Vocational competency refers to current industry knowledge, skills and experience that relates to the training product being delivered and at the level being delivered.
This does not mean the trainer/assessor is required to hold the exact qualification or any specific unit of competency; unless that is specified in the training product being delivered.
The MSS Sustainability units of competency outline how the assessor can meet the requirements for vocational competency and currency in the Assessment Conditions:
- Technical competence can be demonstrated through:
- relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment AND/OR
- relevant workplace experience
- Currency can be demonstrated through:
- performing the competency being assessed as part of current employment OR
- having consulted with an organisation providing relevant environmental monitoring, management or technology services about performing the competency being assessed within the last twelve months.
Demonstrate = evidence
However, where your trainer/assessors do not hold the exact qualification/units being delivered you do need to analyse the content of those units of competency and ensure that each trainer/assessor can demonstrate those knowledge and skills.
‘Demonstrate’ requires evidence. So the next step is to identify the types of evidence that your trainer/assessors should provide to demonstrate their vocational competency. And your processes for reviewing the evidence and documenting the outcomes and evidence.
Ultimately demonstrating vocational competency is a recognition process – even though it does not lead to a qualification or Statement of Attainment. It should apply the rigour of any assessment process and meet the rules of evidence and the principles of assessment.
The key steps in the process are to:
- Review the units that you want to deliver to identify relevant vocational competency needs
- Plan the types and amount of evidence you think will be suitable to demonstrate those vocational competencies
- Provide this guidance to your trainer/assessors to help them collate their evidence
- Document your processes and map the evidence to relevant vocational competencies and/or units of competency
- Submit evidence to the registering body with your application for scope of registration.
As with your usual recognition process you will need to consider issues such as:
- How many and which types of evidence to accept
- Whether you will conduct an interview or ‘competency conversation’ or similar activity
- How you will manage or guide the process so that you have consistent evidence from your trainer/assessors
- Who will review and sign off the evidence to be submitted to the registering body
- How you will map the relationship between evidence, vocational competencies and/or units of competency
- Whether you will enlist external experts to review the evidence and provide an opinion; and, if so, how you will manage it
- What documentation and how much detail you will submit to the registering body.
Types of evidence
For the MSS Sustainability qualifications the evidence of vocational competency is likely to come from a combination of practical on the job experience and training courses and/or qualifications. You may also want to collect evidence through an interview or ‘competency conversation’ with the trainer/assessor.
The evidence of practical experience might be in the form of workplace documentation, resumes, duty statements and third party reports from supervisors or line managers.
The evidence of training and qualifications might be in the form of statements of attendance, Statements of Attainment, testamurs, enterprise training records.
A competency conversation would be targeted to gaps that are identified from a review of the evidence. The topics covered and the key points in the discussion must be documented; this is the the evidence.
All evidence should include sufficient detail to show how it relates to vocational competency in specific aspects of sustainability at particular levels of responsibility. For example:
- A CV or resume should include details about each position listed and how it is relevant to sustainability. This could include the specific responsibilities of the position, the projects or activities undertaken and outcomes achieved.
- Certification from a training course or qualification should include, or be accompanied by, details about the course. This might be an outline of the course content, the learning outcomes, the skills developed and/or the assessment activities undertaken.
- A third party report should include details about the activities, responsibilities and outcomes in the workplace. It should explain the role of the author and why they are qualified to make the report and explain the basis of the opinion in the report.
As with any recognition process you will need to review the details of a course, qualification or job role so that you can map them to specific units of competency. You will need to consider:
- Relevance to specific units of competency that you will be delivering
- Alignment to AQF levels
- Partial or complete coverage of the skills and knowledge in the units of competency
- Currency and authenticity of the evidence.
Supporting evidence from subject matter experts (SMEs)
You may want to provide additional evidence to the registering body to support your application. In this scenario supporting evidence would be provided from subject matter experts (SMEs) with expertise in sustainability.
This is an added step where your evidence and mapping will be reviewed by the selected subject matter experts. The outcomes of their review can be submitted to the registering body as additional evidence to support your case.
You might find an individual SME that has expertise across all of the skills and knowledge within the units you want to work with.
