As of 1 July 2013, the NSSC required that:

AQTF Standard 1: The RTO provides quality training and assessment across all of its operations.

Element 1.4: Training and assessment are delivered by trainers and assessors who:

     a. have the necessary training and assessment competencies determined by the National Quality Council or its successors; and

     b. have the relevant vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered or assessed, and

     c. can demonstrate current industry skills directly relevant to the training / assessment being undertaken, and

     d. continue to develop their Vocational Education and Training (VET) knowledge and skills as well as their industry currency and trainer/ assessor competence.

Standards for NVR Registered Training Organisations 2012 of the VET Quality Framework

SNR 4.4 / SNR 15.4  Training and assessment are delivered by trainers and assessors who:

    a. have the necessary training and assessment competencies determined by the National Skills Standards Council or its successors; and

    b. have the relevant vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered or assessed, and

    c. can demonstrate current industry skills directly relevant to the training/ assessment being undertaken, and

    d. continue to develop their Vocational Education and Training (VET) knowledge and skills as well as their industry currency and trainer/ assessor competence.

So what does this mean in practice?
a. have the necessary training and assessment competencies determined by the National Quality Council or its successors

This means that trainers and assessors meet the NSSC determination for trainer and assessor competencies as of 1 July 2013.   In other words, they hold TAE40110 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment as a minimum qualification or be able to demonstrate equivalence of competencies or, they hold the TAESS00001 Assessor Skill Set or be able to demonstrate equivalence of competencies and/or the TAESS00007 Enterprise Trainer – Presenting Skill Setand/or the TAESS00008 Enterprise Trainer – Mentoring Skill Set or be able to demonstrate equivalence of competencies within two years of commencing to deliver training while under supervision.

Trainers must also:

  1. be able to demonstrate vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered and assessed; and

  2. be able to demonstrate how they are continuing to develop their VET knowledge and skills as well as maintaining their industry currency and trainer/ assessor competence.

Where the trainer and/or assessor does not hold TAE40110 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, the TAESS00001 Assessor Skill Set,TAESS00007 Enterprise Trainer – Presenting Skill Set and/or the TAESS00008 Enterprise Trainer – Mentoring Skill Set, they are required to achieve that within two (2) years of commencement.  They must only deliver training under supervision but under no circumstances are they permitted to assess under supervision.

b. have the relevant vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered or assessed

An area where providers are constantly falling down in audit are where their trainers and assessors have higher qualifications than they are teaching but do not necessarily hold the qualification that they are delivering/assessing.  This is commonly the case with a trainer/assessor holding a Bachelor degree for example and maybe teaching an AQF level 3 qualification.  Another example is where someone holds a Bachelor of Business and they are engaged as a trainer and assessor to deliver/assess a Diploma of Business.  The current stance by regulators in our experience is that while it may be preferable for the provider to have higher qualified trainers, there is no guarantee that they have the knowledge and skills required to deliver and/or assess at a Diploma level, or that their knowledge and skills encompasses all areas of the Diploma of Business that they have been recruited to implement.  For example, the trainer and assessor may have completed a Bachelor of Business with a finance or accounting focus however the Diploma of Business being offered includes a human resource management stream where the trainer/assessor has no prior educational or industry experience.

In this instance, what regulators are seeking more and more is in the absence of the trainer and assessor holding the exact qualification that they are delivering and/or assessing, that they demonstrate equivalence of competency against the unit of competency being delivered and/or assessed.  While there is no requirement under the standards (AQTF or NVR Standards) for this equivalence to be conducted via a mapping exercise, often, in our experience, it is the only way that auditors will accept the evidence and it is often the only way it can be really demonstrated to them sufficiently to ease their concerns.  In our experience, it is also insufficient to map to the qualification level in this instance but rather there is a consistent expectation that equivalence of qualifications will be mapped at a unit of competency level.

