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Industry requires off-the-job competent of CDP for Electricians to be graded (percentage) and reported

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There has been a lot of recent discussion about RTOs requiring 100% pass mark for the knowledge component and 100% pass mark for the skills component of a unit of competency from the UEE Electrotechnology Training Package.  There has little been said about the on-the-job component and the pass mark for it.  Essentially, on-the-job component is pass or fail.  These three essential components typically comprise evidence required for a unit of competency, and ASQA recently reminded us that it is up to an RTOs’ processes and practices whether to entrench a 100% pass mark for knowledge and for skills; an assessment decision that should be primarily based on ‘sufficiency’ of evidence.  We now know that there is no formal ASQA position that dictates that RTOs are to implement a 100% pass mark for knowledge and for skills.  This is a policy decision of an RTO.

As stated previously an RTO is withing its rights to adopt in consultation with industry, including regulators which is part of the explicit standards for maintaining RTO registration, the following arrangement in order to gather and make judgements on sufficient evidence:

  1. Knowledge – accept 60-70% pass closed book assessment – except for common sense essential items such as OHS etc. that can incorporate open-resource reference specifications and require 100%.  (The result is formally reported to candidates and employers in an apprenticeship arrangement, as required by industry and regulators. It is this component employers are currently complaining about no longer being reported and they want it formally reported). In some case a regulator may require 80% (as per ACMA requirement), which would be easy for the RTO to report under this model.  It is structured educational program.
  2. Skills – accept 80-100% pass (ditto the above)
  3. Application – accept 100% pass based on workplace evidence against the PCs, Range statement and Performance evidence requirements

The above, represents the industry preferred Competency Development Program (CDP) for Electrotechnology and Transmission, Distribution and Rail Training Package qualifications that involve respective apprenticeships.  The New South Wales Utilities & Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Body (NSW UE ITAB) and its constituent industry sector members, that include large representative organisations and employers such as National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA NSW), Electrical Trades Union (ETU NSW), Energy Networks Australia (ENA), Refrigeration and Air Condition Association (RACA) as well as Group Training Organisations (GTOs) and a host of passionate and supportive employers support this model.

Discussions have been held with the industry representatives, employers and teacher representatives regarding some RTOs instituting new practices that are believed, by them, to more appropriate and in tune with what they wish to administer.  This may well be good and innovative for the RTO, however, industry and employers do no support the approach, and an RTO is obliged to work in concert with industry preferences under its registration requirements.  The Industry however, seek a return to a true, tried and tested model, respected by industry.  Formal results of apprentices’/trainees’ off-the-job program (i.e. knowledge and skills formed into subjects and mapped to each unit of competency) are to be reported as a graded percentage and provided to the candidates and employers as a matter of course for the apprenticeship/traineeship program.  This information is used as evidence and a prerequisite to the on-the-job component of the unit where profiling (or some equivalent industry approved formal algorithm and supervisor confirmation system) is used to monitor, intervene and confirm sufficient evidence has been gathered from the workplace activities of the apprentice/trainee.  Once the off-the-job is completed and there is sufficient evidence from on-the-job activities a holistic judgment can be made as to whether competence can be conferred for the unit of competency.

The NSW UE ITAB calls on RTOs to implement the preferred Competency Development Program (CDP) in their operations, if they wish to deliver and assess against the units of competency making up qualifications in the UEE and UET Training Packages, where it involves publicly funded apprenticeship or traineeship arrangements.

To summarise the UEE and UET CDP model:

The program is predicated on an apprentice/trainee who has had no prior experiences (novice – new entrant) in the industry.  The CDP is one that recognises that learning occurs:

  • from directed workplace learning activities followed by recurring practice of these activities across a representative range performed autonomously over time, together with
  • a structured educational sound program (based on subjects and mapped to the units of competency), which provides for a separate formal reporting process of percentage graded results.

That is, the Competency Development Program is based on a combination of on-the-job and off-the-job learning experiences mapped to units of competency making up a qualification.  It recognises that learning occurs in an active way and involves appropriate learning strategies and resources.  The program’s purpose is to provide coherence and educational soundness between the respective components.  It also represents:

  • a most effective and efficient means of delivering quality education and training, and
  • a means of assessing if learning has occurred and competence has been attained.

Note:  A apprentice’s/trainee’s relevant prior experience (learning or competency) is recognised and judged along the continuum of novice to competent.  RTOs determine the respective RPL to apply in the event of such.

The NSW UE ITAB will continue to pursue the implementation of this model on behalf of the industry stakeholders who have expressed as such, and is confirmed as the preferred model in the Assessment Guidelines of the UEE and earlier UET Training Packages.

If you would like to discuss the matter in more detail please feel free to contact the undersigned at your convenience or email tony@uensw.com.au