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

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