The RTO complies with all relevant Commonwealth, state, and territorial laws and regulations

Your training organisation must comply with all relevant Commonwealth, state, and territorial laws and regulations. This includes (but is not limited to):

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011

The NVR Act also establishes the National Quality Framework (NQF). The NQF promotes high quality, nationally consistent training and assessment services. It does this by setting minimum standards for registered training organisations (RTOs), and requires RTOs to be monitored against these standards. The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 are made under subsection 185(1) and subsection 186(1) of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (the Act). For more information, see the Australian Skills Quality Authority website.

The Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000

The ESOS Act sets out the legislative framework for the regulation of the provision of education and training to overseas students on student visas and contains standards for providers in relation to courses of study, marketing, admissions, recruitments, orientation, manage changes to courses, academic progress, complaints and appeals among other requirements.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010

The law covers many aspects of the relationship between businesses and consumers, including issues such as unfair contract terms, misleading or deceptive conduct, and unconscionable conduct. The law also contains specific provisions relating to the provision of services by businesses to consumers.

The Work Health and Safety act

The RTO will take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of its employees, students, contractors, and visitors.

The RTO has in place a range of policies and procedures to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including but not limited to:

  • Work Health and Safety Policy
  • OHS/WHS Risk Management Procedure
  • Emergency Evacuation Procedure.

In the event that an incident does occur, the RTO will investigate and take corrective action as required. This may include implementing new or revised policies and procedures, providing training to employees, or taking disciplinary action against those involved. The RTO is committed to the continual improvement of its compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

The Discrimination Act

The RTO is committed to providing a discrimination-free environment for all employees, students, contractors, and other individuals who interact with the RTO. The RTO will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic. Anyone who experiences or witnesses discrimination or harassment at the RTO is encouraged to report it to a supervisor or HR representative. The RTO will investigate all reports of discrimination and take appropriate corrective action if necessary.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010

RTO must value diversity and inclusion in their workforce and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities. They should remain committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for all members of the community.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001

The RTO also complies with international human rights instruments to which Australia is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The Working with Children Act 2005

The RTO is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all members of the community, including children. Staff members undergo regular training on their obligations under the Working with Children Act 2005 and are required to adhere to strict guidelines when working with or around children. The safety of all stakeholders including children should always remain the organisation’s number one priority, and the organisation should always take any necessary measures to protect them from harm.

National Police Check

The NPC is an important part of RTO’s commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for students. It helps organisations identify any potential risks associated with individuals who may have access to the students.

Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)

The RTO is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals with whom it deals. The RTO has in place policies and procedures to ensure that all personal information is collected, stored, used and disclosed in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). The RTO also takes reasonable steps to protect all personal information from misuse, interference and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Individuals have a right to access their personal information held by the RTO, and to request that their personal information be corrected if it is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date.

The Copyright Act 1968

RTOs are required to comply with the Copyright Act 1968 and all relevant Commonwealth, state and territory laws and regulations. The purpose of this compliance is to ensure that RTOs can continue to provide quality training and education services to their students.

Some of the key requirements that RTOs must comply with include:

  • ensuring that all material used in the delivery of training and education services is copyright compliant
  • obtaining the appropriate licences or permissions for the use of any copyrighted material
  • ensuring that all staff involved in the delivery of training and education services are aware of their obligations under the Copyright Act 1968.

RTOs should also have in place procedures for dealing with any complaints or inquiries relating to copyright compliance.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are familiar with all relevant laws and regulations and that your training organisation complies with them. Your RTO will be regularly audited to ensure compliance. Compliance with legislation is essential to maintaining your registration.

The RTO also has a range of policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with these laws and regulations. These include policies on equal opportunity and non-discrimination, child safety, work health and safety, privacy, copyright, and public records.

The RTO is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all members of the community. We encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with our policies and procedures and ensure they cover all aspects of RTO registration, administration, governance and management.

If you have any questions about your obligations, please seek legal advice or contact RTO consultants.

How ASQA assess the RTO registration renewal

ASQA is responsible for the assessment and registration of RTOs. ASQA must be satisfied that an RTO is meeting the requirements of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs 2015) for its registration to be renewed. ASQA takes a risk-management approach when they evaluate registration renewal applications. They use a structured process to assess applications and ensure they meet all the requirements for continued registration before approving. As part of its regulatory role, ASQA assesses RTO registration renewals to ensure that they continue to meet the RTO Standards. This includes a review of an RTO’s:

compliance history – An RTO’s compliance history is one factor that ASQA considers when assessing an application for renewal of registration. ASQA also considers the RTO’s current compliance status and any changes to the RTO’s operations since its last registration renewal. ASQA will consider any non-compliance issues that have been raised against the RTO, as well as the steps the RTO has taken to address these issues.

current operations and resources – your RTO’s policies and procedures, training and assessment materials, practices and resources, a schedule of training delivery for each course, trainers and assessors credentials, industry engagement and consultation, training and assessment strategies, RPL kits, LLN kits, student support and welfare, validation, transitioning from superseded to current training product, the results of recent audits, governance and administration processes and practices and marketing material are few of the things those can be considered for compliance purposes. ASQA also assesses the RTO’s financial viability and its capability to deliver high-quality training. The assessment process takes into account the RTO’s resources, including its staff, teaching and assessment practices, and facilities.

plans for future development – Future development plans refer to how a training organisation is preparing for its next steps, including but not limited to expanding into new markets or learner cohorts such as offshore markets, applying for CRICOS or funding contracts, and so forth.

To ensure you meet the requirements for renewal, you should review the following, but not limited to:

  • The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015
  • The National VET Regulator’s guidance material
  • Your RTO’s scope of registration
  • Any changes that have occurred since your RTO registered
  • Compliant training and assessment resources
  • Industry engagement and consultation
  • Validation plan, processes and evidence
  • Marketing and advertising materials
  • Training and assessment strategies and practices (The quality of the training and assessment delivered by the RTO)
  • Student support and welfare
  • Quality management system (QMS) and risk management processes
  • Student and staff records
  • Policies and procedures manual
  • Transitioning practices and documentation
  • The competence of trainers and assessors employed by the RTO
  • The resources and facilities available to the RTO
  • The student engagement and satisfaction levels with the RTO’s courses and services
  • Any complaints or breaches of ASQA’s standards by the RTO

ASQA conducts regular audits of registered training organisations (RTOs) to ensure they are meeting the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (SRTOs). These audits can be either announced or unannounced, and can cover any or all of the aspects mentioned above.

If an RTO does not meet all the requirements, ASQA may take enforcement action. However, ASQA recognise that some RTOs may have made mistakes in the past but have since taken steps to improve their operations. In these cases, they may consider granting a conditional approval to allow the RTO time to continue meeting all the requirements. ASQA’s risk-management approach ensures that all registered RTOs are continuing to meet the high standards they expect. If ASQA is not satisfied that an RTO meets the requirements of the Standards, the RTO’s registration may not be renewed.

It is therefore important for RTOs to maintain high levels of compliance at all times, and to rectify any issues that are identified during an audit. This helps ensure that students receive quality training and assessment that meets the required standards.

For more information, please refer to asqa.gov.au/rto/renew-rto-registration

How to ensure your training organisation is compliant with government regulations

If you’re running a vocational education and training organisation in Australia, you need to ensure that your organisation is compliant with government regulations. This article will outline some of the regulations that you need to be aware of, and provide tips on how to ensure compliance.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET) in Australia. They work according to set regulatory standards for quality education and training and their role is to ensure training organisations meet these standards. ASQA is the regulatory body for vocational education and training in the following states and territories:

  • Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania

These jurisdictions are referred to as referring states and territories since they delegated their regulatory authority to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) in 2011-12. Victoria and Western Australia are referred to as non-referring states because they have not yet delegated their regulatory authority to the federal government. ASQA is also in charge of regulating all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that provide courses to international students studying in Australia on student visas, regardless of where the RTO is based.

ASQA is responsible for regulating the quality of vocational education and training. ASQA audits training organisations to ensure they are complying with the VET Quality Framework and can take enforcement action if they find any non-compliance.

It governs RTOs in accordance with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 and approved courses in accordance with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012.

For more information, please visit About us | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA)

In Victoria, the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority (VRQA) is the regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET), and it is in charge of the following:

  • Training organisations that only provide training to domestic students in victoria.
  • Accrediting courses, but only if the course is operated by the Victorian government or if the course owner is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been registered with VRQA.

VRQA regulates RTOs in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) – Essential Conditions and Standards for Continuing Registration and the VRQA Guidelines for VET Providers, and it regulates courses in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework AQTF 2007 Standards for Accredited Courses.

For more information, please visit VRQA

Training Accreditation Council – Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Training Accreditation Council (TAC) is the regulatory body for vocational education and training (VET), and it is in charge of the following:

  • Training organisations that only provide training to domestic students in Western Australia.
  • Accrediting courses, but only if the course is operated by the Western Australian government or if the course owner is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that has been registered with TAC.

TAC regulates RTOs in accordance with Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015, and it regulates courses in accordance with The Australian Quality Training Framework AQTF 2007 Standards for Accredited Courses.

For more information, please visit Training Accreditation Council

Non-compliance with the regulatory standards and guidelines

If your organisation is non- compliant with the applicable standards and regulations, you could face penalties, such as fines or being shut down. Here are some important tips on how to stay compliant:

1. Make sure you’re registered with the appropriate regulatory body

The first step is to make sure your organisation is registered with the appropriate regulatory body. This means your organisation has met the minimum standards required to be registered and can offer courses that are nationally recognised.

If you’re not registered, you won’t be able to offer any nationally recognised courses and you will also face penalties if you are caught doing this.

2. Follow the General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools

The regulatory bodies release a set of guidelines that organisations must follow in order to stay compliant. The General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools cover everything from governance and management to teaching and assessment practices.

Make sure you’re familiar with the General Directions, fact sheets, guides and tools and are following their instructions and guidelines closely. This will help ensure your organisation meets the standards set by the regulatory bodies.

For more information, please visit Resources for providers | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

3. Keep your records up to date

One of the most important things you can do to stay compliant is to keep your records up to date. This includes keeping track of your student’s progress, as well as your organisation’s administration, reporting, finances and governance.

The regulatory body may request to see your records at any time, so it’s important that they’re accurate and up to date. Failing to provide requested records or providing inaccurate records can lead to penalties.

4. Meet all quality assurance requirements

To make sure your organisation is delivering quality education and training, you need to meet all quality assurance requirements. This includes having systems in place to monitor and improve the quality of your courses.

You should also conduct regular reviews of your courses and make sure they’re being delivered effectively. If the regulatory body finds that your organisation isn’t meeting quality assurance requirements, you could face penalties or adverse consequences.

You must have structured audit and compliance processes in place to ensure you stay compliant with all regulatory requirements and guidelines. Having access to an independent auditor is always beneficial from a compliance perspective.

For more information, please visit Registered Training Organisation | TEQSA Standard Resources | CAQA

5. Respond to the audits

The regulatory body may audit your organisation at any time to make sure your orgnisation is compliant with all applicable guidelines and regulations. During an audit, they’ll request to see your records and talk to your staff. They may also observe your training and assessment practices and resources.

It’s important to cooperate with the regulatory body during an audit and provide them with everything they need. Failing to do so could lead to penalties.

For quality training and assessment resources, please visit CAQA Resources

6. Compliance calendars and registers

Keep compliance calendars and registers that provide you information related to:

  • When to conduct training and administration activities
  • Meeting ongoing auditing and regulatory compliance
  • Information related to meetings with different team members and departments such as enrollment, marketing, training and so on.

7. Understand the quality framework that you operate under

Familiarise yourself with the VET Quality Framework and other applicable standards and guidelines to make sure your organisation meets all the standards.

Note: Your RTO must comply with all legislation and regulations it operates under such as (but not limited to):

  • The Work Health and Safety act
  • The Discrimination Act
  • The Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
  • The Working with Children Act 2005
  • National Police Check
  • The Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
  • The Student Identifiers Act 2014
  • The Copyright Act 1968
  • The Public Records Act 1973

For more information, please visit Complying with legislation | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

8. Focus on personal and professional development

Focussing on personal and professional development is key to keeping your organisation compliant. Employees need to be able to constantly update their skillset, and be confident in their ability to carry out their roles. Training is a vital part of this process and should be tailored specifically to your workforce.

9. Follow what you say you are doing or going to do

Once you have a good understanding of the National Standards, you need to develop policies and procedures that ensure your organisation meets these standards. Your policies and procedures should be tailored to your specific organisation and should be reviewed and updated regularly. It is also important to keep up to date with any changes to the legislation. ASQA’s website is a great resource for information on any changes to the National Standards. By staying informed of any changes, you can ensure that your policies and procedures are always up to date and compliant.

10. Communicate the requirements to all staff members

It is critical that all staff members are aware of the requirements set by the government. This includes understanding what is required of them in terms of their behaviour and responsibilities.
If staff members are not adequately informed about the requirements, it can lead to your organisation being non-compliant. This can have serious consequences, such as heavy fines or even the loss of your licence to operate.

Communicate the requirements to all staff members on a regular basis and make sure that new staff members are given this information as soon as they start working for your organisation.
Following these strategies will help to ensure that your training organisation is compliant.

The CEO Declaration of Compliance

Have you ever stopped to wonder why, when you return to Australia, border officials ask you “Do you have anything to declare?” There are a few reasons for this.

Australia imposes taxes on goods entering the country, and in order to protect those tariffs, we restrict the things that can be imported duty-free. Australia, like many other countries, also has biosecurity rules in place, and the country is not especially keen on someone accidentally introducing the guinea worm to the country.

In a similar manner, the CEO declaration of compliance confirms that the organisation complies with regulatory standards and guidelines, as well as the steps it is taking to demonstrate that it remains compliant at all times during the course of its operations.

An annual declaration of compliance

The annual declaration on compliance is a statement by your organisation confirming that it is compliant with all requirements of the Standards.

Providing an annual declaration:

  • confirms that you have systematically monitored your RTO’s compliance with the Standards, and
  • informs ASQA of whether any issues identified have been corrected.

All Australian Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are required to file an annual declaration of compliance with the RTO Standards applicable to their organisation by the 31st March of each year.

It is a requirement that one must complete and sign if they are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This form confirms that they are the following:

  • Taking full responsibility for ensuring that the organisation adheres to the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (VQF)
  • All other applicable criteria of registration, as well as ensuring that your organisation cooperates with ASQA in all audits and monitoring efforts.

The annual declaration provides a chance for providers to conduct a self-assessment and to ensure that all information held by ASQA regarding their activities is accurate.

The yearly declaration, according to ASQA, aids in the identification of emergent systemic issues in the VET sector.

We at CAQA recognise that the CEO has a plethora of obligations; thus, let us relieve you of the burden and confusion by identifying important areas of compliance and scrutinising the RTO’s procedures in order to determine whether or not there are any noncompliances.

Topics of discussion include, but are not be limited to, the following:

  • Findings of internal audit/s
  • Strategies, practices and methods for training and assessment
  • Validation activities
  • Industry engagement
  • Pre-enrolment and admission processes
  • Quality training and assessment system
  • Third-party services
  • Language, literacy and numeracy requirements
  • Training and assessment materials
  • Transition planning
  • Controlling the flow of information
  • Improvement on a continuous basis
  • Complaints and appeals processes
  • Issuance of qualifications and statements
  • Trainers and assessors
  • AVETMISS compliant database
  • Regulatory reporting and quality indicators

So what is it?

It is a basic web form survey which is distributed by an email marketing and communications business called Vision6. It requires no sign-in or authentication. It relies only on information that is already publicly available to identify the RTO about which the declaration is being made.

Click here for ASQA’s Self-assessment tool if you need help getting started.

