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What is RPL / How it works / How to Apply

How It Works


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


Recognition of prior learning (RPL), or skills recognition, provides an assessment or 'snap-shot' of an individual’s skills and competencies. The term ‘skills recognition’ is used in this report by the National Training System’s e-learning strategy,  the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework), as an RPL client friendly term covering recognition of prior learning, recognition of current competency, recognition of informal learning and credit transfer.


Recognition of prior learning suits people who have industry relevant:

  • Work skills or knowledge

  • Paid or unpaid work experience

  • Life experience

  • Community work experience


Recognition of prior learning could provide you with a full or part qualification, and help avoid duplication of training. It could be used to identify what training you may need to complete a qualification, or could provide a pathway to higher qualifications for those who may not have access to further training.



Mapping to Success


Principles of good RPL practice involve:

  • The upfront identification of the motivation to gain RPL by the candidate, and where relevant, the employer.

  • The RPL assessor’s ability to link an individual’s existing skills, knowledge and experience to nationally accredited units of competency.

  • The RTO having a clear and client focused RPL process

  • The RPL candidate and/or their employer understanding the processes and costs involved.

  • Managing the expectations of the candidate and the assessor by the RTO.


Mapping evidence to relevant competencies is primarily the task of the assessor and requires sound knowledge of the units of competency and the training package as well as confidence in the specific evidence requirements.

Evidence validation involves considering a mix of direct and indirect evidence, while meeting the principles of assessment, including sufficiency and authenticity, and utilizing third party/peer or supervisor verification. Relevant Criteria listed below:


Principles of Assessment



The individual learner’s needs are considered in the assessment  process.

Where appropriate, reasonable adjustments are applied by the RTO to take into account the individual learner’s needs.

The RTO informs the learner about the assessment process and provides the learner with the opportunity to challenge the result of the assessment and be reassessed if necessary.



Assessment is flexible to the individual learner by:

  • Reflecting the learner’s needs

  • Assessing competencies held by the learner no matter how or  where they have been acquired; and

  • Drawing from a range ofassessment methods and using those  that are appropriate to the context, the unit of competency and  associated assessment requirements and the individual.



Anu assessment decision of the RTO is justified, based on the  evidence of performance of the individual learner.

Validity requires:

  • Assessment against the unit(s) of competency and the associated assessment requirements covers the broad range of skills and knowledge that are essential to competent performance;

  • Assessment of knowledge and skills is integrated with their practical application

  • Assessment to be based on evidence that demonstrates that a learner could demonstrate these skills and knowledge in other similar situations; and

  • Judgement of competence is based on evidence of learner performance that is aligned to the unit/s of competency and associated assessment requirements.



Evidence presented for assessment is consistently interpreted  and assessment results are comparable irrespective of the  assessor conducting the assessment



Rules of evidence



The assessor is assured that the learner has the skills, knowledge and attributes as described in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements.



The assessor is assured that the quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence enables a judgement to be made of a leaner’s competency



The assessor is assured that the evidence presented for assessment is the learner’s own work.



The assessor is assured that the assessment evidence demonstrates current competency. This requires the assessment evidence to be from the present of the very recent past.


Reference from "Users' Guide to the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTO) 2015"

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