So, what distinguishes us from the other RTOs in the same space?
There are probably some fairly obvious things.
If you have been looking around the web, there are some RTOs who advertise huge number of graduates. That’s not us. We do not measure our success in ‘bums on seats’ or ‘certificates posted’.
We do not believe that bigger is better.
We believe that better is better.
And we believe that better comes from the little things.
We have regular staff ‘huddles’ and it is not uncommon to hear us speaking about the importance of all the little decisions we make each and every day. We believe that it is the little things, done well and done consistently well, that makes all the difference.
We find what works, and we keep doing it. This is what informs our service standards, and drives us to have quick response times for emails, calls and marking that drive learning and motivation.
We know that returning marking within 4 days seems to be the sweet spot for students – any longer and motivation is lost and learning suffers. So, 4 days is our service standard. But, that is an ‘external measure’. Internally, we go for 80% of marking done in 2 days….and we measure it weekly. And if we don’t meet that standard? We slow enrolments until we are meeting it. That’s why we stopped taking new Upgrade students early in 2019…at a time when other RTOs were taking weeks and months to get marking reviewed and still taking enrolments, we stopped when we couldn’t get 80% done in 2 days.
You see, we respect the trust that our students put in us. When you enrol, you’ll do so based on expecting that we would do the things we promised to do. We won’t drop that standard just for the sake of bringing in even more students which would make it even harder to keep those promises. Why?
We believe it is wrong.
Fortress Learning graduates don’t write reviews that use words like “convenient”, “easy”, “quick” or “cheap”. They write reviews that include words like “care”, “prompt”, “support”, “service”, “professional” and “challenging”. You can check them out at Trustpilot, Product Review, Google Reviews and Facebook.
We match our commitment to delivering qualifications properly with a dedication to supporting our students fully. We collect feedback on every assessment task from every student and we are continuously changing things in response to that. We don’t buy off-the-shelf resources and presume that one-size-fits-all.
There’s two reasons for that. First, we don’t just see our role as giving people qualifications in exchange for money. Those qualifications exist for a reason, and that reason is bigger than any one of us. Our entire VET industry depends on people being equipped with the knowledge and skills to work effectively within it. A short cut here and a loose end there is a slippery slope that can only end in the demise of the whole sector that employs us, and supports the work of our shared nation. Second is because the whole basis of our industry rests on the concept of continuous improvement. That is not something that is done to us, it is something that starts from within us, each of us. It is a professional responsibility to keep asking ourselves if what we are doing is good enough, and to answer it honestly.
You see, at Fortress Learning we are here not to affirm people’s need to know that they are personally good enough, but to provide them with the confidence that what they know and can do is professionally good enough. We don’t promise it will be convenient or easy or quick, but we won’t abandon you; we’ll do it together. We know that your decision to join Fortress Learning instead of taking an easier path is also a decision based on courage.
Unlike many other training providers, we believe that your courage is a necessary precursor to your confidence. The end for us is not the graduation of the student. It is the confidence of that student that their graduation reflects a set of capabilities that will support continuous professional growth and reflection. Our qualifications are not end points, but rather they are starting points for people who seek to operate with a high degree of skill and humility within their chosen field, and people who will lead that field and engender a similar excellence in others.
We’ll tell you if we think we’re not a good fit. We do not want people to enrol if their expectations are not aligned with our reality; that is just going to create problems later on.
What distinguishes Fortress from others is our commitment to walking the walk, and not just with our own students. We seek to give back to the broader industry, and others. We provide a number of resources freely, with our Compliance Framework and Small Stuff series are received by thousands each month. Very few RTOs have an active research program. Fortress Learning does. We do it because we see that participation in the broader VET sector is a responsible thing to do; we have a number of research partners both in Australia and abroad, and we share our thoughts in a range of journals and at conferences both here and abroad. We are one of very few RTOs with the TAE Diplomas who offers the unit, TAERES501 – Apply research to training & assessment practices, for the simple reason that we are one of the few who are themselves currently doing research.
While most training providers focus locally, Fortress Learning is committed to teacher education not just in Australia, but also elsewhere. We have delivered programs to teachers in places like Bangladesh, PNG, Cambodia, The Philippines, and China, and we continue to mentor school staff in Uganda and Timor Leste. Much of that is done freely. Fortress Learning is one of only a handful of training organisations in Australia to be granted a federal government license to deliver the International Skills Training program.
But don’t think that we are the only ones doing this sort of thing. There are other RTOs who do some of the above. Many of them have great service. Many of them have great qualifications that you can trust. Some are selective. Some participate and some work internationally. Some have an IST licence. And some even care about you and the broader industry. Some do other great things things that we do not.
But we think you will be hard-pressed to find many others who do all of these things together.
And maybe that is the key thing here that separates Fortress from others: we don’t just believe that we are in it together, we act that way.