A Place for Training Products – in Defence of the Standards for RTOs

In his essay on jargon and terminology, Bryan West raises what could be an engaging topic. However, there must be better examples, than the one he raises, of jargon that causes irritation to students in VET. Specifically, Bryan raises concerns about the term: “training product”.

I seek to argue that there are no problems with this usage that cause “trouble”.

Throughout the Standards, “training product” is used as a neologism (new word) to describe what otherwise could be defined as the program of training and assessment (and the facilities, resources, and instruments needed to deliver the program) that an RTO produces to cover the skills required for a particular task or role in the industry, and for which qualifications are awarded.

Foremost, let us understand that the Standards are a legal document, like a contract, that defines the rules of engagement between the Government and RTOs. In that context, the “product” that the Government expects each RTO to “produce” is a program that describes how learners will be trained and assessed, and how that program complies with industry standards and units of competency. However, the contract is a matter that concerns RTOs; it is only of peripheral interest or concern to students in the VET system.

Individual students do not need to be concerned about what “training product” actually means. They do not need to be troubled by the etymology of the term, i.e. where it came from, or who first thought of it. Their only burden is to be aware that a set of rules do exist that define what their RTO is required to provide, and the rights that they have under those rules.

With respect to etymology, a “training product” is something that an RTO is required to produce in order to indicate how the RTO is going to try to get learners trained to a standard worthy of attaining a qualification. Under that definition, the “training product” is not something that learners “get” or “purchase” like a commodity; it is a process that learners will undergo, like a service from a doctor, a dentist, or a lawyer.

In the VET sector, there is no guarantee that undergoing the service will provide learners with a qualification. Indeed, the Standards expressly prohibit RTOs from guaranteeing anything of the sort. The “contract” about “training products” is between RTOs and the Government. RTOs have no “contract” with learners to award or sell a qualification. RTOs simply provide the training. Learners retain the responsibility to learn properly from that training.

I am aware that some people raise concerns about the quality of “training products” or their delivery, but that is a different issue. It has nothing to do with the meaning of “training product”.

Perhaps Bryan or others might care to change the direction of the discussion. Possible topics might include: what terms and jargon really do irritate students, or why do Fortress students have to work harder for their qualification than their so-called peers at other RTOs?

Published 3 December 2019

What do you think?

Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.

About the Author:

Nik Bogduk is Emeritus Professor of Pain Medicine at the University of Newcastle.

Prior to retiring, he joined the NSW State Emergency Service, and gradually became an enterprise trainer and assessor. He entered the VET sector by completing a Certificate IV TAE and later the Dip VET/DipTDD. Within the SES he has taught and assessed vocational courses in storm operations, rescue operations, navigation, chainsaw operations, and first aid. Of late he has taught courses in leadership and incident management. Under the new regulations of ASQA that came into force in 2019, he has become a Lead Trainer and Assessor responsible for supervising and creating new trainers and assessors.

With Bryan West (mentioned above) of Fortress Learning (RTO 31974). he has engaged in quantitative research into issues pertaining to the attitudes and performance of candidates seeking to meet the revised standards of qualifications in VET.

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