Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process used by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to evaluate a person’s skills, knowledge and experience gained through working and learning - be it work, life experience or other activities (such as volunteering) - and map them into a current nationally recognised unit of competency or full qualifications.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) defines RPL thus: “Recognition of prior learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.”
While shorter than undertaking a full course, RPL is not a short cut to gaining a qualification.
RPL is a way to formally recognise the knowledge and skills you have gained through service, community and life experiences as well as formal and informal study. It may provide national recognition of the skills you use in your job role, and validate the learning you have already acquired; it might simply reaffirm the skills you inherently know you hold. The national units of competency and qualifications represent the skills standards for each industry sector.
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The benefits of RPL through the Defence RTO (DRTO) include:
Yes! The DRTO is a registered training organisation (RTO # 0442) and complies with all the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) standards. ASQA is the Australian government regulatory body for the Vocational Education & Training (VET) sector. Any qualifications issued by the DRTO are exactly the same as those issued by other educational institutions, such as TAFE and external RTOs.
Email your request for RPL to the Defence RTO (DRTO) – ADF.CivilRecognition@defence.gov.au. As with RPL through external providers, you will need to provide appropriate evidence to support your request. DRTO staff are ready to assist at each step, should you need it. Tip: include your name & PMKeyS number in the subject line
RPL is not a short cut to gaining a qualification. You must be able to demonstrate to an assessor that you have the skills and knowledge to meet the industry standard in order to have those skills formally recognised in the national Vocational Education & Training (VET) system. This means your RPL must be an appropriately thorough process that takes into account the content of all the units you want to be recognised for.
So, how to prepare…
Documents that may provide useful evidence in your RPL application include:
Consider developing a current resume which reflects what you do - think about your work history and job roles. If you have a variety of these things, you’ll be well prepared for RPL.
The Service RTOs hold electronic copies of most VET outcomes awarded to members over the course of their careers. The three Service RTOs are merging into the single Defence RTO; when the merger is complete, the Service RTO’s training, learning and development records will transition under the Defence RTO (DRTO).
Until the merger to the DRTO is completed, email a request to your Service RTO to issue all the proficiencies awarded to you:
Tip: include your name & PMKeyS number in the subject line
Whether the Defence RTO issues to you depends on these things:
In order to issue a qualification the DRTO must ensure that evidence meets the following requirements:
Your evidence will be measured against each unit in the qualification you seek.
You can request RPL from a civilian RTO of your choosing by simply contacting the RTO and requesting it (noting that a civilian RTO cannot access your PMKeyS record). This can often be done online. The RTO will require a CV or Resume from you, evidence of qualifications, units of competency and your current competence; they may also have an RPL Kit for you to complete.
The cost varies between RTOs but you will be provided with a quote up-front. If costs aren’t provided in response to your enquiry, ASK immediately what they are. Typically, the average cost of RPL for a full qualification will vary from $900-$2000, and will depend on factors such as the qualification sought and whether you have existing units toward the qualification. Ensure your quote includes the cost of issuing the final qualification post-assessment.
Tip: Be wary of incurring additional course costs (gap training) to satisfy an evidence shortfall in your RPL.
Don’t pay for something you can get for free. You may be able to get formal recognition of your qualifications and experience gained in the ADF before you leave. Some units or qualifications are provided through training and will be issued by the DRTO (direct your query to your Service RTO), and further issuances may be available through RPL.
What to do? Email the DRTO – ADF.CivilRecognition@defence.gov.au to make an enquiry or request RPL.
Providers charging a fee for RPL. Providers are only able to charge a fee for RPL if they are assessing you as part of a Vocational Education & Training (VET) outcome – units of competency or qualifications.
What to do? RTOs can issue qualifications and units of competencies that they have ASQA approval to issue (ie “on scope”, see above). The DRTO can RPL to qualifications and units of competency where you can provide evidence that you meet the assessment requirements for the competency sought and, of course, is on the DRTO scope.
Very short course durations… Recent research has shown up to a quarter of training providers are conducting training that is too short to achieve the competencies of the qualification. While there are no specific time frames for competencies, if the training is too short it may not cover the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to be truly competent. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What to do? Check with possible employers and industry groups about the qualifications they require in their industry before undertaking courses. You may not need the course you are looking at, or you may need something else including a shorter course.
Taking a training provider’s word that the course they are offering is what you need … Regardless of their background, training providers are in business to make money and it is in their interest to sell their product – such as a course, RPL or gap training - to you. Some training providers might, knowingly or unknowingly, offer to over-service your need.
What to do? Do your own checks, or get a trusted friend to help you make sure you are getting what is right for you. Or seek guidance from us – ADF.CivilRecognition@defence.gov.au.
What if I’ve recently transitioned from service. Contact us! You may still be able to get formal recognition of your qualifications and experience gained in the ADF.
What to do? Contact the DRTO to enquire what assistance may be available in your case – ADF.CivilRecognition@defence.gov.au.
Choosing a training or education provider - https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-publications/publications/fact-sheets/choosing-training-or-education-provider
Effective third party reporting - https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-publications/publications/fact-sheets/using-other-parties-collect-assessment-evidence