No matter where you live in the world, if you are paying for a product or for someone to perform services, you want to have the peace of mind that it is of the highest possible quality (relative to the cost, of course). And yet, it is likely that all of us will have experienced at least once a product that is an incredible disappointment, or contractor who has left your property worse off than when they arrived. Most people will likely say, ‘Surely there has to be some laws involved to prevent this kind of thing from happening?’
Well, why it might vary in other nations, Australia does in fact uphold a set of standards in most industries. In this blog, we explore why upholding Australian standards are so important in the trades industries, especially for those looking to have their skills recognised for prior learning and work in Australia through trades recognition.
How and Why Standards Come Into Place
Depending on the industry, standards will depend on geographical stipulations. For example, if the work travels across international borders, there will therefore be an international body that put in place appropriate standards that must be obeyed. With trades industries, however, such as plumbing, electrical, and construction, either a national body or accredited organisation within the nation’s borders will develop their standards.
The purpose of implanting standards is to implement a specific way for members of defined locations to conduct business in a manner that is safe, reliable and fit for purpose. Essentially, it is to promote best practice that will benefit owners, employees, customers and stakeholders at large equally.
Mandatory & Voluntary Standards
Naturally, standards are in place for a reason, but when it comes to their legality, they can be separated into categories defined as ‘mandatory’ and ‘voluntary’.
Mandatory standards are those that are compulsory for business to follow. They will differ in nature and severity among businesses, however if they are not followed, repercussions can be quite serious. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be responsible for most mandatory standards, such as health and safety.
Voluntary standards, on the other hand, are better seen as best practice measures, rather than legal stipulations. This is because they will generally be set in place by non-governmental bodies, such as Standards Australia.
Benefits of Having Standards in Place
When certain people are left to their own devices, unmonitored and unregulated, unfavourable events may arise as a result. Whether this manifests in the trades industries as poor electrical work, faulty plumbing, or messy painting, someone eventually suffers, while others profit off it.
Standards are in place to prevent this kind of behaviour from occurring, ensuring quality and consistency across the products and services offered by businesses. People aren’t perfect, and are capable of finding ways around these standards, but to do so, in the long run, isn’t beneficial for any one.
Standards boost the confidence of business owners in their employees, employees in their abilities, and customers in their service providers. Without them, there is too much uncertainty surrounding health and safety, resource management, and so forth.
It also gives customer service and value for money a competitive edge. While standards develop an acceptable baseline, a business’s success will depend on how much more value they can deliver to their clients, not the amount of corners they can cut.
Something most tradies will be accustomed with is receiving their qualifications to practice. This is a blanket rule to maintain our nations professional and competent standard of work in every trades industry.
For those who have recently moved to Australia and don’t possess the relevant qualifications to continue practicing your trade, but believe you do have the knowledge and experience to be deemed competent, then it might be prudent to become recognised for prior learning. This is the process where your history in the field is assessed by a Registered Training Organisation via the submission of a portfolio. Should they deem you competent in relation to Australian standards, they will issue you the relevant credits against the necessary qualifications.