Feature Article: A guide to business continuity and resilience for RTOs

Five key ways to evidence industry currency for trainers and assessors

It’s essential to have a plan in place for any unexpected events, especially for those RTOs with lean governance structures or no immediate successors for owners or directors. Having a strategy for managing business continuity is a critical part of your RTOs governance framework and can help ensure your RTO remains compliant with ASQA’s self-assurance model, even in the face of unexpected changes or crises. This planning and preparation contributes to building a more resilient and sustainable business. Here is some specific advice and actionable strategies to help RTOs address business continuity planning:

Develop a business continuity plan (BCP):

This should outline the procedures and steps that need to be taken in the event of an unplanned absence of the CEO or owner. The plan should include details about who will assume leadership roles, how to communicate the situation to staff and stakeholders, and the necessary steps to ensure the continuity of operations.

Designate an acting CEO/owner:

Identify a person within the organisation who can assume the CEO’s or owner’s duties in their absence. This individual should be familiar with all aspects of the business, including the details of the ASQA’s self-assurance model.

Crisis management procedure: 

Develop a comprehensive crisis management procedure that includes clear guidelines on how to manage different types of crises, including an unplanned absence of the CEO or owner. It should cover communication strategies, roles and responsibilities, and steps to ensure the continuation of operations.


Cross-train your staff in different roles. This will help ensure that there are multiple people within the organisation who are capable of stepping into different roles if necessary.

Implement robust documentation practices: 

Ensure all processes and procedures are well-documented and easily accessible. Your RTOs businesses vital records should be locatable by successors or caretakers in the absence of the CEO or owner. This will make it easier for someone to step in and understand what needs to be done and prevent any risks to your licence to operate.

Regularly review and update plans: 

Business continuity and crisis management plans should not be static. Regularly review and update these plans to reflect any changes in your organisation or the broader regulatory environment.

Invest in a succession plan: 

Although this may not be immediately actionable, it’s a good long-term strategy. Identify potential successors and invest in their development. This not only ensures leadership continuity but also builds a strong leadership pipeline for the future.

Engage with a consultant or advisor: 

If you’re uncertain about how to prepare for an unplanned absence, consider engaging with a consultant or advisor who specialises in business continuity and crisis management. They can provide expert advice and guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

Other feature articles:

7 signs there is something wrong with your RTOs self-assurance approach

How to create a culture of continuous improvement in your RTO

Five ways collaborating with industry experts that ensures trainers maintain current industry skills

How work integrated learning can enrich your VET courses and strengthen industry partnerships

How using industry advisory committees can benefit RTOs

Three key strategies for RTOs to enhance collaboration with industry





Feature Article: How work integrated learning can enrich your VET courses and strengthen industry partnerships

Feature Article: How work integrated learning can enrich your VET courses and strengthen industry partnerships

In the ever-changing world of VET, training providers face the constant challenge of delivering high-quality, industry-relevant courses that equip students with the skills needed in the workforce. RTOs understand the importance of not only meeting regulatory requirements but also adapting to the dynamic needs of the industries they serve. One way to accomplish this is through the integration of work-integrated learning (WIL) into your delivery. By embracing WIL, RTOs can improve their VET courses, providing students with practical, real-world experience while simultaneously strengthening industry partnerships. The following information suggests how incorporating WIL into your VET courses can lead to enhanced learning outcomes for students and foster long-lasting, relationships with industry positioning your RTO as a high performing organisation and quality provider.

Enhancing student learning outcomes with real-world experience:

By integrating WIL into your VET courses, you can provide students with valuable hands-on experience, enabling them to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve gained in the classroom to real-world situations. This practical exposure not only increases their understanding of industry-specific concepts and practices but also helps them develop essential soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. As a result, students graduate from your RTO with a well-rounded skill set that prepares them for a seamless transition into the workforce.