How do I submit an annual declaration of compliance? (Clause 8.4)

In February of each year, ASQA invites the Chief Executive Officers of RTOs, by email, to complete the Annual Declaration on Compliance. This must be completed by 31 March that year.

While others may contribute, the final declaration must be completed by the person who is legally responsible for the registration of the RTO (the Chief Executive Officer).

If your RTO has not received the email from ASQA, you should take the following steps:

  • Check your spam/junk mail folder.
  • Check that the email address for your CEO contact is correctly listed on training.gov.au. If the address is incorrect, you should update the contact details in asqanet, and then contact the ASQA Info Line to request that ASQA re-send the email.
  • If your RTO has previously unsubscribed from ASQA emails, you should contact web.feedback@asqa.gov.au and ASQA will reactivate the subscription to ASQA emails.
  • If none of the above apply, you should contact InfoLine by emailing enquiries@asqa.gov.au and advise that your RTO has not received the email.

What happens if non-compliances are discovered and documented?

All non-compliance must be documented and a rectification plan must be put in place to ensure your organisation is compliant with all regulatory requirements and guidelines.

Our RTO consultants can assist you in crafting a proper response as you are filling out your CEO declaration of compliance.

Failure to submit the declaration with full and accurate data can result in ASQA taking regulatory action.

Please use the following link for further information and support: FAQs about the annual declaration process.

For more information, please refer to Annual declaration on compliance for 2022 – submit by 31 March 2022 | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

Transition planning and requirements

The training packages are updated on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to meet industry and regulatory requirements. Training organisations are expected to perform a significant amount of maintenance work when there is a transition to a new package. The failure to manage transition planning can have negative consequences for your training organisation, students, and regulatory status.

VET stakeholders benefit when learners are trained, assessed, and awarded AQF certification documentation in the currently endorsed or accredited training product unless extraordinary circumstances exist.

When planning the transition from a superseded training product to a current one, you will need information such as:

  • The person/s responsible for managing the transition.
  • Is the scope updated automatically or does the new training product need to be added to scope.
  • Dates to make internal/version changes to updated/new training products and resources.
  • The teach-out period for students in the current training product.
  • Date for moving/transitioning current students to the new training product and the last date for enrolling students in the superseded training product.
  • The last date for issuing a qualification or statement of attainment for the superseded product.
  • When to stop marketing the superseded, deleted and removed training products.

Always remember the responsibility for compliance sits with the training organisation at all times.

Compliance requirements

The compliance requirements according to SRTOs 2015 – Clauses 1.26 to 1.27—Manage transition from superseded training products state that:

Clause 1.26

Subject to clause 1.27 and unless otherwise approved by the VET Regulator, the RTO ensures that:

where a training product on its scope of registration is superseded, all learners’ training and assessment is completed and the relevant AQF certification documentation is issued or learners are transferred into its replacement, within a period of one year from the date the replacement training product was released on the national register

where an AQF qualification is no longer current and has not been superseded, all learners’ training and assessment is completed and the relevant AQF certification documentation issued within a period of two years from the date the AQF qualification was removed or deleted from the national register

where a skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course or module is no longer current and has not been superseded, all learners’ training and assessment is completed and the relevant AQF certification documentation issued within a period of one year from the date the skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course or module was removed or deleted from the national register
a new learner does not commence training and assessment in a training product that has been removed or deleted from the national register.

Clause 1.27

The requirements specified in clause 1.26 (a) do not apply where a training package requires the delivery of a superseded unit of competency.

Interpretation:

The interpretation of the compliance requirements are:

  • The learners (best interests) and regulatory requirements should be the main focus when planning the transition from one training product to another.
  • Within 12 months all learners’ training and assessment should be completed and the relevant AQF certification documentation issued where a training product on RTO’s scope gets superseded.
  • Or learners should be transferred into its replacement within the same time period.
  • In certain extraordinary circumstances or at the regulatory body’s decision, the time period of 12 months can be extended.
  • This requirement does not apply where the training product is required to be delivered and assessed as part of a training package.
  • Where the AQF qualification is removed or deleted from the national register, the training organisations have two years to complete and the relevant AQF certification documentation to be issued.
  • Where the skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course or module is removed or deleted from the national register, the training organisations have one year to complete and the relevant AQF certification documentation to be issued.
  • A new learner should not commence training and assessment in the training product that has been removed or deleted.

Terms and definitions

You should know the terminology and definitions used in transition management. Some of these terms are:

Release date/date endorsed: The date when a training product is released and/or updated on the training register.

Replaced/Expired/Deleted: Where a training product has been removed from the national register.

Superseded: When a new training product replaces an existing training product the existing training product is referred to as superseded.

Training Product: AQF qualification, skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course and module.

Transition: When a training product is superseded, removed, or deleted from the National Register, the allowable time frame within which the student’s training, assessment, and AQF certification issuance must be completed, or, in the case of a superseded training product, the allowable time frame within which the student is transitioned into the replacement training product.

Teach out: Describes the timeframe in which a learner’s training, assessment, and AQF certification documentation issuance must be completed once a training product has been superseded, removed, or deleted from the National Register and any transition period has elapsed.

Transition management

You must follow the guidelines and general directions published by the regulatory body when managing the transition.

The first criteria you must consider is – Do you need to apply the training product to your scope or not. If the training product has been deemed equivalent and superseded they are usually added to your scope without separate application. Where a training product is deemed not equivalent the training organisation is required to apply to add the training product to their scope.

You must know that the process for accredited courses is different as they are not automatically updated on RTO’s scope.

You will be now required to:

  • Download the new training product – Download information from the national register related to the training product.
  • Review qualification packaging rules – Understand the changes being made in the new training product, packaging rules for core and elective units and how they can be selected or grouped together.
  • Mapping of units of competency – Analyse the changes being made and how the changes will affect your learner cohorts.
  • Have gaps assessment completed – You must conduct gap analysis and gap assessments if you are transitioning students from superseded training product to the current one.
  • Have a comprehensive planning tool available to plan the transitioning
  • Create an action plan – This can be part of the comprehensive planning tool. You should include scope and teach out decisions, training and assessment document changes, trainer and assessor requirements and changes, operational changes, budget allocation, student management changes, learning management changes, communication and management issues
  • Do professional development – It is important for all staff members including administration to know the changes and how they may affect the systems, processes and students.
  • Update the policies and procedures – The policy framework and RTO documentation should be updated to reflect the changes.
  • When transiting students, analyse the student data and make decisions based on what is in the best interest of your students.
  • Analyse how you are going to fill gaps in the assessments and learner resources or invest in compliant RTO training and assessment resources from organisations such as CAQA Resources.
  • Update the training and assessment strategies against the new qualifications, taking into account the qualification packaging rules, learner cohort, delivery mode, industry needs and requirements and regulatory standards and guidelines.
  • Ensure the training organisation has revised and updated trainer and assessor matrixes and validated the currency of trainers and assessors to train and assess the new training products.
  • Wherever required, trainers and assessors to provide documentation of how they can fill the gaps in terms of TAE qualification, VET currency/qualifications that trainers are assessing and training, industry currency and professional development in competency-based systems and practices.
  • Understand and ensure your organisation has all the equipment, resources and facilities available according to the training package requirements
  • Identify the date when transition will be communicated to the students and other stakeholders
  • All third-party documentation must be updated to reflect the changes
  • Maintain documentation in safe place as the regulatory body can request you to demonstrate compliance

Learning and assessment resources

You must review your existing learning and assessment resources to understand how the content matches the requirements of the new training product. Wherever you identify gaps you are required to fill them with gap assessments, new training and assessment resources if transiting the students to the new course. If you decide that it is in the best interests for enrolled students to complete their studies in the superseded course, and regulatory requirements allow you, you will not be required to make these changes.

You should customise the content to the needs and requirements of your learner cohort and delivery mode and must also pre-validate the training and assessment resources before you implement them in practice.

Hypothetical scenarios

Let’s go through some of the hypothetical scenarios now to understand what should be done or not in certain circumstances.

Scenario 1

An organisation would like to become an RTO and deliver a few training products that have been recently superseded. The organisational representatives have been preparing the application over the last two years and can not wait any longer.

Outcome:

The regulatory body, in our experience, has always asked for the current training products as the organisations can not register as an RTO to deliver superseded, removed or deleted training products.

Scenario 2

A unit of competency has been superseded by a new unit. The RTO has noticed the change but when they check training.gov.au they realise that the unit has not been updated in the qualification they are delivering and have decided not to replace the superseded unit of competency with the new unit.

Outcome:

The regulatory body has in writing suggested that RTOs should follow the qualification package rules and training package guidelines (Clause 1.27) at all times. If a unit of competency is part of a training package then the RTO cannot change it when it gets superseded.

You can read more information regarding the training products with current transition extensions at Training products with current transition extensions | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

Some helpful strategies related to transition management

  • Register and get updates from the national register. https://training.gov.au/Account/SignIn?returnUrl=/Home/Tga
  • Always include transition management as a set meeting agenda item
  • Conduct audits at regular intervals to assess how you are performing.
  • Update/prepare marketing materials (including website and social media) and pre-enrolment and admission documents to reflect any changes
  • Ensure certificates and all other print materials have the current and correct information.
  • Ensure the organisation follows credit and RPL processes when transiting students
  • Prepare and/or update validation plans and schedules to reflect the changes
  • Ensure your trainers and assessors have currency in their TAE qualification, the VET qualifications they are assessing and training, industry currency and professional development in competency-based systems and practices.

If you need help with transition planning and management, do not hesitate to approach us at info@caqa.com.au.

Requirements to enrol learners in your courses

There are specific prerequisites that must be met prior to student enrolment or the beginning of training and assessment, whichever occurs first. In addition, the RTO should advise the prospective learner on the training product that will best meet his or her needs while taking into consideration the individual’s existing skills and competencies.

So what are the compliance requirements related to enrolling learners to the courses on your RTO’s scope:

Compliance requirements

Clause 5.1

Prior to enrolment or the commencement of training and assessment, whichever comes first, the RTO provides advice to the prospective learner about the training product appropriate to meeting the learner’s needs, taking into account the individual’s existing skills and competencies.

Clause 5.2

Prior to enrolment or the commencement of training and assessment, whichever comes first, the RTO provides, in print or through referral to an electronic copy, current and accurate information that enables the learner to make informed decisions about undertaking training with the RTO and at a minimum includes the following content:

  • the code, title and currency of the training product to which the learner is to be enrolled, as published on the national register
  • the training and assessment, and related educational and support services the RTO will provide to the learner including the:
    • estimated duration
    • expected locations at which it will be provided
    • expected modes of delivery
    • name and contact details of any third party that will provide training and/or assessment, and related educational and support services to the learner on the RTO’s behalf
    • any work placement arrangements.
  • the RTO’s obligations to the learner, including that the RTO is responsible for the quality of the training and assessment in compliance with these Standards, and for the issuance of the AQF [Australian Qualifications Framework] certification documentation
  • the learner’s rights, including:
    • details of the RTO’s complaints and appeals process required by Standard 6
    • if the RTO, or a third party delivering training and assessment on its behalf, closes or ceases to deliver any part of the training product that the learner is enrolled in.
  • the learner’s obligations:
    • in relation to the repayment of any debt to be incurred under the VET [Vocational Education and Training] FEE-HELP scheme arising from the provision of services
    • any requirements the RTO requires the learner to meet to enter and successfully complete their chosen training product
    • any materials and equipment that the learner must provide
    • information on the implications for the learner of government training entitlements and subsidy arrangements in relation to the delivery of the services.

Interpretation:

The interpretation of the compliance requirements are:

  • The training organisation should always provide relevant and correct information to all students prior to they enrol to make informed decisions and choices.
  • The training organisation must always provide the following information to all prospective learners related to the course they are enrolling:
    • Code, title and currency of the training product
    • Training and assessment and related educational and support services including:
      • Duration of the training
      • Expected locations where the training will take place
      • Expected delivery mode
      • Name and contact details of any third-party that is involved in training, assessment or providing support services
      • Work placement arrangements, as applicable
      • Holidays, as applicable
  • The training organisation’s obligations to learners including but are not limited to responsibility for the quality of the training and assessment in compliance with SRTOs 2015 and for the issuance of the AQF certification documentation.
  • The rights of the learners including:
    • Complaints and appeals processes
    • If the training organisation or third-party ceases or closes to deliver any part of the training product
  • The learner’s obligations:
    • Requirements and conditions for enrolment and completion of the training product such as:
      • Minimum English language requirements
      • Minimum educational qualification requirements
      • Minimum work experience requirements
      • Course credits and RPL requirements
      • Compulsory online and/or work-based training, placements, other community-based learning requirements
      • Reasonable adjustments
    • Any materials and equipment learners must provide and
    • Information on the implications for the learner of government training entitlements and subsidy arrangements
    • Cooling off period, if one applies
  • Information related to all fees and charges including:
    • Fees paid to the training organisation
    • Non-tuition fees
    • Terms and conditions
    • Refunds
  • For international students, training organisations are also required to, but not limited to:
    • Grounds on which enrolment may be deferred, suspended or cancelled
    • The ESOS framework, including appropriate official Australian Government material or links
    • Accommodation, support and general welfare arrangements
  • Information about the unique student identifier (USI)

RTO compliance guide to buy compliant assessment resources

According to almost all ASQA reports, getting an assessment right is one of an RTO’s most difficult compliance issues, with a substantial number of RTOs, audited being found to be non-compliant with clause 1.8 (ASQA’s 2017 report showed around 72% RTOs failed audit on assessment resources). This is what we notice as well whenever we have conducted any internal audits through CAQA.

It is a wise decision to get your training and assessment strategies and resources validated by independent industry experts to get honest feedback and an unbiased opinion.

The purpose of the assessment tool

The main purpose of an assessment tool, student assessment, or assessment pack is to ensure that trainers and assessors can effectively establish whether a learner is competent or not yet competent in a training product. There are three ways a trainer/assessor can establish competence:

  • Tell me what you can do (Demonstration of knowledge)
  • Show me what you can do (Demonstration of skills)
  • Make me something (Application of knowledge and skills)

Let’s look into some of the most important aspects in detail now:

Understand how the assessment materials meet the training package requirements

This step necessitates you concentrating on how the assessment materials fit the requirements of the training package. This is the step when you understand what competence in this particular unit of competency will look like.

Focus points include understanding of:

  • What is the AQF level where the unit of competency will be used?
  • What is the unit descriptor/application of the unit saying about work activities included in the unit of competency?
  • What are the prerequisite or corequisite requirements related to the unit of competency?
  • What level of skill is required for this unit according to where (which qualification) the unit of competency will be used
  • What are the elements, performance criteria, range of conditions, foundation skills, knowledge evidence, performance evidence, assessment conditions
  • Read the assessment conditions and foundation skills: What are the conditions under which this work activity should be conducted
  • Are there any other specific requirements applicable to this unit of competency?

Before moving on to practical task activities, the learner must first demonstrate that he or she understands the subject through demonstration of knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE – you need to have knowledge before you can perform

Look over the requirements for the training package and have a close look at the knowledge evidence to see if it says once is sufficient. If it does not state that, it implies that you must address each of the knowledge evidence criteria at least twice. We can address the knowledge evidence requirements using a variety of activities such as questions and answers, case studies, report writing, and other knowledge-based assessment methods.

PERFORMANCE – means that you have to do something

Then it’s time to look at performance criteria and performance evidence, and once again, pay attention to whether or not there are instructions on how many times this should be addressed. If this is not the case, each performance criteria and the performance evidence must be addressed in the assessment tasks and activities at least twice, if not more, utilising a variety of assessment methods and activities such as projects, portfolios, practical task activities, workplace tasks and observations and so on.

