Covid-19 Information for Registered Training Organisations (FAQs)

Training Services NSW is committed to work in collaboration with federal, state and local government to assist Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) impacted by COVID.

TSNSW's regional and metropolitan offices are able to provide support and information to impacted RTOs. Please call 13 28 11.

The NSW Government has released information for employers and others to help stop the spread.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has established an Info Line to support providers. Providers that are impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the ASQA Info Line on 1300 701 801 or at enquiries@asqa.gov.au to discuss adaptive measures.

For further information for RTOs, please visit ASQA.

VET sector guidance

VET sector guidance is underpinned by key preconditions set by NSW Health, and aligns with community settings. The guidance links to various sources of truth for accurate and timely advice. Click here for more information.

Frequently asked questions

General questions

A new website is available to all international students for information and support in areas including access to vaccinations, health and wellbeing, mental health, work rights, legal advice, safety and COVID-19 support. International students are eligible to book the COVID-19 vaccination and do not need to have a Medicare card. COVID-19 Support is available to help with vaccination bookings.

For information about the support available to international students, please visit www.scfintakesupport.org.au

Training Services NSW will work with Providers to explore possible options for the continuation of subsidised training. Please keep your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) updated on your circumstances so that they can explore how Training Services NSW can best support your organisation and its learners.

The Australian Government has announced Government assistance for businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees.

The NSW Government has also announced support packages.

Please contact your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) directly or contact 13 28 11 if you are concerned about:

  • being closed temporarily due to a Coronavirus outbreak your premises
  • payments and financial caps
  • data Clarification and submitting training activity data
  • Brokering Arrangements – what to do if you are unable to continue the delivery of training
  • extending training end-dates
  • providing help to other RTOs if able to do so
  • meeting Skilling for Recovery enrolment timeframes
  • meeting any of your Smart and Skilled contractual obligations

Please also follow normal eReporting requirements as per the Smart and Skilled Terms and Conditions. If you have questions relating to submitting Training Activity Data, creating Commitment IDs, etc.,technical support can be obtained from Training Market Customer Service by emailing: training.market@det.nsw.edu.au.

If you are concerned about your contractual obligations with ASQA, please visit ASQA website which includes up to date information regarding any changes to reporting and other measures currently being considered due to COVID-19.

We understand that due to the commencement of the stay at home orders in late June, Providers’ plans to commence or continue training may have been impacted which affected Financial Cap utilisation.

Please advise your Strategic Relationship Manager (SRM) if this applies to your organisation so that they can explore how Training Services NSW can best support your organisation. You can also call 13 28 11.

SRMs will register the issue internally and Providers will not be penalised for future activity periods.

All training has resumed to face to face delivery in 2022 with providers responsible to comply with COVID-19 safe practices.

Providers are encouraged to have double vaccinated staff delivering their training and must have procedures in place to manage and support non vaccinated staff, students and visitors to their site.

If you or your students are unable to attend a workplace to conduct training or assessment, consideration could be given to how you can remotely observe the learner. For example:

  • use video recordings (from recording on a phone to more complex technologies), and
  • use Skype and other video conferencing software.

Assessors could view students’ participation in activities remotely, using the same observation checklists they have when on site, and can continue to make valid and sufficient judgements.

It may also be necessary to defer conducting the observations until such time as you can effectively undertake this process.

Further information on compliance arrangements.

ASQA also encourages any providers impacted by COVID-19 to contact their Info Line on 1300 701 801 or to email enquiries@asqa.gov.au to discuss any adaptive measures being considered.

Where possible you should make use of adaptive training modes, such as on-line training programs.

Skype and other digital meeting platforms may be suitable to engage with learners who have self-isolated where face-to-face training is to be maintained.

You must ensure that good records are maintained for all training and assessment that has been conducted.

Discuss with your student other training and assessment options, including changing the mode of training delivery.

Where possible and appropriate, an apprenticeship or traineeship employer MUST allow their apprentice or trainee to participate in formal training, and that training MUST occur during paid work hours.

Training Services NSW will work with Providers to explore all possible options for the continuation of subsidised training.

