Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of prior learning is an integral component of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system in Australia. Recognition of prior learning is sometimes referred to by a number of other terms, such as Recognition of Current Competencies, or simply RPL.

RPL is one way to have current skills and knowledge assessed by a registered training organisation (RTO) to see if they meet current industry standards. RPL assessment recognises skills and knowledge, no matter how or where the learning occurred.

  • high school
  • formal and/or informal training and education
  • paid and/or volunteer work in Australia or overseas
  • other qualifications from Australia and/or from overseas
  • on-the-job training
  • work and life experience.
  • any combination of the above

What are the advantages of Recognition?

The main advantages of applying for Recognition are:

  • gaining up to 100% Recognition for a qualification
  • gaining entry into higher qualifications
  • gaining new qualifications of equivalent value to qualification/s you hold
  • completing your qualification faster.

Other benefits of Recognition of Prior Learning include:

  • avoiding duplication of training, maximizing the value of vocational education and training expenditure
  • providing pathways to higher qualifications for people who may not have access to further training
  • creating a learning culture by valuing and recognising learning that has occurred in the workplace.
  • Identifying what training is needed to complete a qualification, or provide a pathway to higher qualifications.

How do I begin the process of RPL?

Once you have decided that you wish to apply for RPL, you need to speak with your RTO.
There are a number of steps involved in the process which may include:

Planning Interview
Your registered training organisation will discuss with you what types of evidence you will need to provide to successfully achieve RPL for the units within your qualification
Collection of evidence
You will need to collect and organise your evidence and arrange to present it to your assessor. This portfolio of evidence will be reviewed by your assessor prior to the assessment interview. Evidence may include:

  • Interview/professional conversation
  • Observation and questioning including workplace visits
  • Portfolio of work, which may include completed assessment items from previous study
  • Supplementary assessment tasks or challenge test - oral, written or practical
  • Trade test
  • Authentication of evidence by supervisor or employer

Assessment interview
At this interview your assessor will provide feedback on your portfolio and ask a range of questions to validate your evidence and check your underpinning knowledge and skills. This interview may take place in your workplace as it provides the opportunity for you to describe and demonstrate the job function.
When competency is determined results are provided to you by your assessor. If required, your assessor will assist you to identify any gap training needed to complete your qualification.
The time required for your recognition assessment will vary according to individual requirements. This information will be provided by your course RPL assessor.

How do I prove what I know I can do?

The RTO will support you in gathering evidence to prove you have the necessary knowledge and skills. You will work with the RTO to identify:
Evidence that you may already have, for example, work documents, testimonials from previous employers or samples of your work. This may include a series of job cards with specific tasks undertaken in your current or previous workplace. The assessor from the RTO may also observe you completing a task or a series of tasks and/or ask questions to confirm your knowledge.

The RTO will help you understand what evidence is and what specific types of evidence may be suitable to gain the qualification that you wish to gain.
Evidence for recognition is not limited to existing documents that you already have, Evidence can take a number of forms and might include any combination of:

  • Questioning: the assessor may give you written questions, or interview you and ask questions verbally,
  • Observation of practical tasks: the assessor may observe you performing tasks in the workplace, in a simulated environment, in the classroom or a combination of locations.
  • Video and/or audio taped evidence: showing you completing specific tasks that you would normally undertake in your workplace.
  • Third party reports: references or answers given by a third party (customers, supervisor, employer) to questions asked by the assessor.
  • Documents: such as relevant qualifications/transcripts, work journals or job cards.

Remember, the RTO is there to help recognise the skills that you already have.