Skills Ministers met yesterday to advance priorities to support Australia’s critical skills and training needs in response to COVID-19 and to continue progressing long-term reforms that will deliver a strong vocational education and training (VET) system for students, employers and industry.
Trainers and assessors are dual professionals who must be both industry qualified and hold credentials in vocational education and training. RTOs must ensure records of trainers and assessor’s qualifications, vocational competencies and current industry skills are verified and sufficiently evidenced. Maintaining appropriate record keeping systems to routinely manage trainer and assessor profiles is a critical compliance consideration for VET providers.
If your trainers and assessors hold the exact units of competency that they are delivering training and assessing for then that is sufficient evidence to demonstrate vocational competency. If not you will need to provide a documented analysis e.g. mapping that demonstrates equivalence of superseded units held and/or other credentials held and/or work history (industry knowledge and skills). This mapping should be at a minimum to the element level of each unit of competency being delivered. Other evidence to be provided could include occupational licences and/or accreditations as required by specific training packages. Supporting documentation that evidences credentials held and verifies claims of work history such as statements of services or references should also be on file. Copies of vocational qualifications must be authenticated with the issuing organisation and records of verification retained on file.
Evidencing concurrent employment in industry for a job role relevant to what trainers and assessors are delivering is an effective way to demonstrate current industry skills. Supporting documentation such as an employment contract or statement of service should be supplied to verify claims of work history. Other evidence that can demonstrate vocational currency include:
- Records of undertaking professional development such as workshops; conferences, forums etc. relevant to the specific industry and units of competency.
- Records of active participation in professional associations or memberships / subscriptions relevant to the specific industry and units of competency
- Evidence of professional readings directly related to the units of competency currently training and/or assessing
Training and assessing in the workplace does not provide sufficient evidence of vocational currency.
Training and Assessment Competence:
Trainer and assessor credential requirements in the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (SRTOs) 2015 specify they must hold the minimum training and assessment credential TAE40116 or TAE40110 with TAELLN411/TAELLN401A and TAEASS502/TAEASS502A/TAEASS503B or; hold a diploma or higher qualification in adult education. This evidence must be authenticated with the issuing organisation and records of verification retained on file.
Training and Assessment Currency:
To evidence current knowledge and skills in VET, trainers and assessors should undertake professional development such as training courses; events; conferences; webinars; or workshops relevant to vocational training, learning and assessment specifically competency based training and assessment (CBT).
While the SRTOs 2015 do not state how frequent this must occur it is generally accepted that to be considered current it should have been undertaken in the last 1 – 2 years. RTOs should also ensure they have consulted with industry to confirm their expectations in relation to maintenance of trainer and assessor industry and VET currency.
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RTOs when hiring contract trainers and assessors should ensure systems are in place to retain and verify evidence that shows they can demonstrate appropriate competency, currency and professional development. Even if they are going to be employed by your RTO for a short period of time you need to ensure your recordkeeping of their credentials and supporting documentation is sufficient so as to minimise any risk of creating non-compliances.
Do you have a current trainer profile that evidences your competency and currency:
If the contract trainer and/or assessor you want to employ doesn’t have a current profile and has recently been working for other RTOs that should raise concerns as it could mean they don’t have an awareness of their obligation to maintain their currency and it may end up costing your RTO time and money to develop them to the standard required by your organisation. Some may also have learned poor practices in other RTOs that you will need to retrain them in to ensure your processes are adhered to. Recruiting unqualified or inexperienced trainers and/or assessors is a risk to your business and bad hiring decisions can have serious consequences for your RTO.
Does your work history relate to employment outcomes of the training products we want you to deliver:
Let’s face it you don’t want to employ a trainer and/or assessor that has never worked in a job role relevant to the qualifications you are asking them to train and assess in. If they don’t have relevant industry experience they will not been seen as a credible source of information by both students and employers. While you may come across trainers and/or assessors who hold the qualifications you want them to train in, if they don’t also have work experience in the industry behind them it is questionable how they achieved their credentials. Make sure you seek industry feedback as to what credentials and experience are considered appropriate from the trainers and/or assessors you employ.
What have you done in the last 2 years to stay current in industry:
If the trainer and/or assessor you want to employ has not had a recent position in industry or does not currently have secondary employment in the sector they need to have been undertaking other activities to ensure they have been maintaining their industry currency. You should verify prior to employing them that they have records of relevant activities for each unit of competency they are training and assessing. Remember that your RTO should be consulting with industry to identify which activities your trainers and assessors should undertake and how often. Depending on the industry the frequency may need to be more often to stay on top of rapid changes in specific sectors e.g. IT. Your trainers and assessors records should reflect these requirements.
What professional development have you done in the last 12 months to maintain your knowledge and skills in vocational training and learning:
Many RTOs neglect to ensure that their trainers and/or assessors are undertaking regular professional development to maintain their VET currency. If they have undertaken PD in the last year to upgrade their TAE credentials then generally their VET knowledge and skills are still current. Your RTO should have a planned approach to professional development in vocational training and learning so as to ensure that all of your trainers and assessors are continuing to develop their knowledge and skill in the VET environment at least on an annual basis. Investing in having highly skilled and competent staff benefits your students and organisation and promotes quality education.
Are your occupational licences and/or industry accreditations current:
Often we see RTOs with expired records of trainers and/or assessors licences on file because they do not have a system of monitoring when these need to be renewed. No one prompts the trainer and/or assessor to provide a new record of their updated licence or industry accreditation. Before engaging a contract trainer and assessor you need to ensure you have their current records of licences and accreditations and you are able to verify they are on top of renewing these credentials else it may become a compliance issue for you. Having a system that identifies records needing to be updated before they lapse ensures you avoid non-compliance with the SRTOs 2015.
Validating your RTO’s assessment materials pre-use ensures the tools are fit for purpose and meet the requirements of the specific units of competencies and the evidence collected from students meets the principles of assessment and rules of evidence.
Validation before assessment:
The process of validating your assessment tools before implementation should involve assessors and other parties such as members of your quality team or staff such as literacy and numeracy specialists working collaboratively to focus on the following aspects:
- Interpreting the unit/s of competency
- Determining what a competent person would ‘look like’ and the standard to be achieved
- Designing the assessment process including identifying what evidence needs to be collected, how it needs to be collected and how many times
- Developing the assessment tools using your RTO’s approved templates which includes all student assessment tasks and assessors’ documents including evidence guides
- Consulting with industry and seeking feedback on the assessment process required
A mapping document should be developed with your assessment materials for each unit of competency that shows where unit of competency requirements have been addressed in the assessment tasks. A mapping evidences that you have checked the validity of the assessment tool when created and confirms its compliance. It is a useful document to refer to when validating assessment tools before implementation.
Common non-compliances to look for when validating assessments:
- Assessment tools do not meet all the requirements of the relevant unit of competency resulting in the evidence to be collected not being adequate or sufficient.
- Practical assessment tasks do not contain sufficient benchmarks for each skill / behaviour to be demonstrated as required by the unit of competency’s performance evidence
- Practical assessment tasks have insufficient instructions for assessors and students in conducting role plays / scenarios to ensure consistency in assessment conditions
- Assessment tool instructions do not sufficiently detail performance benchmarks to be demonstrated or reflect required observable behaviours
- Assessors have not been provided with clear instructions to ensure evidence collected of each student’s performance is sufficient
- Assessment tools do not make provision for the assessors recording of judgement of competency
The Australian Industry Group is calling on the federal government to introduce a $3.9 billion support scheme to help address the fall in apprenticeship numbers partly brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.