Guiding questions when seeking out the perfect Registered Training Organisation (RTO)
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.
Many state governments are currently offering incentives and subsidies for those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector wishing to upskill. Some might say there’s never been a better time to become Certificate III, Diploma, or Bachelor qualified – but there are so many RTO choices – how does one choose the best fit?
Sam Rosenberg, Australian Childcare Alliance Victoria Board Member, and Director of Early Childhood Training has shared his thoughts with The Sector on some guiding questions those in the ECEC sector should seek answers to prior to making an investment in their ongoing studies.
The motivations and personal experiences of each educator are as unique as the educators themselves – while there’s not one solution that will be the perfect fit for all, I hope the questions give you some guidance about finding the perfect RTO for you.
How will the training fit in with your life?
Firstly, consider if the RTO you’re interested in will allow you to complete your training whilst working full or part time. Is there time needed away from your workplace to attend mandatory study groups, or to complete practicum placements? Are the people you work with sufficiently qualified to “sign you off?”
Think not only about the financial impact of time away from work, but also the impact on your work/life balance during the time you are studying. Does your workplace offer study leave? Are they flexible? Can you change your days or hours if you fall behind on your studies, or during exam time, to give yourself some breathing room?
Dig deep into the RTO’s background and philosophy
Once you’ve sourced a training organisation, and meet with the potential trainer, ask some “hard hitting” questions to establish the credibility of the RTO and whether they are the right organisation for you.
You should find out about the history of the organisation, and any principles, vision or mission statement they use in delivering their course. Ask questions about the delivery method, and what the course entails.
Flexibility is important here too – ask if the RTO caters to specific learning needs, if the course content can be modified to suit your needs, and what supports are available if you find yourself struggling. Are there some parts of the course which are online? Some face-to-face? How often will the trainers check in with you to track your progress? What happens if a trainer leaves the course half way through – how will you be supported?
Make sure you are across the logistics
Being observed in the workplace, to make sure you’re on the right track, is a core component of any quality RTO experience. Incoming students should expect a regular visiting schedule to ensure they’re on track – be sure to ask what this schedule looks like well in advance.
Sometimes students can find themselves with tricky questions, and these questions don’t always allow for their trainers office hours. Who handles after hours enquiries, and what sort of turn around can a student expect? What if there’s one question which is holding back the completion of an assignment, and it’s due tomorrow? These queries are good to iron out before the pressure is on.
Speaking of assignments, it’s useful to know ahead of time what’s expected in terms of submitting regular assessments, and how these are submitted. If all assignments are submitted online, and you have unreliable internet access, will this be a barrier for you?
Speak up now to avoid disappointment later
It’s incumbent on the prospective student to ask these and other relevant questions right upfront to avoid disappointment later on. Undertaking the journey to further qualifications is a collaboration between the student, the RTO and the employer, and all three need to work in harmony to ensure success.
Ultimately, the advice on who you should choose to study with could be based on who has trained previous students in the service, who will deliver the course in the quickest possible time, who charges the lowest enrolment fee or, hopefully, for the right reasons – which RTO has a reputation for training excellence, ongoing support, strong ethics and ensuring a consistent and understanding relationship between the student and their designated trainer.
In the end, any student needs to carefully choose the RTO who will best enhance their personal skills and ultimately their progress in the early education sector.