We may also be able to assist with upskilling strategies in conjunction with other opportunities for employment.

There are also some financial support packages introduced by the Australian Government.

We understand that in the current COVID-19 context it may not be possible for students to certify some documents deemed to be acceptable evidence under Appendix 3 of the Smart and Skilled Fee Admin Policy.

For example, students may not able to go out to get copies of birth certificates, drivers licenses or other evidence verified by a person who is on the list of approved witness to verify documents due to social distancing or any other Government policies in relation to COVID-19.

During COVID-19 you should make reasonable judgements on the documentation provided by students and should not exclude students from enrolling purely on the basis that some copies of documents have not been certified under the current circumstances.

However, you must continue to keep detailed records and as you may be required to ask students for verified documents once the COVID-19 situation has passed.

ASQA states that students may be able to undertake training in a simulated environment before going to a workplace to continue their learning or to conduct assessment (when they are able to attend a workplace). Simulated training can be conducted remotely, however, you need to consider how students can gain access to resource requirements to effectively practise these skills.
For more information, please visit the ASQA website.

Note: the link above takes you to this key info:
Students may be able to undertake training in a simulated environment before going to a workplace to continue their learning or to conduct assessment (when they are able to attend a workplace). Simulated training can be conducted remotely, however. RTOs should consider how students gain access to resource requirements to effectively practise these skills.

RTOs should consider the specific assessment conditions described in the assessment requirements of each unit of competency. In some instances, assessment requirements allow for assessment to be conducted in the workplace or a simulated environment. Where simulation is allowed, RTOs should review the specific training package requirements to be able to replicate the simulated environment.

However, where assessment can be conducted only in the workplace, that component of assessment will need to be deferred until such time that it can be conducted. In these instances RTOs:

  • should ensure students are aware of, and have record of, the portion of assessment completed for the unit
  • can adjust their training and assessment strategy to rearrange sequencing of delivery of units of competency
  • should deliver an alternate unit of competency (that does not require practical assessment, or where theoretical learning can be provided in part).

You can now request an extension to the expiry date of up to two extra weeks prior to the CID expiring OR you can amend the planned start date of training by up to 4 weeks.

Cancelled CIDs will not be reactivated. Once a CID has expired, under exceptional circumstances, you can request a CID extension from us.

Any request must include the reason why the CID expired, the start date for the training or the planned start date, and processes that have been put in place for CIDs not to expire in the future. These requests will be considered on a case by case basis.

Maybe. They must have a good reason for this request and speak to our staff first.

This flexibility is only available during COVID-19 to meet immediate management needs and to keep as many people in employment as possible. This provision WILL NOT be available under normal circumstances.

For more information and support please call your local regional office on 13 28 11.

School based apprentices and trainees working in sectors where vaccinations are mandated including: Health, Aged Care, Disability and Child Care and Education should refer to NSW Health for further information. SBATs over the age of 16 years need to complete the eligibility checker to locate the nearest vaccination hub, pharmacy or liaise with their GP for a vaccination.

COVID safety plans are optional for businesses and continue to be supported by SafeWork NSW. Training Providers are encouraged to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan with a strong focus on adequate PPE, social distancing, sanitising, increased cleaning regimes and access to well ventilation training spaces for students and staff.

From 18 February 2022 QR code check-ins are no longer mandatory for most business premises, however they are still required for nightclubs and for music festivals with more than 1,000 people. Hospitals, aged care and disability facilities may use their existing systems for recording visitors. Training providers are encouraged to consider how you will keep track of attendance in the chance there is a positive case on campus. For more information on QR safe check-in codes in 2022 please refer to the NSW Government website fact sheet.

Return to Training

Your registered training organisation will be doing everything they can to keep students and staff safe as training returns to face-to-face. Education is exempt from the 4sqm rule indoors and one (1) person per 2sqm outdoors but your provider will ensure that physical distancing of 1.5 meters is followed where practicable to ensure safety for everyone.

All students who were deemed as close contacts to the person who tested positive must self-isolate for 7 days and follow the advice from NSW Health. Training Providers will refer to their own policies, procedures and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying students and staff and managing the outbreak.

