COVID-19 Update - Information for Registered Training Organisations

Training Services NSW is committed to work in collaboration with federal, state and local government to assist Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) impacted by COVID.

TSNSW's regional and metropolitan offices are able to provide support and information to impacted RTOs. Please call 13 28 11.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has established an Info Line to support providers. Providers that are impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the ASQA Info Line on 1300 701 801 or at enquiries@asqa.gov.au to discuss adaptive measures.

General questions

Training Services NSW will work with Providers to explore all possible options for the continuation of subsidised training. Please keep your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) updated on your circumstances so that they can explore how Training Services NSW can best support your organisation and its learners.

The Australian Government has announced Government assistance for businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees.

Examples of support available include the JobKeeper Payment, Support Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) wage subsidies, Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidies, etc.

Information on all Commonwealth financial assistance available, eligibility and timing can be found here or by contacting an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.

Please contact your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) directly or contact 13 28 11 if you are concerned about:

  • Being closed temporarily due to a Coronavirus outbreak your premises
  • Payments and financial caps
  • Data Clarification and submitting training activity data
  • sub-contracting or brokering arrangements – what to do if you are unable to continue the delivery of training
  • extending training end-dates
  • providing help to other RTOs if able to do so

Please also follow normal eReporting requirements as per the Smart and Skilled Terms and Conditions. If you have questions relating to submitting Training Activity Date, creating Commitment IDs, etc.,technical support can be obtained from Training Market Customer Service by emailing: training.market@det.nsw.edu.au.

If you are concerned about your contractual obligations with ASQA, please visit ASQA website which includes up to date information regarding any changes to reporting and other measures currently being considered due to COVID-19.

We understand that due to current circumstances, Providers may not be able to fully utilise their Financial Cap.

Please advise your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM)  if this applies to your organisation so that they can explore how Training Services NSW can best support your organisation and its learners. You can also call 13 28 11.

SRMs will register the issue internally and Providers will not be penalised for future activity periods.

Yes. The NSW Government has placed certain restrictions on gatherings and businesses. Currently, these restrictions do not apply to education institutions.

It is ultimately up to individual RTOs to decide whether they remain open based on their own risk assessment of the situation. However, ASQA recommends that RTOs consider the development and delivery of remote (for example, online) training and assessment where they are able to, and delay face-to-face delivery for the time being.

Should your RTO continue to deliver face-to-face, you must have the right COVID-19 Safety Plan for your venue, for example by making adjustments to the classroom to create more space between people to ensure desks/work stations are adequately separated, etc.

RTOs should also consider increasing cleaning, particularly of classrooms, toilets, common areas, door handles and equipment. Any student who is unwell, or who is required to self-isolate, must not attend class and must be sent home.

The NSW Government has released information for employers and others to help stop the spread.

For further information for RTOs, please visit ASQA.

Mandatory work placement
Where work placement is mandatory, that placement may need to be deferred until such time that it can be conducted.

However, there are a range of actions that RTOs can take to mitigate some of the impact of the current situation on learners who need to undertake workplace hours. ASQA supports all RTOs (including those delivering to overseas students) in implementing these where they are able to:

  1. training – bring forward theoretical training across single or multiple units to continue learning,
  2. training – adjust the training and assessment strategy to continue to deliver units of competency that do not contain workplace hours,
  3. training – make use of simulated workplace environments to allow for practising of skills,
  4. training and assessment – where students are in different locations, make use of technologies such as video recording and Skype,
  5. assessment – where the training package allows, make use of simulated workplace assessment.

Where work placement has been partially completed, both students and the RTO should retain evidence of the placement completed to date, including any log books.

Assessments
Students may be able to undertake training in a simulated environment before going to a workplace to continue their learning or to conduct assessment, (when they are able to attend a workplace).

RTOs should consider the specific assessment conditions described in the assessment requirements of each unit of competency. In some instances, assessment requirements allow for assessment to be conducted in the workplace or a simulated environment. Where simulation is allowed, RTOs should review the specific training package requirements to be able to replicate the simulated environment.

