proficiency requirements
  • Support needs and requirements of each learner
  • Disability, demographics, degree, dialect, difference
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, first in family to attend university, non-English speaking background.
  • Multicultural, mind-set, motivation, morals
  • Employment status of the learners
  • Reason for enrolling into the course
  • Relevant industry and work experience in the specific stream
  • Course delivery structure and sequence
  • Recognition of prior learning and recognition of current competencies
  • Duration of the training course
  • Other possible variations for learners with different learning and assessment needs and requirements

Note: This is not an exhaustive list and written for reference purposes only.

In our next editions, we will discuss:

  • What should be included in a training and assessment strategy (TAS) template
  • How to complete a training and assessment strategy (TAS) template
  • Review and manage training and assessment strategy (TAS) tool


How to complete a compliant Trainer Matrix – Part 2 of Part 5

To refresh yourself, please find Part 1 here

The majority trainers are unaware of the value of having an accurate and up-to-date trainer matrix available as a road map to the training planned, designed, and offered to learners and ultimately also for the audit and verification purposes. Part of a training organisation’s responsibility is to assist trainers to keep these up to date. You may fall behind if you do not remain on top of compliance criteria, and you may not know it until your trainers and assessors are unable to prepare or assess the students they have been assigned.

We have discussed a number of most critical aspects of a compliant Trainer Matrix in our last article. They were:

  • What is a Trainer Matrix?
  • What are the variety of uses of using a Trainer Matrix?
  • What are the ASQA guidelines related to trainer and assessor matrix?
  • Why should you retain sufficient evidence related to trainers and assessors?

In this part, we will discuss:

  • The definition of a trainer matrix according to regulatory guidelines
  • ASQA Guidelines on trainer matrixes.
  • What must be included in a trainer’s matrix.
  • Who must complete the skills matrix in your RTO?
  • The trainer file and checklist

The definition of a trainer matrix according to regulatory guidelines

The trainer matrix feature allows trainers and RTO administration to track and manage evidence that will support the requirements of vocational competencies, current industry skills, VET knowledge and skills and professional development (clauses 1.13 – 1.16 under Standards for RTOs 2015).

The trainer matrix, therefore, provides evidence of the qualifications and industry currency of trainers involved in program delivery, mapped to each unit they deliver and assess. A trainer’s matrix should be developed when a trainer is initially assigned to deliver and assess a unit/s. Existing trainers assigned should update their matrixes at least annually to record additional industry experience, trainer qualifications changes/upgrades and relevant professional development.

ASQA Guidelines on trainer matrixes:

There is no prescribed way of recording evidence of verification of trainer and assessor qualifications; this is an operational decision for each RTO. For example, RTO’s may choose to record the verification within their RTO’s trainer and assessor matrix. (FAQs)

What must be included in a trainer’s matrix.

From the explanation above, it is evident that a skills matrix must include sufficient and unambiguous information:

    1. The document should be appropriately labelled and version controlled.
    2. The RTO’s name, code and contact details should be included
    3. Trainer name and contact details
    4. Department name and contact details, if applicable
    5. Information if it is for “initial registration or appointment as a trainer/assessor” or “annual update”.
    6. Information and details about the qualifications or unit/s of competency the trainer/assessor is training and/or assessing at the RTO.
    7. The Trainer/Assessor must include their work experience and qualifications that enable them to train and assess each unit of competency delivered. This information should be verified by bona fide qualification documentation, a resume, references and information which may be checked to confirm authenticity.
        • Vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered and assessed;
        • Current industry skills directly relevant to the training and assessment being provided; and
        • Current knowledge and skills in vocational training and learning that informs their training and assessment
    8. You must record your vocational education and training (VET) work experience. Details and description of the duties, the name of the employer or organisation, the position held, and date/s and time worked.
    9. You must record your vocational education and training qualification and equivalence. Name of the course achieved, the institution from where it is obtained, and the dates received. This section can also be used for writing down other certificates and licenses obtained.
    10. You must record your training and assessment (TAE or equivalent) credentials and qualifications (according to clause 1.14 and clause 1.15). Please also include the following information:Training and Assessment Credentials Required – Trainers
      On or prior to 30 June 2019 (no equivalence)

      • TAE40110 or TAE40116* or
      • TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      From 1 July 2019 (no equivalence)

      • TAE40116* or TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      Training and Assessment Credentials Required – Assessors

      On or prior to 30 June 2019 (no equivalence)

      • Assessor Skill Set (TAESS00001 or TAESS00011 Assessor Skill Set) or
      • TAE40110 or TAE40116* or
      • TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      From 1 July 2019 (no equivalence)

      • Assessor Skill Set (TAESS00001 or TAESS00011 Assessor Skill Set) or
      • TAESS00001 plus one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or
      • TAE40116* or TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      You must, therefore, have a Training and Assessment Qualifications section on your skills matrix and options to select the checkboxes or let the Trainer/Assessor write the training and assessment qualification/s they have acquired.

