Feature Article: Common mistakes RTOs make with RPL

Common mistakes RTOs make with RPL

RTOs are required to offer RPL to prospective students under Clause 1.12 in the SRTOs 2015 unless there is a regulatory or licensing reason prohibiting them from doing so. Many providers fail to resource RPL sufficiently and find it difficult to manage and organise. Here are some mistakes commonly made by RTOs that you should avoid if you want to save time and money and prevent non-compliances occurring in your RPL processes.

Not allocating sufficient resources to RPL:

A lot of RTOs see RPL as less of a priority than delivering training, relegating it to second best and not assigning dedicated and experienced RPL assessors. By allocating inexperienced assessors to RPL who lack confidence in their abilities to conduct this type of assessment it can impact negatively on your clients and RTO’s reputation. RTOs make the mistake of giving RPL to assessors who are already overloaded with excessive workloads and the expectation is they will do it in-between their other priorities or off the sides of their desks. The reality is assessors need to be given sufficient time to manage RPL caseloads. Assessors need to be adept at developing relationships with candidates and their employers. They need to be skilled at establishing rapport with their clients and supporting them throughout the process. A suitability qualified assessor will have expertise in understanding how to collect RPL evidence that meets the unit of competency requirements, principles of assessment and rules of evidence. RTOs can provide effective RPL services by having dedicated staff for this assessment process that provides consistent touch points for students so the experience is personalised for each individual candidate.

Ineffective and inefficient RPL systems:

Some providers fail to implement an effective process for assessment only pathways in their RTO and have insufficient frameworks in place to undertake RPL effectively. They don’t invest in RPL expertise and fail to provide adequate and on-going training for RPL assessors. RTO’s that don’t do RPL well don’t recognise it as a specialised skillset and neglect to allocate sufficient resources in managing it.  Some even discourage students from seeking RPL as they don’t have appropriate mechanisms in place to provide the RPL pathway. They typically have not engaged industry in providing input into RPL resources and have lost many opportunities to upskill the workforces of industry clients.  By not placing value on RPL as an assessment only pathway they have limited the services they can provide to employers and experienced student cohorts. 

Inadequate RPL processes: 

Some provider’s neglect to recognise that learner cohorts with existing knowledge and skills are ideal candidates for RPL and have not implemented processes in their organisation’s to identify these opportunities. When they receive enquiries about RPL they fail to provide sufficient information or advice to prospective students about their RPL processes. They may also not have clear instructions and resources that outline expectations for RPL candidates and their RPL assessment tools are dense or over complicated requiring students to interpret training package terminology. These providers may also lack systems for monitoring completion of RPL steps so as to keep the process moving and fail to track achievement of milestones of tasks and timeframes associated with RPL activity. 

Poor client service: 

Bad management of RPL services can result in slow responsiveness to client enquiries (or no response at all). RPL is done best when assessors engage with candidates from the beginning and throughout the process. RTOs need to understand that their RPL candidates are often working full-time in industry and need flexibility and support in the process, therefore, assessors need to accommodate candidates around 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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Feature Article: Three essential things all RTO’s should do at the end of the year

Feature Article: Three essential things all RTO’s should do at the end of the year

With the end of the year fast approaching it is important that RTO’s have processes in place that ensures housekeeping for key activities conducted in 2020 is completed. Have staff check these tasks off before they take their leave so they can return to work at the beginning of next year well prepared. We have created a free end of year checklist you can download here to help you wrap up this year effectively!

Review training and assessment strategies:

The end of the year is an ideal time to review your TAS’s and evaluate their effective implementation in 2020. The outcomes of your reviews will inform you as to what improvements and changes you need to make for next year and subsequent intakes of students. You should ensure you have a TAS in place for each training product on scope and unique student cohort. RTOs should consider any recent changes to specific training packages; industry technology and techniques or legislation when determining if a TAS needs updating. Your RTO should also update TAS’s at this point to reflect any staff changes e.g. matrix so they are reflective of what is planned to occur in the delivery for 2021. It is important for RTOs to ensure they maintain comprehensive records of reviews and appropriate version control of each TAS for self-assurance purposes.