Focus on the action verbs and action keywords

Focus on all action verbs and action keywords included in the training package when developing your assessment resources. Each and every action verb and keyword must be addressed through the assessment resources.

Bloom’s taxonomy of measurable verbs is a good starting point to understand more about the action verbs.

Ensure if something is plural you have addressed them more than once.

If there is anything mentioned as plural such as strategies, you must ensure the assessment resources have at least two (2) or more strategies mentioned in them.

You must establish if each component of the training package requires evidence in the form of knowledge, skill or product.

Comprehensive mapping to training package requirements

A comprehensive mapping document is required to ensure all training package criteria has been addressed appropriately and comprehensively. Mapping is a cross-referencing activity where each component of the unit of competency is cross-referenced to one or more assessment criteria or questions in the assessment activities and tasks. Mapping is more a content validity process and not a process validity process.

Refer to the following articles for more information

Mapping document of assessment resources – do you need one? https://caqa.com.au/2021/10/04/mapping-document-of-assessment-resources-do-you-need-one/

Focus on evidence collection and assessment methods

Focus on evidence collection and assessment methods after ensuring that the assessment resources meet the training package requirements. The focus points should include:

  • What are the assessment methods selected for evidence collection?
  • Are these suitable and appropriate for evidence collection?
  • What are the other methods that may be used for evidence collection?
  • Where and how should evidence be collected?
  • What resources are required for evidence collection?

Foundation skills, assessment conditions, performance evidence, performance criteria and knowledge evidence should be taken into consideration when designing the evidence collection and assessment methods.

The evidence collection and assessment methods should change according to the AQF level where the units of competency will be used. For example, for a Certificate II, III level true or false, match the following statements with, multiple-choice questions, fill in the blanks might be appropriate but for Certificate IV and Diploma short answer questions, closed book, time-limited exams, contrast and separate, and other assessment methods could be used. We have included an AQF summary for you to understand how each AQF level requires a different set of requirements.

AQF Level Summary Qualifications Purpose of this Qualification
1 Graduates at this level will have knowledge and skills for initial work,

community involvement

and/or further learning

Certificate I basic functional knowledge and skills to undertake work, further learning and community involvement.
2 Graduates at this level will have knowledge and skills for work in a

defined context and/or

further learning

Certificate II qualify individuals to undertake mainly routine work and as a pathway to further learning.
3 Graduates at this level will have theoretical and practical knowledge and

skills for work and/or

further learning

Certificate III to qualify individuals who apply a broad range of knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.
4 Graduates at this level will have theoretical and practical knowledge and

skills for specialised

and/or skilled work

and/or further learning

Certificate IV to qualify individuals who apply a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.
5 Graduates at this level will have specialised knowledge and skills for

skilled/paraprofessional

work and/or further

learning

Diploma to qualify individuals who apply integrated technical and theoretical concepts in a broad range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work and as a pathway for further learning.
6 Graduates at this level will have broad knowledge and skills for

paraprofessional/highly

skilled work and/or

further learning

Advanced Diploma Associate Degree to qualify individuals who apply specialised knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work and as a pathway for further learning.
7 Graduates at this level will have broad and coherent knowledge and

skills for professional

work and/or further

learning

Bachelor Degree to qualify individuals who apply a broad and coherent body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional work and as a pathway for further learning.
8 Graduates at this level will have advanced knowledge and skills for

professional highly skilled

work and/or further

learning

Bachelor Honours Degree Graduate and

Vocational Graduate

Certificate

Graduate and

Vocational Graduate

Diploma

to qualify individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a specific context or range of contexts to undertake professional or highly skilled work and as a pathway for research and further learning.
9 Graduates at this level will have specialised knowledge and skills for

research, and/or

professional practice

and/or further learning

Masters Degree to qualify individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for professional practice and as a pathway for further learning.
10 Graduates at this level will have a systematic and critical understanding of

a complex field of

learning and specialised

research skills for the

advancement of learning

and/or for professional

practice

Doctoral Degree to qualify individuals who apply a substantial body of knowledge to research, investigate and develop new knowledge, in one or more fields of investigation, scholarship or professional practice.

You must look if the assessment methods accurately and properly describe how many questions students must do correctly to be deemed satisfactory in the assessment task or activity and then check mapping to ensure your recommendation does not compromise the integrity of the assessment.

Always remember that each of the evidence collection and assessment methods must flesh out the details related to the assessment activities and tasks such as what, why, where, how, when something must occur.

Check the content for validity and reliability

Ensure all content is complete, error-free, plagiarism and copyright issues free, you also need to ensure that:

  • Assessment resources have sufficient and clear information regarding what, when, how, where, why for your assessment template and all assessment tasks and activities.
  • Assessment resources have robust benchmarking and/or trainers’ guidance.
  • Assessment resources are allowing the trainer/assessor to assess the skills and knowledge of students through different assessment tasks over a period of time to ensure consistency and sufficiency.
  • Each and every question and assessment task has very clear guidelines around what is expected from the students in terms of both quantity and quality.
  • You have customised the off-the-shelf resources according to your RTO needs and requirements and not using them as-is.
  • Your assessment resources are written by industry experts with subject matter experts and are industry-relevant and current.
  • Your assessment resources address all requirements of the training packaging rules
  • Your assessment resources have detailed and valid performance checklists/observation checklists for assessing and observing the students before, during and after any skill assessment activity or workplace task
  • Your trainers and assessors gather sufficient, valid evidence for competency assessment
  • Your organisation offers appropriate simulated environments for conducting assessments
  • The authenticity of assessment, particularly in distance and online delivery is established and maintained
  • The context and conditions of assessment. For example, an assessment tool is developed to cater for a particular language, literacy and numeracy requirements, the learner’s workplace experience or other learner needs that require reasonable adjustment.
  • The context of the assessment may also take into account assessments already completed, and the competencies demonstrated in these assessments. By looking at the context, you can consider the conditions under which evidence for assessment must be gathered.
  • All activities are conducted adequately using the required:
    • equipment or material requirements
    • contingencies
    • specifications
    • physical conditions
    • relationships with team members and supervisors
    • relationships with clients/customers
    • timeframes for completion.
  • Assessment methods or tasks are suitable to the requirements of the units of competency and students are assessed on the tasks and activities according to the requirements of the training package.
  • The language used is simple English
  • The evidence required to make a decision of competency is clearly outlined
  • The types of activities and tasks students need to perform are clearly outlined
  • The level of performance required for each assessment activity is clearly outlined
  • Adequate exposure to workplace conditions, including appropriate simulated environments, is provided
  • Sufficient knowledge-based assessment tasks and activities such as written questions and case studies etc.
  • Sufficient practical based assessment tasks and activities such as projects, role plays, workplace tasks and observations etc.
  • Assessment resources are error-free and free from any grammar, copyright or plagiarism issues

Assessment resources meet principles of assessments and rules of evidence

When constructing or reviewing the assessment tools, RTO compliance experts such as compliance managers, RTO management and trainers and assessors must ensure that the principles of assessment and rules of evidence are strictly followed.

The regulatory requirements specify that this is not only good practice but also a requirement for RTO registration. Validity, reliability, flexibility, and fairness are all requirements of the assessment evaluation process.

Validity

The validity of an assessment outcome refers to the extent to which the interpretation and use of the outcome can be supported by evidence. When the assessment methods and assessment materials used reflect all the training package requirements such as elements, performance criteria, etc. the assessment is considered valid. The assessment outcome is also considered valid when the evidence gathered fully supports the assessment outcome.

Reliability

The degree to which the assessment outcomes are consistent and accurate is referred to as reliability; that is, the extent to which the assessment will produce similar outcomes for students with equal competence at different times or places, regardless of the trainer who is conducting the assessment.

Flexibility

When students have the chance to negotiate specific components or aspects of their assessment (for example, timing) with their trainers and assessors, this is referred to as flexibility. All students should be thoroughly informed (for example, through an assessment plan) of the purpose of the assessment, the assessment criteria, the methods and tools that will be used, as well as the context and timing of the assessment, prior to taking part in it.

Fairness

A fair assessment does not favour or disadvantage any particular learners or groups of students in a discriminatory manner. Depending on the situation, this may imply that assessment procedures be tailored to specific learners (such as those with disabilities or those from diverse cultural backgrounds) in order to guarantee that they are not disadvantaged as a result of their circumstances. An evaluation should not set too high demands on students, as this may hinder them from demonstrating competency in the subject matter (for example, an assessment should not demand a higher level of English language or literacy than that required to perform to the workplace standard outlined in the competencies being assessed).

Evidence is governed by a set of rules.

A well-designed assessment tool will aid in ensuring that the evidence gathered is of the following types:

  • Valid – there is a clear relationship between the evidence criteria of the unit of competency and the evidence on the basis of which the assessment judgement is made;
  • Sufficient – the performance criteria and evidence guide is addressed; competence is demonstrated over a period of time; all dimensions of competency are addressed; competence is demonstrated in a variety of settings;
  • Current – the evidence reveals that the student possesses current knowledge and skills, and
  • Authentic – the evidence may be confirmed to show that it is the student’s own original effort.

In conjunction with industry, assessment evaluation strategies, methodologies and tools should be developed, and they should be evaluated on an appropriate sample of students before being implemented.

Easy to contextualise to your learner cohorts

Contextualising assessments and learner materials are one of the most thought-provoking tasks that RTOs face. Many RTOs are deemed non-compliant due to their contextualisation methods.

Regardless of whether you have developed the assessment resources in-house or you have purchased them as off-the-shelf resources, you must customise and contextualise each training product.

The customisation and contextualisation should occur in terms of

  • training context,
  • learner characteristics,
  • delivery modes,
  • cultural context,
  • technology requirements,
  • AQF level,
  • intent if the unit of competency is not addressed appropriately,
  • formatting,
  • grammar,
  • Your RTO’s templates and style guides

For more information, please read the following articles

https://caqa.com.au/2021/10/04/contextualisation-why-you-must-contextualise-the-training-and-assessment-resources/

https://caqa.com.au/2018/06/08/contextualising-assessment-resources-part-2/

How to make a reasonable adjustment in summative assessments

https://caqa.com.au/2021/07/14/how-to-make-reasonable-adjustment-in-summative-assessments/

Easy to modify to different delivery modes

Assessment resources should be adaptable to a variety of delivery modes, including online, offline, distance learning, workplace, and blended learning.

Clear guidance to the assessor

Assessment resources should provide clear instructions to assessors in terms of what they should look for.

  • what was expected from the learners
  • what they (trainers and assessors) should observe
    • have clear assessment (evidence-gathering) methods based on training package requirements
    • have clear assessment (evidence-gathering) tools
  • how they (trainers and assessors) should assess
    • have clear benchmarks and standards against which a student’s work is assessed
    • have clear evidence requirements to assess sufficiency and competency
    • have clear guidelines related to when assessments should occur and how they should occur
  • who should collect the evidence and when?
    • When determining who can collect evidence, the guidelines for training package assessment may be of use to you. It is critical that the instrument and instructions for your assessment tools clearly state what is expected of the students, the trainer/assessor, workplace supervisor or a third-party evidence gatherer. It is also critical that the instrument and instructions for your assessment tools provide a clear structure for the evidence gatherers to follow.
  • where they (trainers and assessors) should record
    • Focus on the requirements of the training package – is there any specific conditions, requirements and guidelines?
    • If workplace assessment is not possible or suitable, your alternative is to choose settings and procedures that allow students to demonstrate their competence to the level of performance indicated.
    • In a simulation, students should complete or deal with a task, activity, or problem in an off-the-job situation that is designed to mirror the workplace environment.
  • how they (trainers and assessors) should record
    • What are the RTO requirements and documentation?
  • who they (trainers and assessors) should report
    • Where do the assessors and trainers report the outcome of the assessment?
    • What is the procedure?
    • How students are informed about the assessment outcome?

Clear instructions to the learner

All assessment materials should provide very clear instructions to the learners in terms of:

  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • How
  • Why
  • Reasonable adjustments required

Observation checklists and benchmarking

All assessment resources should have comprehensive observation checklists and benchmarking to ensure

  • Learners know what is expected of them
  • Assessors know the scope of assessment in terms of what they should observe and assess, resources required and what should be considered when assessing
  • Clear guidelines and information related to how to use the observation checklists

All equipment, resources and facilities are available to conduct the assessment

Assessment conditions should be followed strictly and the training organisation should ensure that all equipment, resources and facilities are available to conduct the assessment.

Language, Literacy and numeracy requirements of the unit

The assessment tool must reflect the language, literacy and numeracy requirements related to the work task and work activities required to be assessed. Your focus points should include:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Numeracy
  • Oral communication
  • Learning

Ensure students are ready for the summative assessment

You must ensure that all students are ready for the summative assessment before you assess them.

For more information, please refer to

Formative vs Summative Assessment: A Comparison https://caqa.com.au/2022/01/31/formative-vs-summative-assessment-a-comparison/

Conduct pre and post validation checks

You must pre and post validate all assessment resources before and after you use them for your learners.

For more information, please refer to:

Different phases of assessment and learner validation processes (Part 1), Click here.

Different phases of assessment and learner validation processes (Part 2), Click here.

Different phases of assessment and learner validation processes (Part 3 of 4), Click here.

Different phases of assessment and learner validation processes (Part 4 of 4), Click here.

fact sheet, Click here.

Having a license of purchase

Training organisations should double-check that they have an authorised copy of the training and assessment resources from the publisher of the resource before using them for training purposes.

In a number of audits, the regulatory body has requested proof of purchase because a number of stakeholders are aware that there are some offenders in the sector who do not purchase the actual copies of the resources, resell when they do not have authority, or obtain materials in other illegal ways.

For more information, please click here.

How to protect the copyright of your training and assessment materials Margaret Ryan (lawyer and trade marks attorney), for more information click here.

References:

Guide – developing assessment tools https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/guides/guide-developing-assessment-tools

Edu Learning – Your door to professional development opportunities

We would love to have you join our professional development retainer agreement services or individual professional development opportunities through Edu Learning. Our organisation works with the aim to help you grow your skills in a fun and interactive way. The benefits of joining our organisation are numerous, from getting tips from VET experts and industry leaders to building a network of peers, who can help you move forward in your career.

Intellectually stimulating and engaging content is what we excel at. We offer training programs that will provide your staff with the practical skills and strategies that they need to be successful in their careers in this competitive market – whether it’s in marketing, finance or RTO operations.

The benefits of being part of our professional development group include:

– Developing a better understanding of the role of a VET professional
– Getting in-depth training in different RTO sector skill sets that meet your and your organisation’s needs and requirements.


In partnership with Edu Learning and CAQA Skills, CAQA provides a variety of professional and personal development opportunities. We may also tailor the training to meet your specific requirements and skill level as well. For additional details, please contact us right away at info@caqa.com.au.


 

Interview with John Molenaar, Quality and Compliance Auditor

John Molenaar is an education professional who started his career in teaching with positions as a primary and secondary teacher. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, he held roles in education organisation management as Executive Director of the Gould League of Victoria and the John Gardiner Centre.

In the mid 1990’s John started his career in VET, initially as National Project Manager with the TCF Industry Training Board managing the development of the suite of TCF Training Packages and Exec Director of the Process Manufacturing Training Board, working with the plastics and chemical industries. During this time, he was also involved in community education as a Council Member and Chair of the ACFE – Eastern Region. He also was a lecturer in VET practice at one of Victoria’s Universities.

In 2007 John commenced quality and compliance auditing, as a contractor with the VRQA and also had a contract with ASQA during the initial four years of ASQA’s establishment. He has also audited Chemical and Petroleum training and assessment, overseas in Qatar for three years.