    11. Provide details of how you meet the vocational competence requirements of each unit you are delivering or assessing. This may be through holding the same unit of competency, holding an older version of the same unit and verifying there are no gaps, holding an older version of the same unit and providing details of how gaps have been addressed, other formal qualifications, professional development activities, evidence from work in the industry, etc.
      Please ensure all areas of the unit of competency are addressed through the evidence provided. Provide examples and explain each criterion to ensure you have addressed all areas of the unit of competency. If the units are not equivalent (e.g. a Statement of Attainment for the specific unit/course has not been submitted), a mapping document must be provided to demonstrate how the units have been mapped to ensure vocational competency. In some cases, such mapping document may be provided by the RTO.
    12. You must have a section to comply with the professional development requirements mentioned under Vet Quality Framework (VQF) Reference: SRTO 1.16
      Professional development means activities that develop and/or maintain an individual’s skills, knowledge, expertise and other characteristics as a trainer or assessor. This includes both formal and informal activities that encompass vocational competencies, the currency of industry skills and knowledge and practice of vocational training, learning and assessment, including competency-based training and assessment. Examples of professional development activities include:

      • participation in courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, or formal learning programs;
      • participation in mentoring, professional associations or other learning networks;
      • personal development through individual research or reading of publications or other relevant information;
      • participation in moderation or validation activities; and
      • participation in industry release schemes.

      Identify any areas requiring professional development to address in the upcoming year. Where possible, identify where professional development may be undertaken. Once professional development has occurred, remove from this section and put the details in the appropriate sections of the skills matrix.

      “The future professional development needs” must include the following professional development sessions:

      • Knowledge about the units of competency
      • Vocational training and learning knowledge
      • Industry currency
      • Assessment and/or learner resource validation
      • Competency-based training and assessment
      • E-learning/ technology and industry changes and their effect on VET training and assessment
    13. You must include the evidence of current knowledge and skills in vocational education and training to inform training and assessment practices (Vet Quality Framework Reference: SRTO 1.13c) The section may include the following fields: Activity, Organisation/person provided by, Dates Undertake, Time involved, Type of Activity, Knowledge or skills gained
    14. You must include a declaration and verification section to confirm that the information provided on the Trainer Matrix and any related documentation is true and accurate. You give permission to your employer to verify the accuracy of any information provided.In short, a valid trainer matrix includes the following information:
      • Training Product/s delivered and/or assessed;
      • Mapping to the compliance and regulatory standards (Trainers and assessors’ clause 1.13 to 1.16 and Individuals working under the supervision of a trainer clause 1.17 to 1.20.);
      • Ongoing study towards completion of formal qualifications
      • PD and Industry currency in the last 12 months;
      • Employment history;
      • Positions held, employer, dates of employment;
      • Relevant industry experience/training;
      • Current appointments, memberships of professional/industry associations;
      • Professional development planned; and
      • Have a declaration and verification checklist

      It is also recommended that all resumes/CVs are verified for currency and authenticity through the undertaking of reference checks.

Who must complete the skills matrix in your RTO?

It is the responsibility of the trainer/assessor to confirm that the information presented in the skills matrix is complete, authentic and valid. Your organisation can follow a joint-effort to complete the skills matrix, where the administration or compliance department can develop the template, complete all training package criteria, and then you as a trainer and assessor review all information, fill in the gaps and ensure every statement is true, complete and valid.

The trainer file and checklist

An RTO must hold valid files for all Trainers and Assessors (this includes files for contractors and employees). A valid file includes the following information:

  • Compliance checklist
    • Trainer file checklist
  • Employment contract
    • A signed and dated copy of employment contract and offer letter
    • A signed copy of position description
  • CV/ Resume
    • A current copy of the trainer/assessor’s CV (usually updated on an annual basis)
  • Qualifications/ licenses/ checks
    • Evidence of vocational competencies
    • Evidence of industry currency
    • Evidence of VET currency
    • Training and assessment qualification
    • Vocational licenses/ tickets/ cards (as required)
    • National police clearance check
    • Working with children check
  • Performance management
    • Staff key performance indicators and appraisal (at least an annual basis)
    • Trainer observation forms (observation by RTO staff)
    • Trainer feedback forms (from students)
  • Induction
    • Staff induction checklist
    • Staff induction session
    • Staff handbook
  • Direct supervision
    • Direct supervision plan and documentation (as required)
  • HR/ Payroll/ Leave forms
    • Personal details form with bank details
    • Tax file declaration
    • Superannuation details
    • Business name confirmation (for contractors)
    • ABN and GST (for contractors)  
  • Insurances
    • Copy of professional indemnity insurance

In our next editions, we will discuss:

  • What should be included in the trainer matrix template (With explanation)
  • How to complete a trainer matrix template
  • Review and manage trainer matrix tool