Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
The RPL is a process where IT experienced workers who don't necessarily have an IT degree or equivalent can have their skills assessed and validated by the Australian Computer Society for VISA purposes.
An RPL is not always needed, providing the majority of your Degree was IT based. A typical scenario for someone needing RPL would be someone with an BSc Mathematics who has worked as a Software Engineer since graduating, but this also included someone who is perhaps working as an IT project manager or network administrator. The current skills list needs consulting to see where you skill fits in and who will assess you.
The RPL is 'evidenced based' which means it needs you to describe how your work career has given you the knowledge assumed to be gained during an IT degree.
The ACS website should be consulted for up to date information, but at 2008 the general structure was:
- Application form (basic information)
- RPL application form - this includes the core of the RPL application
- project reports x2
- Sample work (optional)
The RPL application is the core of the pack and covers 14 areas of knowledge (Core Body Of Knowledge or CBOK) which you must write information about to explain how you have learnt about them.
There is an emphasis that the RPL is not about stating what you have done, but what you have learnt. In practice this is about relating the tasks you have been involved in to the knowledge areas.
This means that this part can be very long (10,000 words is not unusual) and can be quite repetitious as each CBOK area is related.
The references are deemed the next important part and are intended to be detailed and explicit about your role in each post. In modern business this can sometimes be difficult due to confidentiality and legal issues over providing references. This can often mean approaching colleagues to validate statements you have made as supplementary to any HR references stating times of service.
Project reports are 1-2 pages describing application of the CBOK to some specific task. Opinions may vary, but this is probably one of the more straight forward areas of the RPL.
All copies must be certified as specified.
The RPL cannot currently (2008) be submitted online, only via hardcopy. The format for this is not specified, successful formats include:
- Bound in document holder (i.e. can be made loose) with index cards for each section
The ACS doesn't state if the RPL will be copied, but it is best to avoid permanently binding the application. Copies are NOT returned, and a second identical copy is worth keeping in case of queries with the ACS and since the Immigration process may require to see it.
This second pack may make a good paperweight or nice interview piece when you emmigrate! :)
To create an RPL application can take some time, as an idea:
- RPL and project reports - anything from a week to 2 months depending on how easy you find it.
- References - consider how long it will take to chase them all down, allow at least a month
- ACS assessment - currently around 6 - 10 weeks is assumed
If successful you are offered membership of the ACS, which may be useful.
 External sites
Australian Immigration website - consult this for Skills list and assessing bodies
RPLHelp - website offering (paid for) downloads of example (REAL!) RPLs that have worked and support forum
ACS Website - consult for up to date CBOK and application information and forms.