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.
The Vocational Education and Training (VET) Ombudsman has recommended the re-credit of VET FEE-HELP debts following the closure of investigations into 5,838 complaints made to the ombudsman, as at 31 March 2020.
A study by Griffith University has identified that school students are making career decisions based on biased and outdated views of vocational and education training (VET).
The federal government is considering Productivity Commission proposals that include expanding student loans. The commission acknowledged exploitation of the VET Fee-Help scheme by some unscrupulous private providers but proposed tighter regulation to safeguard students.
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has recently released a publication called ‘good practice guides’ which is designed to ensure training providers are delivering relevant content to future workers. In it VET providers are being urged to collaborate with employers to equip workers with skills to deal with increasingly digitised industries.
If you want to achieve quality rather than just ensuring that your RTO meets its regulatory and contractual requirements, then putting the effort into effective internal auditing is essential.
Develop a proper risk-based audit programme
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!
Clearly define 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 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 the 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
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.
Use inexperienced or unqualified auditors
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.
Audit the same things repeatedly:
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.