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What is an RPL qualification?

The benefits and process explained

Written by Emma Mason AIMM
5 minute read
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Have you ever considered enrolling in a course to further your skills? How often do you then brush that thought away, thinking it is unachievable as you mull over the time and energy it will take to commit to it on top of work hours?

Did you know that there is an alternative option to a formal course?

What is an RPL qualification?

A Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) qualification provides individuals with the chance to be assessed on their current skills through formal and informal learning.

Simply, it is a task-based assessment pathway that recognises the existing knowledge and skills that professionals already have in the workplace.

By only needing to study any required additional skills, the time and money it would typically take to undergo a course is significantly reduced.

Assessments are based on real tasks within the individual’s workforce, a huge advantage for employers as it reduces the amount of time staff are away from work.

Yet for an education pathway with so many obvious benefits, further explanation is often beneficial.

AIM WA’s Head of RTO Lesley Reagon AFAIM discusses one of the common misconceptions around the RPL qualification process.

“A lot of people ask why they would want to get a qualification for something that they’re already doing,” she said.

“I guess the simple answer to that is why wouldn’t you want to be recognised for the knowledge and skills that you already display in the workplace?

“It provides you with something not just to put on your resume, but to show that you've achieved something within your work without necessarily sitting in a classroom.”

The benefits of RPL

Ms Reagon says for individuals that have started out in roles, it's only natural that with dedication and hard work, they will progress within an organisation.

“They get promoted and soon enough are in leadership roles without ever having any formal training or qualifications,” she said.

“They're managing teams, they're managing projects and they've never actually been recognised for those skills.

“An RPL qualification provides the opportunity to receive a qualification for the job role they're already doing.”

Having employees with an increased professional portfolio is also attractive to current and future employers.

“With an RPL qualification under their belt, employers are able to transfer their staff member’s skills within the organisation more effectively,” Ms Reagon said.

“It gives them the opportunity to look at career and succession planning as well and how they can support their team to move up into higher roles.”

According to Ms Reagon, completing a qualification demonstrates not only to the individual, but to their organisation as well, that they have the enthusiasm to further their education.

It also provides a self-esteem boost and motivation. Having motivated staff contributes to developing a happier and more productive work environment.

“It gives individuals the chance to reflect on the fact that they have actually achieved a lot in their career.” 

Ms Reagon goes on to say that many opportunities arise for higher education once an RPL qualification has been completed.

“Depending on what a person wants to do, plus the qualifications they’ve completed, there are certainly pathways which assist with entry and potentially some credits towards completing a higher qualification,” she said.

And for those who have a change of heart after completing some units, Ms Reagon says there is the option to transfer credits to another qualification.

How to apply

With an assigned assessor from a Registered Training Organisation, each unit is tailored to suit an individual's needs and expertise.

According to the Government of Western Australia guidelines, while anyone can apply for an RPL qualification, being accepted depends on the evidence submitted during the evaluation stage.

However, if an individual’s skills do not qualify, there are options to complete any gap training required prior to enrolling.

AIM WA delivers a nationally recognised RPL program where enrolled participants gain access to online relevant assessment tools to assist with completing their qualification.

Participants can complete a qualification with just five easy steps:

1. Choose the qualification that most aligns with your current expertise

2. Contact AIM WA to guide you through the enrolment process

3. Get the support of your manager or supervisor to authenticate and sign off on your supplied evidence

4. Gather evidence from your workplace that documents knowledge and skills in the unit requirements

5. Submit your evidence through the assigned online portal.

An RPL qualification is based on current work experience, the pathway is assessment based only and doesn’t include training resources or learning materials.

Yet, while the cost for RPL differs per qualification chosen, it is still a much more cost-effective option when compared to a course, as there is no time spent in a classroom.

Individuals have up to 12 months to complete all assessment requirements for their chosen qualification. The time taken to complete varies slightly, dependent on the course.

Ms Reagon says that for roles that are very process-driven, particularly technical trades, evidence is easy to gather as it is already a part of the job.

“For these types of job roles, particularly project management, there are documents that always have to be signed off on, so that evidence is going to be sitting there ready to go,” she said.

“So, for the people in those roles, to be able to formalise that in a qualification either at a certificate or diploma level, is something that a lot of people find quite achievable.

“And it provides them with opportunities in their workplace to further advance their careers because they can say they now have a qualification.”

According to Ms Reagon, some attendees of the RPL program complete their qualification in as little as three months.

“As it’s all online and self-paced, people can progress as quickly as they need to,” she said.

The future of RPL

When asked about the concept of RPL evolving in the future, Ms Reagon believes it will have a significant impact as people are staying in the workforce a lot longer, which in turn, means they are naturally progressing in their job roles.

“As people progress in their job roles, many don’t have any qualification to back it,” she said.

“When employees are a part of an organisation for many years, this not only shows their loyalty and commitment, but it also gives them opportunities to progress up the career ladder and build on those skills by doing an RPL qualification.

“And for an organisation enrolling their employees in an RPL qualification, that shows commitment and support back to the individual.”

Why enrol at AIM WA for RPL?

Ms Reagon says AIM WA is committed to providing a comprehensive and beneficial learning experience for its participants.

“We offer a great combination of quality education, experienced assessors and affordability, particularly for members of partner organisations,” she said.

“Our team of assessors, our current industry professionals, they're out there in the workplace doing those job roles currently, which means they're bringing a wealth of experience into that assessment role and are able to provide feedback to our participants, as required.

“People can be rest assured that they're getting a qualification that's going to stand out in the industry and going to mean something.”

Where to from here?

For more information on the RPL process and if it will be beneficial to you, contact AIM WA at or call 08 9383 8080 to speak to the Assessment Team, who will guide you through the enrolment process.