ASQA has released details of their regulatory strategy for 2016/2017 and three target areas they will focus on. This strategy has been developed as a result of the 2015 Environmental Scan which identified a number of risks through consultation, VET data analysis and market research.
1. Learner Protection
This target was largely introduced due to the recent reports on inappropriate use of VET FEE-HELP and other entitlement funding where learners are being enrolled in courses without adequate prerequisite skills and without being provided sufficient information on course details, costs and their rights and obligations.
2. Amount of Training
One of the biggest concerns for ASQA is the quality of training provided by RTOs. A number of RTOs have been delivering courses that do not provide sufficient training for a learner to be taught the skills and knowledge required by the qualification, and then have time to be able to practice and apply those skills. Courses are sometimes significantly shorter than what they should be as well. Amount of training is often compromised as a result of employer demands for shorter courses, funding models and even lack of understanding by RTOs about the amount of training that should be provided.
3. Capability of Trainers and Assessors
Trainers and assessors are largely responsible for the training outcomes, learner success and learner support in a course. Quality training and assessment can only be provided by trainers and assessors who hold the right qualifications/ competencies and have appropriate experience in the industry in which they are training. This area has also been of great concern to ASQA over recent times and so has become one of their targeted areas.
Although this new regulatory strategy may be daunting to many, it is a perfect opportunity for all RTOs to turn the spotlight on these areas of their compliance to make sure they are up to scratch.
Below is a guide for RTOs to assist with reviewing each of the three target areas.
- Course information – do you provide accurate and detailed information about each course to every learner prior to enrolment? Do you include information about how the training will be delivered, assessment arrangements, pre-requisites and entry requirements, what the learner can expect while they are studying with you, all costs, course delivery method, duration and location?
- LLN – Do you assess the language, literacy and numeracy levels of all learners prior to enrolment to make sure your RTO is able to support them appropriately during their course?
- Website – Is your website up to date with current course information?
- Information prior to enrolment – Do you provide a Learner Handbook (or similar) detailing all learner rights and obligations, and your RTO’s learner-related policies and procedures prior to enrolment?
- Government funding and VET FEE-HELP – Do you inform learners about their entitlements to funding and VET FEE-HELP and how their participation in the course may affect future entitlements (where applicable)?
- Learner Agreement – do you get learners to sign an agreement prior to or at enrolment that outlines or references all of the above details of their enrolment and their entitlement to a cooling off period (where applicable).
Amount of Training
- Have you participated in industry consultation for every course you are running? Did the consultation include feedback on the amount of training provided, the length of the course, the training and assessment materials to be used, the required skills of the trainer/assessor for the course? Did you take their feedback on and make adjustments to the course design where required?
- In the design of each course, have you thought about the content of each of the units in the course, how much time learners would need to learn, practice and then be deemed competent in each unit? Have you provided enough time in the course for this to occur?
- Are you providing your learners with sufficient time with their trainer to gain the knowledge, support and assessment required?
- Have you considered the AQF volume of learning guidelines for each AQF level in the design and development of each course?
- Have you considered your target learner group for each program and adjusted the amount of training provided to ensure the training program accommodates the level of skill and knowledge the learners enter with.
- Are you providing your learners appropriate access to a workplace setting, practical placement or simulated environment to practice and apply the skills they have learnt?
Capability of Trainers and Assessors
- Do you ensure that all of your trainers and assessors have an appropriate amount of experience in the industry/ role they are going to train/assess?
- Has your organisation set a minimum amount of experience, or level of experience, that they require a trainer/assessor to have had for them to be recruited as a trainer/assessor? For example you may require that they have worked a minimum of 2 years in a supervisory or management role.
- Do you ensure your trainers and assessors have currency in the industry – recent and relevant experience that is directly related to the qualification they are going to train/assess?
- Do you require that all trainers/assessor complete a detailed skills and knowledge mapping against the unit requirements of all units they are going to train/assess and address gaps where they are identified?
- Do you ensure all trainers/assessors have to up to date industry qualifications that have been certified and verified by contacting issuing organisations?
- Have you got a comprehensive approach to professional development for your trainers/assessors and ensure they regularly participate in professional development in their industry area; their training and assessment skills and knowledge; and in VET industry.
- Review your staff files including qualifications, resumes, and professional development records and if gaps are identified discuss with trainer/assessor and put in place a plan to bridge the gap immediately.
By putting in place an action plan and seeking assistance from compliance experts where and when required, RTOs should not have any problem if ASQA come knocking for an audit.
Published 10th May, 2016