Where assessment can be conducted only in the workplace, that component of assessment may need to be deferred until such time that it can be conducted. In these instances RTOs:

  1. should ensure students are aware of, and have a record of, the portion of assessment completed for the unit
  2. can adjust their training and assessment strategy to rearrange sequencing of delivery of units of competency
  3. should deliver an alternate unit of competency, (that does not require practical assessment, or where theoretical learning can be provided in part).

Further information from ASQA here.

Training should continue if possible. If this can happen in a safe alternative mode or simulated environment, Training Services NSW (TSNSW) will support this, and the associated ASQA advice.

If you or your students are unable to attend a workplace to conduct training or assessment, consideration could be given to how you can remotely observe the learner. For example:

  • use video recordings (from recording on a phone to more complex technologies), and
  • use Skype and other video conferencing software.

Assessors could view students’ participation in activities remotely, using the same observation checklists they have when on site, and can continue to make valid and sufficient judgements.

It may also be necessary to defer conducting the observations until such time as you can effectively undertake this process.

Further information on compliance arrangements.

ASQA also encourages any providers impacted by COVID-19 to contact their Info Line on 1300 701 801 or to email enquiries@asqa.gov.au to discuss any adaptive measures being considered.

Updates are available here.

Where possible you should make use of adaptive training modes, such as on-line training programs. 

Skype and other digital meeting platforms may be suitable to engage with learners who have self-isolated where face-to-face training is to be maintained.

You must ensure that good records are maintained for all training and assessment that has been conducted.

Discuss with your student other training and assessment options, including changing the mode of training delivery.

Where possible and appropriate, you MUST allow your apprentice or trainee to participate in formal training, and that training MUST occur during paid work hours.

Training Services NSW will work with Providers to explore all possible options for the continuation of subsidised training.

We may also be able to assist with upskilling strategies in conjunction with other opportunities for employment.

There are also some financial support packages introduced by the Australian Government.

We understand that in the current COVID-19 context it may not be possible for students to certify some documents deemed to be acceptable evidence under Appendix 3 of the Smart and Skilled Fee Admin Policy.

For example, students may not able to go out to get copies of birth certificates, drivers licenses or other evidence verified by a person who is on the list of approved witness to verify documents due to social distancing or any other Government policies in relation to COVID-19.

During COVID-19 you should make reasonable judgements on the documentation provided by students and should not exclude students from enrolling purely on the basis that some copies of documents have not been certified under the current circumstances.

However, you must continue to keep detailed records and as you be required to ask students for verified documents once the COVID-19 situation has passed.

ASQA states that students may be able to undertake training in a simulated environment before going to a workplace to continue their learning or to conduct assessment (when they are able to attend a workplace). Simulated training can be conducted remotely, however, you need to consider how students can gain access to resource requirements to effectively practise these skills.
For more information, please visit the ASQA website.

Note: the link above takes you to this key info:
Students may be able to undertake training in a simulated environment before going to a workplace to continue their learning or to conduct assessment (when they are able to attend a workplace). Simulated training can be conducted remotely, however. RTOs should consider how students gain access to resource requirements to effectively practise these skills.

RTOs should consider the specific assessment conditions described in the assessment requirements of each unit of competency. In some instances, assessment requirements allow for assessment to be conducted in the workplace or a simulated environment. Where simulation is allowed, RTOs should review the specific training package requirements to be able to replicate the simulated environment.

However, where assessment can be conducted only in the workplace, that component of assessment will need to be deferred until such time that it can be conducted. In these instances RTOs:

  • should ensure students are aware of, and have record of, the portion of assessment completed for the unit
  • can adjust their training and assessment strategy to rearrange sequencing of delivery of units of competency
  • should deliver an alternate unit of competency (that does not require practical assessment, or where theoretical learning can be provided in part).

You can now request an extension to the expiry date of up to two extra weeks prior to the CID expiring OR you can amend the planned start date of training by up to 4 weeks.