Strengthening industry partnerships and collaboration

Work-integrated learning experiences, such as vocational placement, apprenticeships/traineeships, and industry projects, offer RTOs the opportunity to collaborate closely with industry partners. By working together to develop tailored WIL programs that align with both the training package requirements and industry needs, RTOs can forge strong relationships with employers and organisations. These partnerships can lead to additional benefits, such as access to industry expertise, resources, and networking opportunities, which in turn can help RTOs develop a reputation as a quality provider.

Boosting RTO reputation and employability of graduates: 

Incorporating WIL into your VET courses not only benefits students and industry partners but also enhances the reputation of your RTO. Employers increasingly value graduates who possess practical, hands-on experience in addition to theoretical knowledge, as they are often better prepared to hit the ground running and contribute to the success of their organisations. By offering WIL experiences, your RTO demonstrates its commitment to producing job-ready graduates, making it an attractive choice for both prospective students and employers seeking well-trained and capable employees.

Other feature articles:

How using industry advisory committees can benefit RTOs

Three key strategies for RTOs to enhance collaboration with industry

Why academic planning doesn’t mean perfection in your RTO

How to create a holistic self-assurance model for your RTO

An RTO compliance managers guide to leadership

How can compliance and quality functions work together in an RTO?

Who is responsible for quality and compliance in your RTO?








Feature Article: Three key strategies for RTOs to enhance collaboration with industry

2021 Future of work predications

RTOs face a critical challenge addressing the ever-widening gap between the skills demanded by industry and relevance of their VET courses. Senior leaders of RTOs are well aware of the constant struggle to ensure that their organisations programs meet not only the regulatory requirements set by ASQA but also the ever-evolving expectations of industry stakeholders. RTOs need to deliver practical, relevant, and future-proof education that gives students a competitive edge in the job market. The following suggestions explore three key strategies RTOs can implement to forge stronger connections with industry partners, ensuring their VET courses remain relevant, engaging, and aligned with the changing needs of employers and businesses.

Establish industry advisory committees:

Creating Industry Advisory Committees (IAC) is a crucial step in fostering collaboration with industry partners. By including representatives from various sectors and occupations, RTOs can gain valuable insights into the latest trends and skill requirements, which can be used to inform training and assessment strategies and resource development. Engaging in ongoing dialogue with IAC’s will ensure that your VET courses are up-to-date and compliant with standards while preparing your students for the workplace.

Offer tailored work-integrated learning experiences:

Work-integrated learning experiences such as vocational placement, work experience, and industry projects can provide students with the practical skills and knowledge they need to be employable. Collaborate with industry partners to develop tailored work-integrated learning programs that are aligned with your training and assessment strategies and industry needs. This not only gives students a competitive advantage but also builds trust and credibility with industry partners, solidifying your reputation as an RTO that delivers job-ready graduates.

Facilitate ongoing professional development opportunities for trainers and assessors: 

To ensure that your VET courses are industry-relevant, it’s crucial that your trainers and assessors stay up to date with the latest industry changes and trends. Encourage your staff to participate in professional development opportunities such as industry conferences, workshops, and seminars, and establish partnerships with industry experts for guest lectures and training sessions. By investing in the professional growth of your trainers and assessors, you can ensure that the training you provide is informed by real-world experiences, making it more valuable to both students and employers alike.

Other feature articles:

Why academic planning doesn’t mean perfection in your RTO

How to create a holistic self-assurance model for your RTO

An RTO compliance managers guide to leadership

How can compliance and quality functions work together in an RTO?

Who is responsible for quality and compliance in your RTO?

Why you need to focus on your RTOs customers not compliance

How to build a culture of quality in your RTO







Feature Article: How to create a holistic self-assurance model for your RTO

RTOs face a daunting challenge in implementing a self-assurance approach that seamlessly addresses compliance, quality, and continuous improvement. They are confronted with a complex web of regulatory requirements and rising stakeholder expectations that must be met to diligently safeguard their licence to operate. Striking a delicate balance between fulfilling compliance obligations, upholding quality standards, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is a struggle that demands a mindset of commitment and adaptability. 

