Return to Vocational Education and Training Guidelines

The Return to VET Guidelines provide a structure for the return to face-to-face training delivery for registered training organisations (RTOs), TAFE, community colleges, group training organisations (GTOs), learners and employers. The Guidelines provide clarity and flexibility to manage the needs of different local government areas in response to changes in health advice.

Download a copy of the guidelines.

Male and female apprentices on a break at worksite

The Return to VET Guidelines are underpinned by key preconditions set by NSW Health, the NSW Roadmap for Recovery and based on the Doherty Report for National Cabinet.

The guidelines will be updated if NSW Health advice changes.

  • The NSW Government’s Roadmap to Recovery provides clarity around eased restrictions at 70% and 80% double vaccination rates and changes on 1 December 2021. This Return to VET Guideline supports the safe, phased return of face-to-face training for the VET sector. Noting that ‘providers’ is used to encompass the many elements of the sector in the guideline.
  • The phased approach in the Return to VET Guideline remains subject to certain conditions, including:
    • Specific sectors (aged care, disability, early childhood, NSW Health, NSW Police) and for those visiting schools during school hours, require VET students or the VET workforce to be vaccinated before attending those workplaces.

Getting ready for the Return to VET

The Return to VET Guidelines support the return of face to face training delivery in a safe and phased way. There are key requirements that all Providers need to undertake in preparation for, and delivery of face to face training regardless of location that all VET providers should have.

COVID Safety Plan - Providers will need to have an updated COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines how they will ensure the safety of students and staff at their premises. Providers may choose to create one plan for each campus facility noting that specific COVID-19 Safety Plans are required where the Provider has public facing business operations including clinics for hair, beauty, massage or cafes and restaurants. A strong focus on adequate PPE, physical distancing, increased cleaning regimes and sanitising will be required.

Unvaccinated staff and student policy – Providers may consider whether a workplace policy about coronavirus vaccinations is necessary for their workplace. Before implementing a new workplace policy or changing an existing policy about vaccinations, employers should consider their workplace circumstances and whether they need legal advice about their obligations. For more information, refer to Fair Work Ombudsman.

Ventilationa strong focus on ventilation is required including: open windows, overhead fans, consider HEPA filters added to air conditioning units, no reverse cycled air conditioning, extraction fans where installed, access to well ventilated outdoor areas. More information about ventilation.

QR Code sign-in process for all staff, students and other visitors - Mandatory QR codes must be displayed at site entry points. All staff and visitors permitted on premises will be required to check in and check out using the QR codes. A unique QR code for COVID-safe Check-in and COVID-19 resources can be accessed through Service NSW, noting providers can support contact tracers with access to class rolls in the event of transmission on site. Providers should ensure alternate check in methods for staff, students and other site visitors who do not have the Service NSW app or alternatively have their own staff to check visitors onto the site through provider owned devices.

Vaccination tracker – Workers, students or other visitors accessing a VET facility are encouraged to be fully vaccinated once NSW meets the 70% double vaccination threshold for those 16+. Service NSW is developing an update to its QR Code check- in app that would display a person’s vaccination status when they check in to the Provider premises. Learners and teachers visiting specific workplaces will also require a mandatory vaccination in many instances. More information is here.

Staff, students and other visitors who are unable to be vaccinated - Providers should consider the management of VET staff and students that are unable to be vaccinated, noting that Service NSW will enable vaccination exemption certificates to be uploaded into the Service NSW app. Providers may choose not to permit unvaccinated individuals into a VET facility and should seek legal advice to support this decision. Providers will need to have procedures in place to support students who cannot be vaccinated because of a medical contraindication. Providers should consider alternate methods of training delivery (eg: online) for these cohorts, noting that they may not be able to attend some workplace components of their training.

Providers should:

  • Develop policy and procedure for ensuring the safety of unvaccinated staff, students and visitors
  • Support students on a case by case basis in sectors where vaccinations are mandated.
  • Manage face to face assessments for critical skills and practical based learning and assessment where it cannot be conducted online
  • Minimise student cohorts for practical training and assessment that cannot happen online
  • Implement safe rostering to reduce staff and student mingling.

