0. The rocky road to RTO compliance

To blog or not to blog, that was the question. I am not a good writer. I am very much a stream of consciousness thinker, a butterfly thinker, some call it, and I have a tendency to get lost in my thoughts and head off in a tangential line that takes me miles away from the original topic.

But, after Halo Nation Training Pty Ltd (HaloNT) achieved its compliance under the new standards in April 2015, we started receiving the phone calls and emails. “How did you address the new training and assessment requirements?” “What does your TAS look like?” “Can you help me with my validation process?”

And then, “It’s too hard to keep my RTO registration, can I just be a trainer through you?” Followed by, “My RTO is about to be audited. There’s no way I’m going to be compliant. What do I do?”

A lot of these questions I had posed myself as I was trying to make sure that HaloNT was compliant. I went to bulletin boards like LinkedIn, seminars and workshops, researched what felt like a thousand websites, spent so many hours on Google that I felt like a Beta tester, and sifted through so many opinions that I felt that I could argue ‘RTO Compliance’ for Australia at the next Olympics. But, then I had a breakthrough.

It was the sort of little breakthrough that quickly becomes an avalanche. I would go back to the regulator – in this case, the Standards – and see what was being asked for. You see, I had made the mistake that everyone is making, and I mean everyone. I was relying on suspicions about the regulator ASQA, and fear of state authorities like local Workplace Health and Safety offices to prevent me from going directly to the regulators. I was buying in to the conversations being had in the chatrooms, the gossip at the conventions, and opinions of the consultants – many of whom were no longer RTO’s themselves (if they ever had been) – about what I was supposed to do as an RTO, and not looking at what I was actually REQUIRED to do as an RTO.

This was compounded by the fact that we, like many RTO’s had started our lives born in the shadows of another RTO. Indeed, although I don’t know this for sure (and yes, this is certainly only my opinion), I believe that many RTO’s have been setup by enthusiasts who have worked as trainers and assessors in other RTO’s and decided to strike out on their own. In fact, that was how we started. And, a good thing too, because the RTO that we all worked for went out of business a few years after we started.

This means that many RTO’s have been born using borrowed concepts and ideas from their parents, and found themselves, like children put up for adoption, in a different environment and away from their parents. I don’t know about nurture vs nature, but to me it’s pretty clear in the RTO world. These adopted RTO’s have the genetics of the parents, but they have been brought up away from the parents environment, and are living and working and having to make working (commercial) decisions in circumstances that may not be at all similar to their original genetics. And, due to the circumstances of their birth, without the option to refer back to the parent for help, either.

So, what is an RTO to do? Well, many of them are just shutting their doors. They are waiting until their re-registrations are due, and not reregistering. They are waiting until a compliance, or other, audit is due, and simply closing; they are looking for purchasers and getting out while they still can.

But do they need to be closing up shop? Want? Perhaps yes. Need? Probably not.

The road to compliance, especially if your operating foundations were a bit questionable to start with, is certainly not easy. You have legacy paperwork and policies, and you may not even know what they refer to. The number of times we get asked about the difference between Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance is significant. (And, I will write about those in a later post.) You will have ways of doing things and reporting things that you just do without ever asking why. You may have an organisational structure that is far larger than you actually need.

So, this series of posts is about paving the rocky road to compliance. I have mapped out about 20 posts, hopefully one per week, that will cover my thoughts on a whole heap of key topics related to your RTO compliance. I am talking from my experience as a currently registered and active RTO that is compliant TODAY under the 2015 Standards. I will tell you what I did to address the issues, and give you some pointers as to what you can do to ensure your own compliance.

I hope that your next audit is not imminent, because this process will take you quite a while if you need to do everything from scratch. But, I will include some templates to help you along the way.

Please feel free to make comments as we go; and to make suggestions about topics. I would love to hear your feedback about your own experiences. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and like us on Facebook so you will know when the next post is up.

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