The recognition of prior learning (RPL) process

If a person can demonstrate they have the relevant skills and/or experience, they can get a RPL assessment.

This is done against a qualification, without having to complete the full training and assessments. RPL is an assessment-only process that assesses the competency of an individual – competencies which may have been acquired through formal, non-formal and/or informal learning.

The RPL assessment process requires the learner to submit a significant amount of evidence. Assessment of RPL evidence is technical and demanding because the assessor needs to review and align a range of evidence such as referee reports, resumes, photographic and documentary evidence and interviews with the learners, against all requirements of every competency in every unit of competency. The assessor also needs to verify that the evidence is authentic, reliable and sufficient. For a qualification that usually takes several years to complete, such as Certificate III in refrigeration and air conditioning, the documentary evidence for an adequately assessed RPL qualification would be hundreds of pages, which must be detailed and mapped across each unit of competency.

The training industry regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority expects that RPL is conducted with the same rigour as any other form of assessment. It should have a comprehensive quality process that covers the content (skills and knowledge) of the qualification being assessed. The evidence used to make a decision about competence must be valid, sufficient, authentic and current as stated in Standard 1.8 of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 with which the RTO must comply by law. The RTO should have a system, including policies and procedures, to support the decision-making process.

Examples of evidence that may be submitted by an individual applying for RPL for a Certificate III in refrigeration and air conditioning could include, but is not limited to:

  • Resume of work history demonstrating skills and knowledge that are required by the qualification.
  • Employer/referee references to verify work history, skills and knowledge.
  • Certified certificates and documents to verify relevant activities listed in the resume.
  • Time-stamped photos or videos demonstrating skills – ensuring the applicant can be seen in the evidence.
  • Portfolio of tasks completed that can be verified.
  • Mapping of the evidence to the skills and knowledge required by the unit of competency.
  • Third-party verification report directly related to the skills and knowledge required by the unit of competency.
  • Self-assessment checklist that is authenticated by the individual.
  • Record of discussions with a teacher or trainer who has recommended the individual as a suitable candidate for RPL.

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