Well, it is happening again.
We have some new entrants into the owner builder course provider space.
It happens every couple of years.
They last for varying length of time, generally create havoc, make a quick buck then disappear as quickly as they appeared.
Whilst I am an advocate for online learning, it removes some of the barriers to entry that provide some protection for those Registered Training Organisations that do the right thing.
I have never and will never directly complain to the authorities about these organisations, I will let the affected consumers (in this case owner builder course participants) do that. However it is frustrating and difficult to continue to compete and provide quality courses against such competition.
There are several RTO's out there, including a couple of long standing providers, who persist in advertising 3 hour owner builders courses.
Fact is, these simply cannot be compliant!
Doing these courses in 3 hours is simply a waste of your hard earned cash, does not prepare you for the process and requirements of owner building and does not do what Vocational Education is required to do.
All Vocational Education Unit of Competencies result in the issue of a qualification. For the owner builders, this is a Statement of Attainment (SOA).
In Queensland, owner builders receive a SOA that include one only competency. It has been designed as a short course and includes 2 specific elements. The course owner is the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and it has a mandated volume of learning which is accepted to be 24 hours including the assessment.
This 24 hours came about because the face to face delivery of the course took a full weekend with two 8 hour lecture days and then the completion of the assessment.
we know this because we were involved in the design of the course and the development of the then QBSA Study Guide which is now in its 4th edition.
The course is valuable and provides the opportunity for the owner builder student to develop real skills and knowledge which will be tangible and demonstrable benefits in the running of their projects.
For New South Wales Owner Builders, a slightly different approach has been adopted.
The New South Wales Department of Fair Trading in the past, approved education providers on an individual basis to deliver custom courses designed by the educational institute.
We had such a course and to the most part it was designed around the philosophies of the Queensland owner builder content and structure.
Our course was in two distinct parts, covering the legal responsibilities of the owner builder and relevant NSW legislation, with the second part covering the generic Project Management principles as they apply to owner builders and a typical owner builder project.
In 2010, the Department of Fair Trading NSW developed and had accredited their own course specific to NSW owner builders.
Whilst in my opinion, the course was far too onerous for the typical owner builder (many of my fellow Registered Builders would have struggled), it did provide the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge required by owner builders.
The mandatory text for this course was 5 volumes and consisted of approximately 800 pages of text!
After around 5 years, (normal course accreditation life) the Department of FT elected not to renew this and to simply pluck 5 Units of Competency from the Construction Training Package.
Unfortunately, for owner builders, these are simply too generic and unless the provider has great understanding of the specific challenges of owner building, they do not satisfy the learners needs.
Now here is the rub.
There are two primary issues surrounding the NSW owner builder course.
Firstly it is made up of 5 units of competency, each with a learning volume averaging approximately 8 to 10 hours each. Equating to a learning volume of around 60 to 80 hours to complete all 5 units.
Secondly, they are competency based so by legislation, require the owner builder course student to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge as detailed in the Elements and Performance Criteria of the Unit of Competency.
It does not take a genius to work out that no RTO could provide this in 3 hours and that those who advertise 100% guaranteed success are simply not complying with the rules of the Vocational Education Training Act.
I guess this post is a bit of a rant, but it is also a thank you to our owner builder course students who diligently complete the courses we provide. It is satisfying that there are still some owner builders out there who appreciate the value of real skills and knowledge and the ongoing support we provide.
Hopefully, the regulator, (ASQA) will identify the less than complaint RTOs and sort this out for the good of the industry.
Till next time,
Happy Building .....
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.