Many people in the VET sector struggle with RTO Industry consultation and how it is done, how it is recorded, and even the benefits. All RTOs are required to consult with industry stakeholders in the development of training and assessment strategies. RTO industry Consultation often shows in a non-compliance audit report, reflecting inaccurate practices or even sporadic practices.
Clauses 1.5 and 1.6 – Engage with industry cover this in detail. See ASQAs Guide
The RTO’s training and assessment practices are relevant to the needs of industry and informed by industry engagement.
The RTO implements a range of strategies for industry engagement and systematically uses the outcome of that industry engagement to ensure the industry relevance of:
- its training and assessment strategies, practices and resources
- the current industry skills of its trainers and assessors.
RTO industry Consultation, or engagement is not just a once off activity. It is an ongoing activity where the information obtained is systematically used to develop and review the training and assessment strategies used in the course offered by the RTO.
It’s not just the RTO strategies that needs to reflect the consultation
RTOs need to have their resources for training and assessment validated through consultation with industry. All the tools and resources that are used during the learning process must confirm the current practices in the industry so that students are skilled for current jobs requirements. This means the learning resources, any tools and/or equipment you are using, and your assessments.
The trainers and assessors within your RTO need to have current skills and competencies for the qualification or training they deliver and assess. For quality training, RTOs need to consult the industry and the experts to maximise benefit to the learners and the needs of the market for quality training.
What are different ways to consult with industry?
Strategies may include, but are not limited to:
- conducting onsite workplace visits having conversations with employers within your industry
- partnering with employers
- membership of industry groups and associations
- partnering with relevant industry bodies
- partnering with enterprise RTOs in your industry area of expertise
- including employer nominees in industry reference groups
- embedding RTO trainer/assessors within enterprises
- part-time work
- attendance at industry conferences
- networking in an ongoing way with industry networks, peak bodies and/or employers
- including relevant employers and industry representatives to participate in assessment validation
- learning and exchanging knowledge with employers, networks and industry bodies.
Use your RTO industry Consultation as a sales tool
Visits to industry sites and engagement with industry practitioners are brilliant ways to find out what is happening, and also to showcase, more about your RTO. It can be part of the sales process, to ensure the course is right for your industry.
During your visits, not only are you gaining valuable knowledge from them, it also can be a time to let your industry know what you are up to and working on. The key thing to remember is that you are there to build trust between you and contact, who could eventually be your potential client. So when you are sharing, don’t deliver a monologue pitch, rather engage them in a discussion that shows ways how you can help them solve particular problems.
Getting out of your office and visiting your industry in their work places is an essential element of running a successful RTO business. Face-to-face meetings within your network offer vital local data and the opportunity to build a rapport you may never get by only talking on the phone or using email and texts to communicate. It’s so important not to take the impact of these market visits lightly and use each one to leverage relationships and the vital information you receive.
Be a Sponge, be generous, and NOT a Judge
When you are talking to someone, be generous. Consider the insight the industry representative might be able to provide about your market, the conditions of the market, the challenges and the opportunities. They are there to help YOU. Consider what you can give back to them.
Be clear in communicating to them that your questions are intended to help you learn from, rather than judge. This will help diffuse potential relationship tension.
- Introduce yourself and state what you hope to accomplish during the visit
- Dispel preconceived notions that you are there to judge or evaluate the person
- Be personable, after all you are seeking help from this person
- Ask questions that draw out responses such as:
- “What are the biggest opportunities in your industry?”
- “What are the biggest challenges that you face in industry?”
- “What changes are being made to equipment and tools in your industry?”
- “How can training support your people?”
- “Who do you see as my competitors? What are they doing right?’
- “What shifts do your people work, and how can training be done to best accommodate this?”
Feedback should be gathered on the way you deliver and train. Find out whether the assessment tasks reflect the way skills would be performed in the workplace and whether the proposed learning materials and equipment will provide a sufficient body of knowledge for the industry.e
Words from the wise
What ASQA says…
Taking shortcuts —like developing a generic strategy from a template and asking an employer to ‘sign off’—will not be effective, and does not demonstrate that the strategy was informed by industry.
Where do I go for RTO Industry consultation?
Industry means the bodies that have a stake in the services provided by the RTO. These can include, but are not limited to:
- specific enterprise/industry clients, employers;
- group training organisations;
- industry organisations;
- industry regulators;
- industry skills councils or committees;
- membership of industry groups and associations
- industry training advisory bodies;
- training advisory councils,
- occupational licensing bodies and unions.
A systematic approach to industry consultation across the RTO’s operations
The process of conducting industry consultation will vary from RTO to RTO. Industry consultation/engagement should be planned, scheduled and periodic. What is best practice is making sure there is a process, and that process is being applied. You need to record and be able to show how your RTO has been contacting industry contacts and gathering feedback on suitability of proposed units of competency, length of course and methods of delivery and assessment.
Record your industry consultation/engagement.
Include a summary in the Training and Assessment Strategy document for the training program it relates to.
Have a separate file / CRM that shows all the different ways your RTO staff have consulted with industry and update it regularly.