Practical Training and Assessment
Workplace training, workplace assessment, and workplace simulations are training methods which enable students to develop and demonstrate skills in a real-world setting.
By observing and assessing skills under realistic conditions, and in real-world environments, providers can ensure stakeholders have confidence that learners’ competency reflects contemporary, industry-appropriate situations.
A decision to offer actual or simulated workplace training must consider a number of factors, including:
- training package requirements
- the learner cohort
- access to resource and facility needs
- the outcomes from consultation with industry.
ASQA has developed the following guidance to assist providers to deliver practical training and assessment in the workplace or under simulation.
The following example videos have been developed to support providers in deciding how best to structure practical assessment:
Training is the process used by an RTO or a third party delivering services on its behalf, to facilitate learning and the acquisition of competencies in relation to the training product on the RTO’s scope of registration.
The Standards for RTOs 2015 (definitions)
Training in a workplace can be useful to support a student to develop the knowledge and skills they need before undertaking assessment. Workplace training may be suitable particularly in circumstances where a student is already employed in the relevant industry.
If delivering training in a workplace, the provider must ensure that the student has access to the time, resources, facilities and relevant experiences to safely learn and practice all requirements in a unit of competency.
Regular contact between the employer, workplace supervisor and the student works to ensure the student is developing the standard of performance required as described in the training package. It is important to maintain appropriate records of the training arrangement and these interactions to confirm progress.
Training in simulation creates a realistic practice environment that enables a student to learn while in a controlled environment. Practising in conditions that replicate a workplace can be safer, assisting to develop student confidence in a structured setting, while allowing scenarios to be stopped, discussed and re-started to support learning.
If delivering training of practical skills in a simulated environment, the provider must ensure access to all of the required facilities, resources and equipment that would be available in the contemporary workplace. Units of competency lists these requirements as part of the Assessment Conditions and students must have the opportunity to learn on and practise with all required materials prior to assessment.
Training packages are supported by Companion Volumes, which provide information to help providers to create a simulated environment that replicates a workplace. Engaging with industry to discuss current workplace activities and subsequent training strategies can also ensure that simulated environments align with current workplace practice. Keeping records of these discussions, or the decisions as to how the simulation was structured, as well as progress records for students ensures that the simulation environment operates as designed.
The strategies a provider implements for training is aimed at helping a student to learn, reflect on and practice the unit requirements in different contexts.
Training strategies for a unit of competency or qualification, including the amount of training provided, will vary based on the learner cohort and the skills they already hold. A provider can decide how it chooses to deliver training but it must be sufficient so that a student can perform all outcomes of a unit of competency, before undertaking assessment.
Assessment means the process of collecting evidence and making judgements on whether competency has been achieved, to confirm that an individual can perform to the standard required in the workplace, as specified in a training package or VET accredited course.
The Standards for RTOs 2015 (definitions)
Providers must be assured that their assessment practices meet the assessment requirements of a unit of competency. Assessment requirements specify the evidence required and the conditions for assessment.
- The performance evidence lists the skills to be demonstrated, as well as the frequency (or volume) required.
- The knowledge evidence describes what the student must know in order to safely and effectively perform the work task.
- Assessment conditions stipulate any mandatory conditions for assessment, including any details of required equipment and materials; contingencies; specifications; physical conditions; relationships with team members and supervisor; relationship with client/customer; and timeframe. Assessment conditions can also specify assessor requirements.
Both training and assessment may be able to be delivered in a holistic manner, within individual units or across multiple units. Where mandatory hours for assessment are described at qualification level, the hours required in the assessment conditions for a qualification may be able to be shared across units, providing training package requirements are met. Where a unit requires practical assessment, the provider must demonstrate how the knowledge requirements, performance evidence and criteria are met for all units within the those hours.
Some units of competency mandate workplace assessment involving real working conditions while the student is “on the job”, and including interactions with others. Assessment requirements may require workplace placement (for example, through mandated hours) or may specify a condition that assessment must be demonstrated in a workplace.
Assessment of a particular performance requirement does not commence until training is completed and a student feels confident that they are ready for assessment. Even in circumstances where mandatory workplace assessment is required, a provider can design a training and assessment strategy that delivers all learning experiences in a simulated environment before accessing a workplace for assessment purposes. If a student receives both training and assessment in a workplace, they must be aware prior to enrolment they will spend a longer time in the workplace.
Many other units of competency allow the use of simulation for assessment by creating realistic conditions that reflect those typically found in the workplace. Assessment requirements may also allow assessment under simulation to complement workplace assessment where not all the requirements of the unit can be assessed. Assessment requirements in some units of competency may mandate that assessment is only undertaken under simulation, because of confidentiality, safety or security reasons.
A simulated workplace must replicate real workplace conditions to allow demonstration of the performance evidence in the assessment requirements. Providers should engage with industry, and keep records of this engagement to ensure assessment practices are relevant to current industry needs. Students must have access to required and current workplace equipment, documents and facilities as described in the unit. Other participants may also be engaged to mirror realistic workplace interactions.
ASQA has developed a guide to developing assessment tools which may assist you to review, redesign or develop new assessment materials.
The unit of competency requirements in a training package describe the assessment requirements that must be achieved before competency is determined.
Top tips for practical training and assessment
1. Get on the same page
Ensure that everyone involved in workplace training and/or assessment – employers, assessors, work place supervisors and students – understands what is required of them during the delivery process. Recording these interactions and confirming parties understand the requirements will be highly beneficial when reviewing progress and outcomes.
2. Open access and support
Ensure that students and employers have easy and regular access to support and contact with your provider. This ensures the ability for any issues to be quickly resolved and keeps the link between the work placement and the training product strong.
3. Close the experience gap
Speak with employers to determine if there are any gaps in the experiences they can provide to students, and their suggestions for situations where a simulation may best support the assessment process.
4. Stay connected
Regular engagement with industry maintains the relevance and currency of your training and assessment practices, whether your practical delivery is done under simulation or in a workplace. Industry feedback can influence the resources, facilities and equipment you use, as well as sequencing of learning, and contextualisation of situations. Maintain records of engagement, to monitor continuous improvement outcomes.
5. Continually review and improve
Regularly review your assessment practices by seeking feedback from students, and any other person involved in the assessment, to identify opportunities for continuous improvement and to maintain confidence in the integrity of your delivery practices.