My Role as Your Trainer (Infographic)

Trainers don’t just train.  They listen, they learn, they plan, they adapt, they help, they soothe, they challenge and they tolerate.

Students expect all this, and often more besides.  But, for a Trainer to be effective at training, they must be very clear about what is most important. Read more…

Continuing Incompetence – The loophole that will undermine the quality of the new TAE Cert IV.

The TAE Cert IV cannot be trusted.  It is common knowledge that holding one does not actually mean you have the skills and knowledge that it is meant to reflect.  That’s why the powers that be have gone to a lot of effort to ensure that Trainers and Assessors are suitably skilled to make a professional contribution to the VET sector, with much of this aimed squarely at the poor quality of Cert IV TAE courses.

However, despite their great efforts, they have left a hole that will allow for continued erosion of standards and a further decline in confidence. Read more…

Here be dragons. Advice from Cert IV TAE students. (Infographic)


In the olden days, “Here be Dragons” was used on maps to point out dangerous or unexplored territories.  When it comes to the Cert IV TAE (and our other courses), there are a few dragons as well.  So, just like the mariners of old relied on maps to find their way past obstacles, we too can learn from the people who have gone before us.

To help with that, we asked our Cert IV TAE students what advice they would give people who are just starting out and they told us these 5 things. Read more…

Never felt pressured with my Cert IV TAE.

dad juggling babies and study


Every now and then, a Cert IV TAE student writes a Review that we believe really captures what Fortress Learning tries do. Instead of them ending up hidden among the others, we will share them with you, and try to explain why we think they are so appropriate.

Bernhard – what did he say?

Learning as an adult is not easy, especially if you have a full-time job and a young family. With Fortress Learning it never felt too pressured because you are free to learn whenever you got the time and the mind for it. The feedback is motivating and keeps you going. Overall a great experience.

Read more…

Why the Cert IV TAE is (still) Australia’s most versatile qualification


versatilityA couple of years ago, I wrote a piece that said the Cert IV TAE was Australia’s most versatile qualification.  I still believe that.

Here’s why.

I first wrote the article after reading Unemployment jumps to more than 10-year high.  What struck me then still strikes me now:  the unemployment rate is not some shock response to some recent major calamity.  Rather, it is a symptom of a bigger trend that has been brewing for some years.

And it is a trend that shows no sign of abating.  And just like it shows no sign of slowing down, even if it did reverse, it would take another 12 years to get back to so-called acceptable levels.

On top of this, we have a workforce that is less-certain and less-confident and more casualised than ever before in our history.

Read more…

How did we apply for the new TAE40116 Cert IV TAE and TAE50116 Dip VET.


We submitted our application to have the newest Cert IV TAE and Dip VET in early June.  Since then, we have had a steady stream of people asking how we went about it since there seems to be general consensus that the whole thing is a bit of a mess, really (see image of my brain, above, taken during the process of putting together our application).

I’ll try to break it into some simple-ish steps that we followed, and then offer some thoughts on what seemed to work.

What did we do?

  1. Ensure that our house was in order

Read more…

The most important word in a Trainer’s vocabulary


Trainers and teachers spend a whole lot of time working with people.  They work out where people are at, and work out how to get them from here to there.  As part of becoming a trainer, they will learn about learning, and about instructional design and assessment and that sort of stuff.

But they will probably not learn the one skill that is arguably more important than all others.

That is the ability to say Read more…

Individualised RPL process for the Cert IV TAE and Dip VET

walking up stairs

Every now and then, a graduating student writes a Review that we believe really captures what we try to do, in this case about RPL for the Cert IV TAE and Dip VET. Instead of them ending up hidden among the others, we will share them with you, and try to explain why we think they are so appropriate.

What did they say?

Owen: Provided one of the most suitable RPL programs I have seen. It addressed broader learning and skills through detailed authentification without being a tick and flick.  Where further training was required all resources provided a high level of information.

Cecile: I felt as though throughout my RPL the process was smooth and easy. Bryan was very patient with me and my OCD. Thank you for getting all my results back to me so quickly as well, it was great to get that feedback almost immediately.

Jason: As a VET professional, I am always concerned with integrity, as there are many RTOs and Assessors out there that give us all a bad name through the use of “tick and flick”. Fortress Learning is not like that at all, they assess and grant competency the right way every time, giving every learner the opportunity to show their underpinning knowledge in all forms of assessment.

Read more…

Dear Future Student

Dear future student

Soon, you will be starting a journey of sorts.  It could be an amazingly wonderful experience filled with great moments of illumination, or it could be aching drudgery.  It will probably be a bit of both.  Either way, we will be in it together.

In many ways, it is like going for a walk in the woods.

When we begin, we will Read more…

Wanting RPL for your TAE Cert IV or Dip VET? The first step is to make sure that you are competent.