Another issue that recently arose with an RTO Doctor client during audit was the industry accepted equivalence for the purposes of registration and licensing and the auditor’s acceptance of industry competency.  In this particular case,  the trainer/assessor’s industry qualifications were accepted by the industry regulator (Department of Commerce) as to be considered equivalent however the auditors concerned disagreed.  While the trainer in this particular case did not meet the requirements for currency under the AQTF/NVR Standards, they did meet the requirements for vocational competency.  None the less, the most time efficient response to appease the auditor was in fact to have the trainer/assessor be formally assessed in the qualifications required through the conduct of an RPL and practical assessment to confirm currency.  It will be up to the client to determine whether they want to later seek a refund for something that industry considered equivalent!

c. can demonstrate current industry skills directly relevant to the training/ assessment being undertaken

This section of the NSSC determination is an interesting one because nowhere is it defined what ‘current’ means.  If one uses the definition applied to ‘currency’ the rules of evidence for the purposes of assessment, under the AQTF Users Guide to the Essential Conditions and Standards for Continuing registration, it states ‘In assessment, currency relates to the age of the evidence presented by candidates to demonstrate that they are still competent.  Competency requires demonstration of current performance, so the evidence must be from either the present or the very recent past’.  When assessors assess currency under RPL, many would argue that within the past 12 months would be an acceptable standard for currency.  Certainly, in our experience with auditors, this is generally what they indicate is their expectation.  A typical example that we use to demonstrate this principle is the registered nurse who has been on parental leave for a couple of years and has maintained  their AHPRA registration requirements but not yet returned to their registered nursing role.  They may not have had to insert a cannular for example for 2 – 3 years and yet they may be required to teach this very skill to students in their role as a trainer/assessor.

The issue of vocational currency has been addressed in the policy framework ‘The AVQS: Improving vocational education and training – the case for a new system’.  On page 28, the draft framework states:

“Maintaining the currency of vocational skills of its trainers/teachers and assessors is a challenge for most providers, with many establishing work release schemes, supporting trainers/teachers and assessors to continue private practice or to work part-time in industry or engage in workplace vocational education and training delivery”.  Page 29 states ‘Vocational education and training trainers/teachers should be able to demonstrate vocational currency achieved through a recent period of relevant employment or placement in the industry, appropriate to the qualification they are delivering. This should involve the trainer/teacher in an ‘immersion in the field of practice’ in an industry context if they are to gain the most from the learning process’.  Time will tell how this pans out however we expect that this proposed requirement for currency will impose incredible and unreasonable hardship on providers and their ability to manage their business.

d. continue to develop their Vocational Education and Training (VET) knowledge and skills as well as their industry currency and trainer/ assessor competence

This area of the NSSC determination requires trainers and assessors to maintain their knowledge and skills both in training and assessment and their vocational knowledge and skills.  It is about an ongoing requirement to engage in professional development that supports the trainer in becoming a better practitioner but also ensures that their knowledge and skills in industry remain current.  Something that is being experienced by providers at the moment is that they are achieving non-compliance in this area not only because the trainers/assessors have not continued to develop their industry currency and trainer and assessor competence, but the provider has not met its responsibility for informing training and assessment staff of their obligation to maintain currency.  Providers must have in place a clear strategy for achieving compliance with this standard which is clearly communicated to training and assessment staff.  Common ways of ensuring currency include:

  • participating in reviews of training packages and accredited courses

  • Subscribing to industry skills council updates, regulatory authority updates

  • Professional Development Courses specifically designed for the VET Sector including for example the RTO Doctor VET Bootcamp for Trainers and Assessors or any of our customised professional development sessions on developing compliant assessments, mapping, trainer and assessor currency and more

  • Attendance at industry relevant conferences, promotional events and product launches

  • Participation in networks, communities of practice or mentoring activities

  • Release to industry schemes

  • Sessional or casual employment in industry

To assist providers in ensuring that they can always demonstrate trainer and assessor competency and currency that meets the NSSC requirements, RTO Doctor has developed a unique product that provides evidence against all of these requirements.  Ideally conducted as a PD session with session, it can also be purchased as a stand alone document.  RTO Doctor has assisted many providers to demonstrate their compliance against these standards when it mattered most.  If we can assist you and your staff, contact us today to discuss your needs.