26/05/2016 - 15:21

Risky findings in training standards audit

26/05/2016 - 15:21


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An audit of registered training organisations specialising in high-risk work licences has found an alarmingly high level of non-compliance with regulatory standards.

HiSkill has a purpose-built scaffold training facility in Belmont. Photo: Attila Csaszar

An audit of registered training organisations specialising in high-risk work licences has found an alarmingly high level of non-compliance with regulatory standards.

The Training Accreditation Council’s audit examined RTOs that offer units of competency that lead to high-risk work licences in dogging, rigging, scaffolding, elevated work platforms and crane operations.

It was undertaken in response to industry concerns that training and assessment practices weren’t vigorous enough to give industry confidence in training and assessment outcomes.

In its report, the TAC found that only 30 per cent of those audited were fully compliant with industry standards, while 70 per cent were non-compliant.

Of those that were found to be non-compliant, 35 per cent were found to be significantly or critically non-compliant.

“The outcomes of the audit are entirely unacceptable for the council, industry and, most importantly, the workers who were training to operate in these high-risk work environments,” the TAC said in a statement.

In its report, the council found that most of the non-compliances were due to lack of evidence to confirm that requirements of the high risk work licence units, the principles of assessment and the rules of evidence had been met, while the areas of highest non-compliance related to the assessment standards and meeting training package specifications.

“58 per cent of the RTOs audited were unable to justify how the skills, knowledge and experience of individual learners have been taken into account in determining the duration of training,” the TAC said.

“The inability by some RTOs to justify training duration may indicate insufficient learning opportunities to develop knowledge and skills and insufficient assessment time to ensure all unit requirements are able to be demonstrated.

“There is a direct relationship between delivery of courses in shorter timeframes and higher non-compliance with the standards.”

Following the audit, TAC revealed that one of the RTOs that was found to have been critically non-compliant had voluntarily relinquished its registration, while another RTO removed the nominated units of competency after they were notified of their inclusion in the audit sample.

The council has also made recommendations in response to the audit, which include monitoring of ongoing compliance of RTOs, and reviewing the units of competency in terms of practical experience and assessment requirements.

The TAC is also exploring ways to reduce timeframes to remove non-compliant providers from the industry.

One business that specialises in high risk training is concerned about continuing problems.

Alan O'Neill, manager of the HiSkill purpose-built scaffold training facility in Belmont, told Business News the same problems were occurring across industry over and over again.

“People are still obtaining a high-risk work licence from Worksafe assessors and RTOs even though the students cannot demonstrate the skills or knowledge to the licence they hold,” Mr O’Neill said.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said the council’s findings weren’t surprising, considering longstanding concerns held by the resources sector.

“In fact, the review was initiated in response to these concerns with guidance by industry to inform the audit methodology,” he said.

“It is critical that the training provided to obtain these licences is of appropriate standard and the recommendations detailed in the report will assist in meeting that objective.”

Mr Howard-Smith said strong regulatory oversight was essential to proactively address these issues and to ensure ongoing compliance with training standards in the future.

The report comes one year after WA auditor general Colin Murphy said the council was failing to live up to its own goals.

In a report released last June, Mr Murphy said the council needed to target high-risk occupation training courses, such as construction and mining.

“The council should improve its practices to find these problems early and to ensure they are fixed quickly to minimise the impact on students and industry,” Mr Murphy said at the time.

“But I am encouraged by new measures approved by the council in April 2015 that will focus more on higher-risk RTOs and engagement with industry.”

“These measures should result in better compliance by training providers to the benefit of students and industry.”

Alan O'Neill


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