6 “Other” options to work in the VET sector

The first misconception that needs to be cleared up for the general public is that the Vocational education and training, or VET for short, is more than just Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). It is a tertiary education pathway that enables individuals to gain qualifications for employment.

By Brett O'Connor

The formal VET system includes RTO, Universities, and Schools. However, this is just one learning system in the VET sector in Australia and is the smallest of the three learning systems. It is the type of learning that the government has the most control over through regulation of the AQF that sets the conditions for formal qualification recognized by the Australia government.

“The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. The AQF was first introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia, encompassing higher education, vocational education and training (VET), and schools. The AQF is the agreed policy of Commonwealth, State and Territory ministers.”

Where does it say that the VET sector is more than just RTOs?!?

Actually, it says it in the Glossary of terms in the Standards for RTOs (2015), under the definition of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

  1. formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction and is linked to the attainment of an AQF qualification or statement of attainment (for example, a certificate, diploma or university degree);”
  2. non-formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction, but does not lead to the attainment of an AQF qualification or statement of attainment (for example, in-house professional development programs conducted by a business)”… non-formal learning is more commonly referred to by organisations as Learning and Development, or shorted to L&D. More than just training, L&D includes coaching and mentoring programs to increase the proficiency of members of the (mostly larger) organizations to develop skills as skills are not automatically transferable to the real world.
  3. informal learning refers to learning that results through experience of work-related, social, family, hobby or leisure activities (for example the acquisition of interpersonal skills developed through several years as a sales representative).”. This is the most popular learning undertaken by the over 2 million small businesses in Australia.

While RTOs, including TAFE (which are RTOs who are government owned, your tax dollars at work) are regulated by The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), so to say that non-formal and informal learning are not regulated is also misleading. They are regulated by the Fair Work commission and the ACCC (respectively).

But RTOs make up most of the VET sector, right?

RTOs bring in over AU$100 billion, and as the third largest educator of International students in the world (before COVID-19), CRICOS RTOs make up around 20% of that. Add in AU$38 billion from Unis, plus AU$20 billion in exported education and you may think that is HUGE, but that is only about 10% of the total VET sector.

How can this be true?

When you look at the outcome of the learning market, which is to create Tacit knowledge, AKA know-how, this starts to make more sense.

How the dollars are distributed in the VET sector can be better explained by using two models that I see commonly used to sell courses, or more correctly position the three into the value each learning system have to students (AKA consumers of the products)…

70:20:10 model:

The problem for RTOs (and Unis) under this model is that only 10% of knowledge is created from formal (structured) learning. That means that a Registered Training Organisation is positioned to provide the lowest quality of learning (training), which appears to conflict with the “VET Quality Framework” RTOs are required to comply with as 5 conditions of continuing registration.

The aim of the vocational education and training (VET) Quality Framework is to achieve greater national consistency in: registering and monitoring RTOs; the enforcement of standards in the VET sector.

Notice it says “consistency”, not higher quality. So compliance with this system is a race to the bottom focusing on maintaining and setting the minimum standards, not the industry proficiency quality benchmarks L&D providers are required to meet with their clients.

If ASQA was the franchisor, for example like McDonalds, they would have 68 brands (training packages) to manage, and over 17,000 products (units) to do quality control on. If you want to complain about ASQA not doing their job… show me 1 company in the world that could do that job in a segment of the market that that has a cost differentiation growth strategy.

Nestle has 2000 brands, but I don’t think they would be interested. Maybe that is why the government appointed bean counter, PwC, to look after the Business and the education training packages… How’s that working out so far?


The diffusion of innovation

Again, RTOs are positioned on the wrong end of the spectrum if you look at the diffusion of innovation.

To give you an idea of where RTOs are positioned on this curve, technology is said to double every 18 months, yet RTOs don’t have to change over to the new “streamlined” Business services training qualification for 18 months (after the October 2020 release). This means learners could miss out on a whole generation of technology if they do a course with an RTO in 18 months.

This positions RTOs into the laggard section of the diffusion of innovation, as shown by the TAE upgrade when an overwhelming majority for RTO trainer didn’t do their PD until the standard where changed so the trainers would lose their job if they didn’t do it.

To get employment, people need to update their skills in new technology, short courses or skill sets that they can use 100% of what they learned right now. This is why informal learning popular with early adopters and the early majority, who are the most motivated learners who will pay a premium for quality and make up almost 50% of the population.

While small business are happy to just learn what works, Big business also wants to know why it works so they can improve it pooling the company’s existing resources. So this is the market for L&D (also called “corporate” training).

That leaves the poor old RTOs to the laggards, who have to learn how to use zoom first before they could even think about doing online training. And as laggards only learn new things when they are forced to, they are high maintenance as learners and under stress humans can’t learn new things.

Laggards prefer to do training with other laggards. As crazy as that sounds, it’s because most trainers don’t have the industry currency to do training with early adopters. They can’t get the referrals needed from early adopters a business needs to go out on their own. So it’s not just the RTOs that are trapped in the formal system, trainers are stuck on #taetanic too as most of the life rafts left 18 months ago. It’s too late to catch up.

