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Is your early childhood qualification blacklisted?

Imagine feeling elated and accomplished at finally completing your Early Childhood studies and setting out to join the workforce. Then imagine finding out that your qualifications aren’t satisfactory enough to be employed because the training course you put your hard work and money into turned out to be dodgy. Sadly, this is still a frequent occurrence a lot of people have to endure due to the unsavoury dealings of some registered training organisations (RTOs) that provide second-rate education.

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (or ASQA), RTOs are supposed to be renowned as “providers of quality-assured and nationally recognised training and qualifications”, so it’s appalling that these course suppliers don’t uphold the standards to which they’re supposed to follow. As a result of RTOs skimping on their training, learners aren’t being equipped with the full skillset they need and are not being assessed by competent educators. Therefore employers are losing out on future employees, who may think they’re fully qualified, but are actually lacking the full spectrum of knowledge and abilities through no fault of their own.

In 2017 ASQA also conducted a review of RTO courses that had “unduly short training”, which meant that the courses were completed in a quicker timeframe than what is recommended, leaving the students severely under skilled in their field. The main indicator for this in the review was how the RTOs advertised the duration of the course on their websites. Most of the time it was found that the information was “absent, widely variable in relation to the same qualifications or inconsistent in terms of the way it was presented”. I’ve spoken before about the ‘tick and flick’ way of being trained and assessed, and it’s incredibly unfair that people can be lured into taking a course under false advertisement.

Along with the unduly short training, the ASQA also looked into courses that lacked in other aspects of quality training such as the mode of delivery and whether or not mandatory assessment criteria was being fully evaluated. The way in which you’re taught works like a domino effect — if someone who lacks adequate skills instructs you, then in turn you’re going to continue the pattern. In childcare we are supposed to be leaders for the children, providing them with top quality care and education. How are we supposed to do this when we can’t even get superior education for ourselves?

There are other elements to consider too when being faced with potential unemployment or being banned outright from centres due to unethical RTOs, like the toll it takes on your mental health. Feelings of anger, embarrassment and humiliation are not uncommon, not to mention the stress of the situation. Then there are also the financial losses to consider, from the money wasted on the course you just took, to the realisation that you may have to fork out moremoney to gain the qualifications you thought you had already earned the first time around.

When researching education and care courses listed at different RTOs, there are a few things you can look out for to determine whether the organisation is providing you with the sufficient skills needed such as:

- The course honouring all commitments it makes in its marketing materials

- Being aware of all costs and payment terms and conditions

- Understanding how long the course will take

- Understanding the study requirements and the methods of assessment

- Whether or not field work is provided and organised

- The registered training number for the training provider

The ASQA website also provides a more detailed fact sheet you can download and check off to ensure the course you have chosen is right for you. Then there’s also the national register for training site (training.gov.au) that allows you to look up every RTO and see their current status.

It’s vital for your employment future, and the future of your fellow educators that these dodgy RTOs are shut down and reported. Complaints can be made to the course providers, or you can register your concerns with the National Training Complaints Hotline on 13 38 73.

All educators should be able to start their careers on an even footing and not be unfairly disadvantaged because their training turned out to be a mockery of the education system.

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