Undertake course reviews:

RTOs should have processes in place to review courses at least annually and analyse data from enrolments; surveys; feedback; complaints and validation to effectively monitor the quality of your training and assessment. Involving trainers and assessors in your monitoring processes at the end of the year is an effective way of  reviewing training and assessment strategies and practices. Allowing staff to reflect on how courses were delivered in 2020 will help you determine how well your RTO performed and if you need to make any significant changes to processes for next year. Ensure that you use AVETMISS data such as completion rates and student outcomes to get an insight on how your RTO can improve practices, systems and processes. Also use feedback obtained from students and employers throughout the year to identify if you met their expectations. You can also refer to outcomes of validation activities and internal audits to determine if specific courses have areas of concern that need addressing.

Update trainer and assessor files: 

If trainers and assessors haven’t had the chance to update their staff profiles as they were undertaking currency activities during the year then it is critical they provide evidence for their files before going on leave. Managers should have a process in place for confirming trainer and assessor records are up to date and compliant at the end of each year.  

Other feature articles:

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

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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: 9 expert tips for preparing for validation of assessor judgements activities

9 expert tips for preparing for validation of assessor judgements activities

According to ASQA, validation is a quality review process that confirms your RTO’s assessment system can consistently produce valid assessment judgements. A valid assessment judgement is one that confirms you have collected sufficient evidence of a learner holding all of the knowledge and skills described in the relevant unit of competency. Validation of assessor judgements are conducted post assessment so you can confirm the validity of both assessment practices and judgements. Follow these expert tips when preparing for your validation activities so you are well organised, less stressed and your reviews of completed student work are conducted in the most effective and efficient manner.

Confirm the Unit of Competencies being validated:

Refer to your RTOs validation plan to identify the units of competency scheduled for validation. In planning your activities consult with the staff involved and confirm the units selected for the validation.

Identify your Validation Leads:

Confirm appropriately qualified validation leads for your validation panels and advise them of their responsibilities. Preferably your leads should hold the unit of competency TAEASS503 Lead assessment validation processes. Be sure to identify well in advance if any of the leads require validation training or a refresher of your RTOs validation processes.

Identify your Validation Panels:

Confirm appropriately qualified validation panel members and advise them of their responsibilities. You need to ensure you have people on the panel who are vocationally competent and current for the units being validated and have appropriate training and assessment credentials and VET currency. Ideally having someone from industry on your panel is also recommended. Be sure to identify well in advance if any of the panel require validation training or a refresher of your validation processes.

Set up your filing system:

Keeping good records is critical in ensuring an effective validation process is conducted. Ensure you accurately calculate your statistically valid student sample size and gather the associated records. Establish a filing system (preferably electronic) and create folder structures to organise the records according to your process. Communicate to your validation panel the availability of the records and their location. If you are accessing student records from within your Learning Management System ensure all of your validation panel has the appropriate system access beforehand.

Review the Unit of Competency requirements:

Read the unit of competency as found on www.training.gov.au to familarise yourself with its requirements before you conduct the validation exercise.

Review the Assessment Tool:

Look at each assessment task and check the instructions provided. Check the version of the assessment tool for the unit of competency to be validated so you can compare it with the version administered by the assessor in the sample of completed student work being reviewed. Check the templates used and other supporting documentation to ensure they are the correct versions as required by your RTO’s assessment system.

Check the Assessment Mapping: 

Review your assessment mapping document to confirm that the assessment tasks meet all the unit of competency requirements so you know the evidence collected by the assessor is sufficient.

Collate the student samples: 

Gather the assessment evidence collected, student outcomes/records of results issued and feedback given post-delivery. All completed student assessments for the specific units of competency need to be collated for the validation.

Prepare your validation report template:

Pre-populate your report with the details of the units of competency being validated. Ensure you have made provision in your template for actions to be delegated once the outcomes/findings have been determined. Prepare an appropriate filing system to store completed reports and other supporting documentation/evidence.

