The aim is to improve the sustainability performance of an organisation by making readily implementable changes. Readily implementable changes are often referred to as ‘low hanging fruit’. This is because they can be made within existing budget and capacity and can be implemented without complex analysis and planning, higher level approvals or capital expenditure.
Making the readily implementable changes is often seen as a good starting point. It can start the momentum for a culture of sustainability and improvements by:
- getting some runs on the board
- engaging staff and management
- winning over sceptics
- generating ideas for more significant improvements
- gathering data for justify future projects.
As part of an AQF 4 qualification it is assumed that the learner will ‘… apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, judgement and limited responsibility in known or changing contexts and within established parameters’. Read more about AQF qualification levels…
In this unit, the autonomy and judgement might be demonstrated by a team leader who supports and assists their team. Or if the employee is not in a team leader role, it could be demonstrated by implementing improvements within their own area of responsibility. In both cases the employee has sufficient knowledge of work area, procedures and sustainability issues and is in a role with sufficient autonomy to select and make the improvements.
While the changes undertaken in this unit might be ‘readily implementable’ in terms of budget and approvals the person doing this unit needs to ensure that:
- the areas for improvement are aligned to sustainability needs or problems
- a number of options has been considered
- the selected changes are likely to have a positive impact on sustainability performance.
1 Examine sustainability outcomes required
The unit follows a logical process that starts with identifying a desired outcome – the goal or reason for doing this. The ‘drivers of sustainability change’ could be anything; and they will be present even if there are no formal sustainability goals or plans.
They will depend on the how the business operates, the pressures they are facing, their overall gaols; even their location, size and sector. A small, rural, family owned metal fabrication business might want to improve their social sustainability performance (and business risk) by improving the day- to-day application of safety procedures. A large fabric manufacturer might want to reduce their wastewater costs and there might be opportunities to use safer or fewer dyes and treatments.
This is not a particularly ‘big picture’ unit. So, in some cases the individual employee might drive the changes to meet their own key performance indicators (KPIs) for productivity improvements, cost savings or from their personal commitment to being ‘green’.
However in most businesses deciding on the changes and implementing them can’t be done in isolation. In addition to getting input about how to proceed, talking to stakeholders early in the change process helps to get them engaged and prepares the way for making the improvements.
2 Examine operations for readily implementable changes to improve sustainability
This is about seeing what improvements could be made to achieve the desired outcome and deciding which ones will be made. Typically there will be a number of sustainability issues and several different ways to address each one. So, what are the specific sustainability problems that relate to the desired outcome? Which problems to tackle? Which solutions to implement?
This unit does not require a process map or a structured analysis. It asks question ‘what sustainability problems could be easily eliminated or improved?’ It is about capturing the issues that ‘jump out’ or that pop up from other activities.
But it is important to make a selection based on some criteria, so a benefit/cost analysis should be used. There is no point in exerting effort on changes that will have little benefit or not address the drivers. The criteria for benefits and costs need to be defined in the context of the business, the drivers for sustainability change and the sustainability problems that are being targeted.
Benefits and costs should be quantifiable and can also form the basis of ‘success factors’ – the measures that will indicate whether the changes are delivering.
3 Implement improvements
Now that the decisions have been made the changes can be implemented, using a simple project management approach.
Who needs to be involved and in what roles? Stakeholders are already involved; now it is about getting the right people involved in the activities and ‘singing from the same song sheet’.
Are the changes on track? This is about monitoring progress and checking that things are going to plan. If not adjustments need to be made – in terms of what is being done or how it is being done.
4 Recommend further improvements
This is about evaluating the completed changes, asking more questions. For example:
- were the desired outcomes achieved?
- did they deliver measured improvements? If so, how much/many?
- what does that mean for the next improvements?
- what new ideas have come up?
As an RTO your assessment must cover all of the requirements of the unit of competency, including Elements, Performance Criteria, Range Conditions and the new Assessment Requirements. While the Assessment Requirements can be downloaded (training.gov.au) as a separate document they are part of the complete unit of competency.
The Assessment Requirements comprise Performance Evidence, Knowledge Evidence and Assessment Conditions. The Performance Evidence and Knowledge Evidence sections are self-explanatory and go some way to defining the evidence that you need collect.
However, they do not specify the format or structure that evidence should take. The specific evidence requirements need to be decided by you the RTO, for example the criteria within the benefit/cost analysis and the format and content of the implementation plan.
This means you can identify how these activities are typically undertaken in your sector or business and use these within your assessment processes and evidence collection.
For example, depending on the workplace, an implementation plan could be:
- a formal project plan and schedule
- a list of tasks in a spreadsheet, table or Outlook tasks
- diary notes
- lists of activities allocated to team members.
The Assessment Conditions define the conditions that must apply to the assessment process, for example:
- The collection of performance evidence is best done from a report and/or folio of evidence drawn from multiple smaller projects which together provide sufficient evidence of the requirements of all the elements and performance criteria.
- A third party report, or similar, may be needed to testify to the work done by the individual, particularly when the project has been done as part of a project team.
- Assessment should use real projects where opportunities for sustainability improvements are identified and their implementation occurs in an operational workplace.
They also provide outline how the assessor can meet the requirements for vocational competency and currency:
- 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.
Most units of competency require some skills that are ’embedded’ or assumed. These are required within the unit but are not spelled out in the elements or performance criteria or range statement.
In this unit they are:
- simple project planning
- problem solving
You need to take these into consideration in planning your resources and delivery. You will need to determine whether participants already have these skills or whether you need to cover them in your training and skills development activities and your resource materials.
Assessment of the embedded skills is a given; they must be assessed because they form part of the unit. In other words, if the unit is assessed correctly it will automatically include an assessment of these embedded skills.
If the embedded skills can not be demonstrated additional training, mentoring or other skills development activities might be required. In some cases these might align to other units of competency.
In developing a training and assessment strategy you need to customise a program and decide which units to package into your program and whether to group any units for delivery and assessment. You might want to cluster units; or you might want to integrate the content into modules or learning objects.
How (and whether) you group the units will vary depending on the needs of the participant, the needs and goals of the business and how it operates.
MSS014001 Improve sustainability through readily implementable change could be clustered or integrated with another core unit, for example, MSS014002 Evaluate sustainability impact of a work or process area.
These units appear similar but they do have a different focus. There can be some overlap in identifying sustainability drivers and issues. And the processes for short listing and ranking may be similar. By definition, however, the ‘low hanging fruit’ do not require big budgets or high level approvals; so MSS014001 Improve sustainability through readily implementable change often happens before MSS014002 Evaluate sustainability impact of a work or process area which focuses on the more complex and ‘big ticket’ items.
In some situations it might be useful to cluster MSS014001 Improve sustainability through readily implementable change with an elective unit that provides supporting skills, for example:
- MSS014006 Contribute to sustainability related audits
- MSS402030 Apply cost factors to work practices
- About quantifying benefits and costs
- About metrics
- Sustainability sector guides
- Legislation and regulations
- All items in ‘More information’
- Energy Efficiency Skill Sets and resources
- Energy Efficiency videos