That can be difficult for people who trained on the job at a time when it wasn’t necessary to complete an apprenticeship or gain a qualification.
You have done the work and taken pride in your trade for a number of years but then find you can’t take up further study or pursue other opportunities because you don’t have a recognised qualification.
Lack of a formal qualification can also stop experienced workers from gaining a promotion. For example, someone who has worked as a cook and has a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery may like to progress to become a chef. A Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery would enable them to move into a chef’s role.
This doesn’t just apply to private employers. Governments are also increasingly requiring tradespeople to have a formal qualification, particularly in the building trades.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Some people believe they have to enrol in a certificate course but can’t commit the time to return to school, so are resigned to being stuck at their current level, or worry that they will find it harder to get another job.
There is an option: Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
RPL means going through a process to have your experience and skills recognised so you are awarded a certificate in your chosen occupation.
The VETASSESS RPL service operates throughout Australia. It enables people across a range of occupations to have their life experiences and years of work recognised with the granting of a nationally-recognised formal qualification such as a Certificate III or IV.
The trades we assess include building and construction, cookery and automotive.
The qualification is the same certificate gained by someone who went through formal training, it’s just achieved in a different way.
How the RPL process works
There is a three-stage process:
In the enrolment stage, you will complete a language, literacy and numeracy test and a self-assessment for your occupation to determine the suitability of an RPL pathway.
The second stage involves a series of assessments by a qualified assessor to determine your skills and compare them with the skills required to work in your industry and for the chosen qualification.
Your assessor is someone who has not only worked in your trade but has also gained a qualification to conduct assessments.
- The assessment stage comprises three parts: Confirmation of employment – where you indicate the frequency you perform certain tasks, which your employer will then confirm
- A series of questions to test your underpinning knowledge
- Finally, presentation of your portfolio of evidence, which demonstrates your current skills against the qualification.
At Stage 3, you will receive your results. If you meet all units of competency under the qualification, you will be issued with a Certificate and Statement of Results.
If RPL is not granted for all units of competency for the qualification, you will be issued with a Statement of Attainment for the units that are granted and a Statement of Results that will list RPL granted, RPL not granted and/or credit transfer. You may wish to undertake further studies to complete your qualification.
Once you are enrolled, the RPL assessment usually takes about eight weeks for each of the three assessments (Employment confirmation, Q&A and Portfolio) and up to a further four weeks for certification.
Another bonus is that successful candidates gain a current qualification, which is recognised throughout Australia.
If you can do the job, don’t let the lack of a formal qualification hold you back.
Enquire about Recognition of Prior Learning here
Ramona Younan is VETASSESS VET Coordinator and is responsible for development and management of Skills Recognition Services, both nationally and internationally. She has over 15 years' experience working within the VET sector, including program design, development of capability frameworks, management as well as training and assessing.