“Making Sense from Chaos”

By Michael McHugh

Print this page

Expert tips from Vanessa McCarthy, arguably one of Australia’s leading Validation experts. Vanessa has worked with Edutemps as a Senior Compliance Consultant for 3 years.

In an extensive interview, Vannessa McCarthy sheds some light on the intricacies of validation & compliance


Why do you love validation and ‘Map & Gap’?

I love it because it makes sense of chaos. I love the lightbulb moment when I explain the process to clients and they get it.

How long have you been doing validations and compliance in the VET industry?

I have been in the VET compliance industry since 1996 and have worked in TAFE and Queensland DET as an Auditor.

How many validations in VET have you conducted over that time?

Literally thousands across all industries. It doesn’t matter what industry it is, the fundamentals remain the same.

What is a ‘Map & Gap’ of assessments?

In this process we ‘map’ from the unit of competency level of compliance which includes foundation skills and also includes consideration and reflection of the holistic training package conditions. The ‘gap’ analysis identifies areas missing from the assessment system so that improvements can be actioned to address non-compliance.
The end result is a report which provides an action plan for the RTO to ‘close the gaps’.  This might be to change the questions and instructions, add a case study, amend a scenario or any other measures to meet compliance.

What do you think are the mistakes RTOs make with developing assessments and mapping?

Many developers only follow the performance criteria and knowledge evidence when they should be looking at a holistic approach and consider the dimensions of competency. This results in over- assessing.

What is your advice to developers?

Often people stick to what they have always done. Be open and think outside the box. You need to focus on the student when developing assessments. ASQA will appreciate this approach.

Has you approach been successful at Audit?

It has been very successful and provided positive responses at ASQA Audits.

Why is a ‘Map & Gap’ of assessment tools critical for RTOs?

For the RTO to comply with the National Standards there needs to be evidence of validation and it is best practice. It also demonstrates continuous improvement

Why do an external ‘Map & Gap’?

It provides fresh, and unbiased eyes and the RTO can utilise skills and knowledge they may not have in their human resources. ASQA value external validation and it demonstrates your commitment to quality.

How much does it cost?

Obviously RTOs assessments are different and some may be more complex than others. Usually we will get a sample to look at but the range for a ‘Map & Gap’ is usually between $450 to $670 + GST per Unit of Competency.

Lastly, you live in Cairns. Is it hard to concentrate when you are living in paradise?

No, I have my lattes by the water and love to work.


If you need assistance with validations, please ring Michael on 1300 880 720.