Vocational competency refers to current industry knowledge, skills and experience that relates to the training product being delivered, at least to the level being delivered.
It applies to your existing trainer/assessors, contract trainer/assessors, trainers who are working under supervision and people who only assess.
Keep in mind that current vocational competency is also required by:
- Industry experts who contribute to the assessment judgement (see the ASQA Fact Sheet on Third party evidence which outlines co-assessment arrangements)
- People who lead validation.
The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (the Standards) define current industry skills:
“Current industry skills are the knowledge, skills and experience required by VET trainers and assessors and those who provide training and assessment under supervision to ensure that their training and assessment is based on current industry practices and meets the needs of industry.
Current industry skills may be informed by consultations with industry and may include, but is not limited to:
a) having knowledge of and/or experience using the latest techniques and processes;
b) possessing a high level of product knowledge;
c) understanding and knowledge of legislation relevant to the industry and to employment and workplaces;
d) being customer/client-oriented;
e) possessing formal industry and training qualifications; and
f) training content that reflects current industry practice.”
ASQA’s User’s guide for the Standards provides further guidance:
“In some cases, people may have significant industry experience but not hold any formal qualifications—in such cases, you would need to analyse the skills and knowledge they deliver and compare this to their industry skills and knowledge. Consider all units of competency (including electives) in this analysis to ensure that you are meeting the requirements for trainers and assessors specified in the training package or accredited course.”
This means that trainer/assessors are not required to hold the exact qualification or any specific unit of competency; unless specified in the training product being delivered.
The MSS11 Sustainability Training Package does not set specific requirements for vocational competency. However, sustainability skills are specialist and emerging areas so you can’t assume that your trainers and assessors will have sufficient relevant competencies by virtue of their past industry experience.
Effective sustainability practice requires high level skills and knowledge in various combinations, including areas such as:
- Measurement and calculation
- Analysis and interpretation of complex data
- Environmental sampling and testing
- Assessing environmental risks and developing responses
- Problem solving
- Innovation and developing opportunities
- Planning, implementation and evaluation
- Resource efficiency improvements
- Change management
- Making product improvements and designing ‘clever’ products
- Compliance and reporting.
These are broad areas and they should only be used as a starting point.
You need to review the skills and knowledge of your trainer/assessors against the units of competency they will deliver. And you will need to document the process and evidence. See How can I demonstrate vocational competency?
What vocational competencies do I need?
Analyse the units of competency that you want to deliver because this will help you to identify the vocational competencies that you need.
It is important to look at all of the content in the units of competency you want to work with. The units provide detailed information about workplace outcomes and performance and the skills and knowledge that are required to achieve them. While the title of each unit will give you an indication of the competency it does not give sufficient information to base any decisions on. See Understanding a unit of competency.
You may find it more manageable to work with groups of skills and knowledge. These could be based on commonalities between units or groups of units that logically work together. They would function like skill clusters or modules in a training program making it possible to deal with a group of skills or units of competency. For example you might find one piece of evidence that applies across several units of competency within a logical group.
Once you have identified the relevant vocational competencies you need to identify which trainer/assessors already have them and where the skill gaps are, if any. As an RTO you probably have a skills audit process and a recognition process in place. You should be able to use or adapt these.
If you are not sure where the skills and gaps are you may want to start with a skills audit. Remember to collect the evidence of any skills you identify as you can use this in the recognition process. See Sustainability skills analysis for one approach to a skills audit.
If you are confident that your staff hold the vocational competencies you may want to start your recognition process without the skills audit.
How can I achieve vocational competency in sustainability?
Plan how to fill any gaps you have found. How your trainer/assessors achieve vocational competency will depend on their current skills and experience and whether they need to develop new skills or update related existing skills.
Skills development strategies may include:
- Upskilling existing personnel for new or enhanced skills need.s
- Organising for your trainer/assessors to work in partnership with subject matter experts. These might be staff in a client organisation who have breadth of experience; or could be consultants who are working with your clients to implement their sustainability strategies.
- Establishing secondments where your trainer/assessors work for a period in a client organisation (or other business) that is implementing relevant sustainability practices.
- Implementing your own sustainability systems and activities. You could use the Sustainable Operations units of competency to guide you in developing and implementing your systems. Make sure your trainer/assessors are involved in all the processes and collect evidence that demonstrates their skills, knowledge and experience.
- Forming partnerships with consultants in the areas you want to deliver, enabling you to offer a ‘package’ that includes sustainability implementation support, skills development and the qualification/s. Make sure your trainers/assessors get relevant experience and collect their evidence.
- Identifying related courses, workshops, seminars and similar activities that trainers and assessors can attend (and collect evidence).
- Developing recruitment strategies and selection criteria based on your analysis of the units of competency and your skills audit.
- Recruiting industry people who want to change direction or who want to ‘semi-retire’.