Businesses must inform SafeWork Australia if there is an outbreak. Further advice regarding actions required may be provided by NSW Health.

Your provider will ensure they have in place:

  • QR Code sign-in process for students and other visitors – Training Providers are encouraged to operate with QR codes displayed at site entry points. Students, staff and visitors are encouraged to have their vaccination status linked to their Services NSW app to show if requested to do so.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plan – Training Providers will make sure they operate in a COVID-19 safe way, ensuring adequate ventilation in all training spaces, access to sanitising, PPE, compliance with rules for wearing masks and increased cleaning regimes.

Training Providers need to comply with all mask wearing rules. More information about wearing masks indoors is found here.

All staff and students returning to face-to-face training are encouraged to be double vaccinated and to consider a booster when they are eligible. If you are training in a vocation where double vaccination is mandated (Health, Disability, Aged Care, Education and NSW Police), you will be required to be double vaccinated to participate in student work placements or industry based assessments on site at these facilities.

Training providers will ensure students can access well ventilated training spaces and will also focus on: open windows, overhead fans, considering HEPA filters added to air conditioning units, no reverse cycled air conditioning, extraction fans where installed.

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak or positive case in your class at training, your training provider will instruct all students and staff to go home immediately. You may be considered a close contact and must self-isolate for 7 days and follow advice from NSW Health if you have spent considerable time in close contact with the infected person.

Your training provider will advise if this is the case. You may need to take a rapid antigen test or obtain a PCR test to confirm whether you are infected. For more information about close contacts and rapid antigen testing review the NSW Government fact sheet

If the outbreak is on your campus but not in your immediate class you will be advised if you are considered a casual contact and instructed accordingly on what to do next. Always monitor for symptoms and consider taking a Rapid Antigen Test.

Training providers need to inform SafeWork Australia of any outbreaks. Further advice regarding actions required may be provided by NSW Health.

Check with your training provider before returning to face-to-face training.

Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 can return to training after completing the required isolation period and receiving medical clearance stating you are no longer infected. Evidence of medical clearance may need to be provided to your training provider.

The NSW Government has links to the latest updates and COVID-19 guidelines and fact sheets.

Training Plans (Apprenticeships and Traineeships)

If formal training is continuing, then training plan obligations need to be met. If formal training for an apprenticeship or traineeship is suspended, then your obligations in relation to the training plan are suspended.

If an extension of the term of training is needed, then all parties still need to apply. However, as training is competency based, we suggest that all parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

Due to COVID 19, Training Services NSW will not require a Training Plan to be lodged with Term Extension requests of up to 3 months. Term Extensions over 3 months will require an amended full Training Plan.

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

In response to the difficulties created by COVID 19 in getting signatures on Training Plan Proposals and Training Plans, we have temporarily relaxed this requirement. There are a few options for gaining everyone’s consent.

Option1:

Continue to obtain signatures as usual.

Option2:

Training Plan Proposal (TPP)

  • The Apprenticeship Network Provider (ANP) will email a completed TPP to you, your learner and the employer.
  • You will all (learner, employer and RTO) acknowledge receipt of the TPP via email by selecting “Reply to all” and including this statement:

    I (full name) certify that I acknowledge/understand/agree with the details of this training arrangement and my obligations and responsibilities under the Training Plan.

  • The ANP will be required to maintain evidence of your consent and be able to provide this to Training Services NSW if requested.

Training Plan – Developed within 12 Weeks of Approval

  • The same processes apply as for TPP except:
    • You (the RTO) will prepare the Training Plan (TP); and
    • You (the RTO) must retain evidence of consent by all parties, and be able to provide this to Training Services NSW if requested.

Option3:

A combination of signatures and emails.

Delivery mode changes (Apprenticeships and Traineeships)

If you anticipate that this is a temporary change, and all parties have agreed to it, then that is fine and you do NOT need to advise the Department.

No, changing delivery strategies will not impact on the amount of payments a Smart and Skilled Provider is paid. All necessary Smart and Skilled contractual requirements will need to be complied with.

