What credentials do trainers need?

Introduction

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what tasks do trainers perform and what credentials do trainers need. This was triggered by the release of the Australian Skills Classification by the National Skills Commission. The occupation profile for a vocational trainer described in the Australian Skills Classification was appalling. My various thoughts have been recently published in four articles:

I would like to thank the many people who commented in response to these previous articles on this topic. In this article, I want to put together my many and varied thoughts.

What tasks are performed by trainers?

Qualifications must have an occupational outcome. Therefore, we need to develop an occupation profile based on work tasks and activities performed by a trainer. There are different types of trainers and not all trainers perform the same range of tasks.

What are the different types of trainers?

Some trainers work as part of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system. And some do not. This is the first significant difference between trainers:

  • VET trainers
  • Non-VET trainers.

Another difference is the job role performed: [1]

  • Employed as a VET trainer (TAFE, private RTO, other RTO)
  • Employed in a job role other than a VET trainer (experienced worker, workplace supervisor, workplace manager, etc.)
  • School teacher delivering a VET in Schools program.

And another difference is the employment status: [1]

  • Permanent employee (full-time and part-time employee)
  • Non-permanent employee (casual, sessional or employed under fixed-term or short-term contract)
  • Volunteer.

What are the different types of RTOs?

It has been said that VET trainers perform different tasks depending on the type of RTO they work for. The Education IRC identified six types of RTOs: [2]

  • TAFE Institute
  • University RTO
  • Private RTO
  • School RTO
  • Community RTO
  • Enterprise RTO.

I am not convinced that a person delivering training and assessment services for different types of RTOs actually perform profoundly different tasks:

  • Are trainers expected to deliver training?
  • Are trainer expected to keep training records?
  • Are trainers expected to monitor progress?
  • Are trainers expected to resolve issues?
  • Are trainers expected to assess competence?
  • Are trainers expected to keep assessment records?

Fundamentally, I think trainers will perform the same core tasks regardless of the type of RTO they work for. Some people may disagree with me, but they haven’t provided any details to persuade me otherwise.

I do acknowledge that trainers may operate under different conditions:

  • Different types of learners, with different characteristics and needs
  • Different types of content for different industry sectors
  • Different types of training and assessment resources
  • Different types of locations where training and assessment is conducted
  • Different technology to be used (Moodle, Canvas, other LMS, Zoom, Cisco Webex, other web conferencing platform, etc.).

The different conditions do not essentially alter the work tasks or activities performed by a trainer. One important feature of the Australian VET system is ‘contextualisation’, and this allows RTOs to customise what they deliver to respond to different conditions. Therefore, an RTO delivering a TAE Certificate IV qualification can tailor content for a particular learner group need.

What qualifications, skill sets, and units of competency are needed?

Units of competency are used to describe the performance of work tasks and activities. They are then used as the building blocks for qualifications and skill sets. The needs of industry determines qualifications, skill sets, and units of competency. And the VET industry is mainly represented by the VET regulators, in particular ASQA, lobby groups, and the employers of VET trainers.

What are the regulatory requirements?

VET is highly regulated to ensure quality and to protect clients. The regulations specify the credentials that must be held by a VET trainer.

Deliver training within the VET context

An RTO’s training must be delivered only by a person who has the appropriate credential. Currently, this credential is the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education. [3]

Where the RTO engages an individual, who does not hold the appropriate credential, the individual can deliver training but they must be supervised by a person who does have the appropriate credential. The supervisor must monitor the individual under their supervision. And the supervisor is accountable for the quality of the training provided and the quality of assessment evidence collected. [3]

Assess competency within the VET context

Assessment must be conducted by a person who has attained the following units of competency: [3]

  • TAEASS401 Plan assessment activities and processes
  • TAEASS502 Design and develop assessment tools
  • TAEASS402 Assess competence
  • TAEASS403 Participate in assessment validation.

Alternatively, the person conducting assessments can have a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education. [3] Do all higher-level qualifications in adult education ensure competence in the TAEASS401, TAEASS402, TAEASS403, and TAEASS502 units?

