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VAC 7.1

VET accredited courses are based on an established industry, enterprise, education, legislative or community need

This Standard relates to Sections B: 3.1 and 3.2 of ASQA’s Accredited course document template.

VAC 7.1 requires you to:

  • establish the need for the course by engaging with key stakeholders, and
  • validate that the course content meets that need through ongoing consultation with key stakeholders
  • demonstrate enterprise units of competency are developed in consultation with, and validated by key stakeholders.

You need to conduct research and consult with key stakeholders at various stages throughout the course development process to establish and evidence the need for the course to be accredited and to ensure it does not duplicate training package outcomes.

The table below explains what you need to do for both new and existing VET accredited courses.

Note: Consultation with Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) is required prior to the course accreditation application being submitted to ASQA. IRCs are supported by their Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)—refer to Table 2 for coverage areas.

Table 3: Summary of stakeholder consultation for new and existing VET accredited courses

  Initial accreditation Renewal of accreditation
Preliminary consultation and research
  • Conduct preliminary research and consultation to establish there is a need for the course that is not currently being met by a training package outcome.
  • Define the proposed course outcomes and prepare a draft course structure.
  • Conduct preliminary research and consultation to establish there is an ongoing need for the course that is still not being met by a training package outcome.
Ongoing consultation
  • Consult with key stakeholders as you refine the course structure, develop units of competency and develop training and assessment guidelines to ensure these meet identified needs.
  • Consult with key stakeholders to validate course structure and units of competency, and ensure they reflect current needs. Make changes where required.
Validation of final course document
  • Gain key stakeholders’ agreement that the proposed course (end product) will meet identified needs.
  • Gain key stakeholders’ agreement that the proposed course (end product) will meet identified needs.

Identifying stakeholders

Prior to consultation, you need to identify and prepare a list of key stakeholders relevant to the course.

Stakeholders may include:

  • Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)—if your intended course outcomes fall within an SSO’s area of industry coverage
  • Regulatory and/or licensing bodies (Standard 2.2 b of the Standards for VET Regulators 2015 requires RTOs to consult with the industry regulator where the course results in a regulated or licensed outcome.)—consultation with these bodies is mandatory if the course is proposing a regulatory or licensed outcome; it is critical the course outcomes will be recognised by the relevant industry regulator
  • Employers—relevant where the course has a vocational outcome
  • Industry/Professional associations—relevant where the course has a vocational outcome
  • Peak bodies—that represent the area in which the course is being accredited
  • Graduates of the course—where a course is currently delivered as non-accredited training or to support an application for renewal of accreditation
  • Subject matter experts—relevant to all courses
  • Experienced developers of VET courses and units of competency.

Conducting preliminary research and consulting with stakeholders

Prior to developing a new course, you must conduct preliminary research and consultation with relevant stakeholders to determine if there is an established labour market demand for the proposed course.

To enable stakeholders to provide feedback on whether they support the need for a new nationally recognised course to be accredited, you will need to define your course in terms of the intended skill and knowledge outcomes and target learner group/s before you begin your consultation.

The intended vocational outcome (job role) a learner will achieve upon completion of the course must be clearly identified in Section B:2.1 of the course document. Functions associated with this role may also be described in this section.

If you are submitting an existing course for renewal of accreditation, your research and consultation at this stage aims to confirm the ongoing need for the course.

Demonstrating an established market demand for the course

Analysis of industry market needs, identification of upcoming industry trends and developments requiring new and emerging skill demands must be evidenced and supported by relevant stakeholders including industry/professional/peak bodies, employers and so on.

Anticipated student numbers should be identified to demonstrate there is a sustainable demand for the course. Provide relevant documentation from the research conducted to determine these figures with the course accreditation application.

For renewal of accreditation applications, include information on enrolment and completion data in the submission.

Establishing the packaging rules for a VET accredited course

VET accredited courses are made up of units of competency, which can be:

  • imported from a current nationally endorsed training package
  • developed specifically for the course, or
  • imported from another accredited course (with permission from the course owner).

Before determining the units of competency to be included in the course, identify and define the intended skill and knowledge outcomes using techniques such as job and functional analysis, surveys, interviews, group processes and observation. Consider:

  • relevant industry or educational standards
  • research findings (e.g. occupational analyses, skills audits, data on emerging technology and industry trends)
  • manuals, operating procedures and textbooks
  • position descriptions and role statements.

Once you have defined the intended skill and knowledge outcomes:

  • select units of competency from training packages that align to these outcomes
  • identify units of competency that require development
  • determine the most appropriate packaging rules.

When developing courses with a workplace outcome a combination of technical and generic units of competency will usually be required. For example, a course designed for instructional staff will include generic units that relate to instruction and facilitation skills and occupational health and safety along with units relevant to the specific/technical skill.

Stakeholder consultation and validation of course content, including enterprise units developed for inclusion in the course, must occur throughout all stages in the development of the course.

Conducting ongoing consultation during course development

As you are developing the course, it is critical that you consult with key stakeholders to ensure the course:

  • accurately reflects the market segmentations of potential employers and learners
  • achieves realistic needs
  • provides the skills and knowledge outcomes required
  • reflects current and future skill requirements
  • will meet the needs of learners most likely to enrol in the course, and
  • provides the most flexible course structure to meet identified needs.

