Industry Engagement: Walking the Talk

Engaging with local industry and employers is a process RTOs must fulfil to demonstrate the relevance of the training they are providing students. We talked to RTO industry veteran John Price about what industry engagement means and how to ‘walk the talk’.

Take it away, Pricey!

The last apprenticeship to move from a seven-year apprenticeship to a five-year apprenticeship was Hairdressing back in the 1960’s.

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Imagine the reaction of the hairdressing industry – it makes your hair stand on end! There would likely have been considerable concerns about maintaining the rigour and the quality of trainees emerging from a shorter apprenticeship period.

It would be as unthinkable for a training organisation today to fail to engage with industry using a range of strategies as it would have been many years ago.

The “Walking the Talk” statement makes good sense in many aspects of an RTO’s operations and to be honest, when I’m conducting audits on behalf of an RTO, I don’t always see the ‘walk’ and the ‘talk’ being congruent.

Generally it seems to happen more when asking for evidence of industry engagement that I find it most apparent. I never doubt for one minute that it takes place (the ‘walk’). It tends to take place in such a regular and natural manner for most RTOs, that the process actually ends up going under the radar.

However, evidence (the documented ‘talk’) of industry engagement taking place is often hard to get, and trainers and assessors in particular struggle to know what to record and how to record it.

Maybe the adoption of the ‘talk’ could be taken literally as there is an abundance of software that could not only record the activities in a verbal manner but also through video.

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Would that be acceptable at audit, I hear you ask? Yes, but it depends on ensuring the evidence collected is compliant (a topic for a future article!)

One of the positive clauses from the 2015 Standards – 1.6 b) – provides a great opportunity for an RTO to demonstrate an approach to engaging with industry that has advantages that are both efficient and effective.

To remind you, the Standard requirement is:

1.6.  The RTO implements a range of strategies for industry engagement and systematically uses the outcome of that industry engagement to ensure the industry relevance of:

        1. its training and assessment strategies, practices and resources; and
        2. the current industry skills of its trainers and assessors.

Now there’s an opportunity not to be missed!


Identify the workplace activities that take place in the vocational qualification you deliver and assess: create a list of them in a table; ask industry for what I call the ‘Shelf-life’ or ‘Use-by-date’ for the skills associated with each of these and record these periods of time in the table.


Imagine from your experience there are probably pieces of equipment or tools listed in units of competency which, if you hadn’t used them for 20 years you could still pick them up and use them today as well as you did 20 years ago.


Conversely there may be processes, practices and technology changes that are so dynamic you need to keep up to date with them every 6 months. Who better than industry to help with this determination, especially with an outcome that would be difficult for anyone to argue isn’t an objective one.


The important part of this approach is that it is a clear opportunity to engage with industry in a manner that is ‘efficient’. That is, you only maintain currency on what is needed and ‘effective’ in assisting with the Professional Development planning that your RTO needs to do to cover VET and vocational currency, and consequently assisting in meeting compliance with the standards.


Have a go at it. Engage with an industry partner that you know has a passion for training.


Produce a process along with other strategies that look to engage a range of industry partners to obtain a consistent and reliable approach so you can “walk with the talk”.