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How does recognition of prior learning work?

Recognition of prior learning is one of the most flexible training programmes in Australia and is particularly useful for those with experience. The scheme can be difficult to understand given the variety, flexibility and large number of acronyms. This guide will give you an idea of how RPL works and what it can do for you.

What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the Australian government’s programme for allowing people with skills and knowledge to gain a qualification without completing a standard training programme. These skills and knowledge – which would have otherwise required a training programme – may have been gained through work experience, life experience or self-tuition.

What you have to do

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is a system requiring those wishing to formalise their knowledge into qualifications to undertake assessments organised by Registered Training Organisations. If you would like to be assessed, contact a local RTO.

What RTOs will do

It is the RTOs role to assess an applicant’s abilities, the scope of their training and where they completed their original training. They will then decide what must be done to allow the applicant to attain a level of qualifications equal to an Australian-qualified practitioner. The RTO helps the applicant perform the duties required and will ensure they gain the relevant qualifications.

Credit transfer

For those who have already completed some formal training modules, there is the option of taking part in a credit transfer scheme. This means past training will be taken into account by the RTO when considering what the applicant will need to do. Only successfully completed programmes can be counted. Past qualifications can be taken from a range of providers – TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Colleges, universities, private providers, professional organisations and enterprises. Having completed past training will either exempt applicants from certain modules in their course – if they have completed specific ones – or alternatively allowing them to skip introductory or basic modules. Ultimately, the question of whether or not applicants are obliged to complete certain modules is at the discretion of the RTO.

Costs and funding

Both the federal state government provide funding for those interested in taking part in the RPL programme through the VET FEE HELP scheme. To qualify, you must have proof of residency in Australia or New Zealand, proof of residency in your state and proof of a minimum of four years’ experience. Available funding varies according to state, the type of training and the applicant’s previous experience. Some training programmes are not covered by the VET scheme – the applicant must undertake approved diplomas.

Don’t forget to visit our Training and Development page for more information about working in the resources industry.

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