RPL Assessment – An Easy Explanation

What is the RPL Assessment?

 An RPL assessment is completed at the very beginning of an apprenticeship. The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment aims to determine the apprentice’s relevant experience and prior learning.

By establishing the amount of prior experience and learning the apprentice has achieved, trainers better understand how much training is needed for their apprenticeship. The RPL assessment also determines whether the apprentice’s chosen apprenticeship is suitable.

Additionally, the RPL skill assessment ensures that the apprentice is given appropriate credit for their previous learning. Many apprentices have suitable training and learning experiences that benefit them during their apprenticeship, so the RPL assessment helps establish this before starting.

Because the RPL application showcases prior learning, an apprentice may benefit from a shorter training program, as they won’t need to repeat parts of their previous training or learning.

Simply put, recognition of prior learning allows trainers and employers to determine the start point of an apprenticeship and the specific training each apprentice needs.

RPL Assessment Explained

Who Provides the Initial Assessment for Recognition of Prior Learning?

The apprenticeship training provider provides the RPL assessment. An RPL application is completed by the apprentice’s employer, who arranges for the RPL assessment with their chosen training provider.

Various RPL assessment methods are available, each developed by the training provider around their specific training program.

For example, some RPL assessment methods include a self-assessment, where the apprentice assesses their own prior learning and experience.

Other methods commonly used in an RPL skill assessment include one-on-one interviews between trainer and apprentice or the trainer assessing the apprentice using evidence of prior learning.

Regardless of the chosen RPL process, the goal remains the same – determine previous skills, knowledge, and behaviours gained from previous learning and work experience.

Using their preferred RPL assessment methods, the trainer completes a prior learning assessment and recognition on the apprentice. After conducting the RPL assessment for the recognition of prior learning, the trainer records their findings in a commitment statement.

The findings in the commitment statement forms are then used to develop a custom apprenticeship program.

However, it’s not just the training provider developing the recognition of prior learning schemes for each apprentice. The apprentice and employer should also be involved in recognising prior learning assessments.

For instance, the apprentice needs to understand their prior learning and the benefits of recognising this prior learning in the initial assessment. By knowing what prior learning they should identify in the initial assessment, the apprentice ensures all their previous learning experiences are appropriately credited.

Furthermore, employees should also understand their trainees’ specific RPL assessment methods. In doing so, they ensure that each training program is appropriately designed to recognise prior learning relevant to the apprenticeship effectively.

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The Advantages of an RPL Application for Employers and Apprentices

The recognition of prior learning assessment offers many benefits for both apprentices and their employers, making RPL application a worthwhile endeavour. Some of the most notable advantages of completing an RPL assessment include:

Shortened or Accelerated Apprenticeships

An RPL assessment may potentially result in a shortened or accelerated apprenticeship. Should the apprentice already display skills, knowledge, and experience to be occupationally competent, then their apprenticeship duration may be shorter.

A shortened or accelerated apprenticeship must be at least 12 months long and include 20% off-the-job training once the RPL application is completed. Still, this is much quicker than an apprenticeship that starts without any recognition of prior learning!

So, because the RPL assessment may lead to a shortened or accelerated apprenticeship, less time and resources are required to become fully trained.

More Motivated Apprentices

An important part of an RPL assessment is to ensure that an apprentice doesn’t repeat any unnecessary training. Not only does this waste time and resources, but it also may cause the apprentice to lose interest and motivation in their training.

Therefore, an RPL application often results in a much more motivated apprentice. Their prior learning is recognised, meaning they don’t need to repeat aspects of training.

A more experienced apprentice is rewarded for their prior learning, with any previous skills and knowledge recognised by their trainer. In turn, trainers develop bespoke programs to each apprentice’s specific level and experience, resulting in a more engaging course for the trainee.

Also, when an apprentice is more motivated, they typically perform better throughout their training, showcasing higher retention and achievement rates. 

Employers Save More Money

Recognising prior learning schemes helps employers save money through shortened or accelerated apprenticeships. Because RPL assessment may result in a shorter apprenticeship, fewer resources are needed for an apprentice to complete their training.

For example, the RPL assessment process identifies what parts of the training program can be omitted due to recognition of proper learning. So, because parts of training are being omitted, the employer can negotiate lower training fees as the apprentice is completing a reduced training course.

Using an RPL Funding Calculator for RPL Application

Completing an RPL application before apprenticeship enrolment is often a complex process, especially if you want to reduce costs. Choosing a suitable RPL calculator makes the RPL application process much more straightforward.

An RPL calculator module allows employers to recognise prior learning through their chosen method (e.g., apprentice self-assessment).

An RPL funding calculator also allows for a remote initial assessment, with apprentices completing their RPL application through the module, adding comments and uploading evidence as needed.

Employers can create bespoke RPL calculators tailored to their needs to determine each apprenticeship’s cost.

For example, you can add your own fixed costs in an RPL calculator and the RPL discounts based on the apprentice’s answers in their application. Add these values together, then subtract from your funding value to determine the maximum amount of additional discount that you can offer.

With this information, you’ll know exactly how much you can save on an RPL application and whether offering an apprenticeship to the candidate is financially viable.

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