How to understand a unit of competency

Home Understanding VET How to understand a unit of competency

I wanted to write a series of articles focused on adult competency based training, in particular, the vocational training industry in Australia, also fondly called the VET sector. Starting out as a trainer can be quite daunting, given that you can complete a Certificate IV TAE, (that’s the qualification you need to start training adults) in under five days.

The first document you will encounter is a unit of competency. These are found on the website. A unit of competency is a fancy word for a unit, subject or module. Unlike university, the focus in VET is on what the student can do in the workplace rather than what they know. These scary documents list all the necessary components of the unit, such as the required skills, knowledge and performance standards. All VET qualifications (courses) are made up of various units of competency.

All trainers and colleges must follow the unit of competency when teaching students. Trust me, it’s a non-negotiable! As a trainer, it’s your job to ensure that your assessments, in particular, follow the unit of competency guidelines. Remember that not all training resources are created equally. Always check your assessments against the unit of competency and raise any issues with your college immediately.


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The components of a unit of competency

Let’s take a look at the unit of competency for ICTICT201 Use computer operating systems and hardware.

Each unit of competency consists of the following core components:

1. Unit code

Each unit of competency has its own unique unit code. These codes can change periodically, so take care when copying or quoting them. All codes are related to the specific training package for the qualification you are teaching.

2. Unit name

Each unit of competency has a unique name, which is pretty self-explanatory.

3. Application

Is a broad description of the unit outcomes/objectives, skills, knowledge, and work tasks. It also provides information on who the unit applies to and what type of roles will benefit from completion of this unit.

4. Elements

Don’t ask me who came up with this name…

Elements are like topics or goals which must be achieved.

5. Performance criteria

Each element consists of performance criteria. You can refer to these as PC’s if you like. These list the regular work duties or activities for each element.

6. Foundation skills

Refers to language, literacy, numeracy and employment skills students need to work effectively in the workplace with various stakeholders, the community and general public. I’d advise checking your assessments for trigger words to help you locate the foundation skills in the performance and knowledge evidence. Here’s a link to an ASQA table of trigger words

7. Assessment requirements

This is is the most important section of a unit of competency and must be complied with! It consists of performance evidence, knowledge evidence, and assessment conditions. Ensuring that students have sufficient evidence to prove competency is crucial.

8. Performance evidence

Refers to the tasks and skills that a student must demonstrate or be able to perform competently in a workplace or simulated setting to show competency.

9. Knowledge evidence

Refers to the underlying theory/knowledge/learning content that you need to teach.

10. Assessment conditions

Lists the minimum conditions required for assessment to take place and sets out the equipment, timings, and resources needed for the assessment to be carried out.

And that’s the tnire unit of competency broken down for you. To make this a little bit easier, we’ve created a handy infographic for you to download which explains the core components.



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