When you were a teenager, chances are, you sat in a sterile room on a weekday morning with a few of your compatriots, answering a long list of driver safety questions. The State government of the day wanted you to attain a certain level of knowledge before proving your uncanny spatial awareness and physical prowess on the roads.

Today, most States require over 100 hours of logged practice in both day and night environments, after completing the knowledge test, before a young driver can even take the license test. And then… they are finally awarded their P-Plates.

P-Plates are a sign to other drivers that the world is now their highway and the roads are merely vessels to get them there. They are now lieutenants of the road (notice I didn’t say ‘Captain!’) and no-one is going to get in their way.

So – remembering what you were like when you first attained your P’s – I’d like to shine this light back on to our industry trainer and assessor qualification, the TAE40116 (and its inevitable successors).

When you first entered the world of vocational training, no matter what your background, you now had a license to teach others the skills and knowledge you had attained over the years. But seriously – did you really know what you were doing?

Adult education is – without any hint of sarcasm – a field of psychology. We can only determine our impact and effectiveness through continuous feedback, learning, reflecting, applying and testing – (think Kolb’s learning cycle). The way in which our learners pick up the necessary skills and knowledge they need to do their work is as varied as the contexts in which we all teach.

We all need to plug-in to networks that help us refine and improve our knowledge and skills. We all want to get off of our P-Plate license and hit the open road.

So – my challenge to all trainers and assessors out there – be you in TAFE, higher ed., private RTOs, public sector, or corporate – is to treat your qualifications as building blocks, not milestone markers. They are, at best, your ticket to a new way of thinking and learning. So why not treat each qualification you get as a part of your professional development and plan for it. Put in place a number of steps over the coming years. Plan out your next 1-5 years of professional development to coincide with accredited training options in the fields that both interest you and provide you job security or options.

Additionally, don’t just look at professional networks… join one! Established institutions such as ILP, Velg, Insources, and ACPET all have specific areas in which they specialise and can help you to grow within your chosen profession.

I, personally, would prefer not to undertake a qualification because it’s ‘required’ – but rather because it improves my ability to train and assess others and become a better teacher.