26 Aug Training and assessment
This blog explores the requirements in Standard 1 for industry input into training and assessment strategies, resources and assessment methods. It looks at the standard, why this requirement exists and most practically, how RTOs can gain meaningful feedback from industry to improve their training and assessment practices.
What do the standards say?
Standard One of the new standards is focused on our core business – training and assessment. And it states up front that RTO’s training and assessment strategies must be responsive to industry.
It includes two clauses relating specifically to industry relevance, clauses 1.5 and 1.6
These clauses state very clearly that RTOs must engage with industry to inform their
Training and assessment strategies and resources and,
The skills and knowledge required by the trainers and assessor
These requirements are really no different to the previous Standard 15, but they are more explicit.
There is also a note in Standard 1 that industry experts may be involved in assessment validation to ensure they are checked by someone with current industry skills and knowledge but independent of training and assessing the unit.
ASQA’s guide to the standards defines industry engagement as including partnering with local employers, businesses and industry bodies and including them in things such as assessment validation.
Why engage with industry?
We are in the business of helping people get work or improve their current job role. So the obvious response to this question is to provide learners with the skills and knowledge to be work ready. It is a requirement in the Standards for RTOs for this reason.
This is the key aim of meaningful engagement with industry.
But of course there are lots of other positives that come from having close relationships with industry, including:
Collaborating with employers strengthens your brand and confidence in the training you provide. You can develop loyalty, gain more business and testimonials to help grow your RTO.
Building strong networks between your teachers and industry helps maintain their industry currency, credibility with their learners and self confidence in their training and assessment methods. It is often a source of motivation and helps keep their training fresh and interesting.
Your local industry gains an appreciation for the constraints and requirements of RTOs delivering accredited training. Few employers understand the workings of VET and it is an eye opener for many who participate in validation of training and assessment.
Close relationships with industry may lead to work placements and jobs for students, donations of equipment, offers of industry visits and presentations to your staff and students.
What’s in it for industry?
This is a good question to ask before heading out to engage industry, what’s in it for them?
If you can’t answer this then RTOs will find it difficult to get the involvement they hope for.
When contacting people from your local industry explain what it is you’re doing and why they are being invited to participate. Work to understand their needs in terms of employees and explain how their input can help them. And I wouldn’t use the validation word unless you provide a simple definition of what it means. Talk their talk not VET speak.
The key message to give industry is they are being invited to help you train people they want to employ.
Apart from helping you train people with the skills and knowledge they need, industry can also gain by finding quality employees from your students. They can get first pick of the bunch, establish a win-win collaboration.
Industry are also able to see what you are doing and give feedback on what they see as good (and bad) training. Their input may significantly improve the future of their business if they get better trained people.
What type of input do RTOs need from industry?
The Standards provide an overview of what RTOs need to check with industry – training and assessment strategies, resources and the skills of their teaching staff.
Rather than make this a tick and flick affair, here in more detail is the sort of questions to ask your industry representatives, split into two parts.
Part 1 Industry validation of your Training and Assessment Strategies (TAS)
Provide a plain speak, not VET speak, big picture overview of the qualification/s to industry including:
- The duration of training for the qualification
- Who the learners are
- The structure including the core and elective units you deliver
- How it is delivered
- The resources used
- If there is any work placement or work place delivery and/or how you simulate the work environment for training and assessment
Then ask questions such as the following:
- What job roles would people with this qualification expect to have?
- What are your expectations of new employees who graduate with this qualification?
- Are there any emerging industry trends or skills/knowledge that you would like your staff to have?
- Are the elective units chosen appropriate? Are there others we should be offering?
- Do you think the duration of the qualification is sufficient?
- Is the way we have structured delivery logical? Is there some units that you feel could be delivered together?
- Is the RTO appropriately resourced to simulate a workplace environment and/or are the students are assessed in the workplace?
- What skills and knowledge do our trainers need to have to deliver this qualification for the current workplace?
- Do you feel that students completing this course will be sufficiently skilled for employment?
- What current vocational skills and knowledge do trainers need to have to deliver units in this qualification (this may differ for different units
Part 2 Industry validation of your assessments
Once your industry representatives have an understanding of how you deliver a whole qualification, you can ask them for input on your assessments for 2-3 units from the qualification.
In essence, you are checking with industry that your assessments are valid. Assessing what they are meant to assess according to the unit and reflect work practice.
Again, avoid VET speak at all costs! When inviting industry explain that you are checking with them if your assessments are ok. That means are they relevant to current good practice in the workplace?
Here are some good questions to ask:
- Do the assessments reflect good workplace practice? If not, how can they be improved?
- Do the assessments adequately assess that students have both the skills and knowledge required by the workplace? If not, how can we do this better?
- Is the workplace environment appropriately simulated? If not, how can we do this better?
- Do we have adequate resources to deliver the unit to the standard expected?
How can RTOs implement a systematic approach to industry validation?
It depends. There are RTOs who deliver training and assessment in the workplace and for employers to upskill staff. It should be easy for these RTOs to regularly engage with industry to inform the relevance of their training.
However, the majority of RTOs are training learners not already in related work. Without direct connections to industry, gaining meaningful input from industry on training and assessment can be a challenge.
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