RPL – What is it, and why is it so Important?

iStock_000035092776_F-300x199.jpgRecently, there has been much discussion over RPL, that is, Recognition of Prior Learning. It seems that there is much confusion over what it is and how you can seriously benefit from it. Controversially, it has recently drawn attention by less-than ethical RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) signing off on RPL, with minimal evidence, and with students not satisfying the strict criteria that it requires.

As a result, people are acquiring qualifications or Statements of Attainments (for individual units), without actually satisfying the criteria for competence and thus completion. This is isolated, but undermines the values of the Vocational Education and Training sector, and does not provide value or respect for the RPL applicant themselves.

So what is RPL? RPL is the process of recognising that you may be competent in an area of study or in a subject, regardless of how, when or where your learning occurred.  You may have learned through previous experience; you may have learned through a manager teaching you on the job; you may have learned through doing previous study (that maybe wasn’t accredited, such as a series of short courses, or by doing an equivalent course overseas that isn’t recognised in Australia); or you may have learned from a combination of the above. The fact is, you already have acquired the knowledge and skills (it doesn’t matter how), and, if you satisfy the criteria, can provide evidence and can demonstrate competence, you should be able to receive RPL.

RPL can enable you to gain Statement of Attainments for individual units, or you can RPL an entire qualification. The reason why this is such an important aspect of our Vocational Education and Training (VET) system, is that we need to acknowledge that learning occurs through so many diverse pathways.

So what are the benefits of RPL?

Some of the benefits of RPL are listed below:


  • RPL enables you to avoid duplication of study and assessments for skills and knowledge that you already have
  • RPLing subjects or qualifications means that you save heap lot of time
  • You can have your skills and knowledge recognised with an accredited qualification or Statement of Attainment – which is very valuable in the workplace and marketplace, as evidence of having attained a certain level of skill and knowledge
  • The process of RPL is also useful to identify any gaps in your skills and knowledge, and highlights any learning that needs to occur to meet the requirements of the job role or qualification
  • RPL enables students to progress to other education and training programs.

As an example: We recently received a call from a prospect student who had been working in the same library for 13 years. She was effectively running the library, but had no formal qualifications to support this. With all the changes occurring in her council, and an increased degree of uncertainty around the fact that she felt that her role was no longer steadfast and safe, she felt that there may come a time soon that she may wish to, or need to, move on to a new role.

She was concerned that despite her extensive experience, should she move to another library without the formal qualifications to back her up, she may not have access to the same opportunity and level of employment, as she might otherwise have enjoyed.

This is a perfect case of where she can access RPL, and receive an accredited qualification to formalise all those years of experience and skills. This not only gives her formal recognition of her level of expertise, but also demonstrates a certain level of achievement in her knowledge and skills, that will support her and give her access to the role that she wants.

So how does it work?
It is important to note that RPL is a flexible process. Of course, it involves some form of assessment and requirement of evidence to demonstrate to your assessor, that you are in fact competent in a unit or qualification. This competence needs to be demonstrated in all the required areas, including skills, knowledge and outcomes. The process is demonstrated below:

Throughout the process, you are fully supported by an assessor and training manager who will guide you through the process. If you are deemed not yet competent, then you will either be required to do some further study or learning just in the area where you are demonstrating non-competence, or be required to do the full unit.  In the end, the goal is to make the process as seamless as possible.

As always, if you would like to discuss your personal circumstances and enquire further about RPL, please do not hesitate to contact us! We are here to help you out in any way possible, and we are always open for questions!

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