The solution lies in devising a comprehensive, holistic self-assurance model that combines an extensive quality framework, fosters a culture of quality and innovation, actively engages stakeholders, utilises advanced technology, and champions continuous improvement. By adopting these strategies, RTOs can not only ensure the highest standards of quality and compliance but also continually adapt to the ever-changing landscape of VET in Australia. 

The following advice suggests how to create an effective self-assurance model for your RTO that will integrate and operationalise your compliance, quality and CI systems and processes.

Develop a Comprehensive Quality Framework:

Establish a comprehensive quality framework that outlines the RTO’s vision, mission, values, and strategic objectives. Ensure that the framework addresses compliance with regulatory requirements, best practices, and continuous improvement.

Create a Culture of Quality and Innovation:

Encourage a culture of quality and innovation by empowering employees to participate in decision-making, share their ideas and drive continuous improvement. Engage CEOs in promoting this culture and fostering a supportive learning environment.

Establish a Robust Risk Management System:

Implement a proactive risk management system that identifies, assesses, mitigates and monitors risks associated with compliance, quality, and continuous improvement. This system should be integrated into the RTO’s strategic planning and decision-making processes.

Embrace Digital Transformation:

Leverage the latest technologies, including learning management systems, data analytics tools, and artificial intelligence to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your RTO’s processes. Implement a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to stay ahead of industry trends and ensure the RTO remains competitive.

Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement:

Engage with key stakeholders, including students, employers, industry bodies, and regulators, to gather feedback and insights into the RTO’s performance. Use this information to drive improvements and enhance the overall quality of the RTO’s services.

Implement a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program:

Promote lifelong learning for all staff members by implementing a robust CPD program. Encourage employees to upskill and expand their knowledge, aligning with industry trends and compliance requirements. Offer incentives, such as training subsidies or paid leave, to motivate employees to engage in CPD.

Invest in Quality Assurance and Compliance Teams:

Support and invest in your quality assurance and compliance teams. Provide them with the necessary resources, training, and autonomy to effectively monitor, review, and improve processes. Encourage collaboration between these teams and other departments to create a shared understanding of quality and compliance expectations.

Introduce a “Learning Lab” Concept:

Create a “learning lab” within the RTO, where innovative ideas and practices can be tested and refined before full-scale implementation. This will foster a culture of experimentation, continuous improvement, and adaptability.

Adopt a Data-Driven Approach:

Utilize data analytics and performance metrics to monitor the RTO’s performance, identify trends, and pinpoint areas for improvement. Establish clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the RTO’s strategic objectives, compliance requirements, and industry benchmarks.

Reward and Recognize Excellence:

Implement a reward and recognition program that acknowledges the achievements of staff members and teams who contribute significantly to the RTO’s quality, compliance, and continuous improvement efforts. This will boost morale, motivation, and commitment to maintaining high-quality standards.

Other feature articles:

An RTO compliance managers guide to leadership

How can compliance and quality functions work together in an RTO?

Who is responsible for quality and compliance in your RTO?

Why you need to focus on your RTOs customers not compliance

How to build a culture of quality in your RTO

Why compliance does not equal quality in your RTO’s training and assessment

How to use systems to manage your RTOs self-assurance effectively






Feature Article: How to prepare for an ASQA performance assessment (regulatory audit)

Feature Article: How to prepare for an ASQA performance assessment (regulatory audit)

Dedicating the necessary time and resources to prepare your RTO for a regulatory audit is a critical investment. Notification of external audits can come at short notice and RTOs must always be ready to respond effectively and quickly in such an event. An RTO who has implemented a robust system of self-assurance will always be adequately prepared and confident in responding to audit notifications. A proper risk management strategy for RTOs should include a well-defined plan for protecting your organisation against adverse regulatory action.

