We are in the training industry, yet many training programs, including some formal training programs, fail to have a positive effect on our RTO's performance.
In this article, I will analyse the top three reasons why RTO Compliance Training Fails.
Lack of Alignment with RTO's Needs
The payoff from a training program comes from the business measures that drive it. Simply put, if a training program is not aligned or connected to a business measure, no improvement can be linked to the program. Too often, training is implemented for the wrong reasons – a trend, to meet regulatory requirements, or perceived need that may not be connected to an RTO's measure.
Initial training needs may be linked to the objectives and evaluation by using a consistent four-level concept:
- Reaction (How we want students to perceive the program and its outcomes)
- Learning (What new skills and knowledge we want students to learn)
- Application (How we want students to use the new skills)
- Impact (What RTO performance metrics we want to change)
Without the business connection at Level 4, the program will have difficulty achieving any results.
One major RTO faced this problem directly as it reviewed its Trainers' Professional Development Plan. Several PD sessions were conducted to further develop trainers' skills and knowledge to assess students. The PD sessions were not connected to any RTO performance metric, such as number of non-compliances in clause 1.8, number of rectifications identified in validations, etc. The PD sessions were also not connected to the RTO's operations and participants couldn't use procedural skills back on the job, and therefore, the RTO didn't improve assessment practices.
Failure to Recognise Non-Training Solutions
If the wrong solution is implemented, little or no payoff will result. Too often, training is perceived as a solution for a variety of performance problems when training may not be an issue at all.
A recent evaluation of a community college illustrated this problem. In its training program, the college attempted to prepare career counsellors so they could provide advice to potential students about training products. The problem the college had was a significant number of students enrolled into inappropriate courses. This meant the training produced little change in the outcomes.
An impact study subsequently revealed that the culprit was the enrolment procedure that accepted enrolments prior to potential students' interviews with career advisers. When probed for a reason for the poor results, the college realised that unless its enrolment procedure changed to provide time for career advisers to interview potential students prior to enrolments being accepted, the results would not change.
Attempting to solve job performance issues with training will not work when factors such as systems, job design and motivation are the real issues. To overcome this problem, staff training must focus on methods to analyse performance rather than conduct traditional training needs assessments – a major shift in performance improvement that has been developing for many years.
Up-front analysis should be elevated from needs assessment, which is based on skills and knowledge deficiencies, to a process that begins with business needs and works through the learning needs.
Lack of Specific Direction and Focus
Training should be a focused process that allows stakeholders to concentrate on desired results. Training objectives should be developed at higher Kirkpatrick levels than traditional learning objectives. These objectives correspond with six measures that lead to a balanced approach to evaluating the success of training. Most training programs should contain objectives at multiple levels, ideally including those at Levels 3 and 4.
An RTO's internal training is often decided without consulting all stakeholders. What are the RTO's performance needs for the CEO, the Marketing Manager, the Training Manager, the Quality and Compliance Manager? When developed properly, and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, these objectives provide important direction and focus.
Training designers and developers must focus on application and effect, not just learning. Facilitators need detailed objectives to prepare individuals for the ultimate outcomes of the learning experience: job performance change.
Participants need the direction provided by Level 3 and 4 objectives to clearly see how the training program's outcome will actually help the RTO.
Not all programs will need to undergo such detailed up-front analysis, but it is a critical issue that needs more attention, particularly when training is expected to have an effect on the RTO's performance.