What's a Certificate worth?

Two years ago I wrote an article on the Certification process as I had mentioned before on a few occasions that I previously had little time for 'pieces of paper' that had seemingly little or no practical application to staff job roles. By pieces of paper I'm referring of course to certificates, some of which I would have to say are not worth the paper they're written on! A little harsh perhaps but a certificate that isn't from a recognised Registered Training Organization (RTO) may be just that – a piece of paper.

So, has my mind changed regarding certification? Well, I would have to say that the answer is a resounding YES! There are a number of reasons why this is so and I have listed these and outlined them further below. Before we look at those it might be opportune to consider the current framework and how we can bring all our staff up to standard and receive the necessary accreditation. In general, this is how it looks:

Certificate 1 - entry-level training for inexperienced and junior staff
Certificate 2 - junior level training for those currently employed with some experience
Certificate 3 - senior staff who have good experience who influence junior staff
Certificate 4 - senior staff, supervisors, junior managers who aspire to a management role

Staff and managers who achieve at Certificate 4 level are then just shy of a Diploma level course. To illustrate further, professional trainers have to have a minimum of Certificate 4 - Workplace Assessment and Training in order to be considered for training in an industry. Indeed, many internal trainers who also have operational responsibilities have decided to 'up' their level of qualification to at least a Certificate 4. It is interesting to note that in 2006, the certificate 4 qualification has just been upgraded so many trainers will be 'back in the classroom'

These certificate levels apply across all the industry areas and not just in retail or hospitality so will be relevant in hairdressing, motor mechanics, real estate to name a few!

So, lets look at the reasons why certification has now become more important for your staff:


We have always been a fill-in industry, that is, many of our staff have just looked at us as a stop gap job on the way to something else. The effect of this, of course is to have reduced skill and motivation levels amongst many of our staff teams. The high incidence of casual employment has also meant reduced productivity and professionalism.

So, as we attempt to upgrade the professionalism within the industry, we need to offer better training and more 'rewards' or recognition and a certificate may do just that. Just look at Responsible Service of Alcohol and mandatory training coming into most liquor jurisdictions over time.


Our structures of business have changed. We used to have very flat management hierarchies that have changed into far more flexible, hands-on, active structures. Promotion, which may have been on seniority, must now be looked at in terms of suitability, skills, knowledge and attitude, all aspects that are quantified and tested during legitimate training and/or assessment.

Workplace assessment

Training in the past has often been classroom-based only and this has led to credibility problems within the industry. Many employers find it difficult to believe that certificates gained in classroom-style training can be relevant, and, most importantly, practical! Skill recognition, through workplace assessment means that competent staff can receive accreditation by being assessed 'on the job'. This means no (or less) time away from work and a very practical application to the training and assessment. When viewing a certificate obtained through workplace assessment, an employer knows that person has been employed and doing the right job over at least a one to two year period, depending on State, number of weekly hours worked and the RTO assessment schedule.

Quality training framework

The modular based system of the national training framework means that certificates can now be nationally recognised, staff can do as many modules at a time as they wish or can and all training organizations keep to the same training criteria.

Staff development

Employers wanting key staff to stay can use training as a staff development incentive. Training can be individually tailored to suit and each person can determine to some degree the pace at which they are trained or assessed. Some staff have a greater desire for improvement than others and we must be able to take this into account.

Government funding

In most States there is some government funding available for workplace based trainees as well as traditional traineeships. It is therefore possible to get staff trained in a practical manner where the cost is borne neither by you nor the staff concerned.

It is really no surprise to see that training and certification has changed – just look how many business activities have altered significantly over the past few years.

Think training – think sport! Where do we get to in sport without training?
Answer – very social or very low grade!

This article, written by Peter Hall, Academy Director, is reprinted courtesy of Australian Hotelier and National Liquor News magazines.