Diffusion of Innovation

What are the other options if they do exist?

Yes they do exist.  And we can’t think of a benefit of doing training with an RTO, but that is because we know there are better options out there.

It’s not out of spite that we don’t have RTO options on this list. It is a barrier ASQA enforces that if you recommend people do a course with an RTO, you must have a written affiliate marketing agreement in place with that RTO.

Yet, ASQA is happy for RTOs to make misleading claims about the employment outcomes from completing TAE40116 units, passing off doing training in a simulated environment as the same as doing tasks in a real-world business, as the RTO has passed audit.

So here are 6 options to get work in the VET sector. See how employable you are as a non-formal or informal trainer, which is where 90% of the money is anyway…

The Institute for Learning & Performance (ILP)

ILP has six certifications available to help you or your organisation stand out. Through our research and consultations with members, the wider L&D community and organisations, ILP is setting new standards within the L&D industry. ILP want to recognise and acknowledge capability levels and achievements through our Certifications to distinguish good practices.



was set up 4 years ago as a way of me recording my PD updating my business industry currency for the unit I deliver as part of my requirement to be a trainer and assessor under the standards for RTO. The PD process is also covers element 1 of TAEASS502 to use industry benchmarks to design and develop “compliant” assessment tools so trainers and assessors can get proficiency in this unit as ongoing PD.

As apparently this didn’t happen for most trainers, and we are now coordinating a class action for trainers to get a refund for the TAE upgrades that didn’t get them the skills they needed. Spend the refund on trainer to get the skills needed to get a new job with a better RTO. Or, if you have the skills, use the refund get them validated by ILP. We can’t send you to an RTO to

VeriSkills has identified 14 core capabilities as the most important ‘soft’ or non-technical skills and knowledge required in the future workforce. These capabilities are essential requirements for future work and employability, irrespective of the profession or the individual’s job, work level, or occupation.

The micro-credentials will be able to be used for credit and accelerated learning for Uni qualifications up to master’s level, and VET qualification down to Certificate III. Think of it as RPL for Uni if you don’t have a knowledge of the Higher Education system, but you will be able to credit transfer between VET and HE AQF qualification as a bridging assessment/course.

Leadership HQ is doing a trial for QTAC and issuing badges, but if your RTO has matriculation arrangements with any University I strongly suggest you look into this!

Corrina Lindby started The Answer is Yes because of her personal experience with business owners struggling to traverse the minefield of compliance and training of staff while, simultaneously, aiming to keep expenses down.

Every newly identified need for the business meant finding a new supplier or trainer that could assist them. This wasn’t just a time-consuming hassle but, more often than not, was an expensive process. This is the perfect solution for RTOs to get content for their new BSB7.0 qualification, however the content is no good to your RTO if you don’t have a trainer that can deliver it.

So, they figured—why not gather a team of experts and create a resource pool that will spare the time and money of these businesses. Corrina can not only find a trainer for you with industry current content, but she is also a former RTO BDM so can map the units your RTO has on you TAS to the content her experts can provide to meet your client’s needs, and can even send students to your RTO if you have an affiliate marketing agreement.

MRWED are the exclusive Australian Licensees for the Train-the-Trainer Boot Camp and are proud to offer this two-day program, which has become the world’s most respected train-the-trainer program. To date, more than 200,000 participants have attended worldwide and are now benefiting from dramatically improved design and delivery in their own training programs. The Boot Camp has its origins in the best-selling book The Creative Training Techniques TM Handbook by Bob Pike, which has sold over 300,000 copies globally. Bob is the pioneer of the participant-centred approach which forms the basis of the Boot Camp learning experience.

Did we mention that you can also for TAE40116 with MRWED? Of course, we didn’t. ASQA won’t allow us to say that as that is referring students to them. We also are (apparently) not allowed to say that the Boot Camp maps closely to the Enterprise Trainer and Assessor Skill Set that ASQA requires industry experts are required to have to work for an RTO without having your TAE40116, as they advise RTOs to do on the ASQA website.

What I can say is MRWED runs regular PD sessions as non-accredited courses that I can recommend you sit in on, and if you are passionate about training I’ve found Marc always willing to chat about how we can improve the quality of the VET sector in Australia.

If you think you know your stuff, why don’t you write your own textbook? Don’t know how? We are curating textbook intended to be used by School and International (CRICOS) colleges. You can sign up here and tell us 8 (out of 97) topics you would like to write your book about. Well Cluster the topics into a training process for you, and give you a template with the book structure so all you have to do is copy and paste your IP to write the book. Most experts have the content they need through their lead generation and marketing material for consulting services (or from courses they have already written).

 To ensure you produce a Trade Quality publication, we have selected a “self-assisted” publishing expert to do the Quality Assurance for the school textbook project. Ocean Reeve is the Publisher of choice by Dr Pete Stebbins, PhD, who is Australia’s leading expert on High Performance Teams in Education and Director of the High-Performance Schools Project. So if it’s good enough for Pete to put his books though Ocean’s publication process, that is good enough for me. But Ocean also has a very successful book marketing mentoring program to help you make writing a book a financial gain, not just stroke your ego.

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