Do you have skills and knowledge gained through career experience, prior training or study and even voluntary work, but  you don’t have the piece of paper to prove it? Then Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) could put you on the fast track to obtaining a Nationally Recognised Australian Qualification without having to complete each unit within a Qualification.
Recognition is the term used to describe how an individual’s skill and knowledge can be formally recognised, resulting in either a qualification or a Statement of Attainment.
There is often considerable confusion as to what the process means, how an individual may access the process and the reliability of qualifications gained through this process.
Recognition is often perceived to be an easier way to gain a qualification.  However, it is usually time-consuming and is subject to the same level of rigorous assessment arising from participating in a training program.
This Guide has been specifically developed to assist credit professionals to:
- Understand what recognition is.
- Guide them in determining if they wish to seek recognition.
- Address issues which colleagues or managers may raise concerning recognition.
How do you access recognition?
There are several recognition pathways available. Namely:
- Development of a portfolio of evidence.
- Seeking recognition of qualifications and nationally recognised Statements of Attainment issued by another Registered Training Organisation
– Mutual Recognition.
- Credit transfer, which is the recognition of formal training previously undertaken.
- Undertake an assessment project.
Each pathway has requirements, which must be met in order to achieve recognition. As well, there can be an overlap between the pathways. Irrespective of the pathway selected, there are some ground rules which must be adhered to. These include:
- Compliance with training package requirements and the relevant unit of competence.
- Compliance with the NVR Standards.
A threshold issue
Irrespective of the pathway you select to gain recognition, it must be against a unit of competence, which sets out the key performance criteria required in the workplace in relation to the skill and knowledge described in a unit of competence.
Units of competence are developed by industry training advisory bodies based on the industry’s needs. They are packaged together to form a qualification. The rules for how units may be combined into qualifications are set out in Training Packages. Training Packages are endorsed by the State, Territory and ommonwealth Governments.
AICM Learning Services is required to adhere to the Training Package rules.
Choosing your pathway
In order to help you choose the most effective recognition pathway you should consider the functions you are required to perform in the workplace.
Sample Job role
Typically a credit officer, who has been working in the profession for
several years, possibly undertaking a team leader role, would be responsible for:
- Interpreting corporate policy on the provision of credit and advising customers/sales staff as appropriate. 
- Following up with debtors for timely collection of payments.
- Investigating credit worthiness of potential customers prior to granting credit.
- Determining if securities are required based upon the assessment of credit worthiness.
- Maintaining records in relation to customers’ accounts.
- Ensuring that their work is in compliance with company policy procedures and legal requirements.
- Resolving disputes with customers concerning their accounts.
- Initiating legal recovery.
- Reporting to management on the status of accounts and financial indicators against predetermined criteria.
These job roles are reflected in the units of competence listed in the table below.
To complete this qualification you must complete the 9 core and 3 elective units.
Please note that people undertaking a more senior/complex/responsible role(s) should consider seeking recognition at the Diploma level and there is often little consistency of job titles for credit professionals. Your position title maybe:
- Credit Officer
- Collection Officer
- Accounts Receivable Clerk
- Billing Clerk
- Finance Clerk
- Loss Recoveries Officer
- Recoveries Officer
- Credit Control Officer
- Customer Service Officer
Because of the diversity of titles each application is assessed for recognition based on skill and experience, rather than job title.
Pathway 1
– Portfolio of evidence
If you decide to use the portfolio pathway you will need to compile a portfolio of evidence which confirms your ability to meet the requirements of a particular unit of competency.
Examples of the types of evidence you could include are:
- Copies of reports you have prepared for management
- Copies of emails, faxes
- Copies of performance appraisals
- Supervisor reports which acknowledge your skills and abilities
- Copies of workplace awards you may have received
- Letters of appreciation from customers
You will need to remove information such as names and addresses which could breach privacy and confidentiality.
Label your documentation to show it relates to a particular unit of competence and present your documents chronologically, with the most recent evidence appearing first.
AICM stores all records in a safe and secure environment. However, portfolios will be reviewed by independent assessors and may be examined by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) for purposes of audit and accountability.
The following case study may assist you when considering using a portfolio of evidence.
Case Study 1 – Alicia
Alicia had worked for several years in a credit department. Alicia’s supervisor had consistently praised her approach for dealing with bad and doubtful debt. Alicia believed she could complete the unit FNSCRD403 Manage and recover bad and doubtful debts by portfolio of evidence as a first step towards gaining her FNS40115 Certificate IV in Credit Management.
Alicia contacted the AICM Office and she was advised the name and contact details of her assessor together with any documentation she needed. Alicia and her assessor discussed her decision to attempt FNSCRD403A Manage and recover bad and doubtful debt and a recognition plan was agreed upon including a suitable timeframe for Alicia to gather and compile her evidence.