Other feature articles:

Cheat sheet for validating assessments prior to use 

Four ways to ensure your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

A quick way to deal with non-compliances in your assessments

Implementing systems for self-assurance

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

Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes 










Feature Article: Quick guide for determining the right amount of training in your TAS’s

Quick guide for determining the right amount of training in your TAS’s

RTOs must establish an ‘amount of training’ (AOT) for each qualification they deliver as required by Clause 1.2 in the SRTOs 2015.  These hours must be documented in your training and assessment strategies (TAS’s). ASQA is concerned with providers delivering sufficient training to support learners to gain the required competencies. Their regulatory approach in relation to course durations has been to advise RTOs to use the AQF ‘volume of learning’ (VOL) range as a basis to determine an appropriate AOT for the qualifications being delivered.

Identify your learner cohort characteristics:

You need to distinguish in your TAS’s the different types cohorts you are delivering to and identify their characteristics e.g. inexperienced or experienced learners. If your RTO intends to deliver to learners who are new to the industry area and/or who do not have any workplace experience, the AOT required that is described in the training and assessment strategy would closely match the timeframe listed with the AQF volume of learning. However, if you plan to deliver to a learner cohort that already has defined skills, knowledge and workplace experience appropriate to the industry, a shorter AOT may be sufficient to ensure that each learner has fully absorbed the required knowledge and has developed the skills required in a range of different contexts.

Identify your mode of delivery:

Your mode of delivery may influence the AOT you are providing, and the training and assessment being provided. The hours you allocate between supervised and unsupervised learning activities will depend on the delivery mode used. For delivery modes that incorporate asynchronous online or self-paced distance delivery you need to ensure you have documented in your TAS the support and assistance available to the learners while unsupervised by the trainer. This will ensure the justification you provide for a short AOT is valid. If you are a CRICOs provider delivering to an international student cohort you need to be mindful off using appropriate delivery modes that meet the requirements of the National Code 2018.

Provide a breakdown of amount of training hours:

The AOT essentially comprises the formal learning activities you provide to a learner. These formal activities can include classes, lectures, tutorials, online or self-paced study, as well as workplace learning. It’s important to note that it includes any learning activity directed by the trainer whether supervised or unsupervised. The VOL includes all teaching, learning and assessment activities that are required to be completed by the student to achieve the learning outcomes. The AOT is incorporated in the VOL. If your RTO is not delivering a full qualification, the AOT to be provided may be a proportion of the AQF volume of learning. This can be calculated by taking the minimum VOL hours for the qualification that the units of competency identified sit in and dividing it by the number of units in the qualification.  This will give you the VOL hours per unit. Make sure the AOT hours identified in your TAS correlate with the actual training hours documented in your schedules and timetables.

Provide justification for your short course duration: 

Where you have identified a course duration shorter than the minimum AQF benchmark range for the qualification you need to provide a rationale in your TAS for the reduction in time given. Your explanation needs to define why the hours identified are suitable for the specific learner cohort.  Your experienced learner cohort may have existing skills and knowledge and RPL and credits could be applicable therefore shortening the timeframe for training provided. You may also refer to ‘gap-training’ or accelerated learning reflective of the learner’s existing competencies. Where you have identified clustered learning and/or assessment in your TAS that can also provide a justification for a reduction in course duration/hours.

Other feature articles:

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

How to plan industry engagement activities effectively

Five steps to creating a compliant training and assessment strategy (TAS)






Feature Article: 5 signs you need to hire an RTO consultant for your business

5 signs you need to hire an RTO consultant for your business

At any given time your RTO may require the services of an consultant. This could be for reasons such as to obtain market information or for advice, skills, strategies and techniques that don’t exist in your business. An RTO consultant can provide solutions for a huge range of business issues and work with you on strategy, planning and problem-solving. According to ASQA an RTO consultant can be a good place to start if you are seeking assistance or expertise with issues related to initial registration or the registration renewal process. 

Compliance expertise:

RTOs may need to seek a consultant from outside the business when there is a lack of expertise internally. There are times when the skills needed for growth are not available inside an organisation. External consultants provide the skills and experience needed to complete a project or solve specific problems. Bringing in fresh eyes to review your systems and processes can be refreshing for your business. Sometimes when you have been working hard and looking at the same thing, it can be difficult to see the forest from the trees, however if you have a way of seeing the same process with different eyes or a different perspective you can  notice things that may not have been obvious before.


