Feature Article: Secrets to implementing an effective RPL strategy in your RTO

The SRTOs 2015 in Clause 1.12 requires RTOs to offer RPL to students unless there is a regulatory or licensing reason prohibiting them from doing so. Many providers struggle with resourcing RPL sufficiently in their organisations and assessors find it challenging to manage effectively. Here is some practical advice to guide you in saving time and money in your RPL processes and prevent non-compliances occurring in your RTO assessment system.

Allocating resources to RPL:

RTOs can provide effective RPL services by having dedicated staff for this assessment pathway that offers reliable touch points for candidates so the experience is personalised for each individual. RTOs should treat RPL with the same importance and urgency as other assessment pathways. In doing so ensure you assign dedicated and experienced RPL assessors to take care of your RPL clients. If you expect inexperienced assessors who lack confidence in their abilities to conduct this type of assessment it can impact negatively on your clients and RTO’s reputation. Additionally, be careful in assigning RPL to assessors who are already oversubscribed with students caseloads and avoid expecting them to do it in-between their primary responsibilities. Your chosen RPL assessors need to be given sufficient time to manage their caseloads and should be adept at developing relationships with RPL candidates and their employers. These specialists need to be capable at establishing rapport with RPL clients and supporting them throughout the process. RTOs need to ensure their RPL assessors have the expertise in collecting appropriate RPL evidence that meets the unit of competency requirements, principles of assessment and rules of evidence. 

RPL systems:

RTOs need to have RPL frameworks in place as part of their assessment system to undertake RPL effectively and implement effective processes for assessment only pathways. By investing in RPL expertise you can ensure you are providing adequate and on-going training for your RPL assessors. To do RPL well it must be recognised as a specialised skillset and sufficient resources allocated to managing it.  Students should not be discouraged from seeking RPL just because you don’t have appropriate mechanisms in place to provide the RPL pathway. Your RPL should ensure you engage industry in providing input into RPL resources so you don’t lose opportunities to upskill the workforces of industry clients.  By placing value on RPL as an assessment only pathway you can expand the services your RTO can provide to employers and experienced student cohorts. 

RPL processes: 

Your learner cohorts with existing knowledge and skills are ideal candidates for RPL and your RTO should implement processes to identify opportunities to upskill and reskill your clients using assessment only pathways. Ensure your RTO provides sufficient information or advice to prospective students about their RPL processes when they make enquiries. Other processes to consider include providing clear instructions and resources that outline expectations for RPL candidates. Your RPL assessment tools should not be too dense or over complicated requiring your candidates to interpret training package terminology. RTOs need systems for monitoring completion of RPL steps so as to keep the process moving and to be able to track achievement of milestones of tasks and timeframes associated with RPL activity. 

Client service: 

Good management of RPL services should ensure responsiveness to client enquiries and enable conversion to enrolment. RPL is done best when assessors engage with candidates from the beginning and throughout the process. RTOs should accommodate RPL candidates as they are often working full-time in industry and need flexibility and support in the process, therefore, assessors need to be flexible with candidates and their other commitments. RTOs should ensure contact with RPL candidates is maintained at regular intervals not just when the candidate initiates it due to lack of communication.

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