Alicia’s assessor was able to give her advice in preparing her evidence portfolio. Some examples of the types of evidence Alicia collected included:
- Reports she had prepared for her manager outlining her collection strategies in relation to accounts which seemed likely to become bad/doubtful with reference to company policy.
- Examples of collection procedures she had developed and applied.
- An outline of her follow up procedures.
- An outline of communication strategies when dealing with these customers
- File notes, email and/or correspondence
- Feedback from her manager such as performance appraisals
- Her negotiation strategies, for example copies of repayment agreements
Unfortunately, during the time Alicia was developing her portfolio of evidence her mother became ill. Alicia discussed this with her assessor and a new timeframe for completion was agreed.
When Alicia completed her documentation she presented it to her assessor with the most recent evidence appearing first and with all of the evidence labelled to show how it related to the unit of competence.  
Alicia’s assessor evaluated her portfolio and applied the rules of evidence. Alicia was found to be competent and was awarded a nationally recognised Statement of
This meant that Alicia had gained one unit of the units required for her qualification.
Pathway 2
– Assessment task(s)
This is often used when people do not have ready access to the evidence they need to confirm competence via the other pathways. For example, the person may have changed their employer, moved house and/or misplaced records.
This assessment pathway is the most popular method for RPL as it fast tracks the  pathway to completion of a unit or a qualification. This process requires less  documentation and has clear criteria. Generally this involves completing an assessment for the relevant unit of competency with validation that you have applied the skills and knowledge in your workplace.
The validation is achieved by indirect evidence, for example a reference from their employer or testimonials from customers. If an employer is not able to validate or a person is unable to provide evidence from their workplace an assessor will contact you and conduct an interview.
Case Study 2 – Johnny
Johnny has worked in credit for the past 8 years, and now wants a formal qualification at Diploma level. After speaking with Debby at AICM Johnny:
- Completes assessments for 4 units and his employer validates that he applies this skills and knowledge within the completed units in his role.
- Attends face to face training for BSBRSK501 Manage risk and completes the assessment in 6 weeks. The face to face sessions enable him to gain a deep understanding of core credit management skills and knowledge and also allowed Johnny to connect with other credit professionals focused on progressing their careers.
- Completes the remaining 7 units of competency online.
At the AICM NSW Presidents Dinner Johnny is presented with his Diploma of Credit Management in recognition of his experience, skills and knowledge gained on the job and through AICM training.
Pathway 3
– Mutual Recognition
Mutual Recognition is the recognition of Qualifications and Statements of Attainment issued by another Registered Training Organisation.
Mutual Recognition of qualifications and Statements of Attainment are specifically provided for in the NVR Standards. What this means in practise is that a person
who has gained a qualification or Statement of Attainment may request to have this recognised and count towards another qualification. Clearly there are some key issues to be considered:
- Training Packages Rules;
- The relevance to the qualification now being sought;
- The currency of the qualification for which recognition is sought.
The following case study should clarify these concepts.
Case Study 3 – Kylie
Kylie started working as a personal assistant in a medium sized law firm. She was a keen and enthusiastic employee who wanted to learn and gain qualifications. Kylie enrolled in a Certificate IV in Business Services at a TAFE College. Whilst Kylie was undertaking this course her employers discovered that she had excellent rapport with the clients and she was very good at getting people to pay their outstanding accounts. Kylie’s manager offered her a promotion and transfer to the credit unit of the practice, which Kylie willingly accepted. However, this left Kylie with a dilemma: should she finish her Business Certificate or change to a qualification more relevant to her new role?
Kylie contacted AICM and was delighted to discover that the units in her Business course would be recognised by AICM and this would count towards her FNS40115 Certificate IV in Credit Management.
The relevant units were BSBCUS403 Implement customer service standards and BSBCMM301 Process customer complaints.
AICM was able to give mutual recognition because the TAFE Kylie attended issued her qualifications in accordance with the Training Package rules. Kylie’s qualifications were current because she had completed her training in the last three years.
Kylie was so pleased she told her colleague Nathan about the AICM recognition program. Nathan commented that he had started a TAFE Course some years ago but had not completed the program. 
Nathan contacted AICM and discussed his situation. Nathan had completed the unit FNSCRD403A Manage and recover bad and doubtful debts in 2011; his assessor advised him that due to the RPL requirements this would not be sufficient to demonstrate currency of knowledge for the purpose of recognition (if the unit was completed within 3 years it would be sufficient). Nathan was able to provide evidence of attending an in-house training course, which addressed the main areas of change in relation to compliance, for example an introduction of the Debt Collection Guidelines in December 2010. In addition, Nathan’s supervisor confirmed in writing that the law firm held regular workshops to discuss recent decisions and legislative change and participation was a requirement of Nathan’s performance management.


