What is the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)?

In this bite-sized tutorial, we’re going to give you an overview of the Australian Qualifications Framework also known as the ‘AQF’, and how it relates to the Vocational Education and Training sector. 

The AQF is a national system that includes all qualifications that are offered in the Australian Education and Training Systems. The AQF is a comprehensive framework that defines the standards for qualifications from Certificate level courses through to Doctorate Degrees. The AQF provides guidance for consistent interpretation and understanding of the different qualification levels offered by Education and Training providers in Australia. 

Key Features of the Australian Qualifications Framework 

Firstly, the AQF classifies qualifications into 10 distinct levels with level one being the lowest which is Certificate I, and level 10 being the highest which is a Doctoral Degree. Now, each level represents a specific depth of knowledge, skill and the complexity of tasks that are required to complete the qualification. 

The AQF also ensures standardised qualification titles so that individuals and employers can easily understand the level and purpose of a particular qualification. 

If an RTO were to issue a qualification with their own unique title for example 'Certificate in Cooking Skills' it would be impossible to know what skill level has been achieved. However using standardised qualification titles such as 'Certificate I in Hospitality', 'Certificate II in Hospitality', or 'Certificate III in Hospitality', it's clearly identified what specific level of vocational education has been achieved because it can be linked directly to the Qualifications Framework. RTOs who issue nationally recognised qualifications must use the titles as identified in the AQF for the different levels. 

How the AQF relates to Vocational Education and Training or the ‘VET’ system in Australia: 

The VET sector in Australia offers qualifications including Certificates I and II which are very entry-level and introductory and are generally suited as a starting point for initial work or further study. The VET sector also provides Certificate III and IV qualifications that are suited for transitioning into the workplace with job roles that require some autonomy and limited responsibility. Finally the VET sector also includes qualifications at AQF level 5 and 6 which are Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas. The complexity of these qualifications is more advanced and provides in-depth knowledge and practical skills for specific occupations as well as pathways to higher education such as bachelor's degrees. 

Because the AQF ensures that VET qualifications align with a National Standard that's recognised across the country, it allows for the easy progression between different qualifications as well as pathways to higher education. And, at each qualification level of the AQF, there are clear links to the employment Market. 

Within the AQF you'll find criteria that describe the complexity expectations of qualifications at each of the 10 levels. Now this includes a 'Summary' that describes the intended purpose of a qualification at that level. A 'Knowledge' section that describes the level of knowledge that would be expected at that qualification level. 

The 'Skill' section outlines the range and scope of skills that would be expected, and finally the 'Application of Skills and Knowledge' section provides an overview of the expected workforce abilities that would be expected of graduates at that qualification level. For individuals and employers, this information provides a transparent way to understand the level of expertise and complexity of skills that a person should have based on the qualifications they hold. 

You can visit the AQF website at aqf.edu.au where you can find out more information about the Australian Qualifications Framework and download a copy of the AQF document. 

If a career as a trainer in vocational education is something you're interested in, contact one of our Course Advisors to see how you can get started.

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