Im Qualified! Checkout my RPL!

Im Qualified – checkout my RPL!

Is RPL cheating or are the people involved cheating?

I know that this question is controversial, I know it will ruffle feathers; however, the question remains, should you be given a qualification based on references and paperwork alone?

To me as a properly trained professional it begs the question why would anyone even consider let alone do a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for a qualification that requires them to manage an emergency response incident and emergency response crews? Let alone getting it wrong and costing lives…

Why not bend your back and learn the underpinning knowledge and underpinning skills required, do the hard yards to get the qualification the right and only way – so that you can actually do the job, rather hang your hat on the qualification.

Do we fear failure? Do we fear the hard work that it might take?

Or are we becoming entitled and indulgent; where showing how good we are, is now replaced by
saying how good we are.


A friend (Dave) and I recently contacted a company for him to enrol in their advertised Certificate IV in Emergency Supervision (a resource Industry Officer-in-Charge of an emergency response crew).

This qualification reflects the role of emergency response and rescue team leaders or coordinators working in the resources and infrastructure industries, who perform tasks involving a broad range of skilled applications in a wide variety of contexts.

During his query to enrol and attend the next course and despite his insistence to join a face-to-face program the young lady who was manning the phones, dilly-dallied around the subject to when the next face-to-face program would be running.

However, to her credit she did offer a sound an apparently creditable solution – RPL.

Suggesting Dave would be the perfect candidate if he was able to provide the following information:

  • A current job description to show he was a Team Leader.
    (to give clarity: in the resource sector this is often a role or position to which one is nominated or voted in, rather than studied and qualified for)
  • Evidence he worked as an Emergency Service Officer in Industry.
    (to give clarity: this is a firefighter role in industrial firefighting)
  • A reference or two from workplace supervisors.
    (to give clarity: Industrial fire teams supervisors are often Mine and Resource industry HSE supervisors not fire and rescue or mine rescue ones)

Then Dave was to also provide any other relevant documentation such as: – Incident reports

We over stated and over played all of this evidence and then RPL applied to a second company that advertises that they run these courses – result: Dave is now qualified.


Now Dave, two years ago originally did a 10-day Mine rescue course that gave him 14 units of competency in Fire/Rescue and Mines/Rescue, obtained in a fast tracked poorly run Cert III mine rescue course.

This course qualifies a person to operate as part of a team, it does not provide leadership, incident management or organisational skills at all.

Many years ago (and I do many), I did these same 14 units on a three-month recruit course – obviously we were slower learners in comparison, or there are better teachers these days?

Immediately, post 10-day course Dave then worked as a ESO in charge of mine emergency response volunteers, doing two years in industry – and now, well he is a sub-station fire officer rank.

Lucky bloke.


A Certificate IV in Fire Operations can be considered a similar or equivalent qualification, however not completely identical to this resource Industry Cert IV in Emergency Supervision.
The Cert IV Fire Operations to me was two years study and lots and lots (again, I do mean lots) of exams, mentoring, yet as importantly incident management and fire/rescue response leadership; all after 7 years on the fire trucks as a firefighter.
BTW – you cannot RPL in most creditable uniformed services.

During my two years – the fire ground and incident management drills and exercises were chalked up time and time again across multiple different scenarios to which a fire crew may encounter.
Crescendoing into a three week test out course at the Fire Departments training centre (known as our Boulevard of Broken Dreams; due to the high failure rate, and with the see you next time Instructors)

In comparison Dave, did none of this process with, for or by the issuing training provider – Could it be the case that the face-to-face course doesn’t even exist with these company’s – only RPL?

More to my point: why would you want a qualification given to you when you may respond as the Officer in Charge of the response crew, the victims and the incident.

If you RPL an incident management qualification, you need to ask yourself; do you truly know how to conduct a Size Up, create a Priority list and Task accordingly?

And to do so, across multiple incident types: (to name a few)

  • Hazmat – multiple and differing event types
  • RCRs – multiple and differing event types
  • First Aid – multiple and differing event types
  • Acft – multiple and differing event types
  • Gas leaks and fires – multiple and differing event types
  • Bleve`s – multiple and differing event types
  • Bldg fire – multiple and differing event types

On the other hand, considering the importance, significance and consequences at the very least, wouldn’t a Recognition of Current Competency be more appropriate if at ale. Which is a process to that tests your claims to the skills and knowledge asked of the qualification.

To answer my questioned poised at the beginning “Is RPL cheating or are the people involved cheating?” – I think the answer is obvious.

I have many years in and on the job – and many qualifications, and yet still question am I ready ….and I do mean truly ready for a job that could take lives if I get it wrong?

Recent Posts