The AQF, Volume of Learning, Regulation and RTO’s

So as some of you are aware (some more than others) I went to the Brisbane AQF Implementation workshop today.

It moved pretty slowly but I had always expected that and then the presentation moved to Volume of Learning, and what it meant and its implications and things livened up into a quite rigorous discussion let by Tony Feagan, whom I am sure a lot of you know are issues with the delivery of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and what implications the statements around volume of Learning would have on stopping the very shoddy delivery and assessment of this qualification that goes on in some RTO’s.

I want to move away from that particular discussion however and look at something that I have to admit vexed me a little more about the whole discussion and situation.  It seems and correct me if I am wrong that the Industry Skills Councils, who are tasked to administer and develop the VET qualifications, should be writing the qualifications in such a manner that it if assessed properly, the length of time it would take someone to be able to be assessed as competent in the Qualification would meet the Volume of Learning rules.  Therefore an RTO who was delivering a Qualification in under the time set out in the Volume of Learning would need to show how and why it was that they were able to do that.

But on the other hand, and again correct me if I am wrong, if the RTO can show sufficient evidence to support the fact that that it has meet the assessment criteria for the unit, then there is nothing that the regulator can do about them being under the volume of learning.  Which seems to me to mean that the ball is firmly in the court of the Industry Skills Councils to get this right and to actually put some robust assessment criteria, such as as some quoted today, in one of the hospitality qualification the student has to prepare a dish 57 times, successfully using all of the skills in the unit of competency.  Does this mean that they might do things like state the minimum actual placement (not simulation) hours that someone doing an aged care or community services qualification would have to undertake?

The other thing that vexed me as the statement ‘well if you have signed up to be an RTO then it is your responsibility to abide by the rules not ASQA’s job to crack down on you’ now while this is correct and is in fact the role of a regulator it strikes me that there is a deeper issue here as well.  Both the VET and HE markets in Australia (as they are almost everywhere) are commercial competitive markets, with a whole range of ways, from Fee for service, to traineeships, to shall we say bulk funding which is to a large extent (and going to become more so in QLD) competitive and contestable.  So it stands to reason unless there are actual, enforceable consequences around not delivery nothing will actually change.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

3 Responses to The AQF, Volume of Learning, Regulation and RTO’s

  1. Neville Coward says:

    Paul sorry that we did not get an opportunity to meet up at the session today. You are correct – the onus does fall on the ISCs to provide much more robust criteria that forms the basis from which a ‘competent’ outcome can be attributed. Remember though that TPs are developed in consultation with industry and others including RTOs. So why is industry not driving more specific performance requirements such as those mentioned in the hospitality qualifications. If I may just a small correction – the ‘Holistic’ units in hospitality
    Level 2 – SITHCCC207 Use cookery skills effectively (1st criteria in Evidence Guide – prepare and serve multiple items for a minimum of 12complete service periods (shifts)
    Level 3 – SITHCCC309 Work effectively as a cook. (1st criteria in Evidence Guide -prepare, cook and present multiple items for a minimum of 48 complete food service periods (shifts) including: breakfast; dinner; lunch; special function)
    Service has similar but I will not detail it all here::
    SITHIND202 Use hospitality skills effectively
    SITHIND301 Work effectively in hospitality service.

    These Holistic units assess not single tasks but that application or skills and knowledge as carried out in context – i.e. the work environment – that is work as a chef which may mean running a number of kitchen shifts as the shift head or second (Sous) chef, as head of a section in large kitchen or as head waiter/shift/duty/ supervisor in the food and beverage stream (all Cert III level activities).

    Remember the Volume of Learning is aligned to what it would take for a new entrant to the industry to successfully achieve the qualification – so an RTO should be able to determine the Volume of Learning for new entrants in their L&A (TAS for some) Strategy then modify this to account for a number of determining factors which may include, for example:
    – skills level of cohort – RPL, Credits, working in the sector etc.
    – mode of delivery
    – workplace of classroom
    – practical application of skills through a program (such as having students in part time or casual work in their chosen field whilst undertaking studies as full/part time students) – Like vocational placement I would suggest a way validating this – 3rd part reports perhaps or assessors talking to their employers,