An RTO consultant like EDministrate specialising in compliance or quality issues can help a business avoid breaches and non-compliances. Adhering to legislative requirements and regulatory obligations can be complex and difficult to implement so hiring a compliance expert can save time, resources, and expenses in the long run.

New markets:

If your business is taking steps to break into a new market that you are unfamiliar with, whether it be a new delivery area or revenue stream, hiring an RTO consultant that has experience and expertise within that market can help you avoid certain risks and make your transition a more successful one. RTO consultants often have experience with similar projects and the cross-pollination of these ideas helps businesses grow and innovate.

Unfinished projects: 

The best RTO consultants will salvage all those delayed projects that you’ve been holding off for a while. Businesses can hire consultants for short-term projects without the expense of salary and on-costs providing maximum flexibility and minimal financial risk. A consultant’s contract ends once the project is completed. The biggest advantage in using a consultant for projects is that you don’t have to take staff off business as usual to finish them which would just get you caught up in an endless cycle of bottlenecks and frustration.

Decision Making:

Indecisiveness can take a toll on you and your team. If it doesn’t feel like your RTO is achieving growth as you expected, then your business may be stagnant. An experienced RTO consultant can help reinvigorate your organisation and identify barriers to your growth. They’ll help you identify ways to develop your business sustainably. When conflicts or problems arise, it’s wise to get an independent view on things. RTO consultants, being experts on strategies, can add perspective that might be absent when leaders get too close to a problem. These experts can help analyse problems, navigate internal politics, and offer unbiased solutions.

Risk Management: 

Are you making risky decisions that might impact on your ability to adhere to legislative or regulatory obligations and contractual requirements? The risk of not getting things right from the beginning far outweighs the cost of hiring a consultant. RTO consultants have extensive knowledge of trends and strategies. When RTOs encounter a problem which impacts productivity or growth, a consultant can help uncover data, define the problem, and recommend new approaches through an objective standpoint while mitigating risks to protect your business from potential regulatory action.

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Feature Article: Step by step guide to managing transition from superseded training products

Step by step guide to managing transition from superseded training products

On 12 August 2020 the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) approved updates to 16 training packages including the AUR; BSB; FNS; CPC; AMP; MAR; TLI; HLT; and UEE packages. It is expected that they will be released on TGA in October with a 12 month transition period. RTOs with training products on scope within these training packages should commence projects as soon as possible in anticipation of transitioning from the superseded training products to the replacement training products as these changes will require a significant amount of work for providers to implement.


RTOs should subscribe to the National Register of VET (TGA) to receive notifications when changes to training products are published including:

  • When a new version of a training package becomes available; or
  • When a training product is superseded

When a notification of change to a training product is received, RTO managers should schedule an initial planning meeting to commence a project to transition. Identification of the intended time frame to deliver the replacement training product should be discussed and agreed as early as possible as preparation will impact on your ability to market the replacement training product and recruit your student cohorts. Additional processes such as additions or changes to CRICOs registration or VSL approvals need to be considered to be ready to deliver as planned.

Resource development:

RTOs need to ensure that prior to commencement of delivery of a replacement training product they are resourced to deliver what is on scope and can demonstrate compliance with the SRTOs 2015 and the ASQA General Direction. Create a plan for development or updating of learning and assessment resources for all units identified in the training and assessment strategy for the replacement training product/s.

  • For existing learning and assessment resources the plan should identify required upgrades and improvements
  • Where no learning and assessment resources exist the plan should identify how they are to be developed (including purchasing of off-the-shelf resources)

The plan should clearly outline time frames for completion of development well before delivery of specific units of competency need to commence.