Cancelled CIDs will not be reactivated. Once a CID has expired, under exceptional circumstances, you can request a CID extension from us.

Any request must include the reason why the CID expired, the start date for the training or the planned start date, and processes that have been put in place for CIDs not to expire in the future. These requests will be considered on a case by case basis.

Maybe. They must have a good reason for this request and speak to our staff first.

This flexibility is only available during COVID-19 to meet immediate management needs and to keep as many people in employment as possible. This provision WILL NOT be available under normal circumstances.

Training Plans

If formal training is continuing, then training plan obligations need to be met.

If formal training for an apprenticeship or traineeship is suspended, then your obligations in relation to the training plan are suspended.

If an extension of the term of training is needed, then all parties still need to apply. However, we suggest that all parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

We are also aiming for more flexibility regarding late lodged applications, and do not require a training plan to support term extension requests for the immediate future.

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

In response to the difficulties created by COVID-19 in getting signatures on Training Plan Proposals and Training Plans, we have temporarily relaxed this requirement. There are a few options for gaining everyone’s consent.

Option1:

Continue to obtain signatures as usual.

Option2:

Training Plan Proposal (TPP)

  • The Apprenticeship Network Provider (ANP) will email a completed TPP to you, your learner and the employer.
  • You will all (learner, employer and RTO) acknowledge receipt of the TPP via email by selecting “Reply to all” and including this statement:

    I (full name) certify that I acknowledge/understand/agree with the details of this training arrangement and my obligations and responsibilities under the Training Plan.

  • The ANP will be required to maintain evidence of your consent and be able to provide this to Training Services NSW if requested.

Training Plan – Developed within 12 Weeks of Approval

  • The same processes apply as for TPP except:
    • You (the RTO) will prepare the Training Plan (TP); and
    • You (the RTO) must retain evidence of consent by all parties, and be able to provide this to Training Services NSW if requested.

Option3:

A combination of signatures and emails.

Delivery mode changes

If you anticipate that this is a temporary change, and all parties have agreed to it, then that is fine and you do NOT need to advise the Department.

No, changing delivery strategies will not impact on the amount of payments a Smart and Skilled Provider is paid. All necessary Smart and Skilled contractual requirements will need to be complied with.

There is no impact on apprenticeship or traineeship scholarships or concessions.

Targeted Priorities Pre-Vocational Part Qualifications (TPPPQ)

Training Services NSW will work with you to enable the completion of Targeted Priorities Pre-Vocational Part Qualifications. 

If you have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and training has had to cease, please contact your approving Training Services NSW Regional Office and provide them with your TNI/PAS reference to discuss an extension. 

At this time, training end dates for the part qualification training will also be considered.

If training has commenced but cannot be completed by the original or extended PAS training completion date, training activity data should be submitted to finalise all Commitment IDs with relevant Unit of Competency Outcomes. Please note this includes outcome code 40 – withdrawn (where the student has participated in training).

We will work with you to enable the completion of Targeted Priorities Pre-Vocational Part Qualifications. 

If you have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and training has had to cease, please contact your approving Training Services NSW Regional Office and provide them with your TNI/PAS reference to discuss an extension.  At this time, training end dates for part qualification training will also be considered and it is preferred that training is completed and all training activity data submitted by the 30 June 2020.

If training has commenced but cannot be completed by the original or extended PAS training completion date, training activity data should be submitted to finalise all Commitment IDs with relevant Unit of Competency Outcomes. Please note this includes outcome code 40 – withdrawn (where the student has participated in training).

We have established a Business Continuity Plan, which includes ensuring payments will be expedited. 

Yes. If training has commenced but cannot be completed by the original or extended PAS training completion date, training activity data should be submitted to finalise all Commitment IDs with relevant Unit of Competency Outcomes. Please note this includes outcome code 40 – withdrawn (where the student has participated in training).

Cap management

Please contact your Strategic Relationships Manager (SRM) to discuss any issues and difficulties associated with your financial cap usage.

Apprentices and trainees

If formal training is continuing, then training plan obligations need to be met.

