The national system of qualifications in Australia helps people get the skills and knowledge needed for work and includes higher education, vocational education and training, and schools.
The qualification system in Australia
Australia has a system of qualifications called the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF). The AQF ensure national recognition and consistency and common understanding across Australia, of what defines each qualification.
There are 10 levels of qualifications ranging from Certificate I through to Doctoral Degree. See the Australian Qualification Framework for more information on the qualification system in Australia.
Training packages, qualifications, courses and units of competency and skill sets
Training packages are groups of vocational education and training (VET) qualifications required for jobs within an industry. There are over 70 training packages and hundreds of qualifications.
Qualifications are made up of individual units of competency (like subjects). When you enrol in a Qualification you will choose from a range of these units. The choices you make are guided by the training package rules (you don’t need to worry about this, your training organisation will help you). All you need to know is that you will do training in core subjects (which are compulsory) and elective subjects (which you choose based on your interests).
For example the Certificate III in Carpentry sits in the Construction, Plumbing and Services Training Package and is made up of 30 units of competency. There are 22 core or compulsory units and you choose a further 8 elective units. If you are interested in making stairs, you would choose the unit titled Construct timber external stairs, as one of your electives.
Skill sets combine a group of units of competency to meet a licence or regulatory requirement, or industry need.
An example is the Mine Surveying skill set which trains a person who already holds either a Diploma of Surveying qualification or a higher level surveying qualification in any industry, to do surveying for the mining industry. The skill set sits within the Resources and infrastructure Industry training package.
The learner needs to complete units of competency in:
- Conduct mine surveying operations
- Carry out risk management processes
- Communicate information
- Work safely and follow OHS policies and procedures
If you are interested in knowing more information about training packages or VET, view the Back 2 Basics publication.
Courses are qualifications which are not in a training package and are also known as accredited courses. These qualifications are approved by a government authority or, in the in the case of Australian Universities and Self-accrediting Higher Education institutions, are authorised by State and Territory legislation to accredit their own qualifications.
Check with your training provider for any skills or conditions you may need before enrolling. These are known as pre-requisites and can include levels of reading and writing skills, a minimum age requirement or completion of previous study.
The pre-requisite rules are there to ensure you have the best chance of successfully completing the qualification. Your training provider will offer suggestions to you if you don’t meet the pre-requisite. These may include doing a bridging course at a lower qualification level, or undertaking a test to prove your competency.