The breadth and depth of consultation and research required for a course will depend on the size, complexity and required course outcomes. For example, a course designed to be delivered for a particular enterprise and a very specific target group is likely to require less consultation than one intended for broader national delivery. The course document remains the intellectual property of the course developer/owner at all times. Disclosure and confidentiality is managed at the course developer’s/owner’s discretion; however, sufficient information must be provided to stakeholders for meaningful consultation and validation activities to be undertaken. Some course owners may disseminate the entire proposed course document to stakeholders while others may share parts of the course such as course structure and enterprise units. To confirm all aspects of the course meet identified needs, key stakeholders must receive sufficient information to provide feedback on:

  • entry requirements for the course
  • packaging rules for the course
  • specific assessment requirements
  • appropriate qualification type from the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) or whether the proposed course will be developed as a ‘Course in’
  • enterprise unit of competency content, and
  • pathways into the course and after course completion.

In the case of an existing course being submitted for renewal of accreditation, your consultation with key stakeholders at this stage must validate that all aspects of the existing course meet current needs.

Validating the final course

It is critical that you provide key stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on the final course. You must demonstrate that key stakeholders agree the final course content and structure (including developed enterprise units) meets an established need.

Evidencing consultation and validation activities

The consultation and validation activities undertaken and how they contributed to the development of the course, its structure and any developed enterprise units of competency are to be described in the course document at Section B: 3.1. Evidence to support these activities must be submitted with the application for course accreditation. This evidence may include:

  • verifiable evidence of the established demand
  • enrolment projections for a three to five year period
  • the identification of current training package qualifications and/or accredited courses with similar outcomes together with an explanation why those qualifications/accredited courses do not meet the identified need (or for accredited courses, why they are not available through licensing arrangements with the respective course owner)
  • letters of support (preferably not comprising duplicated generic statements)
  • minutes of meetings/memos, and/or
  • copies of relevant emails.

Providing evidence with your application

The application for accreditation (initial or renewal) requires you to provide documentary evidence of consultation with relevant stakeholders to:

  • demonstrate there is an established need for the course, and
  • validate course content to confirm that this will meet the identified need.

The format of this evidence is not prescribed, but is commonly provided as a collection of documentation including minutes of meetings, emails, letters of support and survey results.

Case study: Development of a new course in Health Technology

Queensland-based Prosthetists/Orthotists and Rehabilitation Engineers identified a need to develop a course that trains people to provide specialised technical expertise that contributes to the design, development and fabrication of prostheses, orthoses, assistive devices and wheelchairs. To determine the need, the course developers consulted with a variety of public and private sector services that employ technicians both in Australia and overseas, including the peak professional bodies, the ‘Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association’ and ‘Engineers Australia’.

Consultation with these stakeholders using a combination of email, phone and face to face meetings was conducted. Feedback confirmed there is a need for a nationally recognised course. Research also concluded this need cannot be met through any existing training package qualification.

The course developer identified numerous units of competency from existing training packages that could be included in the course structure.

They also identified that the following enterprise units need to be developed for inclusion in the course structure:

  • HTDFAB501A Use specialist machinery
  • HTDFAB502A Undertake fabrication in prosthetics, orthotics and rehabilitation engineering environments
  • HTDFAB503A Use biomechanics principles to inform technical aspects of fabrication
  • HTDTEC501A Provide technical support in client assessment, fitting and medication process
  • HTDART501A Maintain market awareness.

An advisory group including key stakeholders was formed to discuss the course and the draft units of competency during course development. After several meetings and emails, the advisory group agreed that the final product met industry needs, and the application for accreditation was submitted for accreditation.

Note: This case study is modelled on the current accredited course 10050NAT Diploma of Health Technology (Prosthetics and Orthotics) (Rehabilitation Engineering). Permission for ASQA to use information from this accredited course was provided by the course owner, Queensland Government Department of Health.

Additional resources

Monitoring the accredited course

Accredited courses are to be monitored and evaluated throughout the period of accreditation. Monitoring activities could result in:

  • updating training package units to current versions
  • updating enterprise unit content
  • changes to course structure
  • changes to assessment requirements
  • the course owner cancelling the accredited course.

For renewal of accreditation applications, you must include information regarding the outcomes of these reviews in Section B: 3.2 of the course document.

You should provide information on:

  • what monitoring and evaluation processes have been undertaken during the accreditation period
  • a full review of the course outcomes and course document (including all enterprise units of competency if developed)
  • how the reviews confirmed there is an ongoing need for the course and its outcomes are still current
  • a summary of the main feedback gathered from key stakeholders; and,
  • how this feedback informed the development of the proposed course being presented for renewal of accreditation
  • changes made to the course since it was previously accredited
  • enrolment figures throughout the accreditation period
  • the number of RTOs that have delivered the course, and
  • the number of graduates who gained employment upon completion of the course.

Transition and teach-out arrangements apply for learners under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015. Information regarding the transitioning of continuing students from the previous accredited course to the new course is to be included in Section B: 3.2.