An investigation by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) found that only one in three private training providers (of 21 audited) were fully compliant. A separate analysis by ASQA found that 13% of RTOs had compliance issues. The results suggest that many registered training organisations still have some way to go before reaching full compliance with the new national Standards that came into effect in early 2015.
The importance of compliance
Being fully compliant is critical for many reasons: quality standards, reputation and, of course, minimising the risk of suspension or even losing registration status. While costly fines and criminal convictions are relatively rare, such cases do exist, so RTOs need to ensure that they are not only aware of the Standards but structure. Organising every facet of their organisation according to the compliance framework is priority. When audit time arrives, you can be well prepared and avoid any unwanted outcomes.
Common compliance problems
The ASQA’s investigation and analysis found common problems in various areas. Some assessment systems had issues, as did the accuracy of some private providers’ marketing communications. Some providers had compliance issues with respect to their complaints, appeals policies and procedures.
Changes to the standards
The eight Standards governing RTOs are concerned with everything from certification and service information to quality assurance and complaints. The changes in early 2015 include more detail about assessments, additional trainer and assessor requirements, more detailed requirements for marketing, and new validation and certificate of compliance requirements.
As with any new regulatory changes, it can take some time for RTOs to adjust their processes, but for industries – such as training and education – that are subject to stringent compliance, it’s an ongoing process that requires a focused strategy to drive full compliance. Without a clear strategy and action plan, it can be easy for RTOs to be overwhelmed by administration and process changes and fall behind on compliance.
Tips for full compliance
Full compliance can be a constant struggle, but it doesn’t have to be if you have a clear strategy and involve staff in your compliance goals. Regular audits and keeping up to date with regulatory changes can help, as can working with compliance professionals who can take care of your compliance requirements.
Regular internal audits
Regular internal audits will support your organisation in maintaining high standards while ensuring you are fully compliant. A thorough audit identifies possible risks and areas of improvement, allowing you to formulate effective action plans to eliminate breaches. It can be beneficial to have a third-party professional review your organisation’s practices and procedures through an internal audit. Internal audits are also a great way to measure your compliance after you’ve introduced better practices.
Assign responsibility for administration and compliance tasks
Once you have identified possible risks and areas for improvement, make sure that individual staff members have ownership for these standards. RTO Standards can have an impact on every function or department in the organisation, from marketing and sales to management. Communicate expectations and support staff with additional training so that they can meet these standards, if required.
Assigning responsibility for specific tasks and processes means that a specific person – rather than everyone or just the team – is responsible. It reduces the chance that no one ends up taking ownership for the standard.
Encourage a culture of compliance
Encouraging a strong compliance culture often requires a solid communication strategy to bring staff on board. Along with assigning responsibility for compliance-related tasks, it’s important to bring the importance of compliance into staff awareness. Communicate policies and expectations about procedures, and remind staff as necessary. Provide incentives for better standards if appropriate. Tie compliance into feedback and staff assessments, and build compliance into the overall organisational mission and strategy.
Get professional help and outsource
At the crux of the compliance challenge for many RTOs are time and resources. Record keeping, administration, process reviews, and other compliance requirements task the organisation’s resources and prevent it from fully focusing on core business activities. For RTOs overwhelmed by compliance issues, these obligations can constrain growth and affect other areas of the business.
Outsourcing as much of your compliance processes as you can. Working with a trusted RTO advisory team can save you both money and time by freeing up resources for your core functions.
- Administrative tasks – Basic day-to-day compliance-related administrative tasks – functions that might otherwise require full-time staff – can be outsourced. For example, common administrative tasks such as giving updates to students, enrolment and withdrawals processing, maintenance of student records, VET FEE-HELP administration, and statements of attainment can all be outsourced.
- Compliance requirements – You can also outsource core compliance processes such as RTO register records, staying informed about updates to laws, internal audits, and record keeping to RTO compliance professionals. Doing so helps you save time, staff requirements, and resources.
RTO Advice has a team of compliance experts and auditors who can conduct internal audits on your behalf. Our services can allow you to avoid significant costs incurred on complex administration systems and extra compliance staff. With a professional audit, you can then have a clear strategy for realising full compliance in your organisation. Contact us today for more information on how we can take care of all your compliance requirements.