He is currently the Executive Director of Manufacturing Learning Victoria and continues to audit with the VRQA and works with individual RTOs to establish ‘good practice’ training and assessment approaches and to assist them to continue to meet compliance requirements. He has conducted professional develop for trainers/assessors, delivery the WELL program, and was involved in the development, review and implementation of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and conducted a number of research projects funded through the NCVER, related to language, literacy and numeracy skill development.


Here is a copy of John Molenaar’s interview conducted by Sukh Sandhu.

Sukh Sandhu: You are one of the most experienced auditors and consultants in Australia, and it is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to speak with you today. So the questions prepared by The VET Sector experts for you are:

Q1: Why did you decide to work in the vocational education and training sector, and how has your overall experience been?

Work in VET came later in my career, after working in primary and secondary teaching, University lecturing and community education. I initially developed competencies and learning resources for the laundry and dry-cleaning industries nationally.

With the introduction of training packages, this progressed to the development of training packages for the broader textile, clothing, and footwear industries. I found the work with relevant enterprises across Australia and facilitation of industry focus groups challenging and rewarding through the development of accredited training for many industries who were not able to access industry qualifications previously by providing them with career pathways and work conditions commensurate with industry awards. This work led to managing industry training boards and providing advice to Government of the training priorities and needs of numerous VET industry sectors.

I found the work in VET very rewarding as compared to other education and training sectors. VET was the least developed in terms of arrangements, resources and recognition within education portfolios. It was great to be able to make a difference in supporting the development of coordinated approaches to skills development for many of our industry sectors where workers had not previously been able to access industry qualifications or have the many years of industry skill and experience recognised.

Recognising the importance of quality and compliance to developing and maintaining a rigorous VET system, commensurate with other education and training sectors, I commenced quality auditing with the VRQA. Initially this was as a Training Recognition Consultant, prior to taking on a tender with the VRQA in 2007 which largely involved the audit of CRICOS providers. I was successful in obtaining a tender with ASQA as a founding contract auditor with ASQA in 2011 when it came into being and continued to audit with ASQA for five years. I have been fortunate in obtaining tenders with the VRQA to continue to audit Victorian RTOs, as well as continuing to provide consultancy support to ASQA registered RTOs.

Q2: I have worked with you on a number of projects and have also witnessed a number of organisations go out of business within a few months or years, after having been registered. What do you believe are the primary causes for an organisation to become non-compliant or fail within VET?

Through my audit work I have witnessed many individuals identifying opportunities to start a business in training, particularly in international education. Though many have established RTOs with good intensions, many have also not understood the requirements associated with VET education and the rigorous outcomes required for learners to be truly competent in their areas of industry qualifications. I believe that many organisations who failed, did not intentionally operate in non-compliant ways, but did so in being naive of the compliance requirements. However naivety is not a defence for not effectively meeting the compliance requirements of the quality standards.

Though regulators may have been harsh in closing non-performing RTOs, it is the role of the regulator to address concerns where students are not able access sufficient rigorous outcomes for them to work safely and effectively within an industry.

Q3:What are the current issues affecting the training and education industry, and how can Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) overcome them?

Training organisations continue to be challenged by the ongoing changes in legislation, employer requirements, training products and client expectations. An RTO is required to invest adequate resources to remain current and effective and to maintain skilled working professionals who remain committed to quality outcomes.

The competitive nature of attracting learners in a diverse RTO market impacts the bottom line and fee structures of organisations. This financial pressure reduces their ability to remain viable and deliver quality services.

Training Providers can overcome these challenges by initially investing in the development of effective quality management systems and skilled professionals. A sound and effective quality management system provides a platform on which our VET professionals can work creatively and delivery quality training outcomes, allowing them to meet the organisations quality requirements through transparent processes, quality resources and effective record management.

Now many may say this sounds like good rhetoric but how can this be achieved? It is the responsibility of the RTO’s Management to do the research and invest the required resources to develop a sound understand of what an effective quality management system is and how to achieve this for their organisation.

A sustainable training organisation achieves its business through reputation – the reputation for delivering quality training to support industry skill needs, who supports its learners in flexible and focused ways.

Q4: What are your thoughts on regulations that are constantly being modified and updated?

Do you believe that the changes that have occurred in Vocational Education and Training, over the past century from a system based primarily on knowledge based rote learning to one based on competency outcomes and continuous improvement, with a key focus on compliance and governance and financial standards, have been positive and progressive?

Training packages and related qualifications have served industry well over the past few decades, providing for consistent and relevant skill development, and has been recognised internationally as a sound system across a range of industries. For example, textile and clothing industry skill development in South Africa and hydrocarbon and oil refining in the Middle East have adopted the Australian model.

Competency based training, in contrast to knowledge-based training, has contributed significantly to the skill acquisition of our workforces. The combination of both methods of learning (knowledge and skill development) is imperative to the worker understanding the ‘what how and why’ which aids their ability to perform work safely and to required quality standards.

The challenge has been to ensure that that training remains current and supports the changing needs of industry to provide the skills to address industry evolving skill needs. Training packages, over time, have been not responsive to the rapidly changing skill requirements of many industries. The timeliness in developing new qualifications, skill sets and microskills have been impacted by bureaucratic processes and lack of flexibility to address skill shortages in a timely way.

The pace of changes to technology, the requirements for just in time production, sustainable resource management and environment practices, global acquisition and related economics, invariable impacts on changes to regulations, standards and requirements, including changes to training packages. To support industries to address skills needs it is important that training providers have systems in place to accommodate the changes related to maintaining currency to address evolving skills skill needs.

Yes, maintaining currency and keeping up with regular changes is challenging but imperative to maintaining a dynamic system of training in response to industry needs.
The development and maintenance of a sound Quality Management System becomes even more essential for effectively managing this increasing change.

Q5: What types of services do you provide as part of your quality and compliance services?

Quality and compliance services include:

Auditing of Registered Training organisations and Group Training Organisations for the VRQA,

  • High Risk Work licence assessment of Registered Training Organisations delivering licencing units,
  • Quality reviews of learning and assessment resources for the Victorian Skills Commission and training organisations,
  • Professional development in the areas of quality and compliance for VET professionals.

Q6:What advice would you provide to those who are now employed in the sector, those who aspire to pursue a career in the field, and those who wish to establish their own RTO?

Put simply, I would advise all VET practitioners to consider what it takes to work as a professional in the VET sector including:

  • maintaining currency of industry and VET qualifications,
  • ongoing professional development to further develop educational practice and industry skills,
  • seek out critical professional friends who can assist you to reflect on you practice and
  • carefully scrutinise who you work for and ensure that your employer implements ethical practices and has sound Quality Management Systems.

Interview with Anna-Louise Allen, Quality and Compliance Auditor

Anna-Louise Allen has been a leader in education and a catalyst for change and innovation in teaching and learning throughout her career. Anna-Louise commenced as a technical school teacher in the western suburbs teaching Geography. She had held leadership positions in schools, run the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria and worked in a variety of government agencies.

Anna-Louise has published textbooks, industry articles and a wide range of training materials for use in both the school and vocational sectors. More recently Anna-Louise was well known for her fair and informative audit style, conducting audits for both the State and National Regulator and a range of funding bodies. She is a strong advocate for the Learn Local sector and has a passion for assisting some of the more vulnerable members of our community.


Here is a copy of Anna-Louise Allen’s interview conducted by Sukh Sandhu.

Q1: What led you to choose a career in the field of vocational education and training, and how has your entire experience been thus far?

I have always been a person who feels passionate about my career choices. This coupled with a touch of Happenstance theory has led me on my exciting and varied career in education and training.

As a technical school teacher, I have always forged strong connections with industry. I have seen myself as a conduit between education, industry and government which meant that working in the vocational education and training sector was a natural progression.

Q2: It has been a pleasure to attend a number of your professional development workshops, which you have been conducting since the early 2000s. Do you have a favourite topic that you prefer presenting and why?

Quality is a big driver in both business and education. In the VET sector this can sometimes be viewed as a dirty word particularly when it is called Compliance!

Quality is a habit which is inherent in everything we do. It drives ongoing continuous improvement, where small incremental improvements make a big impact on quality and your bottom line. It is about doing great work that inspires learners to engage and enjoy their learning. It is also about ensuring that they have the skills and knowledge to make valuable employees. I like working with trainers and teachers to come up with creative approaches to topics that encourage the application of knowledge and skills to do a great job.

Q3: How can RTOs maintain a balance between the quality of the services they provide and the number of clients to whom they can provide those services, based on your extensive knowledge and experience?

Satisfied customers can become raving fans for your business, which means they will not only come back to study with you again, but will also tell their friends. Quality is not the enemy but rather the strategy to ensure customers for life.

Think about the car you drive or your favourite pair of shoes or handbag. If it is quality, it was probably produced by a quality production system. Often that system involved extensive automation, coupled with innovation and creative thought. Education is no different. A quality system that is informed by industry and clients coupled with creative designers and trainers will produce engaging learning and satisfied students who excel and achieve.

Q4: What are the five most important characteristics of a successful CEO of an RTO?

The CEO must have:

  • Vision
  • Passion
  • High level communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • A great listener.

Q5: What are the five most imminent risks to RTO businesses, and what should RTOs be doing to mitigate these threats?

  • Relationship management
  • Complaints management
  • Clear lines of communication
  • Strong brand
  • Policies, procedures and systems that are understood by all.

The five strengths are potentially the greatest risks. Without strong relationship management an RTO or any business can very soon be out of business. Relationship management is also critical when communicating with both the happy and dissatisfied client. Everyone in the RTO has a key role to play in relationship management.

How you manage and handle complaints is also critical to success. Aim to solve them before they escalate. Make sure that your marketing and branding clearly defines what a client can expect from your business and then make sure that you deliver.

Your systems and internal training will be critical in making sure that clients receive the service they expect. Empower all your staff to be proactive and aim to solve problems as they arise.

Q6: What improvements would you like to see made to our standards and regulatory frameworks in order to improve the overall quality of training and assessment?

I am not a fan of the big stick approach. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen a lot of bad behaviour that has required stern and often legal intervention. It will be a great day when we can provide education and training that supports the development of the individual while providing a safe and welcoming learning space for everyone.

The VET sector has often been characterised by a significant movement of talent in and out of training providers. The loss of skills and knowledge resulting from this churn has a large impact on the overall quality of training and assessment. It also means that we are continually re-skilling the workforce in the expectations of clients and government.

Regardless of the sector, there needs to be standards and modes of operations. I would like to change the way we view the regulatory framework, seeing it as a basis for supporting quality within the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Interview with Maciek Fibrich, Quality and Compliance Auditor

Maciek Fibrich is the Director of RTO Coaching and Consultancy Pty Ltd which provides amongst other services, coaching, mentoring and consultancy services as well as professional development and operational support to training organisations across Australia. Maciek has been working in the Vocational Training sector for 21 years and as a consultant for over 15 years focusing on the development of training within the Australian Vocational Education and Training industry.

Over the years, Maciek has mentored many business owners, company directors and CEO’s on developing internal systems to streamline their practices. Maciek has also employed over 25 staff, whilst managing a company with 8 business activities.

Maciek holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and various vocational qualifications including the Diploma of Quality Auditing, Diploma of Training and Assessment as well as a Certificate IV in Business Management; and Training and Assessment. Maciek holds his Lead Auditor Certification and has professional membership with the Australian Institute of Training and Development, the Institute of Learning Practitioners and the Institute of Learning and Development.

On a personal level, Maciek has been actively involved with the Polish community, participating in and leading a range of youth groups including the Polish Scouting Association of Australia, a number of Polish Folk dance groups and youth leadership programs, the sport of Volleyball, as a player, coach and national and International referee, officiating during both the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Paralympics.


Here is a copy of Maciek Fibrich’s interview conducted by Sukh Sandhu.

It is always a pleasure to speak with you as one of the most highly regarded and quality-conscious consultants in the RTO sector. So the questions prepared by The VET Sector experts for you are:

Q1: When it comes to quality consultants, what are the top five qualities that RTO clients should look for?

Everyone defines quality differently and what I regard as a quality consultant may be very different to someone else’s perspective. Five qualities I believe help make a quality consultant include honesty, integrity, the ability to interpret other people’s information, always looking for a better way and of course a solid understanding of the systems we are working with.

At the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable with the consultant you are working with. You need to be comfortable learning from them, comfortable asking all the perceived ‘silly’ questions as well as the tough questions and trusting them to do the right thing. But, remember that you also need to do your part of the process and not rely on the consultant to do everything for you as it’s not them answering the questions at audit.

Q2: You have been a fairly objective observer of regulatory activity in Australia, so how would you describe the regulatory climate in Australia right now? ‘

I believe we are in a good space with regards to ASQA. Is it perfect? Far from it! Is it costly, yes! Excessively? Possibly. Money aside, (said no one ever), I think the changes that have come this year have definitely helped mend many bridges, however, there is still a long way to go.

I believe we have taken some amazing steps, and the management team at ASQA should be congratulated for being proactive and hopefully things keep progressing. I have already observed and participated in some regulatory processes that have truly brought a smile to my face and hope these instances continue.

That said, providers must not get complacent! The current COVID relief packages will end soon, and the restrictions on movement will ease, and while it’s been easy to fly under the radar, this does not mean we have been exempt from being compliant and properly managing our businesses. If, like our personal COVID kilos, we’ve let ourselves go in the compliance and business area, it’s now time to start a solid routine and get the business pumping again. You don’t want the shock of an ASQA audit to be as bad as the first time you jumped on the scales in 12 months!

Q3: When it comes to RTOs, what are the top five characteristics that distinguish a good one from a bad one?

Like the first question, the perception people have about a good RTO will be dependent on their needs. Some people want a hassle-free ‘quick’ qualification, and others want the full service, 12 month-guided experience.

So that said, I believe a good RTO is one that listens to its customers, supports the industry it’s ‘feeding’, understands that business and compliance have to go hand in hand, and implements that critical systematic approach to its operations to ensure it can achieve, what I promote, profitability, scalability and sustainability. A good RTO will generally have an internal culture of education

A good RTO will ensure the outcomes of its students meet the needs of both students and the vocational area the student is studying. From a business perspective, a good RTO is one that understands the business that it’s in, understands what problems it’s solving and can implement the principles of transparency, autonomy and accountability within its processes.

A ‘bad’ RTO? I guess that would be the opposite of a good RTO, but I also want to differentiate a bad vs dishonest RTO. Any dishonest RTO would be a bad RTO. One that cheats the system for gain, ‘sells’ its qualifications, exploits students and funding etc. A bad RTO would be one that also doesn’t care about its students, doesn’t understand the business that it’s in and generally has a disregard for compliance and the needs of the industry. Bad RTO’s often have a cultural issue that comes from the top, or in ‘cells’ within the business. It’s not hard to turn bad RTOs into good RTOs, but it does take commitment from the top.

Q4: What kind of services do you provide to RTO clients through your consulting company?

The main service I now provide is education. One thing the 20+ years of consulting has taught me is that if we don’t educate our clients, we fail them. We also need the clients that want to be educated but that’s a whole other issue. Over the years, I have provided basically every type of service needed within an RTO, but now I like to focus on the coaching and mentoring side of my business. This gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction and joy as I see better results over the medium to long term.

While I still do the small bits of consultancy, they are not my focus area as I find that there is a level of dependency that is developed when you do everything for the client. If I teach my clients, and their teams, to understand the issue and help them implement the fix, this empowers the team and avoids statements like, ‘Oh he’ll do it’.

About two years ago, I launched my CMC program, which incorporates Coaching, Mentoring and Consultancy into a weekly solution for any CEO or manager who wants to understand their business at a much more intimate level. The program explores challenges and issues within the business and we work on solving those issues. We then educate the team on the issues and solutions, and once we have the foundations set, we can then build the solution. I find this a much more effective approach to simply ‘doing it for the client’.

