What tasks do trainers do?


Some people are working towards shifting Australia’s VET system from being a ‘training system’ to being an ‘education system’.

I have recently written articles exploring the difference between ‘training’ and ‘teaching’, and the difference between ‘trainers’ and ‘teachers’. I appreciate that there can be a crossover but the responses to my articles have overwhelmingly endorsed my view that there is a difference.

A difference between teaching and training can be expressed as:

  • Teaching is about imparting knowledge and providing information, while training is about developing capabilities.
  • Teaching is more theoretical and abstract, while training is more hands-on and practical.
  • Teaching is more academic and knowledge based, while training is more practical and skills based or job focused.

In the Australian context, vocational education and training (VET) is about helping others learn to perform work tasks and activities. The prime focus has been on helping people get a job or get a better job. And the prime role of a trainer or TAFE teacher has been to deliver ‘training’, not ‘teaching’. Training involves ‘hands-on learning’. It involves performing the task or activity, and practicing until it has been learnt. Some learning is quick and easy. And sometimes learning can be a long and slow process.

Training involves ‘hands-on learning’

Tasks performed by trainers

Australia’s VET system has been organised around qualifications. Each qualification relates to an occupation or a job function. However, in the past decade, skill sets have emerged to develop skills relating to part of a job. It is highly likely that the required qualification to be a trainer working in the VET sector will be reviewed during 2021/22. I look forward to the TAE40122 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification, or whatever the qualification code and title will be. Maybe there will be more than one qualification targeting the work needs of different types of trainers.

An Australian VET qualification is meant to be a pathway to an occupational outcome. A review of the current TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification will require an analysis of the work tasks and activities performed by trainers and assessors.

The main target audience for the TAE40116 qualification are individuals delivering training and assessment services in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

The following are some tasks performed by trainers and assessors working in the Australian VET sector:

  • Complete administrative tasks
  • Design and develop training and assessment resources
  • Plan, organise, and deliver training
  • Plan, organise, and conduct assessments
  • Participate in assessment validation and moderation activities
  • Evaluate training and assessment services
  • Plan, organise, and monitor learning in the workplace
  • Maintain and enhance vocational competencies.

Task titles can be vague

The task titles above may be a bit vague. Knowledge and skills required to perform a task can be hidden in the details. Therefore, the following begins to clarify some of the typical tasks performed by a trainer, without getting into too much details.

Complete administrative tasks may include the following sub-tasks:

  • Attend meetings
  • Reply to emails
  • Resolve issues.

Design and develop training and assessment resources may include the development of technology based resources and non-technology based resources. There may be an advantage to splitting this task into two sub-tasks:

  • Design and develop assessment resources
  • Design and develop training resources.

It has become a common task for trainers to address adult language, literacy, and numeracy skills. Many adult learners have LLN skills that are less than the required level for the specified outcome of the training program. This task would be performed in conjunction with the delivery of training and assessment of competency.

Plan, organise, and deliver training may include the following sub-tasks:

  • Plan and prepare for the delivery of training
  • Request facilities or equipment required for assessment
  • Conduct safety risk assessment
  • Gather training materials, including photocopying
  • Ensure safe learning environment
  • Deliver group-based training
  • Maintain records, including attendance and participation records
  • Provide support and training to an individual
  • Gather feedback or evaluation data about training services.

Plan, organise, and conduct assessments may include the following sub-tasks:

  • Request facilities or equipment required for assessment
  • Conduct safety risk assessment
  • Gather assessment materials, including photocopying
  • Ensure safe assessment environment
  • Assess competence
  • Maintain records, including assessment evidence and results
  • Gather feedback or evaluation data about training and assessment services.

RTOs may require their trainers and assessors to participate in assessment validation and moderation activities. This is an important task for ensuring quality and continuous improvement.

RTOs may require their trainers and assessors to analyse feedback and evaluate training and assessment services. This task may include identifying trends and recommending improvements.

Plan, organise, and monitor learning in the workplace is required when coordinating apprenticeships, traineeships, or work placements.

Trainers and assessors must maintain and enhance their vocational competencies, including their the continued development of their training and assessment skills (as specified by the Standards for RTOs).

Note: Additional tasks may be performed by an experienced trainer or senior TAFE teacher. For example, supervise and mentor new trainers.

Are all VET trainers the same?

Not all trainers perform the same tasks or spend the same amount of time on performing a particular task or activity.

There can be a difference determined by the type of trainer:

  • Full-time trainer
  • Casual trainer
  • Volunteer trainer
  • School teacher who delivers a VET in Schools program
  • Workplace or industry trainer who’s main job is not being a trainer.

The following table gives an indicative amount of time on performing the various tasks.

In conclusion

I am seeking your help to further clarify or confirm the tasks performed by trainers. A clear understanding of work tasks and activities can have, and should have, an impact on the future qualification or qualifications required to be a trainer.

  • Are the tasks I have identified, the tasks performed by trainers?
  • Are my estimates for the indicative amount of time performing each task reasonable?
  • Are there other tasks performed by trainers that I haven’t listed? For example, should I include ‘design and develop a training program’ task?
  • Do you think there should be one TAE qualification for all trainers, or should there be different qualifications for different types of trainers?

If there are different qualifications we may have some trainers restricted in moving from one type of RTO to another type of RTO, or from one type of employment as a trainer to another. This may create a ‘gap training’ requirement, and a delay in taking up new job or career opportunities until the ‘qualified trainer’ gets further qualified. Is it desirable to set up two categories of ‘qualified trainers’? Would this confuse would-be trainers? How many would-be trainers will want to pay money to become a ‘qualified but restricted trainer’?

I welcome your comments.

I am especially keen to hear from RTO managers who employ trainers. What tasks do you want a ‘qualified trainer’ to perform when they work for your RTO?

Author: Alan Maguire

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

4 thoughts on “What tasks do trainers do?”

  1. Hi Alan, I was wondering if you would be able to help me with or send me in the right direction for my research project for Dip TAE. My question is “In what ways can trainers best teach Vetdds learners to keep themselves engaged?” I am finding it difficult locating information on this topic and I feel that I am just looking at information relating to primary and early high school ages. Hope your keeping well Rebecca Prys

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Hi Rebecca,

      I prefer to focus on training VET learner rather than teaching VET learner because I believe ‘training’ can be far more engaging than ‘teaching’. But that does not nay your question.

      To answer your question, have you searched for research or discussion papers published by the NCVER? I think you will find relevant information from the NCVER.

      Also, you may find information for the ‘Good practice in VET teaching and learning’ funded by the Victorian Government:

      Good luck with your Dip TAE research project.

      Kind regards,


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