Competencies may be attained in a number of ways including through
- Formal or informal education and training
- Experiences in the workplace
- General life experience, and / or
- Any combination of the above.
Assessment leading to an Australian Quality Framework (AQF) qualification or Statement of Attainment may follow a learning and assessment pathway, an assessment-only or recognition pathway or a combination of the two.
Each of these assessment pathways leads to full recognition of competencies held; the critical issue is that the partcipant is competent and not how the competency was acquired.
Assessment by any pathway must comply with the assessment requirements set out in the Assessment Guidelines of the Training Package and the AQF.
Learning and Assessment Pathways
Usually learning and assessment are integrated with the assessment evidence being collected and feedback provided to the participant at any time throughout the learning and assessment process.
Learning and assessment pathways may include structured programs in a variety of contexts using a range of strategies to meet different participant's needs. Structured learning and assessment programs could be group-based, work-based, project-based, self-paced, action learning-based conducted by distance or e-learning and /or involve practice and experience in the workplace.
Learning and assessment pathways to suit Australian apprenticeships have a mix of formal structured training and structured workplace experience with formative assessment activities through which participants can acquire and demonstrate skills and knowledge from the relevant units of competency.
Credits the value assigned for the recognition of equivalence in content between different types of learning and/or qualifications which reduces the volume of learning required to achieve a qualification.
Credit arrangements must be offered by all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that offer Training Package qualifications. Each RTO must have a systematic institutional approach with clear, accessible and transparent policies and procedures. Competency in this Training Package should be recognised regardless of how, when or where they were acquired provided that the learning is relevant to the unit of competency outcomes.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process which determines the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.
The availability RPL provides all potential participants with access to credit opportunities.
The recognition of prior learning pathway is appropriate for participants who have previously attained skills and knowledge and who when enrolling in qualifications seek to shorten the duration of their training and either continue or commence working. This may include the following groups of people:
- Existing workers
- Individuals with overseas qualifications
- Recent migrants with established work histories
- People returning to the workplace and
- People with disabilities or injuries requiring a change in career.
As with all assessment, RPL assessment should be undertaken by academic or teaching staff with expertise in the subject, content of skills area as well as knowledge of and expertise in RPL assessment policies and procedures.
Assessment methods used for RPL should provide a range of ways for individuals to demonstrate that they have met the required outcomes and can be granted credit. These might include:
- Questioning (oral or written)
- Consideration of a portfolio and review of contents
- Consideration of third party reports and/or other documentation such as documentation such as articles, reports, project material, papers, testimonials or other products prepared by the RPL applicant which relate to the learning outcomes of the relevant qualification component
- Mapping of learning outcomes from prior formal or non-formal learning to the relevant
- Qualification components
- Observation of performance and
- Participation in structured assessment activities the individual would normally be required to undertake if they were enrolled in the qualification component/s.
In a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) pathway the participant provides current quality evidence of their competency against the relevant unit of competency. This process may be directed by the particpant and verified by the assessor. Where the outcomes of this process indicate that the participant is competent, structured training is not required. The RPL requirements of the AQTF must be met.
As with all assessment the assessor must be confident the evidence indicates the participant is currently competent against the endorsed unit of competency. This evidence may take a variety of forms and might include certification, references from past employers, testimonials, work samples and/or observation of the participant. The onus is on the participant to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy assessors that they currently hold the relevant competencies. In judging evidence, the assessor must ensure that the evidence of prior learning is:
- Authentic (the participants's own work)
- Valid (directly related to the current version of the relevant endorsed unit of competency)
- Reliable (shows that the participant consistently meets the endorsed unit of competency)
- Current (reflects the partcipant's current capacity to perform the aspect of the work covered by the endorsed unit of competency) and
- Sufficient (covers the full range of elements in the relevant unit of competency and addresses the four dimensions of competency, namely task skills, task management skills, contingency management skills, and job/role environment skills).
Credit transfer is a process that provides participants with agreed and consistent credit outcomes based on equivalences in content between matched qualifications.
This process involves education institutions:
- Mapping, comparing and evaluating the extent to which the defined learning outcomes
- Assessment requirements of the individual components of one qualification are equivalent to the learning outcomes and assessment requirements of the individual components of another qualification
- Making an educational judgment of the credit outcomes to be assigned between the matched components of the two qualifications.
- Setting out the agreed credit outcomes in a documented arrangement or agreement and publicising the arrangement/agreement and credit available.
Combination of Pathways
Credit may be awarded on the basis of a combination of credit transfer plus an individual RPL assessment for additional learning. Once a credit has been awarded on the basis of RPL, subsequent credit transfer based on these learning outcomes should not include revisiting the RPL assessment but should be based on credit transfer or articulation or other arrangements between providers.
Where a participant for assessment has gained competencies through work and life experience and gaps in their competence are identified or where they require training in new areas a combination of pathways may be appropriate.
In such situations the participant may undertake an initial assessment to determine their current competency. Once current competency is identified, a structured learning and assessment program ensures that the participant acquires the required additional competencies identified as gaps.
It is important that education providers take meaningful, transparent and reasonable steps to consult, consider and implement reasonable adjustments for participants with disability.
Under the Disability Standards for Education providers must make reasonable adjustments for people with disability to the maximum extent that those adjustments do not cause that provider unjustifiable hardship. While 'reasonable adjustment' and 'unjustifiable hardship' are different concepts and involve different considerations they both seek to strike a balance between the interests of education providers and the interests of students with and without disability.