Contextualisation and packaging of training packages

Contextualisation of training packages has often been confused with the term ‘customisation’ or ‘packaging’ however there is a clear distinction between the two. The distinction lies in the delivery of the qualification (contextualisation) and the structure of the qualification (packaging).

What is contextualisation?

Contextualisation means tailoring units of competency to suit specific needs. It is about flexibility, and this is inherent in the way training packages are constructed and delivered.

In practice contextualisation means that teachers and trainers may modify units of competency to reflect the local outcomes required. This could involve the provision of additional information to suit particular delivery or assessment methods, learner profiles, specific enterprise equipment requirements or other local needs.

However, the integrity of the intended outcome of the unit of competency must be maintained, and there are stringent guidelines to ensure this happens. When contextualising units of competency, teachers and trainers:

  • must not remove the number and content of elements and performance criteria
  • may add specific industry terminology to performance criteria where this does not distort or narrow the competency outcomes
  • may make amendments and additions to the range statement, as long as such changes do not diminish the breadth of application of the competency and reduce its portability
  • may add detail to the evidence guide in areas such as the critical aspects of evidence or resources and infrastructure required, where these expand the breadth of the competency but do not limit its use.

How to contextualise units of competency?

Contextualisation is achieved by including, modifying or substituting text within units of competency and usually within the range statement or evidence guide. It is about providing training and assessment that is specific to an enterprise or individual learner.

Any modifications to a unit of competency must maintain the integrity of the industry skill and portability requirements, including all legislative, licensing and any other regulatory requirements.

The following are some suggestions for contextualising units of competency to make them more relevant for specific industries or workplaces:

  • Refer to the guidelines in the relevant training package. Usually, it will be possible to replace generic terms and general descriptions of equipment or processes and procedures with specific examples. The wording of range statements and the evidence guide can also be altered to make it more specific.
  • Analyse the generalised statements about the range of work and job tasks specified in the units of competency. These may need to be aligned to a particular job profile and translated to highlight particular tasks and levels of performance that are relevant to a particular workplace.
  • Identify the kinds of evidence that candidates may be able to provide in their job roles to satisfy the requirements of a particular unit of competency.
  • Prepare evidence plans for the candidates, showing how they might collect the identified
    kinds of evidence.

Each training package includes packaging guidelines. Some training packages—for example, the Visual Arts, Craft and Design Training Package (CUV03)—have excellent generic guidelines for training and assessment of people with special needs, and within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts. Modifying delivery and assessment to suit learners in these situations is a form of contextualisation.

These suggestions are clearly illustrated in relation to the unit of competency, Establish and Manage Effective Workplace Relationships (BSXFM1403A) in Guide 2 (Chapter 9) of the Training Package Assessment Materials Kit. There are also good examples of how to go about contextualising units of competency in the Training Package Development Handbook (Chapter 2).

What is meant by packaging and packaging rules?

Packaging, previously referred to as customisation, means making available a choice of units within the arrangements of a training package to suit local clients and/or conditions. The elective units of competency and the packaging rules for qualifications within a training package are determined when the package is endorsed. Changes to the packaging rules can only be made through the training package review process.

How to package a qualification?

Within a training package, advice will be provided about packaging units of competency against a
particular qualification. This advice may include:

  • suggested sequencing of particular units
  • suggested elective units for particular job roles
  • allowable substitutions within elective units, consistent with specifications in the training package
  • clustering information on particular units for work functions
  • suggested units for importing from other training packages.

The packaging will create pathways to suit enterprise needs and individual aspirations.

What if existing qualifications do not suit an identified need?

If an identified need cannot be met by packaging or contextualising a training package qualification, it may be necessary to explore the option of developing a course for accreditation—but only if the qualifications or skill sets needed are not duplicated within an existing training package.

Next article: Skill sets