There has been much of late regarding Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and the Certificate IV in Building and Construction and Diploma courses they offer.

The prescribed qualifications to obtain Building Practitioner Registration in Victoria, requires a degree, diploma or associate diploma in building from a university or TAFE college together with the right amount of experience. Applicants with these prescribed requirements will also be required to pass a further examination by the Building Practitioner Board Assessors.

Contrary to popular belief, a Certificate IV in Building and Construction is not a prescribed qualification to obtain building registration in Victoria. Nor is it a prescribed qualification listed in the Building Regulations 2006 (Regulations) for the Domestic Builder-Unlimited class or indeed any other class.

A Certificate IV in Building and Construction is an absolute advantage to any person in the industry wishing to upgrade their knowledge of the industry and its trends and to learn more technical aspects of the building process. We often hear stories of people being advised that the only way they can become a registered building practitioner is to do a Certificate IV in Building and Construction and once completed, they will achieve their registration. This is, in fact, not the case.

Concerns have been raised by a number of people advising us they had been informed that they couldn’t get their registration without the Certificate IV in Building and Construction, meaning they were encouraged to enrol in a course they may not necessarily need or even want to do.

Often we are approached by a conscientious young person, just out of apprenticeship, who has done the Certificate IV in Building and Construction, only to discover he/she is nowhere near experienced enough to apply to become a registered building practitioner. After many months of study and dollars spent, it is disheartening for them to learn that the information provided to them was incorrect and they may need to provide proof of at least three or four years’ experience post apprenticeship to apply to become a registered building practitioner relevant to their chosen category of registration.

As the media have outlined of late, the increased funding to private RTOs across the board are of concern to the industry. Some are using scare tactics and enticements to encourage people to undertake courses for reasons that are not in the best interests of the student.

Some Certificate IV courses in Building and Construction have been reduced in time to such an extent that it is sometimes impossible for students to achieve the required learning outcomes as prescribed in the syllabus. Some RTOs are receiving funding on student enrolment and a second round when students successfully complete the course. In a number of cases, we are aware of assignment answers being provided to students to assist them to complete the units of competency.

The other matter which should be of great concern to the industry is that some RTOs use trainers whose whole role in the classroom is to instruct students to read the text books in class and complete the exercises at home with no consultation or instruction from the trainer. Some trainers have no experience whatsoever in the subject matter and therefore are unable to address students’ questions.

While we acknowledge that the majority of RTOs do a thorough job and their trainers are well resourced and educated, it is of some concern that the rise of ‘fast-track’ RTOs are affecting those quality providers and additionally affecting current and future funding models.

The outcome of students undertaking these ‘fast-track’ courses without adequately learning enough to perform responsibility on site has an effect on all areas of the industry.

A recent study from the Australian Education Union called for major reforms to the sector. The National Audit Office has also acceded to a request that a performance audit be carried out on unscrupulous operators. We await the outcome of these two initiatives.