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Work placement hours mandated in proposed new training qualifications

Registered training organisations delivering aged care qualifications will have to ensure their students complete mandatory work experience and face tighter assessment requirements under changes due to be signed off by the Department of Education and Training by June.

The Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) is currently finalising a comprehensive review of the training packages covering the aged and community care sectors, conducted in consultation with industry.

For the first time, the updated training package will prescribe a minimum of 120 hours of work placement for Certificate III and Certificate IV students, as well as the competencies that will have to be assessed in the workplace.

The changes respond to long-standing industry concerns over the varying level of clinical experience and workplace exposure provided by RTOs delivering entry-level aged care training.

In 2013, a major review into aged care training by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) found that 15 per cent of RTOs provided less than 60 hours of work placement, including some Certificate III in Aged Care courses that failed to provide any work-based training to students.

Strengthening the training packages by specifying minimum work placement hours and workplace assessment requirements was a key recommendation of the ASQA review.

Dorothy Rao, training packages manager at the CS&HISC, said the significant changes would remove any ambiguity about what was required of RTOs in the areas of workplace training and assessment.

“The assessment requirement is also prescriptive in terms of the range and frequency of what has to be demonstrated in the workplace,” she told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Rod Cooke, chief executive officer of CS&HISC, said the changes around mandatory work experience were also likely to focus attention on the availability and quality of VET work placements within the sector, especially as demand for qualified support workers grows significantly.

Employer incentives to boost placements

The latest findings from the CS&HISC e-scan 2015 survey found 64 per cent of RTOs reported difficulties obtaining appropriate work placements for their students and nearly 60 per cent of respondents agreed that a lack of targeted financial incentives for delivering VET placements was a barrier to provision.

Currently, governments only fund clinical placements in universities, while the provision of work placements in VET education is not funded.

Mr Cooke said supporting the sector to deliver appropriate work placements and to increase its training capacity to meet projected workforce demand must be a key government priority.

Some of the critical issues in the provision of work placements to be worked through include high competition for places, the financial and administrative costs to employers, client privacy and consent especially in home care settings, and appropriate induction and supervision of students.

New qualifications

As part of the review, the training packages and qualifications have also been streamlined.

At the Certificate III level, a new generalist qualification called a Certificate III in Individual Support is set to replace the Certificate III in Aged Care, Certificate III in Home and Community Care and Certificate III in Disability.

Under this new qualification, a student can choose to specialise in ageing support, home and community support and disability.

Ms Rao said the certificate III qualifications have been brought together in recognition of the commonality and common skill sets between the three sectors and to enable greater flexibility for workers to move between sectors.

At the Certificate IV level, it is proposed that the aged care and home and community care qualifications will be combined.

The CS&HISC said it expected the new training packages would be endorsed in June.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Certificate III students would be required to complete a minimum of 80 hours of work placement. 

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9 Responses to Work placement hours mandated in proposed new training qualifications

  1. Janet Lawrence April 30, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    It is about time someone woke up in ASQA. I am an aged care specialist refer to my website, Our colleges has always mandated Work placement hours. We commenced from 80 hours and have increased it over a year to 120 as we found it necessary.

    Sadly, many RTO’s conducting aged care courses do not even have their trainers specialised in aged care, lack extreme knowledge and experience in aged care. For example, RTOs conducting cookery, business, hair dressing, trade, etc are also conducting aged care, many of them on line, eg open college. It is no surprise that these RTOs have been allowed to slip through the system and I feel sorry for the students who have been disadvantaged. VRQA and ASQA has a lot to answer.

    I am currently undertaking a Doctor of Education and my research is on: How is the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) training relate to the quality of care provided in Residential Aged Care Services (RACS)?

    I would be happy to share my outcome of the research.

    Thank you for taking the initiative to ensure the aged care placements are mandated.

    However, I must say that I disagree with the changes you are making because you are sampling the course and allow the RTOs to still take advantage of the system.

    Having Home and Community and Disability courses separately would be much better. It allows for students to constantly update their knowledge and experience.

    You are further reducing the learning experience through theory and practice by combining all three. I suppose my comments may not matter to anyone. I hope someone is listening.
    Janet Lawrence – FACN

  2. Christine Robey May 1, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    I also feel sorry for the age care recipients who will be cared for by poorly trained staff.

  3. Caroline May 4, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    I agree with Janet’s comments. However I want to point out that mandated or non-mandated placements has a real impact on organisations (particularly small & medium ones) in terms of resources and time for something that remains unrecognised and unfunded. There is a gap in expectations and responsibilities between organisations, teaching institutions and students. As a continuing student, I am in a postgrad placement in a facility (unnamed) and recognise that I am an additional task for the supervisor. I value my experience and take my placement seriously but I also do volunteer work to build on the experiences of learning. Not everyone has the capacity to direct their career (I can). On the other hand, I know that a particular TAFE course (attractive to international students) offers industry placement for 6 months which pays students. A time has come for placements in the care sector for it to be centrally managed (locally or regionally) and have real buy in from organisations and teaching institutions so that students get good experiences and can also move across institutions to have real experiences across a range of services but more importantly in ways that help them build skills in the new world of care.
    I don’t know the answer but I am interested in being part of change.

  4. Drew Dwyer May 4, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I agree with the comments of Janet Lawrence,

    but would like to add that it is truly a good partnership between the RTO and the organisation to set up and manage the TAS so that the outcomes in training can be achieved for the whole sector and the facility.

    The RN team leader has a crucial role to play and one that must be supported and encouraged by the organisations

    Looking forward to leadership change

    Drew Dwyer

  5. Nadine February 28, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    Do work placement hours count if you are studying towards a Cert III Individual Support and are currently employed by somebody in this field?

  6. Constance April 15, 2017 at 8:03 am #

    As Nadine above has already asked the question,
    I also would like to know, if it is still manatry to complete 120 to 160 work placement hours, if a student is studying towards a Cert III Individual Support and is currently employed and working in the aged care field?

  7. ramya August 5, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    hi every one I am doing aged care course in nsw this month my husband shifted to Victoria iam difficult to found 120 student placement pls any one can help me,if know any of aged care sevice centers to allow to students.

  8. susie July 16, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

    to expect any body to go to work for four weeks and not get paid in the tuff financial world we live in is not okay and obviously the people that do think its ok to send someone to work for four weeks with no pay must have an income.

  9. Anonymous July 17, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    Susie – this is the same case with a Bachelor of Nursing. Your placement hours are unpaid.

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