Q5: You and your colleagues Tamara and David host a fantastic monthly meeting session that is completely free of charge. What inspired you to start this and how has your experience been so far?

Thank you for the kind words! Tamara is the brainchild behind the monthly sessions and she approached us to see if we wanted to be involved. For me, sharing knowledge and teaching others, and making the world and our industry as a whole, better, is what drives me, and I think that can be said for most people within our industry. If I could do it daily, for free, I honestly would. Thankfully, my business is doing just that, and I am fortunate enough to be paid to educate others so I truly feel like I don’t work. I love what I do and that passion drives me!

The experience so far has been great and the feedback has also been great. It’s a real honour and privilege to be able to share my learnings from the past 20+ years of working within the industry to help overs and hopefully, improve their businesses and the lives of their students and staff.

Q6: What are the most effective survival tactics for organisations working in the current environment?

  1. Know your business. If you are flying by the seat of your pants, and have survived, you’re lucky but business is not about luck. Know your numbers and review them. At the end of the day, for most, an RTO is a business and is designed to make money. Even those that are not out to make money, still need to know their numbers to ensure whatever funding source is feeding them doesn’t dry up one day.
    Questions you should be asking; What is your cost per lead? Cost of acquisition? Profit per student? Percentage spent on marketing? etc etc.
  2. Know the climate and environment. How does the regulatory approach align with your current business practices? Do you have a systematic mindset? Does your team have a whole of business attitude where compliance isn’t one person’s job? Is there a shared understanding of the clients and industries needs so that everyone within the organisation can effectively input into the growth and sustainability of the business? The more you understand your business, the documents and processes that exist within your business, the better prepared you will be for any challenges that arise.
  3. Focus on what you are doing, not what the others are doing. I’m not saying don’t look at your competitors, but it’s too easy to get caught up with the concept of following the herd. Until you understand where the herd is going, you are following blindly. Too often we see within this industry, a race to the bottom in terms of pricing and course duration and newcomers follow because they want a piece of the action, only to find they are not making money. Make sure you have a plan, focus on your plan and amend as required. Make sure your team is on board.
  4. Keep the passion, park the ego and emotion. Passion is key to the success of any business and job. Without passion, little things become problems, resentment sets in and issues fester a lot quicker. Passion is what drives up and when we lose that passion, we either need to take a break and find it again or pivot and change the way we do things. I have pivoted my business countless times as I grew. From focusing on straight admin management in the early days, to countless startups and now my coaching programs. As I got bored, and wanted more, I reinvented myself to ensure the passion kept burning.

CAQA FAQ Series – Industry consultation

What is industry consultation in the RTO context?

It is a process in which the training representatives of a training organisation consult with representatives from the industry to determine whether they are using the most appropriate facilities, equipment, and resources for delivering the training, whether their trainers and assessors have the most up to date qualifications and skills, whether their training and assessment strategies, methods, technology, and training and assessment resources meet the needs of industry. The goal is to get an understanding of the best practices and resources available in the sector, as well as to modify those resources to better match the needs of that industry.

What do Clause 1.5 and Clause 1.6 say? Why does it state that the RTO’s training and assessment practices should be relevant to the needs of the industry and informed by industry engagement/ participation?

The training organisation in the vocational education and training sector delivers and assesses any training product to ensure that the learners are prepared to work in the industry or are better able to operate effectively in the industry after completing the training course. The training organisation must ensure all of their training and assessment practises, including identifying compliant RTO learner and assessment resources, all assessments meeting the principles of assessments and rules of evidence, and other applicable requirements; delivering training and assessments in a compliant manner to learners, including the skills and competencies of the trainers and assessors delivering and assessing the training; and participating in validation, contextualisation, customisation and all other activities related to the training and assessment, are in line with current methods, technology, products and performance expectations for the workplace tasks specified in the training package or VET accredited course and standards of registered training organisations.

Clause 1.6 states ‘a range of strategies’, what are those?

A range of strategies refers to various approaches and methods that a training organisation must employ in order to conduct industry consultations. The RTO must collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop appropriate contexts, methods, resources, and engage trainers and assessors in the delivery and administration of training and assessment practises. Consultation strategies can include a variety of methods such as face-to-face meetings, surveys, interviews, advisory committees, workplace visits, email exchanges, workshops, and other forms of engagement.

What you should discuss when you engage with the industry.

The requirements of Clause 1.6 clearly states what you must discuss. We have added a few examples of what the content of these discussions may include based on our audit experiences and industry best practice.

Training and Assessment Strategy:

i. Training and assessment strategy (TAS) for each training product for each learner cohort
ii. Choice of electives
iii. Pre-requisites
iv. Corequisites
v. Appropriate contexts and methods
vi. Delivery modes such as face to face, online, on the job, distance learning, blended mode of delivery
vii. Delivery schedule/order in which units should be delivered and assessed
viii. The needs of groups or individual learners such as reasonable adjustment in training delivery or assessment
ix. Meeting the needs of the training package or accredited training product
x. Specific admission requirements especially where the entry requirements are not included within the training package or accredited training product
xi. Required trainer and assessor competencies
xii. Assessment guidelines and qualification packaging rules
xiii. Assessment evidence requirements specified in the training products such as units of competency

Training and Assessment Practices

xiv. Regulations or laws governing the industry and/or standard operating procedures, equipment and machinery used at the enterprise level
xv. Aspects of the work environment (for example, shifts or seasonal changes to schedules) that will affect delivery and assessment
xvi. Employer preferences about the way in which a program is delivered
xvii. Facilities, equipment and supervision that will be available for work placements
xviii. How simulated work environments should be set up to reflect workplaces
xix. Advice on contextualising or adapting purchased assessment materials to suit workplace contexts.
xx. Validation practices
xxi. The length of a unit of competency

Training and Assessment Resources

xxii. Assessment resources
xiii. Learner resources
xxiv. Support staff or resources
xxv. Facilities
xxvi. Equipment
xxvii. Technology
xxviii. Simulated work environments
xxix. Agreements for the use of resources and facilities

Currency of industry skills of trainers and assessors

What changes should be implemented as a result of engagement with industry and employers?

A number of changes can be implemented as a result of engagement with industry and employers, such as:

  1. changes to training and assessment practices and resources based on advice from industry regulators about new regulatory requirements
  2. implementation of workplace visits for trainers and assessors to ensure currency of understanding about workplace practices, based on advice from employers.

Who are suitable industry representatives for industry engagement and consultation purposes?

People who work in team leadership, supervisory, or management positions and who have the ability to recruit others are the most appropriate industry representatives for industry engagement and consultation because they can provide the best advice in terms of:

a. the skills and competencies they seek in the learners
b. the quality of resources they are considering for
c. the quality of training and assessments they would use at their workplace.

Can you give some specific examples of suitable industry representatives for industry engagement and consultation purposes?

Suitable industry representatives can include:

  • Team leaders
  • Managers
  • Directors
  • Members of industry advisory committees
  • Work-based training providers
  • Training advisory bodies
  • Other relevant industry bodies
  • Ongoing networking with industry organisations, peak bodies, or employers
  • Enterprise RTOs
  • Unions
  • Licensing and regulatory bodies
  • Networks of relevant employers and industry representatives to participate in assessment validation
  • Exchange of knowledge, staff and resources with employers, networks and industry bodies.

How often do I need to do industry consultations and industry engagements?

Although there are no set timeframes or frequency requirements specified in the regulatory standards and guidelines, we recommend that you perform this process at least once or twice a year.

Industry consultation and engagement should be planned, scheduled, and conducted on a regular basis. Industry participation should be a regular part of the validation process and should be scheduled as part of the validation schedule. Evidence of current industry engagement, on the other hand, is necessary for the purpose of renewing a registration. Ideally, “currency” should be available within 12 months of the registration period.

When is industry consultation compulsory?

Industry consultation and engagement is compulsory if:

  • Your training organisation is adding a new training product to its scope of registration
  • The legislative or regulatory standards, guidelines or requirements change
  • The training product is superseded
  • A new training and assessment strategy is developed for a new learner cohort
  • On a regular basis using a range of strategies to meet the requirements of standards for registered training organisations

Can I do my industry consultation and engagement with another RTO? For example, I do their consultation, and they do mine.

The short answer according to our experience is “no”. The regulatory body expects training organisations to genuinely involve industry representatives (outside the training organisations, wherever possible) to participate in the industry engagement and consultation processes.

What is the rationale behind conducting industry engagement and consultation?

In order to benefit from industry engagement, it is necessary to understand what the information collected from this engagement will be used for and how it can assist the RTO. It will;

  • Assist in the development of training and assessment strategies
  • Help choose the most appropriate training and assessment materials, equipment, facilities and resources
  • Provide feedback on the RTO’s delivery of training and assessment,
  • Ensure that the RTO’s trainers and assessors have current industry knowledge and expertise.

Industry engagement helps to ensure that graduates have industry-relevant skills and knowledge and are able to apply them in the workplace which means that the training and assessment programs are industry-relevant.

Is there any template prepared and published by the regulatory bodies for industry engagement and consultation?

A template has been prepared and published by the regulatory body for accredited course application https://www.asqa.gov.au/course-accreditation/renew-course/stage-2-course-review-and-redevelopment you may find it useful to include some of the particulars in this template.

What are the documents that I need to demonstrate compliance to Clause 1.5 and Clause 1.6?

There is no prescribed forms or evidence mentioned in the standards. We recommend that you have regular ongoing communication with the industry and implement a system that can demonstrate how you engage (using a variety of methods) in order to systematically monitor your training and assessment strategies, resources, facilities, equipment, and practises to ensure ongoing compliance, as well as how you systematically evaluate and use the feedback received from the industry.


For more information, please call CAQA or email us at info@caqa.com.au.

Fact Sheet: Validation of assessment resources

Compliance requirements and guidelines:

This Fact Sheet has been developed and produced to assist Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in understanding the compliant validation practices as part of the learner resources to comply with a number of clauses of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015.


Clause 1.9

The RTO implements a plan for ongoing systematic validation of assessment practices and judgements that includes for each training product on the RTO’s scope of registration:

  1. when assessment validation will occur
  2. which training products will be the focus of the validation
  3. who will lead and participate in validation activities
  4. how the outcomes of these activities will be documented and acted upon.

Clause 1.10

For the purposes of clause 1.9, each training product is validated at least once every five years, with at least 50 per cent of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle, taking into account the relative risks of all of the training products on the RTO’s scope of registration, including those risks identified by the VET regulator.

Clause 1.11

For the purposes of clause 1.9, systematic validation of an RTO’s assessment practices and judgements is undertaken by one or more persons who are not directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment of the training product being validated, and who collectively have:

1. on or prior to 31 March 2019:

  1. vocational competencies and current industry skills relevant to the assessment being validated
  2. current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning
  3. the training and assessment credential specified in Item 1, or Item 2, or Item 4, or Item 5 of Schedule 1.

2. on or after 1 April 2019:

  1. vocational competencies and current industry skills relevant to the assessment being validated
  2. current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning
  3. the training and assessment credential specified in Item 2 or Item 5 of Schedule 1.

Industry experts may be involved in validation to ensure there is the combination of expertise set out in a) or b) above.

Source: https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.8-to-1.12


Interpretation of the regulatory requirements

This Fact Sheet outlines the requirements and responsibilities of registered training organisations (RTOs) for conducting compliant validation practices.

According to the Standards of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015, you are required to implement a quality review process (Clauses 1.8, 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11).

Clause 1.8a requires that the RTO’s assessment systems comply with the assessment requirements of the relevant training packages or VET accredited courses.

Clause 1.8b requires RTOs to ensure that the evidence gathered is valid (one of the Rules of Evidence) and that assessment processes and outcomes are valid (one of the Principles of Assessment).

These requirements must be met and demonstrated in all assessment policies, procedures, materials and tools of the RTO. Clause 1.8 primarily relates to the development (or purchase) of the RTO’s assessment resources.

Assessment validation has been strengthened in the Standards for RTOs and the requirement is to:

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for ongoing systematic validation of assessment that includes all training products on the RTO’s scope of delivery (Clause 1.9)
  • Validate the assessment practices and judgements for each training product at least once every five years with at least 50% of products to be validated within the first three years of each five-year cycle (Clause 1.10)
  • Ensure that validation is conducted by one or more suitably qualified persons, who are not directly involved in the delivery and/or assessment of the training product being validated. (Clause 1.11).
  • These clauses relate primarily to the actual delivery and outcomes of the RTO’s assessment systems, including the performance of the RTO’s assessors.

Important bits of information

 

Criteria Explanation Comments
Validate the assessment practices and judgements for each training product

 

Note: In order to completely (100%) validate a training product, what is the validation time frame?

Five years after the training product is initially listed on the national register or included in the scope of the RTO. It is an ongoing process and will renew after every five years if a training package is not being updated/superseded, or removed/deleted from the national register.
Validate the assessment practices and judgements for each training product

 

Note: In order to partially (50%) validate a training product, what is the validation time frame?

Three years after the training product is initially listed on the national register or included in the scope of the RTO. It is an ongoing process and will renew after every five years if a training package is not being updated/superseded, or removed/deleted from the national register.
Why do you need to do validation more frequently? (Best industry practice) If you identified that risk indicators exist for validation to occur more frequently. The risk indicators may include:

 

  • The use of new assessment tools;
  • Delivery of training products where safety is a concern;
  • The level and experience of the assessor;
  • Changes in technology, workplace processes, legislation, and licensing requirements;
  • Qualifications identified by the regulator as ‘high-risk’;
  • Assessment conducted under a third-party agreement;
  • The number of locations where assessment is conducted;
  • The number of students;
  • The mode of assessment such as RPL or on-line;
  • Feedback from clients, trainers and assessors; and

Audit and validation history

How many people do you need to conduct the validation? One or more suitably qualified persons, who are not directly involved in the delivery and/or assessment of the training product being validated.

 

If a team approach is used, the assessors who are directly involved in the assessments being validated may participate in the process, however, they cannot contribute to meeting the team requirements of Clause 1.11.

 

If an individual approach is used, validation must be undertaken by a person who meets all the requirements of Clause 1.11.

 

Validation is a collaborative process. The team must hold collectively:

  • Vocational competencies and current industry skills relevant to the assessment being validated
  • Current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning
  • The TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (or its successor) or the TAESS00001 Assessor Skills Set (or its successor).
  • Validators can be employees of your RTO, or you can seek external validators.

The trainer and assessor who delivered/assessed the training product being validated:

  • Can participate in the validation process as part of a team
  • Cannot conduct the validation on his/her own
  • Cannot determine the validation outcome for any assessment judgements they made
  • Cannot be the lead validator in the assessment team.
Do you need to keep the records of validation? It is important to keep the records of all validation activities and validators as auditors might ask for it during audit activities and for managing continuous improvement processes at an RTO. You need to keep for validators information for the following reasons:

  • To demonstrate that the RTO’s assessment system can consistently produce valid assessment judgements.
  • Validation is undertaken by one person or by a team of people. The RTO must ensure the review process is completed by people who collectively hold:
    • vocational competencies and current industry skills relevant to the assessment being validated
    • current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning, and
    • the TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (or its successor) or the TAESS00001 Assessor Skills Set (or its successor).
  • A regulatory body such as Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) may request evidence of it during audit activity.
Reasons why validation of assessment and learner resources should be systematic and ongoing. A unit of competency needs to be regularly reviewed to ensure that it meets current industry and regulatory requirements, therefore, you must have a systematic and ongoing mechanism to track any changes and to ensure all your resources are up-to-date and current.
How to schedule validation The first step is to develop a “validation schedule” used to validate each training product (AQF qualification, skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course and module) on your scope of registration.