If an extension of the term of training is needed, then all parties still need to apply. However, we suggest that all parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

We suggest that you liaise with the employer regarding the need for them to lodge a term extension application, and they can contact their ANP, or call us on 13 28 11 for assistance.

We are also aiming for more flexibility regarding late lodged applications, and do not require a training plan to support term extension requests for the immediate future.

Yes, apprentices and trainees can continue to access funded training with their approved Smart and Skilled RTO if their apprenticeship or traineeship is cancelled.

If you are unable to deliver either class room based training, or access a workplace to deliver training, you should negotiate with the employer to see if training can be delivered by an alternative, acceptable mode of delivery.

We still expect you to obtain employer endorsement of individual competencies, and overall competence in the vocation at the end of the training before issuing the qualification.

RTOs are still expected to make every effort to obtain endorsement. As normal, if you are experiencing difficulty getting employer endorsement, you may complete and send an RTO Notification to their nearest TS NSW office.

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

If you are experiencing difficulties in obtaining this endorsement, you should make every effort to resolve the situation yourselves. Where this fails, you should send an RTO Notification form to TS NSW who will attempt resolve situation.

For the period 1 April to 31 December 2020, If this is a temporary change in delivery mode in response to COVID 19, the employer and learner do NOT need to apply for a variation.

If this is permanent change, the employer and learner will need to complete a variation request.

The employer and apprentice/trainee will need to seek an extension of term. However, it is suggested that parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

It is also suggested that you liaise with the employer regarding the need for them to lodge a term extension application, and they can contact their ANP, or call us on 13 28 11 for assistance.

Note, for the immediate future, the Department does NOT require a Training Plan from the RTO in support of these applications.

Yes, apprentices and trainees can continue to access funded training with their approved Smart and Skilled RTO if their apprenticeship or traineeship is cancelled.

Yes. If an apprentice or trainee was in a Smart & Skilled fee free funded arrangement which is cancelled, but subsequently re-established with the same employer, the learner will continue to be eligible for fee free funded training.

If you are unable to deliver either class room or work-based training, you should negotiate with the employer to see if training can be delivered by an alternative, acceptable mode of delivery.

For the period 1 April to 30 Sept 2020 (excluding SBATs), if there is no acceptable solution, formal training may be suspended, with the agreement of all parties, for periods of up to six months.  Parties do NOT need to advise the Department of this training suspension. Note, suspension of formal training may require the employer and learner to seek an extension to the training term at a later date. 

Maybe. They must have a good reason for this request and speak to our staff first. This flexibility is only available during COVID-19 to meet immediate management needs and to keep as many people in employment as possible. This provision WILL NOT be available under normal circumstances.

Yes, The Way Ahead for Aboriginal People (mentoring program) remains open to all Aboriginal apprentices/trainees during COVID-19.

Please note that all Way Ahead mentors will be following the social distancing requirements, so mentoring will be conducted either over the phone or via Skype, Zoom etc.

An Aboriginal apprentice or trainee can continue to contact their mentor at any time.

Yes. They can request a mentor by visiting our website and completing the request form.

Please note: to assist us with the referral request all fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

For further assistance email TS.Aboriginal.Services@det.nsw.edu.au or call 02 9242 1700.

Please note that all Way Ahead mentors will be following the social distancing requirements, so mentoring will be conducted either over the phone or via Skype, Zoom etc.

School based apprentices and trainees

Yes.

Both SBAs and SBTs will be expected to meet their minimum day requirements post 31 December of their HSC year.

SBATs will be able to complete their days after 31 December of the HSC year. Employers of SBTs will need to seek an extension of term to allow for these required days.

The employer, SBAT and school will need to look for an alternative RTO that may continue to deliver training and assessment services. Note, extended breaks in training for SBAT students may impact their achievement of the HSC. The student’s school must be notified in these instances.

If a student wants to cancel, they need to liaise with their school to check the impact on HSC and ATAR eligibility.

Page last updated: 10 December 2020