Identify your audit lead:

Designate a reliable individual within your RTO (preferably a senior manager) to take responsibility for planning and preparing your organisation’s audit response. The manager in consultation with the CEO should contact the auditor well in advance of the scheduled audit to clarify the responsibilities of both parties. The audit preparation phase is an important time to review your RTOs compliance risks and communicate management’s priorities for managing them appropriately. Communication from top management will have a dramatic effect on your organisation’s ability to prepare for an audit. The RTO leadership must discuss with staff the importance of the audit and what they can expect. Whether you engage an RTO consultant or your organisation internally handles preparation, the final responsibility for your response and the outcome lays with the CEO. Management must galvanise the whole organisation for audit, not just a select few to achieve a successful outcome.

Identify the scope of the audit:

It is essential that you review the audit notification correspondence carefully and thoroughly when received. Seek clarification from the auditor about any aspects you do not understand to gain a clear understanding of how the regulator or funding body intends to conduct the audit process. This understanding will ensure you are clear on what data and records to gather and what resources you need to address the requirements.

Identify records and data to be collated: 

Develop an approach for pulling the requested records together in a timely fashion. Set a deadline for staff to provide the documents needed so you have time to review them before finalising your submission. Ensure you do your own checks on the documentation collated so you can confirm they are complete and in an acceptable format. Your process should include retaining your own digital copies of the evidence provided to the auditor. Maintaining a list of what you have submitted to the auditor is essential in ensuring that your RTO can track your records movements. The ultimate in audit readiness is a well-documented system of internal controls that has been tested for effectiveness. While this level of organisation may be above and beyond your business as usual processes, it is a critical component of a well-functioning self-assurance system. When properly designed, a system of internal control can identify risks and provide a framework for discovering non-compliance before it potentially impacts on your products and services.

Prepare staff:

Management must discuss with staff the importance of the audit and what they can expect. Auditors may ask to speak with staff involved in different capacities in your RTO. Management should encourage staff to be honest and straightforward in their communication with the auditors without oversharing or volunteering unsolicited information. You can prepare them well in advance of the audit by familiarising them with typical questions an auditor may ask in an audit scenario. The entry meeting of an audit is typically the best time to clarify and understand the process to be used by the auditors as well as the expectations and anticipated timelines and outcomes. Confirming these details will assist your staff in ensuring a positive audit experience is felt by all involved. Arranging for adequate workspace and access to relevant staff, providing accurate records and data, assessing risks and exceptional organisation are all pieces of the preparation puzzle.

Identify resources: 

Determine staffing and space requirements, including whether the auditor will need internet access during the audit interviews in the event of a site audit; arrange for an appropriate space to accommodate the auditor on site and arrange your meeting room as required. You may want to give the auditor a tour of your premises so ensure that everything is as you want to present it. Don’t assume you can provide the auditors with refreshments or catering.  In most instances they are not permitted to accept hospitality in an audit scenario. Check with them beforehand what they require.

Other feature articles:

Guide to working with RTO consultants

What is a Quality Management System and why it is important for your RTOs self-assurance framework

Implementing systems for self-assurance

Critical steps in choosing the right RTO consultant to work with  

The do’s and don’ts’ of creating an internal audit programme for your RTO  





Feature Article #124 The ultimate guide to setting up a QMS in your RTO

A good Quality Management System (QMS) provides a centralised mechanism for managing your RTOs policies and procedures. These quality documents are a collection of processes that outline how you do business and meet your customers’ expectations. A core function of a QMS is to manage its document control functions. It helps outline how your RTO wants to deliver products and services in ways that meet the expectations of your customers and addresses your regulatory and contractual obligations as a business. The following advice outlines how you can implement a fit for purpose QMS in your organisation.

Quality Management System Framework:

The most commonly known framework used is ISO 9001 but unless your RTO is ISO accredited there is no need to create a QMS that reflects the requirements of these standards.  At a minimum your QMS should meet what is required of the VET Quality Framework and any other legislative requirements or regulatory obligations you must comply with. The main components of your system should incorporate your quality manual or policies and procedures; your organisational structure; your document control processes and your internal audit / continuous improvement processes.