There is no impact on apprenticeship or traineeship scholarships or concessions.

Targeted Priorities Pre-Vocational Part Qualifications (TPPPQ)

If you have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and training has had to cease, please contact your approving Training Services NSW Regional Office and provide them with your TNI/PAS reference to discuss an extension.

At this time, training end dates for the part qualification training will also be considered.

If training has commenced but cannot be completed by the original or extended PAS training completion date, training activity data should be submitted to finalise all Commitment IDs with relevant Unit of Competency Outcomes. Please note this includes outcome code 40 – withdrawn (where the student has participated in training).

Yes. If training has commenced but cannot be completed by the original or extended PAS training completion date, training activity data should be submitted to finalise all Commitment IDs with relevant Unit of Competency Outcomes. Please note this includes outcome code 40 – withdrawn (where the student has participated in training).

Financial Cap management

Please contact your Strategic Relationships Manager (SRM) to discuss any issues and difficulties associated with your financial cap usage.

JobTrainer

Apprentices and trainees

If formal training is continuing, then training plan obligations need to be met.

If an extension of the term of training is needed, then all parties still need to apply. However, we suggest that all parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

We suggest that you liaise with the employer regarding the need for them to lodge a term extension application, and they can contact their ANP, or call us on 13 28 11 for assistance.

Due to COVID 19, Training Services NSW will not require a Training Plan to be lodged with Term Extension requests of up to 3 months. Term Extensions over 3 months will require an amended full Training Plan.

Yes, apprentices and trainees can continue to access funded training with their approved Smart and Skilled RTO if their apprenticeship or traineeship is cancelled.

If you are unable to deliver either class room based training, or access a workplace to deliver training, you should negotiate with the employer to see if training can be delivered by an alternative, acceptable mode of delivery.

For the period 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2022 (excluding SBATs), if there is no acceptable solution, formal training may be suspended, with the agreement of all parties, for periods of up to six months. Parties do NOT need to advise the Department of this training suspension. Note, suspension of formal training may require the employer and learner to seek an extension to the training term at a later date.

Signature Training Plan - Endorsement

Yes. Your obligations under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, including this one, are only suspended or cancelled if the traineeship or apprenticeship is suspended or cancelled.

If you are experiencing difficulties in obtaining this endorsement, you should make every effort to resolve the situation yourselves. Where this fails, you should send an RTO Notification form to TS NSW who will attempt to resolve the situation.

In response to the possible difficulties created by COVID-19 in getting an employer’s endorsement/signature for a learner’s competency on Parts 2 and 5 of a Training Plan, a combination of signatures and emails may be retained as evidence.

For confirmation of the employer’s endorsement of Part 2 of the Training Plan, the email should list all units of competency that the learner has undertaken and confirm clearly that the employer endorses the competency for those units.

For endorsement of Part 5 of the Training Plan an employer must confirm their endorsement by including an acknowledgment including the following statement:

I (full name of employer) endorse that (full name of learner) is competent to industry standards in the nominated vocation and that I understand by providing this endorsement:

  • I confirm that my (apprentice/trainee’s) competency and support the issue of the qualification by the RTO; and
  • I may be obligated to pay a higher rate of pay as a result of the qualification being issued (check award requirements); and
  • I and or my (apprentice/trainee) can seek to complete the (apprenticeship/traineeship) before the nominal completion date OR continue in the apprenticeship/traineeship up to the nominal completion date.

For the period 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2022, if this is a temporary change in delivery mode in response to COVID 19, the employer and learner do NOT need to apply for a variation.

If this is permanent change, the employer and learner will need to complete a variation request form.

The employer and apprentice/trainee will need to seek an extension of term. However, it is suggested that parties wait to review the need for an extension until the last six months of the nominal training term.

It is suggested that you liaise with the employer regarding the need for them to lodge a variation request form.

Note, for the immediate future, the Department does NOT require a Training Plan from the RTO in support of these applications.

Yes, apprentices and trainees can continue to access funded training with their approved Smart and Skilled RTO whilst looking for a new employer if their apprenticeship or traineeship is cancelled.

