Acronyms Anonymous

By now your brain is literally exploding acronyms. It's time for an informal meeting of Acronyms Anonymous (AA) – either online or in person

One of the things you'll quickly discover when you become a TAFE student or employee is that, like many industries, TAFE has its own peculiar language. TAFE-speak uses an eclectic mixture of specialised terms, the most challenging being a huge bunch of educational abbreviations and acronyms.

So that you know what I'm talking about, here's the NSW Government's Department of Education and Communities' up-to-date list of acronyms (or abbreviated terms). You won't get a more comprehensive list than this one!

So here's a two minute look at a few common abbreviations and acronyms you're likely to encounter in the early part of your TAFE journey.

Your decision to come to TAFE (Technical and Further Education) will begin by getting yourself educated on the difference between the various levels of qualifications – or quals, as they're known.

Which course should you take? A Statement of Attainment is the most basic level offered, and the highest an Advanced Diploma. Quals go up from Cert II, to III, IV and then, at the higher level, Diploma and Advanced Diploma. Each qual is based on the complexity of the course, not its length.

But before you've enrolled you'll be asked whether you're eligible for any RPLs. "What?" I hear you say. RPLs are the skills and knowledge you've accumulated through previous education, training, work or life experience - aka (also known as) industry credibility. They can help fast track your TAFE course by taking this into account. See a full explanation of RPL on the TAFE NSW website. If you have lots of relevant experience, this might be the way to go to fast track your way through the system.

Once you've enrolled online, your details will go into the CRM (Customer Relationship Management System). Of course, if you change your home or email address we'd like to know about it so we can keep in contact. Both online and traditional classroom methods of study use the Student Assessment Guide (or SAG) to orientate you to your course and its requirements.

By this stage, you're getting so confused that you consider joining Acronyms Anonymous to sort yourself out. Your brain is in overdrive, so it's time to learn to breathe!

Just as you thought you were making some progress and feeling less stressed, your teacher/trainer tells you the acronyms are going to get more plentiful along the way as you study for your future career. In Community Services, there's the WWCC (Working with Children Check). You must apply for this well before it's time to go on Work Placement (Voluntary Work Experience).

If you're intending to become a librarian you'll be soon getting familiar with ALIA (Australian Library Information Association) to get access to professional journals, develop networks and look out for job opportunities. And in Business Services, it's even worse coming to grips with the requirements of ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) and the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), particularly if you're studying accounting.

By now your brain is literally exploding acronyms. It's time for an informal meeting of Acronyms Anonymous (AA) – either online or in person - to debrief and share your concerns with others in the same predicament.

Chatting with TAFE colleagues you start to ponder the philosophical question of how you're going to get any DRAW (Dignity and Respect at Work) if you walk around talking nonsense after learning all these acronyms at TAFE. Some group members of AA have already been labelled a PEST (political, economic, social and technological enemy) for rebelling against acronyms.

But once you go out on Work Placement, you realise that acronyms are rolling off people's tongues everywhere. You sit back, resigned to the fact that the sooner you master the workplace language, the sooner you'll be just like everyone else.