Quality Documents:

In addition to policies and procedures your quality documents can consist of but are not limited to work instructions; guidelines; templates; plans and forms. Quality documents such as policies and procedures are usually approved by document owners who are typically in RTO management positions.  Other staff can contribute to the development of the documents and provide feedback on the content as it is important to ensure buy in by staff who are going to have to adhere to processes or use the tools.

Document Control Procedure: 

Your RTO should have a procedure that sets out the processes for managing your quality documents or your policy and procedure library. This includes how you categorise the documents; the naming conventions used and numbering systems assigned to documents. It should also provide instruction on version control and also detail how often the documents are reviewed and updated to ensure they are fit for purpose. Controlled documents are needed for regulatory compliance purposes and are critical in ensuring your RTOs meets all legislative requirements or regulatory obligations.

Setting up your QMS:

EDministrate can help your organisation design, create and implement a QMS and create an efficient and effective documentation system or help you update your existing QMS to ensure it is fit for purpose therefore ensuring your RTO delivers quality products /services to your customers. Our Compliance Plan and Compliance Plan Matrix Template provides a reference to critical quality documents in your business that you can use to map how your policies and procedures ensure you meet all your RTO compliance obligations.

Other feature articles:

A practical guide to self-assurance systems and processes for RTOs

Three planning resources every RTO manager should have in their toolkit

Planning essentials for RTOs

A business continuity plan should from part of your overall business plan








Feature Article: What evidence trainers and assessors can provide to demonstrate vocational competencies

The SRTOs 2015 require trainers and assessors to have vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered and assessed as referred to in Clause 1.13 b. Vocational competency means trainers have the particular skills and knowledge relevant to the industry area in which they are delivering. Training Packages may also stipulate specific vocational competency requirements for trainers and assessors. This can include relevant industry qualifications and/or industry experience. RTOs need to ensure these requirements are evidenced and appropriate records are maintained that demonstrate staff are vocationally competent both at the qualification and unit of competency level. The following advice suggests way trainers and assessors can evidence that they are vocationally competent in all units of competency they are delivering.

Provide evidence of holding the exact units of competency being delivered:

If your trainers and assessors hold the exact units of competency that they are delivering then that is sufficient evidence to demonstrate vocational competency (so long as they also have relevant industry experience). Additionally, some training packages or qualifications have specific requirements for assessors to hold vocational credentials so RTOs need to ensure that these requirements are identified and evidenced appropriately. For example, to deliver commercial cookery units from the SIT training package assessors must hold a Certificate III or Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery or Catering Operations or hold an equivalent trade certificate as a chef or cook. Another example is trainers and assessors who deliver TAE qualifications must hold either the Diploma of Vocational Education and Training or the Diploma of Training Design and Development or a higher level qualification in adult education.

Demonstrating equivalence of vocational competency:

RTOs need to provide a documented analysis e.g. mapping  that demonstrates equivalence of superseded units held and/or other credentials held and/or work history (industry knowledge and skills) for trainers and assessors. This mapping should be at a minimum to the element level of each unit of competency being delivered. You need to ensure that supporting documentation that evidences credentials held and verifies claims of work history such as statements of services or references is also provided. Copies of vocational qualifications must be authenticated with the issuing organisation and records of verification retained on file.

Work history: 

Some training packages and / or units of competency have specific requirements regarding years of industry experience that assessors must have to deliver. These requirements must be evidenced in the trainers file for the training products they train and assess. If your trainer and assessor holds a vocational qualification without having relevant industry experience they will not be viewed as being credible and this can impact on student and industry outcomes for your RTO.  It is important that in addition to adhering to the training package requirements that you also seek industry feedback regarding what they view as the appropriate vocational qualifications and experience for your trainers and assessors as required in Clauses 1.5 & 1.6.  