Vaccination for international students - A purpose-built website to assist international students to easily find the information and the help they need to get vaccinated www.scfintakesupport.org.au/

Masks - staff, students and visitors will need to comply with mask wearing directions aligned with each phase of return as noted in the Public Health Order.

Cleansing regimes – Providers should consider enhanced cleaning regimes and sanitising across the indoor and outdoor elements of the training site. It is recommended that cleaning staff are encouraged to be vaccinated if conducting cleaning services.

Staggered break times - Providers should consider staggering break times for staff and learners to minimise mixing and exposure at common break out areas.

VET delivery in school settings

VET staff delivering face to face training in schools will need to be double vaccinated from 8 November 2021. They will also be required to wear masks, check in via QR code and follow any other requirements under the COVID safe plan for the school site.

General principles: 70% double vaccination rate (Phase one)

Vaccination: face to face training can mostly return (eg: critical skills training) for workforce and learners, with double vaccination strongly encouraged.

Mask wearing: masks must be worn in all indoor settings. Masks are not required outdoors. Providers with outdoor hospitality facilities will need to comply with NSW Public Health Orders regarding mask wearing.

Physical distancing: whilst education is exempt from the 4sqm rule, physical distancing of 1.5 meters is recommended where practicable to ensure safety.

COVID-19 safety plan: must be in place to ensure the safety of students and staff

View in full.

General principles: 80% double vaccination rate (Phase two)

Vaccination: face-to-face training can return for workforce and learners for critical skills and practical based training and assessment where it cannot be completed online. This could be for students graduating in 2021 as a priority. Staff and students are strongly encouraged to be double vaccinated.

Mask wearing: masks must be worn in all indoor settings. Masks are not required in office settings for fully vaccinated people. Providers with outdoor hospitality facilities will need to comply with NSW Public Health Orders regarding mask wearing.

Physical distancing: whilst education is exempt from the 4sqm rule, physical distancing of 1.5 meters should followed where practicable to ensure safety.

COVID-19 safety plan: must be in place to ensure the safety of students and staff.

View in full.

Changes from 1 December 2021 (Phase three)

Vaccination: face-to-face training can return for both vaccinated and unvaccinated workforce and learners.

Mask wearing: masks indoors and outdoors are no longer required. Providers with outdoor hospitality facilities will need to comply with NSW Public Health Orders regarding mask wearing.

Physical distancing: whilst education is exempt from the 4sqm rule, physical distancing of 1.5 meters should followed where practicable to ensure safety.

COVID-19 safety plan: must be in place to ensure the safety of students and staff.

View in full.

Critical skills industries

Nursing and Allied Health

  • Pathology
  • Aboriginal Health
  • Nursing
  • Dental
  • Community pharmacy

Community Services

  • Community Services
  • Mental Health
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Counselling
  • Financial counselling

Early Childhood Education

  • Education support
  • Child protection

Energy and Electrotechnology

  • Electrotechnology Electrician
  • Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Security

Construction

  • Brick/block laying
  • Carpentry
  • Wall and Floor tiling
  • Formwork / Falsework
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Plumbing
  • Roof plumbing
  • Fire Protection
  • Painting and decorating
  • Scaffolding
  • Civil Construction

Engineering

  • Engineering – Mechanical
  • Engineering – Fabrication
  • Laboratory skills / techniques

Heavy Vehicle

  • Mobile Plant technology

Industries where practical based learning and assessment is required

Individual Support

  • Aged Care /
  • Disability
  • Home and Community

Community Services

  • Community services
  • Education support

Hospitality

  • Food and Beverage
  • Commercial Cookery
  • Baking
  • Bread Baking
  • Cake and Pastry
  • Food Processing

Agribusiness

  • Vet Nursing
  • Aboriculture
  • Conservation Land Management
  • Horticulture

Electrotechnology

  • Electrical Fitting
  • Electrotechnology Career Start

Construction

  • Roof Tiling
  • Construction Pathways
  • Shop Fitting
  • Wall and Ceiling Lining
  • Plastering
  • Construction Waterproofing
  • Brick Block Laying

Creative design

Hairdressing

Beauty Services

Return to top of page Back to top