I have been wondering lately, why so many VET professionals and RTOs have been so proactive in voicing their serious concerns with the new “amount of training” and “volume of learning” requirements for RTOs. Most of these concerns have come about since ASQA released their recommendations on the amount of training and unduly short courses. I have read so many comments and articles of people citing these proposed changes as “the end of Competency-Based Training”. Is it really? Or, is it creating a minimum standard of training for RTOs and their learners? I would like to explore these ideas further in this blog.
First of all, it is critical to acknowledge that there has been, (and still is) a serious problem in Vocational Education and Training, with some RTOs delivering qualifications in extremely short time frames. A good example is the TAE40110 Cert IV in TAE, where it has been common to see RTOs delivering a 5-day course with learners receiving their qualification upon completion of those 5 days. We all know that it is impossible. This is just one example of a serious issue that undermines the validity of training and qualifications issued by RTOs.
Without clear guidance and a minimum amount of training requirement, RTOs are able to push students through assessments as quickly as possible, spoon feed them assessment answers and turn over enrolments as quickly as they can, to maximize revenue. This creates an uneven playing field for the many RTOs doing the right thing, delivering a solid amount of training, and achieving quality learning outcomes. How can these quality RTOs compete with lower-priced training that doesn’t meet the same standard or outcomes? The short answer is, they can’t. So the dodgy delivery providers prosper in a VET environment that allows them to do so. Is this the system we want? I don’t think it is….
If we acknowledge that we have an issue with some RTOs not allowing learners enough time to learn and practice new skills, as well as ensure they complete their training with the minimum skill level required by industry, then surely we need a better solution. There is a minimum amount of training that a new learner with no previous experience would need to complete to become competent, right? Doesn’t this make sense? Of course, we are talking about someone with no previous experience.
The current standards, as well as the new proposal by ASQA for “amount of training” allows for a justified reduction in the amount of training where RTOs identify learner cohorts with existing skills. Flexibility already exists to allow for Competency-Based Training (CBT) now, as well as in the new ASQA proposal. RTOs can already make course duration and training adjustments in their training and assessment strategy for learners who come with existing skills and knowledge. Despite this flexibility existing, there is so much discourse about the new proposal not having flexibility. In my opinion, this simply isn’t true.
At the end of the day, RTOs are training organisations and must deliver enough training to ensure a minimum level of performance prior to assessment. This requirement already exists in the standards. RTOs have been audited against the “amount of training” requirement for years. The situation at the moment is much worse than the new proposal, as we have ambiguous “amount of training” standards and AQF “volume of learning” references open to interpretation. No one knows where they should stand on the amount of training, including auditors or RTOs. It’s all completely ambiguous and open to an individuals interpretation on the day. This is the reason for ASQA’s report in the first place. I say bring on clear standards for all RTOs, standards that are spelt out concisely and provide great outcomes for learners, as well as clear guidelines for RTOs and Auditors. No more guesswork.
The real challenge now will be for ASQA and SSOs to determine what this amount of training is for each and every unit of competence. It will be critical that this is well researched and based on data gathered from RTOs and industry/workplaces to get it right. If they take the time to really find out what the minimum amount of training is for a new learner, we will have the basis of a real CBT system that provides all stakeholders with a clear and concise roadmap to quality training and compliance with the standards. Surely this has to be better than what we have right now?
So what’s all the fuss about? Why are so many prominent VET people and RTOs against a quality standard that provides a clear and consistent playing field for all training providers? Is this the end of CBT? Or is it the beginning of real training standards for all RTOs, that ensure learners are receiving the training they need to complete their qualifications, with the required skills and knowledge? I embrace this clarity enhancement to our evolving VET system. I hope you do too.
If you are interested in finding out how your RTO can meet “amount of training” compliance requirements, I have another blog that details how your RTO can ensure compliance with these requirements HERE
If you haven’t yet read ASQA’s recommendation for Amount of Training and unduly short courses, I really recommend reading their report by clicking HERE.