A validation schedule is a five-year plan and each training product must be reviewed at least once in that five-year period, and at least 50% of your training products must be validated in the first three years of the schedule. Your RTO might choose to validate its training products more often, for example, if risk indicators demonstrate that more frequent validation is required. Indicators of risk might include:

  • the use of new assessment tools
  • delivery of training products where safety is a concern
  • the level and experience of the assessor, or
  • changes in technology, workplace processes, legislation, and licensing requirements.

Once you have your validation schedule you need to complete a validation plan with dates and timelines. The more detailed your plan is with regards to who (needs to be included), when (what date and for how long), and what (which units are being validated, what information will be needed, from where are we getting it) the better your outcomes for your validation will be.

It is important RTOs have a clear understanding of the terms being used before they commence developing assessment validation plans and schedules under Clauses 1.9 -1.11.

 

For example, in the context of the Standards for RTOs:

 

  1. What is a training product?

 

  1. What is the intent of assessment validation?

 

  1. What is a statistically valid sample?
What is statistically valid sampling? A statistically valid sample is one that is:

  • large enough that the validation outcomes of the sample can be applied to the entire set of judgements, and
  • taken randomly from the set of assessment judgements being considered.

Use ASQA’s validation sample size calculator for more information. It can be found here:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-publications/publications/fact-sheets/conducting-validation#validation-sample-size-calculator

Validation outcomes You must keep all records in a soft-copy/scanned format or in hard copy. The records must include all the tools used to conduct validation such as assessment resources, validation forms and checklists, profiles of validators etc.

 

The validation outcomes should identify recommendations for improvement to the assessment tool, assessment process or assessment outcome.

Sometimes the validation outcome can identify critical issues in the collection of valid evidence.

 

When this occurs, you may:

  • increase the validation sample size to assist in identifying patterns of issue
  • validate completed assessments from other units of competency to see if the issue is spread across the whole of the qualification, and
  • look for patterns of error (for example, consider if it is one assessor making invalid judgements—this could indicate the assessor requires further training in competency-based assessment).

 

Your validation plan must clarify how you will document and act on validation outcomes. For example, an assessment validation checklist addressing the principles of assessment and rules of evidence may be utilised to document the validation outcomes. Outcomes of validation may be acted upon through your RTO’s continuous improvement processes.

 

Your RTO must have a records management process to retain the evidence of the validation. You should retain evidence of:

  • the person/people leading and participating in the validation activities (including their qualifications, skills and knowledge)
  • the sample pool
  • the validation tools used
  • all assessment samples considered, and
  • the validation outcomes.

 

If the validation outcomes recommend improvements to the assessment tool, you should implement these recommendations across all training products, not only those included in the sample. If you make changes to the assessment tool, complete quality checks and review the revised tool prior to implementation.

During an audit, the auditors are looking for evidence that you have established a system that assures the quality of assessment in your RTO.

 

This will include:

 

  • having processes and tools that enable validation at all stages of the lifecycle of a training product in your organisation;
  • having a plan for validation that is implemented successfully in your organisation;
  • being able to demonstrate that you have managed who participates in the validation process;
  • being able to demonstrate that your assessors have made quality assessment decisions; and
  • your assessment practice has improved as a result of validation activities.

Description:

Validation is a process of checking the assessment tools, methods, judgements, evidence and processes to ensure that the training product meets:

  • ​Principles of Assessment – i.e. valid, reliable, flexible and fair
  • Rules of Evidence – i.e. valid, authentic, current and sufficient
  • The judgment made by the trainer/assessor is benchmarked with colleagues or industry experts
  • There is sufficient evidence to support the judgment of the trainer/assessor
  • Whether the requirements of the Training Package or accredited course have been met.

Typical benchmarks used during the validation process include:

  • National training packages which are developed by Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)/ Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and can be found on the training.gov.au website.
  • Units of competency consist of competency standards and need to be unpacked so that those validating the assessments can compare the actual competency against the tools being validated.
  • Industry standards and consultation will vary, and these standards form the basis of the skills and knowledge required to perform work roles.
  • AQF Guidelines and Framework
  • Information provided to candidates, assessors and third parties
  • Legislation relevant to the assessment such as privacy, health and safety, anti-discrimination, copyright law and so on.

Assessment system

Documents required for conducting an effective validation session, in the RTO’s assessment system, includes but is not limited to:

Validation related documents:

  • Validation plan
  • Validation schedule
  • Validation record or validation form
  • Validation register
  • Validation report form
  • Continuous improvement form
  • Continuous improvement register
  • Pre-assessment validation documents

Assessment resources:

  • Unit assessment pack/student pack
  • Trainer assessment pack/assessor pack
  • Mapping document
  • Assessment evidence according to a sample size

Other documents:

  • Training and assessment strategy
  • Feedback forms
  • Unit of competency
  • Companion volume/implementation guide
  • AQF framework
  • ACSF framework

You will be required to evaluate if the assessment resources meet:

  • Training package requirements (application, elements and performance criteria, foundation skills, performance evidence, knowledge evidence, assessment conditions)
  • Principles of assessment; fairness, flexibility, validity and reliability
  • Rules of evidence; valid, sufficient, authentic and current
  • The appropriate level of difficulties (AQF Level)
  • Provide sufficient and clear instructions
  • Record any appropriate adjustments

What should you consider?

There are a number of things that you must consider when planning the validation, they are:

  • The responsibilities of who is accountable for what should be discussed in detail.
    • Awareness of when a training product gets superseded, deleted or removed and their implications
    • The validation requirements applicable to each training product
  • Requirements for documentation
    • Having a compliant validation plan/validation register and validation schedule
    • Processes and tools used for validation at all stages of the lifecycle of a training product
    • Evidence of the suitability of individuals part of validation panel
    • How the assessment practices have been improved as a result of the validation activities

Should RTO consultants be regulated through a Government or professional body?

Training and education is a complex and vast subject. It is only prudent that we regulate this field to make sure that individuals who are part of it are providing advice and are doing what they claim they can do.

Training and education consultants seem like a dime a dozen these days. However, with the large numbers, there is less regulation of the quality of service offered by such professionals. This leads to poor consultancy services as well as individuals using this as an opportunity for exploitation.

A common misconception among consumers is that they can find out if somebody they are seeking advice from has any kind of qualification or not by searching for them online. The truth is, most unregulated individuals will not show up in searches. So it becomes even more important for Governments to regulate this profession because it serves as an opportunity for unethical individuals to prey on unsuspecting consumers.

Lack of regulation in the training and education industry has led to the exploitation of a number of clients by these so-called training and education consultants, RTO consultants, VET consultants, RTO experts or Auditors.

There are many people who work as consultants, but not all of them should be classified as “RTO experts” or “RTO consultants”. There are many people who provide services that look like training compliance support or audit support who are not qualified or experienced enough to do so.

Almost all other similar types of occupations are regulated in Australia so why not RTO experts and RTO consultants?

Benefits to regulating consultancy

The benefits of regulation are many.

Firstly, it means that businesses won’t have to worry about staying compliant with legal requirements as there will be clear guidelines and quality charters.

Secondly, this would give customers peace of mind knowing that the services provided by their consultant is legitimate, factual and compliant with industry regulatory standards and best practices.

It should also promote continued professional development for the RTO consultants.

Detailed client assistance and support charter

Regulating consultancy will protect consumers from being taken advantage of and a professionally qualified consultant will be able to provide high-quality services. The regulation would also provide a clearer and more transparent system for both clients and providers to understand how these services should be delivered.

Either a government or professional body could be the regulator and validate qualifications and enforce standards of behaviour for the consultants.

Interview with David Jepsen, Founder and Principal of RTO Accountants

With over 25 years’ experience as a practicing CA, David is the Founder and Principal of RTO Accountants. David started his career at KPMG, moving onto mid tier accounting firms and commercial roles with Citigroup, Zurich, CBA and others in Sydney and London before setting up an accounting practice in 2001. Offering commercial and practical advice, David believes the foundation for business success is built upon strong, trusted and lasting client partnerships.

David is commercially minded and works collaboratively with clients to develop strategies and solutions for complex business challenges. Having worked in accounting firms as well as public and private businesses, David has a breadth of experience in accounting, taxation, business advisory, financial control/CFO roles, ensuring his clients receive top-level, expert advice.

Specialising in the VET/CRICOS/ELICOS sector since 2016, he has extensive experience working with RTO’s. Specific areas of experience include sales due diligence work, tax advice on sales and other, business group structuring, board reporting, financial viability risk assessment requirements (FVRAR) and business advice.

David loves his sport and played rugby for many years, he still follows the game at all levels from club to international closely. He now enjoys getting outdoors all year round to train and compete in kayak races.


Sukh Sandhu: How long have you been assisting RTOs with financial viability risk assessments, and what has your overall experience been like in this field?

David Jepsen: We have been working with RTO’s since 2014 and financial viabilities from 2018, which was just prior to the introduction of the version of the FVRA Tool we still work with now. The FVRA Requirements were very basic and the introduction of the new requirements in 2018, was like moving from 2 to 9 out of 10 in terms of financial reporting complexity. The sector was not accustomed to this level of financial reporting; I still see issues with that, though I think the sector is getting accustomed to this and the need for this.

The FVRAR and its Tool are complex; as qualified accountants it took us many hours and late nights to get our heads around it and learn its nuances, this is a process for us that never stops.

Sukh Sandhu: What are the five most common mistakes people make when completing the financial viability risk assessment packs, and how can they be avoided?

David Jepsen: I will start with saying we have an initial meeting with clients prior to them starting work on financials and we prepare the Tool for our clients to avoid these mistakes. The client owns and knows the RTO and its plan, though we address and guide our clients on our area of specialisation early to make the process effective and simple for the client.

1. Business Plan or other information available to ASQA contradicts the FVRA Tool.

Solution (S): Get your signing accountant to review the business plan and directors be mindful to understand if changes in the forecast affect other documents.

2. Over emphasis on the bank balance to prove viability.

Solution (S): Provide a financial guarantee and evidence of available liquid assets to fund the RTO; proving the RTO has access to funds. Funds can easily and quickly be deposited or withdrawn from an account.

3. Over optimistic forecasting; higher revenues and lower costs to make the RTO more profitable.

Solution (S): be realistic, even conservative and consider all costs and choose a mid range of student numbers and not the best scenario. Business start ups are rarely profitable and take time to grow and make a profit; accountants and auditors are aware of this.

4. Incorrect and incomplete Tools; the various sheets do not reconcile and/or are not completed correctly; leads to a Tool with a red light and automatic rejection.

Solution (S): We only see these issues when the tool is done by the director’s or another advisor and RTO Accountants are brought into review. Working with an accounting firm experienced with the Tool is the solution, alternatively spend a lot of time and hopefully get it correct.

There is a lot to consider including future, actual, historical financial and operational information that reconciles. Forecasting the balance sheet and cash flow in software and not excel. Accurate financial reporting of this complexity is difficult even for qualified accountants using specialised forecasting software.

5. Forecasting Accuracy

Solution (S): It is a forecast of the future, no matter what you do it will not be 100% correct; consider all the information currently available to you and find a comfortable balance in the level of detail, we can guide you.

Sukh Sandhu: We understand that you also assist organisations with the selling and purchase of RTOs; could you perhaps elaborate a little more for our subscribers?

David Jepsen: For sellers we can help to clarify or prove the value of your RTO via forecasting and a valuation of the RTO. We can provide a report on this that improves the sale process for you; attracting more buyers and a higher price as you are able to articulate the RTO value via this document and discussions. The report can be presented to brokers and potential buyers.

For buyers it is usually Due Diligence (DD) work on the RTO you are considering acquiring. The potential scope of Due Diligence work is very broad as its ultimate objective is to ensure the RTO financial position is as the seller’s state in their financials; the process is like a financial audit. We want to check that you are buying the RTO you think you are. The scope of work is discussed and decided with the client and can change through the process. Many buyers don’t undertake DD as it is a cost that may be large compared to the purchase price; the potential consequences and costs of not undertaking DD when you purchase a RTO can be much larger than the purchase value as the buyer inherits the past of the RTO including any compliance, legal and financial issues, and risks. Our DD findings have saved clients millions. There are many examples including:

  • A $200k RTO purchase we discovered that the RTO had not paid tax or GST for years and the new owners would be responsible for the $150k; the buyers purchase cost is doubled once penalties are included
  • In another DD the RTO was accounting for training revenue on a cash basis prior to training delivery and therefore it looked more profitable than it was. Once discovered the sale price was renegotiated from $1m to $750k; $250k savings.

DD work prior to the purchase is more effective than resolving via enforcement of the share sale contract post sale. Enforcement of the share agreement is difficult and includes directors time, court costs and an unknown outcome. Our due diligence work is focussed on the financials, and we work with other specialists on the DD. Engaging RTO specialist lawyers and consultants should be considered.

DD can also be done for sellers, though is less common. It is more likely to happen if the seller is relying on the new owner’s performance; for example, if the sale includes an ‘earn out’ whereby the sale proceeds will depend on the performance post change of ownership, you want to ensure the buyer will keep the RTO profitable.

Sukh Sandhu: What are the most significant financial risks that training organisations face in today’s environment?

David Jepsen: It depends on the RTO of course, though broadly speaking COVID still looms large for me as a risk to business and the economy for some time, I hope we have seen the worst of it. The last 18 months turned out better than many RTO’s envisaged as they cut costs, received Government support for their business and education became an economic priority and recovery plan that has led to funding of training. I know many colleges have not been so lucky, especially those exposed to international students.

General Government support of the economy, such as Jobkeeper, Jobsaver and disaster payments will be withdrawn and that may also pose risks to the economy and perhaps then student expenditure on courses.

From history we know that funding of training can be withdrawn quickly and that is a risk that directors should remain aware of and have plans in place for.

The regulator has been subdued in its compliance actions since January 2020 and I think that may change as they start to conduct monitoring reviews on inactive or suspected non-compliant RTO’s.

Management and understanding of the RTO operations and financial position, to ensure that you are making a profit and are cash flow positive in the medium to long term. There can be a race to the bottom in reducing student fees against competitors and you need to ensure the fees you are charging will cover your operations and provide the owners with a return on their investment.

Sukh Sandhu: When it comes to working with the national regulatory authority, how has your experience been?

David Jepsen: I have had meetings with the regulator on the FVRAR; that took a little time to organise though they were productive meetings.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) attendance to defend a client’s financial viability against the regulators legal team and forensic accountants. The outcome for the client was favourable, though being questioned by a legal team is never too much fun, though it was challenging and satisfying to explain the financials in that environment.

Recently the regulator seems more communicative and proactive regarding its role and how they will undertake that role, hopefully we will see this in its actions going forward.

Sukh Sandhu: Are there any suggestions you would like to offer to people who are interested in getting into the RTO industry?

David Jepsen: It is a regulated sector as education is a matter of public interest and therefore there will be scrutiny on your affairs and how you intend to operate your business and maintain financial viability. This level of scrutiny will mean setup takes more time and costs more. Most sectors do not have this scrutiny; though writing a business plan and a financial forecast would help all start-up businesses and deter those not ready for the responsibilities of running a business.

Buyers of an RTO business need to get to know the sector and do your due diligence. Training is a happy and positive sector, the conferences are enjoyable, the people involved care about their students/clients.

As the accountant I have to say businesses have a responsibility to society, their clients, staff, suppliers, and other counterparts. For all the efforts and stress please ensure you make a decent return out of it. Understand your financials, risks and what you are making from the business, get regular reporting not just once a year.


For those who wish to connect with or follow David Jepsen, you can do so via his Linkedin, here – www.linkedin.com/in/david-jepsen

Interview with Peter Doukas – Managing Director, Denison Toyer Education Lawyers

Peter owns and operates Sydney based education law firm Denison Toyer.

