What AQF level is appropriate for a qualification that targets a trainer working in the VET sector?

The Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) specifies the expected outcomes for qualifications in Australia. It consists of 10 qualification levels, and has a descriptor for each level.

This article is a case study in using the AQF to determine the appropriate level for a qualification. The aim is to answer the question:

What AQF level is appropriate for a qualification that targets a trainer working in the VET sector?

The target audience are people wanting to work as a trainer in the Australian VET sector. These people have not previously worked in VET. I would narrow the choice to AQF Levels 3, 4, or 5.

For the past 23 years, the qualification for this target audience has been pitched at the AQF Level 4. We are checking if this is still the appropriate level.

Here is the descriptor for the AQF Level 3.

Here is the descriptor for the AQF Level 4.

And here is the descriptor for the AQF Level 5.

The following table makes it a little easier to compare the various levels. Highlighted in ‘red’ are some key words that we can use to explore the difference between the AQF levels.

The current qualification required to be held by trainers working in VET is at the AQF Level 4. The following questions can be used to confirm or dispute the current AQF level.

  • Does a trainer need narrow or broad factual knowledge about training?
  • Does a trainer need skills to complete routine and non-routine activities?
  • Does a trainer need skills to solve a variety of predictable and sometimes unpredictable problems?
  • Does a trainer work in stable or changing environment?
  • Does a trainer have limited responsibilities?

The first four question above can help to differentiate between AQF Levels 3 and 4. The last question begins to differentiate between AQF Levels 4 and 5.

AQF Level 3 qualifications are used for skilled worker occupations. AQF Level 4 qualifications are often used for supervisory occupations. And AQF Level 5 qualifications are often used for management occupations. Does a trainer need to take the responsibility of a skilled worker, supervisor, or manager?

Trainers must supervise people when they deliver group-based training. There is a limit to their responsibilities. RTO management, not the trainer, are ultimately responsible for quality and the delivery of training and assessment services.

What are the consequences of selecting an AQF level that is lower than is required?

If the AQF level for a qualification is too low, then ‘qualified trainers’ will not have the knowledge and skills to perform their job. Delivery of poor quality training and assessment services would follow.

I think the AQF Level 3 is too low for the responsibilities of being a trainer. And the AQF Level 4 seems to be the appropriate qualification level. What do you think?

What are the consequences of selecting an AQF level that is higher than is required?

If the AQF level for a qualification is greater than what is need to perform the occupation, then this will severely limit who can get qualified. The VET system would have insufficient trainers.

I think the AQF Level 7 is far too high for the job role of trainer. And the AQF Level 5 is too high for a new trainer. Currently, there are two TAE Diplomas. One Diploma is used as the pathway to become a senior trainer. And the other Diploma is used as the pathway to become an instructional designer or resource developer.

In conclusion

Some people say AQF Level 4 is too low. Of these people, some say the AQF Level 5 is the correct level. And others say AQF Level 7. To make things really confusing, there are some people who say the AQF Level 3 is the correct level. Not everyone can be right.

But maybe the AQF level of the qualification is not the real issue. Some people find studying to attain their TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification as being too difficult, or too time consuming. This is further complicated because some people may not have the capability to attain the required competencies. Sometimes, the person may have the capability but the training strategy delivered by the RTO does not help the person to learn, or training duration is insufficient.

And some people disagree with certain units of competency being core units, such as TAEASS502 Design and develop assessment tools. ASQA decided that the TAEASS502 unit had to be a core unit. The aim was to improve the quality of assessment. Has the aim been achieved or is there progress towards achieving the aim? I assume that there will soon be a review of the TAE40116 qualification. And this would include a review of the TAE units of competency.

I welcome your comments.

Author: Alan Maguire

35+ years experience as a trainer, instructional designer, quality manager, project manager, program manager, RTO auditor, RTO manager and VET adviser.

2 thoughts on “What AQF level is appropriate for a qualification that targets a trainer working in the VET sector?”

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