Training products are key features of Australia's vocational education and training (VET) system. The qualifications within training products are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and include:
- training packages
- accredited courses.
A new model for engaging Australian industry in the development of training products was announced in April 2015. From January 2016, training packages are developed by Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) with support from the Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and approved by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC). Training packages are then endorsed by Australian and state and territory governments, approving them for use throughout Australia.
To enable fast-tracked adjustments to qualifications and training package requirements, and to ensure the VET sector is able to respond quickly to areas of critical workforce and skill needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, an AISC sub-committee, the Emergency Response Sub-committee, was established on 3 April 2020.
Nationally recognised training is listed on the National Register of VET.
A training package is a set of nationally endorsed standards and qualifications for recognising and assessing people's skills in a specific industry, industry sector or enterprise. They define the competencies required by different occupations and industries and describe how these competencies may be packaged into nationally recognised and portable qualifications that comply with the AQF. Training packages do not prescribe how an individual should be trained.
The organising framework of standards that support the development of industry training packages consists of:
- Standards for Training Packages 2012
- Training Package Products Policy
- Training Package Development and Endorsement Process Policy
Training packages have four nationally endorsed components:
- units of competency - the specifications of the standards of performance required in the workplace as defined in a training package
- qualifications - created by packaging units of competency into groups to make up a nationally recognised qualification
- assessment requirements - associated with each unit of competency
- credit arrangements - specifying existing arrangements between training package qualifications and higher education qualifications in accordance with the AQF
Accredited courses address skill requirements for industry, enterprises and the community where these are not covered in nationally endorsed training packages, changes in skill needs, and the needs of emerging and converging industries and industry sectors, in a responsive manner. Courses can be developed by registered training organisations (RTOs), individuals, governments, industry and community organisations, however they must be delivered by an RTO. The developer of an accredited course who is not an RTO is required to develop an agreement with an RTO for the delivery of the course under the conditions they have determined.
VET accredited courses are based on nationally endorsed units of competency where these are available. Where these are not available the course is based on units of competency developed as part of the course or, if it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the National VET Regulator that it is not possible to develop appropriate competency standards, modules. These units of competency or modules are developed in consultation with, and validated by, industry, enterprise, community and/or professional groups and documented in accordance with nationally agreed specifications, and with the relevant Industry Skills Council to ensure the course does not duplicate the outcomes of an endorsed training package qualification (Source: Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012).
Other types of training
When no training package qualification exists to cover a particular training need, a training provider can develop and deliver a non-accredited course that provides the necessary skills acquisition. These courses are not nationally recognised and do not lead to a qualification within the AQF (Source: Review of training packages and accredited courses: discussion paper).
Industry certification is a way of recognising skills and competences acquired outside of the formal training system. The certification is provided by an established and recognised industry group or sector. Industry certified training programs ensure consistency of skills and competency within an industry and are used to respond to local industry and community needs. Although these programs per se are not part of the formal VET system they can be embedded into nationally accredited VET qualifications. Some industry certifications may be recognised and accepted worldwide. Examples include certifications from IT companies such as CISCO systems and SAS.