10 Steps Towards Starting a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)

10 Steps Towards Starting a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)

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Becoming a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is the ultimate opportunity to contribute to your industry and area of expertise.  Any business can deliver training, but it takes high quality and highly committed businesses to obtain the authorative and respectable status of a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). 


It is ONLY RTOs that are permitted to issue nationally recognised qualifications, units of competency accredited courses and recognised skill sets. 


There really is an accredited course for anyone in the internationally renowned and respected Australian vocational education and training (VET) system (you can check them out here by typing a key word into the Nationally recognised training’ quick search http://training.gov.au/Home/Tga). 


For professionals who have dedicated their career to mastering an area of expertise and helping others grow in that field, there is no higher calling than being able to QUALIFY (not just train) people in what you know best – and what a valuable marketing tool this is too!


·         Train, assess and issue nationally recognised qualifications, units of competency accredited courses and recognised skill sets anywhere in Australia

·         Can apply for registration to deliver qualifications internationally

·         Opens up doors for tendering and procurement of large training contracts that non-registered training providers do not meet the criteria for

·         Formally recognise qualifications and accredited training issued by other RTOs

·         Eligibility for application to various Government funding initiatives for training and up-skilling Australia and beyond

·         Be listed on the national vocational education and training register of authorised training organisations in Australia

·         Demonstrate your authority and quality services by proving compliance with rigorous national standards

·         Longer standing client base – non-accredited training may only be a few days long, but qualifications can last a few weeks to a few years


Two years ago I was engaged by a driven and inspirational company.

They had worked hard to become experts in their field and had gained a spectacular international reputation as a result.  But like all successful companies, they knew that being at the top doesn’t mean staying at the top, and that growing, developing, evolving and listening to your clients’ needs is vital for survival. 


Having identified that their clients’ (and their bottom line) would benefit tremendously from replacing their non-accredited training, with nationally recognised qualifications, they began to see formally accredited training as their next step. 

They also recognised that it would open up a whole new world of business opportunities and continue to allow them to demonstrate their expertise in their field – how better to do that than to QUALIFY people in your specialist subject area? 


Finally, they had the contract of their dreams in their near grasp, all the capability, capacity, resources and years of experience to boot; but they were missing one vital requirement – RTO status.


Governments and almost all large and international businesses stipulate that RTO registration is a non-negotiable pre-requisite of submitting a tender for their projects that involves any kind of training or people development.

My client knew that taking their business to its next level required RTO status for endless reasons, and they needed it now.


But taking any business to its next level is not easy.  It requires hard work, expenses and tireless commitment. 

Nothing worth having happens by accident and unfortunately my client, like most businesses had a restricted budget for something that accountants considered as not ‘attributed to an existing cost centre and income stream’. 

They also only had 5% of the time that most other aspiring RTOs would averagely have to prepare, if they were to make the tender submission deadline AND take their business to their next dream level of qualifying future professionals in their industry. 


Another problem they faced was an unfamiliar world of compliance, legislation and terminology.  The best industry specific training providers are not ones based on knowledge of training, but on knowledge of subject matter; but getting RTO status requires a heavily weighted requirement of expertise in the world of training and RTO compliance – something they did not have the time, resources or skill set to entertain in the frame available.


I had got to know them now, they were in my hands, I could NOT let these passionate entrepreneurs miss out on their dream that aligned to my core mission of helping the world learn and grow. 

Where there is a will, there is a way, and I made sure I found them one. 


Although there are very clearly defined requirements and stages that aspiring RTOs must follow to obtain RTO status, every single RTO application is profoundly unique to that business, industry, target learners and qualifications chosen to be delivered. 

I intimately understood their goals, vision and mission; I stripped away immediately unnecessary expenses and tasks. 

I used my own (and my teams) expertise and experience of RTO compliance, resource development, training and assessment, and auditors preferences, to focus on the essential requirements and execute for them the ultimate level of quality and compliance. 


Experience is everything, and this gave us a bank of resources to draw upon that simply had to be edited, re-formatted and contextualised to suit their needs. 

We have a permanent team of training developer experts behind us that could pool together to do what they do best, saving our client huge costs in recruitment, training and development team wages. 


In short, we had their full suite of requirements complete in a matter of weeks, they flew through their audit with zero non-compliances and still use our services to maintain their compliance, continuously improve their training operations, develop new resources, train all of their staff and add new qualifications to their scope. 

They got through their 12month audit without a hiccup.