Working in the field of Education Law and Corporate Governance since 2007 Peter has acted for over one hundred Registered Training Organisations and Higher Education Providers in various stages of the education management cycle. He routinely acts for colleges in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and provides extensive advice to RTO Management, Higher Education providers, Educational Conglomerates and Universities. His professional practice also includes providing legal and governance advice to listed and unlisted company boards. He has acted in some of the largest cases involving ASQA in the AAT.

Peter is also active in the multicultural space and acts as a volunteer director on various boards. He is the current chair of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW. He also works providing pro-bono legal assistance to new and emerging communities, particularly in the establishment of associations and governance structures within NSW.

Peter was awarded Honour of Member of the Order of Australia for services to Multiculturalism on Australia Day 2020.


Here is a copy of Peter Doukas’s interview with Sukh Sandhu:

Thank you, Sukh for the opportunity to be part of the publication. I think it is exceptional that you have maintained the publication throughout the COVID period and it is in my view has never been a more critical time in the history of VET to properly liaise with the sector in all its shapes and sizes and the publication does this.

What are the top five genuine reasons for a regulatory body to take strict action against a training provider?

This is an interesting question. The word ‘genuine’ is something that has troubled representatives in the profession and around the sector for the last 10 years. What constitutes a genuine problem or a genuine reason for a regulatory body (any regulatory body) to take strict action against the Training Provider. The unique example of VET is one which we should bear in mind moving forward as it is the current question before us. In my view, strict action including sanctions should be the last resort. By sanction I mean the sanction of either cancellation, suspension or any other form of sanction which directly affects the ability of the organisation to trade. In my view, there are a number of items where such strict action should be taken. These include but are not limited to:

  • Criminal conduct by the Provider
  • Conduct that is not criminal but unlawful such as breaching the provisions of the NVR Act. If it is proven however to a criminal standard.
  • The use of the VET framework to further commercial interests. It has occurred routinely that I have seen individuals (either Providers and non Providers) use the mere fact of the highly regulated VET environment to further their commercial interests when pursuing them against an RTO.
  • When there are examples of mistreatment of students. This is an extension to the student centred approach that ASQA has taken in the recent past in which in my view students and their experience while studying in our VET Sector should be prioritised above all else.

When should RTO representatives seek the advice of a legal professional?

The question of when a RTO representative should engage a legal professional has plagued me for some time. I have too often been brought into cases that have been run or attempted to be run by Providers without the involvement of a lawyer. This ends up costing Providers exponentially more and in some cases the problems are too large to fix before a sanction either takes effect or can possibly be unwound. In my view is prudent for an RTO to permanently retain (this does not need to be on a financial basis) a lawyer or law firm for the sole purpose of providing legal advice. If you have a lawyer ‘on the books’ it would make the function of dealing with sanctions or any inquiries from the regulator more easy. We must remember, the VET Sector is a highly regulated environment and a VET Provider particularly a CRICOS Provider operates in the framework of multiple interlocking contracts, agreements and regulatory requirements. The idea that RTOs could go along without having legal advice outside of leasing and other contracts on an Ad-hoc basis is not realistic. For larger Providers I strongly recommend the establishment of a Board of Directors of which a retained lawyer and compliance expert sit as advisors to this Board (not necessarily Directors) but provide routine advice on compliance and on structures of the business of VET delivery.

This question is an extension to the previous question, in what ways can a legal practitioner, such as yourself, assist an RTO who is experiencing a legal problem with the regulatory body?

To answer the question about how a lawyer can address the problem facing a regulatory body or facing a registered training organisation is not as appropriate in my view as to when to involve that person. We in this Sector operate in a very unique regulatory framework. ASQA as a regulator has to face Providers which for the most part try to do the right thing but often find themselves on the wrong side of regulation or audits. I have seen on many occasions legal practitioners in some cases from very large firms find themselves completely out of their depth with regards to the implementation of the NVR Act and audit reports as part of regulatory functions. I have noticed the impact of regulatory decisions that have been taken by the regulator not being properly addressed either due to fellow practitioners not fully understanding the way the NVR Act works nor the way that AAT matters should be run. AAT litigation in the RTO space is unique and is very rarely dealt with by legal practitioners operating outside of the RTO space. There are a number of lawyers in Australia who have experience in these matters and I would encourage RTO owners to seek out lawyers who actually have acted in the AAT and ideally brought a matter to final hearing. It is not enough to simply ask a lawyer when shopping around ‘have you taken an RTO to the AAT?’. The real questions that need to be asked is whether:

  • The lawyer has taken a matter to final hearing
  • They have run a contested stay application; and
  • They have conciliated an outcome to the benefit of the RTO.

As you would have noticed, there was a time when RTOs were being cancelled left, right, and centre for trivial reasons that had no or little influence on students. Do you still witness the same pattern, or have the processes been improved?

I think the Regulator’s processes have improved dramatically in the last 18 months. In my view, the Regulator has made a genuine attempt to engage with the Sector and have as an outcome a collaborative and collegiate system of compliance and regulation. Also, it must be said that there were quite a few more RTOs at the beginning of 2018 than there are today. This can partly be due to the cancellation of many in between 2018 and 2019 and also of course a result of the impacts of COVID-19. In 2018 and for most of 2019 I remember running at least one stay hearing each week. This was a time when RTOs were being shut or sanctioned as a result of audit reports that didn’t really hit the mark. There are a number of factors I believe that have changed this. Some of which include some significant wins for RTOs and in final hearing before the AAT,other factors involve the change in perspective from ASQA to a more collaborative model of compliance. I think it can be said generally that the RTO space we are going into in 2022 is fundamentally different from the RTO space that we had in 2019. I am excited at how the Sector will look because I think that we now have a Regulator who can see the value of a competitive, compliant but confident VET Sector that isn’t always looking over its shoulder.

What are the primary reasons for the departure of so many people from the vocational education and training industry?

The departure of people from the Vocational Industry I believe will be reflected as one of the most dramatic and problematic events in Australian commercial history. I have a colleague who is looking to conduct a PhD in Vocational Education and is unable to find a supervisor. It is the case that people have left the VET Sector and found opportunities elsewhere for many reasons, but central is the lack of focus that has been placed at the sector at a policy level. RTO owners shutting or selling their RTO’s tell me that they have lost faith or lost confidence in the Sector. I have worked tirelessly to try to convince people to remain within the Sector and either keep their colleges open or at least keep themselves in the space in some way. I believe that we are about to embark on a significant period of growth in VET and we need as many experienced operators as possible. This is due in part to the combination of a skills shortage in Australia and the gradual opening of our borders to international students.

Any legal advice you’d want to share with people who are interested in entering into the RTO industry or who are currently operating in the industry would be greatly appreciated.

My view is that VET is about to take off. Unfortunately, I am looking to the government to support the Sector and support the entrance of people into the Sector. When I say government, I do not mean the Regulator but education policymakers in Canberra. We need to remember that international education is either our second or third largest export market depending on the context. Could you imagine what would occur if mining in Australia had experienced the nearly 30 per cent decline in people working in the Industry? This is VET since 2019. I believe government should look both into the push and pull factors affecting how people engage with the Sector. They have certainly addressed the push factors by the reforms of the Regulator and I think that now finally ASQA has the framework of a forward-thinking and flexible Regulator in a competitive international market which can finally be compared to Regulators in other Anglosphere jurisdictions such as Canada, New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

As to the pull factors, I believe that we really need to focus on trainers and RTO owners. These are the people who dedicate huge chunks of their life to the training of VET Students and it is these people who need our support and credit in what I hope will be a re-emergence of our VET Sector.


For those who wish to connect with or follow Peter Doukas, you can do so via his Linkedin, here – www.linkedin.com/in/peter-doukas/

Compliance and regulatory requirements to use video evidence

Video evidence can be used to support learning in a variety of contexts. It is becoming an essential tool for trainers/assessors and RTO administrators in order to achieve compliance with regulatory requirements.

The use of video evidence has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years. It is now being used in classrooms, practical assessments, institutional assessment, licensing, accreditation, assessment centres, distance education settings and more.

The three main benefits of using video are that it is able to capture all learning opportunities, provide evidence in a specific situation, and be time-efficient.

When assessing student achievement, video evidence is one of the types of proof that can be relied upon without question. RTOs can also benefit from video evidence in a number of other ways, including the following:

  1. One of the best ways to demonstrate competency: Video evidence is often used when the trainers/assessors need reliable evidence that students have achieved the skills they need to successfully complete a unit of competency. This allows trainers/assessors to focus on training rather than documenting what students have already learned through written assessments or formative tests.
  2. Demonstrates authenticity: It demonstrates that the student is in fact the student who is completing the assessment;
  3. Make the assessment process easier and effective: Videos may be simply uploaded into the LMS so that the examiner can see them at any time and from any location.
  4. Improve learner’s engagement: It can be used to improve learner’s engagement with the curriculum through creating content that fits their needs and interests. This is one of the best ways to provide evidence that the learner is engaged with the learning processes.
  5. A good teaching tool: It also enables students to see how they learn best and what areas need more practice. When learners watch their performance on videos repeatedly, they begin to understand what they are doing correctly and where they need to improve their skills. Trainers and assessors can provide a more appropriate resource for students with diverse learning styles through videos. Videos provide a way for trainers and assessors to show their learners what they did during class time and how they can improve on their learning. Learners also get to watch how other people successfully complete the course material or demonstrate their competency in a task or unit of competency.

Video can be challenging, but many online learning platforms offer tools like annotation to help learners produce high-quality content for their formative and summative assessments.

Are you aware of the compliance and regulatory requirements to use the Video Evidence?

The use of videos as evidence for compliance and regulatory requirements is rising with the increase in the adoption of online learning. In order to use videos as evidence, training organisations have to have a process in place and make sure that they comply with regulatory requirements.

There are a number of legal, regulatory and ethical requirements that you must know, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Privacy and confidentiality requirements – Privacy and confidentiality requirements are important when having video evidence from learners in the classroom or outside the classroom. Who else is part of the video, do learners and training organisations have permission to have these people in video in writing? Where is this video filmed? Is it breaching any privacy and confidentiality clauses?
  2. Permission to use the video material – You must seek permission from your learners before you use their photos or videos or anything related to them (including their personal details) on any of your marketing materials, materials that can be accessed by you or your trainers and assessors or any third party. One of the best ways to achieve this is through a question on your enrolment form, where if they have any objections, they can tick or untick a checkbox and you can have further discussions with them related to this matter.
  3. Data protection: In order to keep our learners safe, we should understand the importance of data protection and the compliance requirements that apply to video evidence from learners. Data protection requirements provide guidelines on how, where, why the learners’ personal data is stored, used and for how long?
  4. Unlawful surveillance: This includes not violating wiretap law, not infringing on any individual’s privacy rights, not being involved in any illegal activity while using video evidence and so on.
  5. Preventing misuse of the assessment materials: The training organisation must ensure that the purposes of using the assessment evidence are clearly mentioned and this evidence is not used for any other purposes.
  6. Ensuring the video has not been edited: One challenge with the use of video in training and education is accuracy in assessing learner performance. While this may be difficult because videos can be edited, many still think that videos are not reliable enough to assess learner progress accurately.
  7. Compliance with internal policies and procedures framework: It is important for training organisations to adopt a comprehensive approach to managing their video evidence, including policies, processes, governance models, and technology solutions that support compliance.
  8. Copyright and intellectual property rights: Who has these rights? What are the rights of learners for their assessment evidence? What are the rights of the training organisations for this assessment evidence?

So, what systems, processes, practices do you have in place to ensure you comply with all these requirements? If you need assistance setting up compliant evidence-gathering procedures and practices, please do not hesitate to contact CAQA today.


 

CAQA Online forums, CAQA Info for maintaining your compliance and regulatory knowledge

CAQA Online forums provide information for RTO professionals. The purpose of the forums is to support compliance and regulatory knowledge with the help of other professionals in the field.

Some of the benefits of subscribing to our online forums are that it provides access to knowledge sharing and networking opportunities among peers in the vocational education and training industry. You can also get information on what’s new in the industry through the online community.

The following is an example of how discussions in CAQA online forums can help:

When you are looking for answers to questions on topics like compliance, regulation, red tape etc., you can search for them on online forums or look at similar threads on different platforms. The best part is that all these discussions are available to a number of VET experts so you will get answers from real people rather than bots or system-generated answers!

The other benefits include:

-Receive timely notifications when important information is posted.
-Get access to exclusive content and offers from the sponsors and members of the forum.
-Post comments and create discussions with other members in order to build your knowledge base and stay current with current trends in the industry.

So, again, why not subscribe? Online forums provide an opportunity for you to stay up-to-date with the latest compliance and regulatory news. It also ensures that you make use of your knowledge by discussing different topics with other professionals in real-time.

To access CAQA Online Forums, please visit http://www.caqa.info

Interview – Andrew Shea – CEO, Builders Academy Australia

Andrew is an educational and business professional and known intrapreneur who specialises in leading high performing teams, optimising business processes and quality assurance and compliance frameworks. He is a proven transformational leader and has successfully fulfilled managerial and leadership positions across a range of industries.

Areas of specialisation include:

♦ C-Suite executive across ASX and non-ASX businesses
♦ Experienced Chair
♦ Conference speaker
♦ Governance, audit and risk specialist
♦ Not for Profit Board member
♦ Business improvement and compliance advisor
♦ Tertiary Education digital marketing advisor

Over the last 15 years, Andrew has managed and/or consulted with a number some of Australia’s best known Registered Training Organisation’s. As a teacher by trade, he for has personally delivered training and coaching sessions to over 2000 individuals over this time.

In addition to his organisation development and leadership capabilities, Andrew is well recognised in relation to his instructional design and course development capabilities having developed high quality training and assessment materials in the fields of Hospitality, Security, OH&S, Construction, Training and Assessment, Business Management and Leadership.

Andrew has a thorough knowledge of both challenges experienced by training organisations and also industry best practice having led a number of award winning training providers.


1. When it comes to your work as the Chief Executive Officer of two Registered Training Organisation’s that have been recognised with multiple awards, what lessons are there for other providers in what you have learnt in your role?

I am really proud of the recognition that our team at Builders Academy Australia and CWBTS has received across a number of years including being recognised multiple times as the Victorian Training Provider of the Year, NSW finalist for Training Provider of the Year, and last year as the Australian Small Training Provider of the Year at the Australian Training Awards.
Despite our growth and recognition for innovation, quality and great outcomes, we have not necessarily focussed on building our business, but instead on building the capacity of our people, and in-turn, our fantastic team has then helped to grow our business and help more students across Australia through embedding innovative practice whilst maintaining quality outcomes.
We are pleased that we have been able to sustain quality outcomes for our students and employer partners for a number of years, despite the challenges from Covid-19 restrictions and these outcomes have been supported by maintaining a deep understanding of who our students are, the motivations they have towards completing their studies, and embedding industry engagement, and current and future industry skills into all content that we deliver. Through utilisation virtual reality and 3-d walkthroughs of actual building sites as part of our virtual classroom delivery model, we were able to continue to support students despite Covid-19 related limitations for periods.

My team has been proud to showcase that a focus on people, while being a for profit organisation, are not mutually exclusive measures of success in the training system. In 2020/2021, our agile business model, responsive staff and well-developed virtual learning platform has meant that not a single student has missed a training session due to COVID-19. Even the most kinaesthetic of learners has benefitted because of our real commitment to replicating on-site experience, student success and quality outcomes.

I think that maintaining a focus on what industry needs, and reverse engineering our learning and assessment strategies around how we can best support students to achieve those outcomes has had us well placed. We also deeply respect the impact we can have outside of the formal learning environment and dedicate much focus on initiatives such as diversity across the building and construction sector, supporting disengaged youth towards employment opportunities, men’s mental health awareness initiatives and reducing homeliness across our community.

We are as proud of our involvement in these areas as all other achievements and our genuineness in this focus, I believe, is respected and appreciated by both our fantastic staff, students and business partners.