Transitioning students: 

RTOs must transition learners from superseded training products within specified time frames to ensure only currently endorsed training packages and accredited courses are delivered. Training products that lead to licensed or regulated outcomes may need to meet additional requirements. RTO management will need to identify the numbers of students currently enrolled in the superseded training product and if they will complete prior to the transition end date or if they will need to be transitioned to the replacement training product. The most effective way to identify what students need to be transitioned is to undertake a student transition mapping. If international students are undertaking a superseded training product and need to be transitioned into the replacement training product you need to consider CRICOs requirements and the impact on Confirmation of Enrollment (COEs). RTOs can continue to enroll students in superseded training products during the transition period so long as it is permissible under funding / contractual arrangements and the student is able to complete the training within the transition period. 

Adding training products to scope: 

When a new version of a training product is deemed equivalent to its predecessor it will be identified on TGA as “superseded and equivalent to” the previous version and will automatically be added to an RTOs scope of registration. If a training product is deemed not equivalent to its predecessor it will be identified on TGA as superseded and RTOs will need to make an application to ASQA to add the new version to their scope of registration.

In preparation for adding a replacement training product to scope RTOs should:

  • Develop strategies for the delivery of training and assessment that have been developed through effective consultation with industry
  • Ensure that trainers and assessors possess all of the relevant and required vocational and training/assessment competencies and can demonstrate industry currency in relation to the units of competency they will train/assess;
  • Ensure that sufficient, industry-relevant resources, facilities and materials to train and assess all units of competency in the training product are available

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Feature Article: Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Trainers and assessors are responsible for evidencing how they have maintained, upgraded or developed new skills relevant to current industry needs (1.13b). RTOs must ensure they have systems in place to manage these records so as to adhere to the requirements of the Standards for RTOs 2015. RTOs are also obligated to engage with industry to determine appropriate activities for its trainers to maintain current industry skills and the frequency of these activities. This feedback should be documented and used to inform training and assessment strategies and practices.

Professional development:

RTOs should have a co-ordinated approach to the training and development of staff including providing professional development opportunities for trainers to enable the maintenance of industry skills. Implement a system in your RTO that has clear benchmarks for indicating appropriate and sufficient forms of evidence that also provides guidance around recency (as informed by industry) so it will ensure trainer and assessor records are compliant. Suitable professional development activities can include: undertaking accredited
training relevant to the industry area; reading industry journals and subscriptions; staying informed about changes to technology and keeping up to date with changes to legislation.

Working in and with industry:

It is important to note that delivering training and assessment in a workplace does not constitute the development of current industry skills according to ASQA.  Their advice suggests trainers attending a workplace to experience the latest techniques, processes and resources could contribute to the demonstration of current industry skills. Ideally your RTO should have a systematic approach in ensuring that trainers and assessors are regularly
exposed to industry workplaces and participate in workplace tasks. This could be done by planning opportunities for staff to engage with industry e.g. discussions with employers or attendance at industry networking events. Evidence of belonging to industry associations and participating in associated activities is also suitable. Trainers and assessors who continue to work in industry concurrently can provide evidence of secondary employment in the form of statement of services or letters of confirmation from employers.

Participating in networks:

Evidence of attendance at supplier workshops to stay current with products or the latest techniques / processes used in industry is a good way to demonstrate maintenance of vocational currency. Trainers and assessors who are actively involved in industry networks can provide documentation showing their contribution to these activities for their files.


The most effective way to evidence vocational currency is to provide a mapping for each trainer and assessor that demonstrates current industry skills for each unit of competency being delivered and links supporting documentation provided to the elements within those units of competency. This documented analysis will provide a thorough overview of the trainer’s current industry knowledge, skills and experience. A good practice when recruiting new trainers and assessors is to conduct referee checks to confirm relevant industry experience and verify work history provided in resumes. This will ensure you are verifying that they have appropriate current industry skills relevant to the training and assessment you want them to provide. Your trainers and assessors files should be stored in a centralized filing system whether electronic or paper based so these records are easily located and
regularly maintained.

Monitoring and reporting:

RTOs should have a regular mechanism for confirming trainer and assessor records are up to date and compliant. Incorporating quality checks of these critical records in your internal audit program at least annually will ensure you are monitoring your staffs adherence to your policy / procedures and overall system. Your RTO’s systematic approach should also include reporting of compliance with vocational currency requirements so responsible managers
can monitor trainer file maintenance effectively.

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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