Yes. If an apprentice or trainee was in a Smart & Skilled fee free funded arrangement which is cancelled, but subsequently re-established with the same employer, the learner will continue to be eligible for fee free funded training.

If you are unable to deliver either class room or work-based training, you should negotiate with the employer to see if training can be delivered by an alternative, acceptable mode of delivery.

For the period 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2022 (excluding SBATs), if there is no acceptable solution, formal training may be suspended, with the agreement of all parties, for periods of up to six months. Parties do NOT need to advise the Department of this training suspension. Note, suspension of formal training may require the employer and learner to seek an extension to the training term at a later date.

Maybe. They must have a good reason for this request and speak to our staff first. This flexibility is only available during COVID-19 to meet immediate management needs and to keep as many people in employment as possible. This provision WILL NOT be available under normal circumstances.

Yes, Barranggirra – Skilling for Employment provides end to end support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners through culturally appropriate mentoring to ensure successful retention and completion of training and improved post-training employment outcomes. This service will remain open throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Information regarding support through Barranggirra and contacts in your local area can be found here.

For further assistance email TSNSW.Aboriginal.Initiatives@det.nsw.edu.au.

School based apprentices and trainees - General

Yes.

SBATs will be able to complete their days after 31 December of the HSC year. Employers of SBTs will need to seek an extension of term to allow for these required days.

The employer, SBAT and school will need to look for an alternative RTO that may continue to deliver training and assessment services. Note, extended breaks in training for SBAT students may impact their achievement of the HSC. The student’s school must be notified in these instances.

If a student wants to cancel, they need to liaise with their school to check the impact on HSC and ATAR eligibility.

Vaccinations

International students are eligible to book the COVID-19 vaccination. Students do not need to hold a Medicare card to make the booking or to receive the vaccination.

International students working in aged care, can contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 and select option 4 for priority assistance and advice relating to vaccine bookings.

COVID-19 Support is available to help with vaccination bookings.

Start the process and book appointment nearest vaccination hub, pharmacy or general practitioner. 

Vaccinations for all teachers and school staff across all sectors (public and non-government) became mandatory from 8 November 2021.

Sectors include;

  • Government School’s
  • Non-government schools including Independent and Catholic Schools
  • Preschool’s
  • Early Childhood Education Centre’s
  • Out of School Care

All staff are strongly encouraged to get a booster shot when eligible. Book your booster shot through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder.

All VET, TAFE NSW and Higher Education staff must be fully vaccinated to visit a NSW school, preschool, out of hours school care centre or early childhood education centre. This includes students on placement associated with their VET studies or school based trainees who work in a school other than the one they attend.

All staff/workers/trainees who are attending schools are strongly encouraged to get a booster shot when eligible. Book your booster shot through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder.

VET, TAFE NSW and Higher Education staff attending a NSW School, preschool, early childcare education setting, out of hours school care centre will be required to provide evidence of vaccination upon entering a school site, and may be asked to provide that evidence to:

  • A person authorised by the Secretary of the Department of Education,
  • The principal for the school attending,
  • A delegated senior officer of the education setting.

These delegates may:

  • Sight the vaccination status of the person attending the school site
  • Make a record that they have sighted the person’s COVID-19 vaccination certificate.
  • Confirm that the COVID-19 vaccination certificate has been sighted.
  • Advise that the proof of vaccination will only be retained while a public health order is in place requiring workers to be vaccinated before attending relevant work sites
  • Copies of the vaccination certificate are not kept by the school or business

Where requested, staff must show: Types of Evidence

  • evidence of their name and place of residence,
  • regarding proof of the vaccination itself:
  • a medical exemption from a medical practitioner in the form approved by the NSW Chief Health Officer for a person with a medical contraindication

People may be exempt from the vaccination requirement if they have a medical certificate from a medical practitioner in the form approved by the NSW Chief Health Officer that certifies that because of a specified medical contraindication, the person cannot have a COVID-19 vaccine. There are currently no other reasons where an exemption will be given.

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