Where the RTO engages an individual, who does not hold the appropriate credential, the individual can contribute to assessment by collecting assessment evidence and providing it to a ‘qualified assessor’. It is the ‘qualified assessor’ who is accountable for the assessment process and determines the assessment outcome. The ‘unqualified individual’ is prohibited from determining assessment outcomes. [3]

Industry experts may also be involved in the assessment judgement, working alongside the ‘qualified assessor’. Again, it is the ‘qualified assessor’ who is accountable for the assessment process and determines the assessment outcome. The ‘unqualified individual’ is prohibited from determining assessment outcomes. [3]

What tasks are performed by a trainer?

The following diagram shows the relationship between:

  • Tasks performed by a trainer
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Qualifications, skill sets, and units of competency.

I acknowledge that not all trainers perform the same range of tasks. Some work for RTOs and others do not, and maybe some RTOs expect their trainers to do things that are not required when working for other RTOs. Therefore, I have created five categories of trainer.

Category 1 trainer

  • Deliver training within a non-VET context
  • Deliver training under supervision within a VET context
  • Prohibited from conducting assessment within a VET context

Category 2 trainer

  • Deliver training under supervision within a VET context
  • Contribute to assessments within a VET context
  • Prohibited from conducting assessments within a VET context

Category 3 trainer

  • Deliver training under supervision within a VET context
  • Conduct assessments within a VET context

Category 4 trainer

  • Perform the role of trainer or TAFE teacher
  • Deliver training within a VET context
  • Conduct assessments within a VET context
  • Has the capability to design and develop training and assessment resources
  • Has the capability to participate in assessment validation and moderation activities

Category 5 trainer

  • Perform the role of senior trainer or senior TAFE teacher
  • Has all the capabilities to perform the role of a Category 4 trainer
  • Has the capability to design and develop training and assessment strategies
  • Has the capability to lead assessment validation and moderation activities
  • Has the capability to evaluate training and assessment services
  • Supervise or mentor trainers or TAFE teachers.

The following table identifies the typical tasks performed by each category of trainer.

Tasks performed will determine the category. For example:

What category would match the requirements of a school teacher who is delivering a VET in Schools program? Probably, most would be a Category 3 trainer. Some would be a Category 4 trainer.

What category would match the requirements for a volunteer trainer working for a community-based RTO? Depending on the RTO requirements and supervision arrangements, the volunteer could be Category 1, 2, 3, or 4 trainer.

How to select the appropriate qualification or skill set

The following diagram can be used to help select the appropriate qualification or skill set.

A person only needs the TAE Certificate IV if:

  • They are a trainer working in the VET system
  • They will be responsible for conducting assessments
  • They will not work under supervisions (as per the Standards for RTOs)
  • They a new to the VET system.

Is AQF Level 4 appropriate for VET trainers?

The qualification for new trainers has been at the AQF Level 4 for the past 23 years. Some people think that the current qualification for VET trainers is at the wrong AQF level. I think it is the right level because of the supervision responsibilities of a trainer: supervise learners, supervise their safety, supervise their progress, etc.

Should there be more than one TAE Certificate IV qualifications?

Some people suggest that more than one TAE Certificate IV qualification is needed. How many qualification are needed? What units of competency would be included in each qualification? What units of competency would be the same? And what units of competency would be different?

I am not convinced that we need multiple qualifications. If people think some tasks are not being covered, then maybe the solution is have a few elective units. Currently, the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification only has provision for one elective unit. If there was two or three elective units, then RTOs could select electives to meet different needs. Having said that, most RTOs would probably continue to deliver a fixed program.

In conclusion

In this article, I have introduced the concept of five categories of trainers.

Each category is supported by a different credential. Category 1, 2, and 3 trainers are covered by skill sets. Category 4 trainers are covered by a Certificate IV, and Category 5 trainers are covered by a Diploma. A pathway from Category 1 trainer to Category 5 trainer is provided with minimal duplication. In other words, one credential leads onto the next.

References

[1] https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/publications/all-publications/understanding-the-australian-vocational-education-and-training-workforce accessed 20 April 2021

[2] Education IRC, Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work, March 2019 assessed 20 April 2021

[3] https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019C00503 accessed 20 April 2021

Author: Alan Maguire

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

3 thoughts on “What credentials do trainers need?”

  1. A very detailed and critical analysis of a very varied landscape.
    Excellent argument and dissemination in a reasoned argument that holds great merit.
    Derek Bailey

    Like

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