    As Tony indicated today (and I agree) the regulator is hamstrung by a lack of clearly identifiable outcomes identified in training packages. The hospitality example (which some RTOs will still find ways around) provides much clearer guidelines from which to demonstrate application of skills and knowledge which to me is one of the key missing ingredients (pardon the hospitality pun!)
    As for the Cert IV in TAE – Unless IBSA really makes a stand (not like the earlier iteration that was aimed at stopping the short – dare I say 5 day programs!) and:
    – applies the volume of learning and specific performance criteria AND
    – recommend – enforce?? that this is an entry level qualification for VET and people holding only the Cert IV as their only VET based educational qualification must work under supervision (Tony suggested the traineeship pathway which is one option already available) AND
    – that those VET trainers and Assessors must work on achieving higher level VET educational qualifications to be deemed a qualified Trainer and Assessor…

    we will never see the quality of trainers and assessors required to deliver the quality of VET outcomes we are striving for.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Neville, Sorry I missed you as well, I had to leave early as I had another commitment to get to. I actually feel quite a bit of sympathy for the role that ASQA has in this situation and to be honest I am doubtful that any changes made to the TP’s by the ISC’s will make their job any easier, their are too many variables it seems and too much room for ‘innovative, accelerated learning methodologies’ (I actually heard someone say that when asked how they could deliver the Cert IV TAE over a weekend) which can be manipulated to appear to meet the assessment criteria, yet really not produce the outcomes required.

      As to why business is pushing for more specific criteria, I am not sure that their not, I know in aged care and community services we would love to see mandated placement hours requirements (not just simulated either), but the ISC’s dont seem to want to move in that direction generally saying that it is too restrictive and doesnt allow for alternate delivery models and too some extent I understand. These are some of the reasons why we maintain our own RTO in the group so that we can ensure the people we train have sufficient practical experience. We don’t do much external RTO business because people come to us and when we tell them about our requirements, they go, well RTO ‘X’ down the road can do it in 12 days so why would I come to you.

      The TAE thing is problematic in two ways, one because we as an industry are not getting the outcomes we need, and two without quality trainers and assessors how can we hope to lift the level of training being delivered.

  2. Neville Coward says:

    Perhaps another time Paul.

    Summary of AQF workshop Brisbane

    I thought it might be useful if I shared and overview some the key points/learning from the Brisbane AQF Workshop yesterday which I believe might be useful for RTOs and others.
    If I make any assumptions, incorrect interpretations or errors please feel free to correct or challenge and add your comments.

    1. Issuance of Qualification – For Qld RTOs who may not be aware the 21 day timeline to issue a qualification no longer applies for any student – now within a reasonable period (not the specific terminology) . I believe that there is still a requirement for 14 day notification to Skills Qld and employers in regards to having issued the Qual or SoA to an apprentice or trainee however.

    2. Qualification template, SoA and Record of Results – AQF have developed a new template for RTOs to use if the wish when transitioned to issuing qualifications in accordance with the AQF. New AQF logo and the AQF requirements – all NSSC requirements must be added to this template as well. A requirement also to identify all or any part of a qualification delivered in a language other than English.
    Statement of Attainment – as now – for Completed units of competency (must also identify language other than English as above)
    Record of Results – contains all units – completed, not completed, withdrawn etc. (what TAFE called an Academic Record). Language requirement here as well if any part not delivered in English.

    3. ASSC must ensure that All qualifications/Accredited courses and UoC are, where required, amended to the AQF requirements by 31/12/2014. All new enrolments after this date must be in the AQF compliant qualifications/Accredited courses and UoC. Existing enrolled (continuing) students will either continue to complete under current arrangements of transition into the updated AQF ones – at no disadvantage to the student.

    4. Graduate Vocational Certificate/Dip – will now align with the HE sector terms with the term ‘Vocational’ to be removed from these qualifications. They remain at their respective AQF levels.

    5. Generic Learning Outcomes – Generic learning outcomes are explicitly identified in the qualification and align with the level of the qualification type, the purpose of the qualification and the discipline. Generic learning outcomes fall into four broad categories: fundamental skills; people skills; thinking skills; and personal skills. In the vocational education and training sector they are expressed as foundation skills.
    Employability Skills will go. Business as usual until RTOs are advised by NSSC in regard to changes in regard to reporting against ES.

    6. Re-issuing of qualifications – nothing really new here but – be sure to issue with the following information: Original Qualification; Date original qual was issued; Re-issue date.
    It was noted that some ‘smart’ people are claiming they have lost their qualification and RTOs have issued the latest qualification as a replacement instead a re-issue of the original – if you still have the original template then use that as well – if not then you can used your current template but it must be clear that it is a re-issue and with the details above clearly included. .
    For RTOs that are no longer registered for the qualification you can still re-issue it providing the dates of the original issuing conforms with your registration as it was at the time.

    7. Volume of Learning (VoL) – This is related to the qualification – not individual UoC. The term ‘Nominal Duration’ is used but this has no relationship with Nominal Hours (mainly used for funding purposes).
    VoL is an integral part of the qualification descriptor assigned at the development / Accreditation phase. VoL defines the complexity of a qualification as it relates to the needs of a ‘new entrant’ to the field of study.
    It reflects the Nominal Duration (not nominal hours as is used currently) of all teaching & learning activities required to the learning outcomes at a specific AQF level and of the qualification – that is – Knowledge, Skills and the Application of the knowledge and skills to be deemed competent across all aspects of the qualification.
    Delivery time may vary depending on things like, delivery method; prior skills etc.

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