Education

Call for unified roll-out of new training package

A group of educators around the country are proposing a collaborative approach to implementing the new refrigeration and air conditioning training package. If successful, it would constitute a first within Australia’s vocational education sector.

The new version of the Certificate III in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration trade course, UEE32220, was recently endorsed for national use. It must be implemented by October 2022.

In order to run the course, however, each training organisation must demonstrate to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) that it possesses the relevant assessment tools. For previous packages, colleges across the nation have worked separately to produce their own assessment tools, and the supporting documentation.

Veteran educator Steve Smith, who worked at TAFE NSW for 35 years before recently moving to Superior Training Centre, says this approach is inefficient and ineffective.

“Generally, the work is done in isolation,” says Smith, “with the obvious outcome being a lack of consistency across the colleges and a waste of resources.”

For smaller colleges, the situation is especially challenging. Their teams simply do not have the capacity to produce the reams of documentation required.

Teaming up for better training materials

To address these issues, a representative group of RAC teachers from across the nation, co-ordinated by Smith, has expressed a strong desire to assist in the production of a consistent and valid set of assessment tools that all colleges can use. Work has already begun, with the support of Superior Training Centre.

The scope of work entails the production of approximately 450 documents for 42 units of competence contained within the new UEE32220 course, and is expected to take at least 12 months to complete.

STC has initiated the project but Smith argues the organisation should not be expected to carry the full financial burden. The team is now looking for industry bodies – including other training organisations and companies in the sector – to support the project.

“The final product will be made freely available to other training organisations that deliver this RAC trade course,” he says. “It will be of huge value to other TAFEs and industry, so it’s only fair that they support this work as well.”

Industry representatives are also being sought to validate the training materials. Smith says this will build industry’s confidence in the package, and allow them to provide input into the tools being used to assess apprentices.

“If you are one of the many striving to build consistency into your business,” says Smith, “you will understand what is driving our desire to improve the products: our apprentices!”

The group of teachers is seeking open dialogue with anyone interested in sponsoring the production of one or more units of competence. They are also looking for participants in an Industry Validation Committee. This committee will be tasked with reviewing the assessment tools as they are produced.

A sensible approach

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) has backed the project.

“The same training package is being delivered around the country, so it makes sense to have a consistent approach to assessment,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH.

“It also makes good use of the expertise in the teaching network, rather than leaving each college to work alone.”

“We view this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Smith. “It’s a chance to develop valid and reliable assessment resources centrally, with input from relevant stakeholders, and share them freely with training providers. It will also dramatically improve the cooperation of our industry, and the professionalism of our students.”

For further information on becoming involved in this project, contact steve@stc.nsw.edu.au

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