As Nathan was able to demonstrate he had maintained the currency of his skill and knowledge, the unit was recognised. Nathan decided to enrol in the remainder of the FNS40115 Certificate IV in Credit Management program.

 Pathway 4
– Credit Transfer
Credit transfer is defined as being the recognition of formal training previously undertaken and which is deemed to be equivalent to a unit of competence. Credit transfer requires the consideration of documentation supplied by the training organisation where the person completed their study. Usually this documentation will relate to a course and/or subject. Unfortunately some training providers do not relate their course/ subject to the units of competence. When this occurs the Registered Training Organisation is required to make further inquiries as to the relationship and this will be informed by Implementation Guides developed by State Training Authorities. However they are guides only and if the relationship is unclear the person seeking recognition will be asked to provide further information. This may include information such as:
- Course outlines
- Copies of assessments the person may have completed during the program.

Often people do not keep these documents and when this happens the person will usually be invited to complete an assessment to confirm competence.

Another issue which may affect credit transfer is the ‘age’ of the course. Credit transfer for programs completed generally more than five years ago must be supported with evidence which confirms that the person has kept up to date in the subject area. For some subjects where there is a need to constantly keep up to date, a person may be requested to provide additional information to confirm the currency of their competence.

The following case study may assist you in understanding credit transfer.
Case Study 4 – Con

Con had completed part of a Business Studies course at TAFE. Con is now working in a credit department and would like to gain the FNS40115 Certificate IV in Credit Management. Con is seeking recognition for the course he has already completed – “Managing Customer Service”.

Con’s academic record lists the course but there is no reference to the unit of competence. The Implementation Guide for Financial Services indicates that the course he has completed is equivalent to some aspects of the unit of competence BSBCUS403 Implement customer service standards. However, in discussion with his assessor Con explains that he did not keep any of his assessments. Together they consider the unit of competence and Con advises he believes his current role covers the content of the unit. Con decides to complete an assessment to support his claim for recognition of competence against the unit.
A maximum of 3 years is allowed to complete a full qualification which allows flexibility around work, life and study. By taking advantage of your experience and prior learning you could obtain your qualification in less time than you may think.

Contact the aicm to learn how quickly you could obtain your qualification in credit management.

July 2016

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