Occupational licences and accreditation: 

For qualifications or units of competency with specific licensing or industry accreditation outcomes it may be a requirement that trainers and assessors hold a licence, ticket, professional body credential or registration relevant to the vocational area they are training and assessing. In this case it is important that RTOs ensure records of these credentials are regularly maintained and up to date in each file as they typically have expiry dates.

Other feature articles:

Four questions commonly asked about trainer and assessor competency and currency

What is a trainer matrix and why you need them in your TAS’s

How to evidence current industry skills for trainers and assessors

Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Four point checklist for compliant trainer and assessor profiles

Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes






Feature Article: Pro tips for creating your RTOs internal audit programme

Feature Article: Pro tips for creating your RTOs internal audit programme

Internal audits are a great quality management tool for evaluating and improving your RTOs processes and managing risk. The data you obtain from your auditing activities can let you know what is working well and what needs improvement. By taking a risk-based approach to your internal auditing processes you can dramatically improve the benefits for your RTO in terms of getting valuable data at the right time on your compliance status. Here is some advice on how to implement an effective internal auditing program that can reduce the stress that comes with planning these activities.

Create a risk-based audit programme for your RTO:

You audit programme should reflect risks identified in your management systems. Your RTO should not be auditing everything at the same frequency else you will be reviewing some areas too much and others not enough. You should apply risk ratings to areas of concern that determines their priority in the schedule. Ultimately, it’s just a poor use of your resources if not done correctly and you are just auditing for the sake of it and ticking some boxes! It is pointless continuing to audit the same areas and raising more non-compliances when the underlaying causes are not being addressed. There is no value in reviewing areas you know you are going to find the same issues as you did in previous audits.  Your RTO needs to ensure you are following up on outstanding rectifications from previous audits to ensure actions have been taken. This could also mean systemic issues previously identified have been addressed to prevent recurrence.

Clearly define your audit objectives

Your RTO’s audit objectives define why the audit is being done and what it’s purpose is.  You need to carefully consider why your auditors are actually conducting their reviews; what is the value of them and what outcomes do you want from them? Some objectives to consider are:

  • To check if organisational controls are being adhered to and are in alignment and fit for purpose
  • To determine if staff have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities
  • To identify areas for improvement
  • To determine levels of consistency across processes and departments

Clearly define your audit scope

Your RTO’s audit scope should define the extent and boundaries of the proposed audit. These considerations include:

  • The size of the audit?
  • What breadth does it cover?
  • What teams; processes; locations are included?

It is important to be specific with your scope and not make vague references such as “all processes”. A well written scope will clearly define the boundaries of the audit for both auditors and auditees.

Clearly define your audit criteria

Your audit criteria is what the audit is checking against; for RTO’s generally this is likely to be the SNR’s from the SRTO’s 2015 or clauses from funding agreements or other contracts. Similar to the scope the audit criteria helps keep the auditors on track and is used to determine whether evidence complies or does not comply against the audit criteria stated. Your auditors need to be familiar with the requirements of the audit criteria. Audit findings are only valid when referenced back to the criteria, not auditors opinions. 

Use auditors with the right vocational background and credentials

Even if your auditors have appropriate qualifications in auditing they still need to know what they are looking at and have knowledge of the VET sector.  Ideally your auditors should be dual qualified / experienced in auditing and training and assessment to ensure they have a broad understanding of what they are auditing. Your auditors whether internal staff or external contractors need to be appropriately trained. Training ensures that the auditors do their job correctly; that they use a consistent approach, and that they are skilled in communicating well with auditees. Experienced auditors understand how to conduct effective opening and closing meetings and how to gather and review evidence. They also provide feedback and audit reports that are brief, concise and factual. They do the job right. 

Other feature articles:

5 key components for your RTOs self-assurance framework

5 keys for running an effective internal audit programme in your RTO

Key benefits of conducting regular quality checks of your training and assessment strategies and practices

Cheat sheet for validating assessments prior to use