Thursday, 18 July 2013

VET Quality Framework and AQTF Compliance Tips

Achieving and maintaining compliance is obviously an enormous undertaking for a registered training organisation of any size. It is achieved with substantial planning from the outset and throughout the RTO’s existence, as the institution needs to adapt to changing circumstances and consistently improve on its processes and procedures in order to stay compliant with the VET Quality Framework or the AQTF. For this reason, an organisation looking to gain approval should seek professional support to develop strategies and techniques.

As well as getting assistance from professional RTO consultants, keeping up-to-date with compliance requirements and looking to understand the processes is crucial. In fact, possibly the most important part of what an RTO support specialist does is to train and educate management on compliance with the applicable standards such as the National VET Quality Framework including the five legislative instruments or if regulated by Victoria or Western Australian then by the AQTF. Here are some basic tips that every potential RTO should keep in mind.
  1. Internal audits should be as strict as possible. This means you’ll be as prepared as you can be on the day of the regulators audit. While some of the evidence of the RTO’s compliance may be uploaded to a secure cloud, auditors are likely to request information that exists only as a hard copy (CV’s, staff qualifications, receipts). Make sure you’ve got this paperwork handy as it’s your responsibility to produce it if requested.
  2. Ideally, you should conduct full internal audits yearly, and/or conduct mini-audits every month and cover a few standards from input to output. Conducting a mini-audit every month means that you can stay on top of non-compliances that you might otherwise have not noticed, and that may have become more of an issue later on.
  3. The VET Quality Framework [or AQTF, if State Regulated] standards for RTOs are subject to change and reform quite frequently, for example the new AVQS which will be the New National Standards in the coming years. So it’s very important that you keep up-to-date with current compliance requirements. You should commit to regularly visiting the ASQA website and constantly educating yourself as much as possible.
  4. Understand that committing to constant improvement benefits the organisation in more ways than one. A strict audit effectively reveals shortcomings and deficiencies of the assessment process - effectively the efficiency - of the organisation. Risk and quality management issues are therefore also taken into account and acting on an audit ensures that the quality of the education offered remains high.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Importance of RTO Compliance Support

If you have been successful in becoming a Registered Training Organisation, you are likely aware of how involved and time-consuming it can be to maintain compliance with the VET Quality Framework or Australian Quality Training Framework. RTO compliance support has become a highly demanded service, and for good reason.

Time and time again, small institutions have underestimated this process and have assumed that once RTO approval is earned, it is not difficult to keep. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case, and many of these businesses simply can’t satisfy the requirements. The fact is that organisations need to allocate ample resources to this effort prior to and throughout the time they are a RTO.

Part of this involves setting out policies and procedures detailing the internal processes that will take place in line with the respective training package, legislative instruments, assessment tools etc… The Regulators conduct audits of RTO’s at various stages of the registration period. Some RTOs are audited more often than others and this may relate to one or a combination of reasons, for example, the RTO may have a high risk qualification on scope, or the regulator has received complaints about the RTO.

The implementation of a rigorous Internal Audit process is highly recommended and will help the RTO to ensure it provides a quality educational experience for its students whilst maintaining compliance. It is generally suggested that RTO’s conduct internal audits on a yearly basis and/or mini audits to self assess the organisation according to the government standards, the RTO policies, procedures and ensuring that intent is actioned. The completion of internal audits makes it much easier to uncover non compliances that may then be corrected in a timely manner. Conducting internal audits demonstrates an institutions commitment to risk analysis and mitigation, which is recognised by the registering authorities as a good quality assurance practice.

A Professional Education Consultant will generally be able to uncover numerous potential contraventions within the RTO; findings will be presented in the audit report - for correction by the RTO prior to a regulators audit. Education Consultants are able to offer services including audits, regulator audit report review and analysis, scope increase, re-registration advice, staff training, support for new RTOs registration, development of policies, procedures and to guide rectifications.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Difficulty of Becoming a Registered Training Organisation

In Australia, a registered training organisation (also referred to as a RTO) is an educational body that is accepted as being a provider of nationally recognised training and assessment. Ultimately, it is an institution that trains students and provides them qualifications that are relevant and valid to the needs of industry. The RTO title also acts as an assurance to students and other individuals that the organisation provides quality training services.

The process of becoming a RTO can be a very complicated and expensive, and it’s often underestimated by businesses. As a result, many companies looking to gain and maintain registration can face significant financial burdens if they do not properly budget and plan comprehensive RTO policies and procedures for this process. This is why it is generally recommended that companies obtain RTO registration help when starting out, however it can be just as important to have ongoing assistance and support after registration to ensure compliance to relevant laws.

Much of the difficulty faced by RTO’s comes about due to the requirement to be 100 percent compliant at all times. The Australian government’s responsibility is to protect students and to ensure quality training services are provided, this flows on to the RTO as it is also their responsibility. By allowing an institution to be registered as a RTO, the government is effectively putting its stamp of approval on said organisation. To gain this approval, the organisation needs to maintain compliance with the respective framework which may be the VET Quality Framework or Australian Quality Training Framework, and continue to provide quality training at a high level, taking into consideration the interests of its students.

Given the complexity of the process, comprehensive planning is crucial for any organisation looking to become a RTO. Poor or rushed planning on the part of an organisation can be disastrous from a financial perspective. It is not uncommon for organisations to try and gain registration as cheaply as possible, only to be closed down by the regulator some short time later. If a RTO fails to allocate enough of its attention to meeting the respective standards, there is a high risk of forced closure in the future. There are, however, companies such as Skynet Corporation that specialise in RTO consultancy and can help clients with the process of becoming registered, and most importantly, providing quality support services to help the RTO maintain registration.