RTO compliance can be learned by anyone, but if my client had tried it alone, it would have taken them significantly longer, they would have missed their deadline for their tender (which they won), would have taken them a lot longer before they were turning over income and qualifying their industry, and could have risked losing thousands of dollars as well as their chance at obtaining RTO status.


All of this was saved as a result of recognising that we all have different skill sets.  Although getting in the experts may look pricey on a few invoices, it saves you a fortune, and your credibility in the long run – and this is true for all industries.


This is a highly regulated and extremely compliance heavy industry.  Get it wrong, and you lose EVERYTHING. 

Set it up right at the start, get good systems in place, train your team and continuously monitor and improve your operations; and you have a qualified Australia, excellent  learner experiences, no stress and an ongoing licence of approved quality standards!


So what are the generic requirements?  Removing the uniqueness of each businesses, here are the absolute bare minimum ‘musts’ of starting your own RTO:

(Please note these standards are subject to unexpected change and you must ensure you refer to the registering body’s most up to date standards and conditions under all circumstances)


Things to do

This list is by no means exhaustive of the thorough planning, considerations, expenses and tasks required to become an RTO and all interested parties must conduct significant planning as well as consider seeking the consultation of an RTO expert to ensure it is the right move for your business.  However, here are just a few of the essential steps required. 


1.       You must be able to demonstrate a need from industry / your clients – Who wants your training? What is your demand? Why do they want it? How is yours different from other RTOs? and importantly, how do you know this and how can you prove it?

(MainTraining provide templates for compliant documents as well as a list of evidence that is accepted)


2.       Complete a thorough RTO business plan – your RTO has to adhere to strict national quality standards which means it will enforce a unique set of policies, procedures, systems, management, finance, administration, staff, resources and operations from your usual business.

The RTO specific business plan is a requirement at application and must show your planning into addressing the national Australian Quality Framework standards and the standards of the registering body.  

(MainTraining come to your business and conduct a business planning workshop, getting the hard work done there and then onsite whilst educating all staff involved on the plan and the process.  We can also just provide the compliant templates)


3.       Decide what nationally recognised training you wish to add to your ‘scope’

(MainTraining use their knowledge of the Australian Qualifications Framework and experience with all Training Packages to consult the best options with clients)


4.       Conduct legal checks (eg Finance Risk Assessment Check, Fit and Proper Person Declaration and Police Checks, Consider any special licence needs)

(MainTraining check you have completed the registering body forms for your application and offer guidance on their completion)


5.       Conduct a Self-Assessment – this demonstrates your capability and capacity to train and assess to the quality standards

6.       (MainTraining conduct this whole process for the client)


7.       Develop compliant policies, procedures, systems and evidence for managing your RTO to the national quality standards of AQTF and the registering body

(MainTraining provide the full suite of compliant administration, documentation as well as map these pieces of evidence to all of the standards in preparation for application and audit)


8.       Develop contextualised and compliant training and assessment materials/resources to demonstrate capability to conduct training and assessment to the national quality standards – There are extremely strict rules on content and structure of resources, design of learning programs and training and assessment strategies. 

It is highly recommended that you seek professional RTO Resource Developer guidance on this.  These resources must also take into account not just the compliance of the AQTF and the registering body, but also the regulations of the industry that the training operates in.  For instance, I was recently personally contracted to develop compliant resources for a RTO in aviation who delivers flight training.  This flight training must be conducted in compliance with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and regulated industry syllabus, which had to be cross-referenced to the qualifications to remove duplicity but ensure all conditions were met on both sides. 

We have another client who we developed construction qualifications for, and their units included high risk work licencing standards and requirements, and so another form of cross-referencing (or mapping) is conducted prior to the commencement of resources development to ensure that standards are met across the board. 


Get this wrong and your RTO status is rejected. – so it’s worth asking for help here if not anywhere else as it’s a minefield to the unfamiliar eye. 

(MainTraining design and develop compliant training and assessment resources for RTOs and have successfully taken 100% of our clients through approval without non-compliances). 


9.       Validate your training and assessment resources and seek industry feedback – a requirement to ensure your resources are continuously fit for purpose and meet the principles and conditions of assessment

(MainTraining provide the compliant templates for this and guide/chair the validation meetings)


10.   Assure you have identified Trainer/Assessors who at minimum have a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, are qualified at least to the level at which they will be training/assessing and can demonstrate continuous industry currency

(MainTraining provide the templates and guidance on completing this)


As mentioned above, becoming an RTO requires careful consideration.  It requires absolute dedication and hard work, and may not always be the best route for your business to take. 
But the contribution you can make and the rewards from this undertaking can be tremendous.


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