How to manage trainer professional development in your RTO

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Ensuring trainers and assessors are receiving the right amount of high quality and relevant professional development is a common pain point for RTO Managers and Compliance Managers.

As an industry it seems to be a battle we can never quite win but with the stakes so high, it’s certainly one we need to become better at tackling.

The VET industry is growing ever more competitive and the public and legislative spotlight is firmly on the sector right now. We can no longer afford PD for Trainers and Assessors to be a secondary consideration at best, or an afterthought at worst.

How did professional development become so painful?

There are many contributing factors but the ones we hear of most often are:

  • You’re time poor. We get it! RTO Managers are some of the hardest workers in the country, juggling multiple priorities and the demands of a highly regulated business. Like everyone, you’ll have a tendency to spend your time and effort dealing with the problems and opportunities right in front of you…and monitoring that your trainers and assessors have done their PD easily slips under the radar.
  • Your trainers/assessors are time poor. Diligent staff are prone to taking on extra responsibilities, and with an already full plate it’s hard to get them focussed on PD, while trainers/assessors who are contractors may have other priorities competing for their time.
  • ASQA’s expectations in relation to professional development aren’t prescriptive. The Standard for RTOs 2015 quite helpfully leaves scope for flexibility in providing the right type and amount of PD for your trainers and assessors, but the flipside to this is a level of ambiguity that can make RTO managers uncertain as to exactly what they need to do.
  • Poor record keeping. Just knowing who’s done what can be a job in itself. Staff you hire may come with a complex web of qualifications that need verification, while poor record keeping often clouds the recency and relevancy of professional development undertaken by existing staff.

So, we’ve got the excuses covered. But what about the consequences?

The risks of not managing Trainer and Assessor professional development

The most obvious and immediately damaging consequence of neglecting Trainer and Assessor PD is being found as non-compliant in an audit from ASQA. You’ll then have 20 working days to rectify the non-compliance and provide evidence to ASQA, however in some more serious cases now, you may not even get that.

It’s very difficult to back-track on your professional development, so even if you do get time to rectify, there may not be professional development opportunities on at the time you need them, or even doing a few pieces of professional development to show an auditor, still just might not cut it.

20 days isn’t much time if you’re being honest with yourself. Say you’ve got 10 trainers and patchy records of their PD. You’ll probably spend a week just trying to assess who’s done what, then you’re down to 15 days to cram in what’s required as well as maintain business-as-usual.

The longer term risks might not bite you straight away, but your reputation with students and employers will doubtlessly suffer if you’ve paid scant attention to the PD needs of your team. You might also find you have poor retention of your quality staff, too.

Practical steps to take your PD pain away

There are four simple steps you can take to help ensure you deliver quality PD to your staff:

  • Create a professional development plan. Like all critical business functions, planning the delivery of the PD needs of your staff deserves proper planning. The plan should specify the training each member has already undertaken, the type of training they need (e.g. industry, VET and so on), when they will do it and a range of PD types.
  • Regular check-ins and reviews. A plan is great on paper but the real key is implementation. Check in with your trainers/assessors every 2-3 months to see what they’ve done and make sure your record keeping is tight. You’ll avoid a lot of surprises down the track.
  • Link trainers to professional networks. Maintaining industry skills and knowledge can be difficult, particularly in industries where the pace of change is fast. Linking trainers with professional networks and external PD sessions like those run by ACEPT, VELG Training, VET Development Centre, VET Network and RTO Leadership Institute will assist.
  • Conduct in-house training. Utilise the skills and qualifications of yourself and your team. In-house sessions can also be great for team building. You can build professional development topics into your monthly meetings for bite-sized pieces of regular professional development. Just make sure you have meeting minutes and agendas to show as evidence.

In its basic form, managing Trainer and Assessor PD looks pretty straightforward. But we all know the pressures of running a business and managing a team have a habit of making the simple things seem hard. So who can you turn to for extra support?

A partner to help you thrive in the VET sector

The team at RTO Leadership Institute has years of experience in the VET sector. We’re perfectly placed to help you meet and manage the PD needs of your team. We offer RTO Managers:

  • Flexible, customised PD programs to ensure your staff reach their full potential
  • Nationally recognised qualifications delivered by experienced and engaging trainers
  • Professional development classes for fine tuning skills

RTOs who get on the front foot and make PD a priority for their team will reap the benefits of a healthier business and greater efficiency in demonstrating compliance.

We’d love to help you on your journey. Get in touch with us to discuss how we can help.

 

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