This option is appropriate where it is clear that an individual has significant experience and knowledge in the skill covered in the unit of competency. This could be, for example, someone who has been performing the role for some time, or a manager who has experience in the skills or closely related skills.
Or you might use a panel that brings together a number of experts to cover the full range of skills and knowledge. In a panel you could include someone with assessment expertise and this can help to ensure the validity of the recognition process.
This option is appropriate where it is not possible to identify an individual with all of the knowledge and skills in the unit. The panel would be drawn from a similar pool of expertise, but each panel member would contribute only part of the skills and knowledge. You may decide to use a panel that is made up of industry expertise and RTO expertise. The panel might include members from your organisation as well as external members. It could be virtual panel that reviews the evidence via email rather than holding a meeting.
Things to consider in designing your panel and review process:
- How to ensure that the evidence submitted is valid, sufficient, authentic and current
- Privacy issues
- Selection criteria for SMEs (industry experts should have relevant industry skills and experience)
- Difficulties and costs in convening face to face meetings
- Risks in managing a virtual panel
- Optimal and manageable size of a panel
- Guidelines and protocols for SMEs to promote consistent process and interpretation of the evidence
- What documentation you will collect.
Whether you decide to work with an individual subject matter expert or a panel you will need to identify people with suitable expertise. Your analysis of the units of competency you want to deliver will enable you to develop the selection criteria for your experts.
Expertise implies a breadth and depth of knowledge of the subject and significant experience in related skills. You may find experienced personnel in many different areas of a business who are now applying their skills in sustainability. These might include areas such as:
- Compliance with regulations
- Mapping carbon footprints
- Developing policies and procedures for sustainability
- Health safety and environment (HSE)
- Work control systems
- Field sampling and testing
- Environmental management systems
- Site management/coordination
- Business efficiency or continuous improvement systems
- Energy/resource efficiency.
While it is important to focus on specific skills and knowledge rather than job roles, there are some roles that have a good potential for skills and knowledge that relate or can be applied to sustainability.
For the Sustainable Operations qualifications and units of competency subject matter experts might be drawn from people with significant experience in roles such as senior technician, engineer or consultant with a technical background or similar roles.
For Environmental Monitoring and Technology qualifications and units of competency subject matter experts might be drawn from people with significant experience in roles such as senior environmental technician or environmental officer, site manager, environmental manager, environmental scientist or similar roles.
Registering body decision
In terms of getting the MSS Sustainability qualifications or units on scope it will be the registering body that decides whether an RTO has the capacity to deliver. So it is important to provide sufficient evidence of relevant experience and make it clear how the evidence maps to the qualifications and units that you will be delivering. See Documentation.
Keep in mind that the registering body may have specific models for mapping the skills of your trainers and assessors, and may require that you map the skills of each trainer/assessor to specific units of competency that they can deliver.
In this scenario you will review the evidence provided by your trainer/assessors and evaluate it against the vocational competencies you have identified as relevant to your scope of registration. You will make a judgement about whether they have provided sufficient evidence that it is relevant and current. If so, you can submit the documentation to the registering body.
Keep in mind that you are making a case to the registering body so that your business can achieve its goals. You can help your case by submitting evidence that is relevant and presented in a clear and concise way. Try to make it easy for the registering body to see the relationship between your evidence and the units of competency.
Start with the registering body’s application form and identify the documentation that is required. Then consider if there is additional information you can provide to support your case. It is important that your documentation shows that you have applied rigour and have a rationale for your judgement that you have the capacity to deliver.
Keep in mind that the registering body may not want all of your documentation to be submitted with your application for scope. But you should have comprehensive documentation available if they conduct an audit.
Your documentation might include:
- Description of the process you have used to identify the vocational competencies and guide the collection of evidence
- Evidence submitted by trainer/assessors
- Your mapping – showing the relationship between units of competency and the evidence
- Description of your process for identifying and managing SMEs to assist in the recognition process
- Supporting evidence (reports) from SMEs.
See Recognition process.
Documenting your processes will also help to demonstrate that you are taking a systematic approach to managing your operations. Think about the documentation that will help you operate more efficiently, for example, records that will make it easy to allocate and schedule qualified trainers and assessors where they are needed.