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What’s the Difference Between RPL and an RTO?

Are you looking to qualify your skills but getting lost in a sea of acronyms?

We’re here to clear up any confusion for you!

The steps to getting your skills qualified are actually quite simple, and once you understand the process, it’ll be smooth sailing.

RPL, RTO – what does it all mean?

Let’s unpack the acronyms and review the role RTOs play in RPL.

What is RPL?

RPL stands for recognition of prior learning. It’s an assessment process that evaluates an individual’s skills and experience, acquired through formal, non-formal or informal learning. This assessment determines whether an individual meets the requirements specified in training and courses for formal qualifications. 

You must demonstrate your competency through a range of supporting evidence and by attending an assessment interview. The assessor asks a number of questions to establish that you possess the required knowledge in relation to the particular unit you’re being assessed in.

To summarise, RPL is an assessment process that looks at your previous skills to see if they meet the requirements of your qualification.

Key points for RPL

  • RPL is designed to make it easier for individuals to access higher education
  • It formally recognises skills and experience attained in the workforce
  • The process removes the need for unnecessary study and allows you to start compiling evidence to showcase your experience
  • The RPL process significantly decreases the time required to obtain a formal qualification
  • You can find out if you’re suitable for RPL by completing a quick, self-assessment

What is a RTO?

RTO stands for Registered Training Organisation. You’ll notice our relevant partner RTOs listed under each of the qualifications on our website.

RTOs develop and implement strategies for training and assessment that take into account an individual’s skills and experience. When seeking a qualification through RPL, an RTO will assess an individual’s portfolio against the relevant units and if successful, will issue a nationally recognised qualification.

RTOs are regulated by the Australian Government: Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and must meet certain requirements listed on the obligation’s checklist. All RTOs have a unique RTO Number and are listed on  Only RTOs can issue nationally recognised qualifications and it’s an offence to issue one if you’re not an RTO.

To summarise, RTOs will issue a qualification after careful assessment of the skills and experience an individual has expressed through their portfolio of evidence.

Key points for RTOs

  • The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 require RTOs to offer RPL to individuals
  • RTOs ensure that individual learners are given the chance to participate in assessment that is fair, and that accurately acknowledges their skills and experience
  • An individual seeking RPL will submit a portfolio of evidence to an RTO for assessment
  • Skills Certified partners with RTOs to give our clients the best chance of converting their experience into qualifications
  • RTOs provide nationally recognised qualifications, equivalent to one received after undertaking full time study.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the role RPL assessment and RTOs play in achieving your formal qualification. Both are integral in getting you prepared to take the next step in your career, in the smoothest and fastest way possible.

Have you been considering certification or looking to change careers? You can learn more about the process and whether it’s right for you, here. Our expert team are also here to help and answer any of your questions- get in touch with us today!