To get RPL for any course of study, be it a single Unit or an entire Qualification, means that you can demonstrate that you are competent in all areas of the course. This might seem a bit basic, but experience tells me that there are many people who either wish to shortcut the RPL process, or who do not understand what RPL means in the context of the the Cert IV TAE and Dip VET.  Experience tells us that it is better for people to reduce the number of “unknown unknowns”.

Read more…

5 Reasons why you should not choose Fortress Learning



We have had several thousand Cert IV TAE, Dip VET-TDD and Business Diploma students go through our virtual doors since 2009.  I don’t say that to brag.

The reality is that not everyone has had a great experience.  To be brutally honest, some people probably wish they never enrolled with us.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying we spend our days fending off constant complaints.  In the past 18 months, we have referred 3 people to our Complaints Policy, and none have ever lodged a complaint.  Actually, since 2009, we have never had a formal complaint.

But that doesn’t mean we are great for everyone.

What it does mean is Read more…

Do I need to Upgrade my Cert IV TAE?

With the publication of the TAE40116 Cert IV TAE comes the question about upgrading.

Let’s take a look.

What are the differences?

New core units: The newer Cert IV TAE has the LLN411 and ASS502 units as Core.

Changes to old units: A couple of other units have been changed a bit, which means that they are not equivalent.  These are ASS401 and ASS403.

29/8/17 Update:  Fortress Learning has approval to deliver the new TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training & Assessment.  Details about how to do that are available HERE.

I have the Cert IV TAE40110 – what will I have do to upgrade? Read more…

How does Fortress Learning respond to the challenges of online learning?

Child listeningIt starts by listening.

One thing our staff like to do is listen.  It’s a skill we look for when recruiting our people.  We like to listen because that tells us if our students are succeeding, and we want to know that for the simple reason that if they don’t succeed, then neither do we.

Since we started delivering the TAA Cert IV online in 2009, we have listened to thousands of students.

So, what have we heard?

We have heard that online learning offers many advantages, and our recent survey of 300 people confirmed what we already believed (you can read about that here):  It can be flexible, it can be rewarding, it can be affordable, it can be efficient.  But, it also can be a lonely path filled with anxiety and uncertainty.

But, as with all things, can does not equal is.  It is only when conscious choices are made that the benefits of online learning can be achieved.

For us, online learning is first and foremost about people. Read more…

It just depends: Online versus Face-to-Face?




This article will seek to summarise the recurring themes that emerged from a survey of 300 people, drawn mostly from a number of Linkedin and Facebook groups related to VET and higher education.  Where used here, the responses of participants will be in italics – other than correcting a few typos, the comments are unedited.

Perhaps not surprisingly is the almost universal agreement that one is not intrinsically better than the other.  Or, in the words of one respondent:

…it just depends.

While that may be true, it is not by itself helpful for people trying to decide which way is best for them.

Read more…

There is only try. Or, why Yoda needs a footnote.


Do or do not.  There is no try.

Chances are we can all recall the scene.  Yoda was getting Luke to do something that Luke was not confident with – lifting rocks with his mind or some-such.

At the risk of pitting my wisdom against that of Yoda, I must disagree.  Well, until yesterday I agreed fully.  But something happened yesterday that caused me to question it.

So, what happened yesterday?

Well, after 6 terms of turning up to his weekly gymnastics lesson, our 9 year old son has “levelled up”.  (That’s him in the photo, teaching me how to play piano…)

Most kids, we are told, take maybe a term or two to move to their next level.    I suspect the ones that don’t tend to lose heart and give up.

And that is why I think we ought to be a bit cautious with accepting Yoda’s advice at face value.

Do needs Try

If our Tom had accepted Yoda’s wisdom, then he could easily have resigned himself to not being able to Do, and from that decided that there was no point in Try.

And yet, he did the opposite.  And, watching his humble smile as he accepted the handshake of his coach, I could not help but be inspired by his grit and determination to prevail.

When the Do did not come easy, when others came and went, he took the only available course of action, which was Try.

In fact, he stuck to the Try until that became a Do.  And, after the school holidays, he will return to Level 4, and will continue to Try.

Which is why I think Yoda’s words are perhaps best rephrased:

Do or do not.  There is only try.


Pieces of Paper Say More about Attitude than Skills


Bernard Salt was giving advice in his Weekend Australian column.  He reckons that being over 50, he is entitled to do so (with the European cruise to come later, in his 60s).

Anyway, his advice was to kids, and it was simply two things that he believes are required  to ensure career and/or business success.  

1. the first thing you need is training.  I wouldn’t want to be … approaching the 2020s without an accredited set of skills.

2. the second thing is less tangible.  It is a set of qualities; the all important soft-skills, including the killer soft skill that … comes deep within the core personality.  Are you resilient?

I tend to agree, and wonder if these two are very closely linked.

Read more…