2. You personally have also been recognised for your leadership in your organisation and across the sector with multiple awards such as the Professionals Services and Educational Executive of the Year at the CEO Awards. What lesson have you learnt about the importance of strong leadership in our sector?

In the 6 years I have been in my current role, and my previous senior executive roles, I have focussed on embedding a values-based culture that invests in student success – with enthusiastic staff, robust systems and innovative platforms.

I believe in a human-centric leadership approach and have attempted to build a culture of trust within my team, with a clear vision, and regular and open communication that drives greater empathy among employees and overall improves performance across the divisions of the business. This was particularly important during the uncertain periods that Covid-19 resulted in.

This focus flows through to the relationships we have with our students, as we ensure that we engage personally with people as individuals, utilise stories and marketing as tools for transformation, and engage actively in the macro-level conversations of our industry and the broader VET sector. This collectively shapes our delivery and development, which leads to outstanding outcomes and career pathways for a diverse range of students and staff.

I am a passionate ambassador for the VET sector and am proud to be part of a sector with such dedicated professionals who focus on helping students achieve their learning and career ambitions.

Over the previous 17 years, I have worked across public (TAFE), enterprise and independent training organisations, holding Senior Management and Executive level positions, delivering across diverse cohorts including to domestic students, onshore to international students and offshore to international students. This is a sector that I believe is integral to Australia being able to meet its current and future skilled labour requirements and maintain efficient and productive workplaces.

It is a sector that I look forward to continuing to take part in and positively impact for many years to come.

3. Could you briefly elaborate on your role and responsibilities at ITECA as well as how ITECA is assisting the RTO industry?

I have been actively involved with the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) (previously the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET)) over the last 12 years, and I am pleased to have been able to play a role supporting the Peak body for independent tertiary education providers.

With ITECA, I am proud to be currently a Non-Executive Director and Board member, as well as Chair of the National VET Steering Group, Chair of the Governance Committee and Chair of the Victorian State Community. ITECA is supported by a strong executive team, highly respected Board members, and passionate VET professionals who represent strongly on State and National Committees.

With Independent tertiary education providers delivering the majority of training across Australia, ITECA plays such an important role as a strong voice representing the interests of its members, as well as the broader independent sector. This representation and the community of practice that ITECA has created has become even more important over the last 18 months where a range of providers have faced significant challenges aligned with Covid-19 restrictions.

The role of Peak Bodies such as ITECA is integral through the functions they complete including research, policy development, advice to government and sector advocacy and representation. ITECA plays an important role in championing the great outcomes being achieved by independent provides across Australia, and through research papers such as their ‘State of the Sector Report’, they help to ensure that government policy is, as much as possible, aligned with real outcomes and data rather than more ideological reasoning.

Whether it being with ITECA, other Peak Bodies or industry associations, I would recommend to all that they look to join and become active in helping to drive positive changes for our sector.

4. You are one of the very few recognised quality industry experts and leaders that we have in Australia, so how has your experience been working with the regulatory body ASQA to assist them in the transition process that they are currently undergoing?

I think that we have a range of quality representatives and consultants in Australia who add much value across the sector.

My pathway towards becoming a CEO is one that is potentially unconventional for our sector having followed a pathway from training delivery, into Training Management, into managing Resource Development and Curriculum Design, into Quality Assurance and Compliance Management and then as a VET Quality Consultant across public and independent providers.

I do remember speaking at a conference many years ago and being introduced as one of Australia’s first Compliance CEO’s which to me seemed a strange thing to be noted due to how highly regulated our sector is and the significant importance of a CEO being intrinsically involved in ensuring quality and compliance across their organisations.

I have always seen a strong focus on quality and compliance in our sector as a business enabler and to this stage of my career I believe the investment into understanding the VET landscape including all aspects of regulation and compliance has been highly beneficial in my role as CEO as well as someone who often speaks at industry events and conferences, with a focus on providing helpful guidance to others in our sector.

I believe that a short number of years ago, the disconnect between the National Regulator and the regulated community was something unhealthy for our sector and the uncertainty for RTO’s on what they could expect at audit and how to ensure their own operations where compliant with respect to each aspect of the Standards was to the detriment of our sectors reputation.

With significant changes to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to adapt its culture and relationship with the sector, including a move away from their previous audit model to a performance assessment framework, I think that genuine change has been occurring and across a number of areas the rubber has been genuinely hitting the road.

I was pleased to be appointed to the ASQA Stakeholder Liaison Group (SLG) and I have been impressed about ASQA’s openness to take on feedback from members of the SLG, using this feedback to update key documents including their Corporate Plan and Regulatory Model to reference areas such as the importance of education and consistency in audit activity and outcomes.

One of the significant changes that ASQA has implemented has been its launched educative function which I believe has added great value to RTO’s in understanding their obligations, as well as hearing from industry representatives on how they implement best practice in their own organisations.

I have been glad to be able to work with others to positively support ASQA’s launching of this educative function, and their initial content production, having taken part myself in 6 education sessions so far covering topics such as regulatory practice, audit expectations, online education quality and compliance expectations and trainer capability.

I look forward to further ASQA webinar sessions over the coming months where I will be presenting on teacher/trainer capability and the upcoming review of the TAE Training Package.
All involvement in these groups, working committees and conferences I speak at, I do unpaid, and volunteer my time in order to positively support the VET sector.

5. You are Chair of the Education Industry Reference Committee and the Foundation Skills Industry Reference Committee through PWC – Skills for Australia, what changes to Training Packages can we expect to see over the coming period.

I was humbled to be nominated by my peers as Chair of these IRC’s that have such high quality and respected VET sector representatives on them. I don’t take lightly the importance of getting Training Packages right for training providers, students and the industries which employ graduates, and this will be particularly the case for an upcoming new version of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

The Industry Reference Committee has on three previous occasions requested to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), that a review of the TAE Training Package take place to ensure that any disconnects with industry needs can be addressed. It has been the view of the IRC for an extended period that the Training Package does not fully address modern workforce needs including the Certificate IV’s insufficient flexibility regarding packaging rules.

Pleasingly, the AISC has now approved the review, and redevelopment can take place and the IRC is looking forward to receiving robust feedback from providers to ensure that improvements can be made.

The review itself will take part in two stages, with an initial e-learning and e-assessment development project to be completed by December in 2021, and a full review of all qualifications within the TAE Training Package to be completed by late November 2022.

One important point is that it will be the strong recommendation of the IRC, that any new version of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, be recognised as the successor to the current (under clause 1.14 / 1.15 in the Standards for RTO’s) so that the current workforce who hold the TAE40116 will not be required to upgrade their qualifications.

I have already delivered a number of webinars on these topics and for those who wish to take part in helping with the review and redevelopment I would encourage to go to the PWC – Skills for Australia website and sign up for their newsletter which will provide information on upcoming sessions and working groups. Readers are also welcome to follow me on Linkedin where I will be sharing updates on the project.

6. What are your opinions on all of the changes that will occur in the VET sector in the near future, including the new regulatory framework, the new TAE certificate, the new AQF framework, the cessation of ISCs and SSOs, the redesign of units of competency, and everything else that will occur?

In 2020, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) released a research paper identifying that the VET workforce includes some 246,000 representatives with another 177,000 who work in volunteer roles. I think the significance of our sector, and its importance in helping Australia meet its current and future labour needs can’t be understated.

There are a number of VET Quality Reforms underway at present, with a focus on ensuring that our sector is fit for purpose and is regulated and supported in a way that will help achieve the outcomes required.

In addition to a current review of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations that is underway, earlier this year, Skills Ministers agreed to establish new industry-based clusters (Industry Clusters) with broad roles and responsibilities for skills and workforce development by December 2022. Industry Clusters will replace Industry Reference Committees (IRCs), Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and Skills Organisation Pilots (SOs).

The establishment of Industry Clusters is intended to enhance the role of industry in the national training system with a broader role and greater accountability to industry.

I am part of a number of consultations on this review activity through the different hats that I wear, and in each I do raise my concerns regarding the potential to not intrinsically involve Registered Training Organization’s as part of the process of Training Package design and implementation. I think to not do so, is not only disrespectful to a sector that employs or engages a workforce of over 400,000, but would also be counter-intuitive to achieving positive outcomes that draw on the knowledge from strong relationships that RTO’s have with the industries they help serve with graduates.

With the approved review of the TAE Training Package now underway, I was pleased that aligning with this a TAE Strategic Advisory Committee has been established with myself being an invited member. This Committee will act as a sounding board for the Education IRC throughout the TAE Training Package re-development project, with the key goal of ensuring appropriate linkages between the review and broader VET workforce policy and regulatory directions and settings.

This will allow for input on topics such as clauses 1.17 to 1.20 within the Standards for RTO’s to ensure that the Standards continue to allow for the provision of supervision of trainers where needed, even where the standards and training package may be updated, with an additional skill set that may be agreed to be recognised under this clause being developed.

7. I clearly remember that we first spoke in 2010 when you were the CEO of a different training organisation and I was a Director of Studies somewhere else; what do you believe has changed in the VET sector in the last 10-11 years and what do you believe we will see over the coming years?

I have enjoyed seeing your journey as a highly respected VET sector representative, and it does feel like a long time since then.

It is important to remember the significant role our sector plays in supporting Australian workforces with our VET sector made up of over 3500 registered training organisations (RTOs) delivering nationally recognised VET, and a number more delivering micro-credentials and non-accredited training. In 2020, 3.9 million students were enrolled in nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) despite challenges faced over the period including a significant reduction in international students.

Increased and inconsistent regulatory activity; reduced and/or inconsistent State and Federal investment into the sector; changes to visa and related conditions for international students; and delivery impacts caused by Covid-19 restrictions have all challenged providers in their continued support of student learning outcomes and this has seen a significant reduction in training provider numbers over the last decade.

I think that our sector has also taken a number of years to recover from the reputational damage caused by a small number of unscrupulous providers related to the use of VET-FEE Help who took advantaged or a poorly structured and regulated scheme.

Despite this, the very large majority of training providers of all types, continue their focus on student centric, high quality delivery and student and employer satisfaction rates continue to show that largely positive outcomes continue to be achieved throughout the sector.

I think what we will see over the coming years is a much greater focus on collaboration, and organisations either working as part of a consortium or as a minimum as part of a strong community of practice. This will support the sharing of ideas, and quality practices across organisations, and make benchmarking easier for the betterment of all. Consultants also play an important role in conducting reviews across an RTO’s operations and giving insight into best practice and innovation they have seen in other areas of the sector.

I think that the importance of RTO’s being part of their Peak Bodies, or other quality and practitioner networks will continue to increase, and, in a post Covid-19 environment, the importance of the VET sector will be more so than ever. This will include the return of international students with Australia able to continue to build on its strong reputation in supporting students who wish to study both onshore and offshore.

Despite the challenges that Covid-19 created in limiting face to face delivery for periods, the online learning workforce capability this fast-tracked will be of great benefit to providers and the sector moving forward. From a recent paper released by ASQA, survey data from over 3000 participants at a webinar series that I was part of regarding online learning, showed that over 90 per cent had started or increased delivery via an online mode over the last 18 months. Although online learning is not suited to all student cohorts, or all qualifications, and rarely can it meet the needs of delivering full qualifications, this capability will better aid the sector in meeting student needs and expectations moving forward.


For those who wish to connect with or follow Andrew Shea, you can do so via his Linkedin, here – www.linkedin.com/in/andrewjshea

Interview – Matthew Dale – Director, Audit Express and Educonomy


With more than a decade experience working across the VET Sector, Matthew brings a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to Audit Express & Educonomy. Matthew has had extensive experience in managing the quality & compliance of various state funding contracts and in leading RTOs through the complex process of re-registration. Matthew’s passion is with ensuring that training organisations can adapt to change and ensure the continuing quality of training while also ensuring compliance with the relevant contracts and standards.


Sukh Sandhu: What are the primary challenges and core issues of operating in the VET sector?

Matthew Dale: The VET sector is currently at a real crossroad and is facing numerous challenges and issues. The key challenges being faced by most RTOs is the volume and pace of changes to training packages, which is providing to costly and time consuming for RTOs to adapt to. The relevance and responsiveness of training packages to the needs of industry is also posing a real issue, this is particularly the case as we enter into the post-covid economic recovery. Many industries and sectors are unable to commit to enrolling their workforce into full qualifications to meet the training needs of their organisations, and many are shifting away from traditional accredited training solutions, opting for more innovative and agile non-accredited training solutions, including micro-credentials. For more information on micro-credentials, be sure to check out the educonomy micro-credential and digital badging virtual summit.

Sukh Sandhu: You are one of the very few quality RTO and VET consultants with extensive vocational education and training sector knowledge and skills, according to you, what are the five skills that a significant number of consultants in the VET sector lack and what RTO clients should be careful about?

Matthew Dale: That’s a big call and is very kind of you to say. In my experience, the RTO and VET consultants that I have encountered, each have their area of specialist knowledge and expertise. I’m not sure that I could narrow it down to five skills that RTO clients should be careful about, rather what I would note is that consultants should be clear on what their area of expertise is, and they should work to their strengths, rather than seeking to be a ‘jack of all trades, and master of none’, that they work to their strengths and that RTO clients are really clear when engaging the services of a consultant, that they are really clear on the scope of work they are wanting to be completed and that they recruit suitably qualified and experienced consultants accordingly. It is also a really good idea to always seek professional references before making the decision to engage a consultant.

Sukh Sandhu: You’re involved in a variety of activities in the online and training education space; so perhaps you could discuss a few of them for our subscribers?

Matthew Dale: For a number of years now, we have been supporting our clients to shift their traditional classroom and workplace-based training programs to blended and online delivery modes, which are supported by engaging online content. In 2018 we expanded our work in this space with the launch of Educonomy, a consultancy firm with a big vision of positioning Australia as a global EdTech leader by transforming the current economy of learning and ensuring that every learner is recognised for their skills, regardless of how or where learning takes place. Our team have spent the past 5 years researching global trends in education. We have observed a pattern and trends across the globe as institutions step away from traditional education systems & opt for newer, more innovative options for learning, including micro-learning & micro-credentials. At Educonomy, we drive the future of education by transforming the way we learn. Combining strategy, latest EdTech and expertise, we help education providers to shift into the future and meet the needs of tomorrow. For more information on creating engaging learning content, be sure to check out the educonomy digital learning virtual summit.

Sukh Sandhu: What, in your opinion, are the key distinctions between a quality training provider and a poor quality training provider?

Matthew Dale: Put simply, the key distinctions that set aside quality training providers from the rest are a genuine commitment to the following points:

  • Learner experience
  • Learner support
  • Maintaining a strong connection and links to industry
  • Establishing and maintaining strong governance processes and quality controls, that drive the quality of learning and assessment content
  • Continuously reviewing the products offered, seeking genuine feedback and input from learners, trainers, assessors, management and external stakeholders, including employers

Sukh Sandhu: What, in your opinion, is effective or ineffective in the current regulatory environment?

Matthew Dale: The VET regulators (ASQA, VRQA & TAC) seem to have turned a new page and all seem to be taking a more reasonable and consultative approach to the way in which they have regulated over the past five years, which is great! I tend to look on the positive side and do what I can to effect change where I can, rather than focussing on that which is outside of my control.

Sukh Sandhu: What message would you like to send to training providers who operate in a regulated environment?

Matthew Dale: Focus on what you are good at, know your niche and stick to it. Commit to improving the quality of your learning content and user experience in the areas that you specialise in, and stick to that. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, just focus on the areas that you want to succeed in and focus on being the best in the market in that! 2022 is the year for refocussing and consolidation, make it a year worth remembering.


Matthew Dale can be contacted through the LinkedIn profile. https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-dale