How to fix Voc. Ed. & Training comprehensively – Issue Twelve

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Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE, http://www.headstogether.com.au

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Ensure that the VET System is socially responsive, not just industry responsive

Ensure the VET System, which includes public and private RTOs,  is deliberately multicultural friendly – Multicultural education is not a discrete learning area, or simply the provision of Languages and English as an Additional Language (EAL). Multicultural education makes sure that all students have access to inclusive teaching and learning experiences. These experiences will allow students to successfully take part in a rapidly changing world where cross-cultural understanding and intercultural communication skills are essential.

Ensure VET System, which includes public and private RTOs, is deliberately learners with disability friendly – Learners with disability should learn in inclusive environments to get the skills they need to successfully participate in the workforce and the wider community through a range of programs.

Ensure that the VET System, which includes public and private RTOs, are deliberately race, asylum seeker and refugee friendly – Building in an understanding of the lack of support and flexibility around VET provision for refugees in capitalist societies as potentially related to structures and discourses of white privilege which shape notions of work and workers in Europe. It has been convincingly argued they do in countries such as the US and Australia.

Enforced and encourage responsible business community role for all Registered Training Organisations (not just the public sector RTOs) – Responsible business behaviour in Australia is primarily seen as a legal obligation in compulsory areas, such as workplace health and safety provisions. This perspective has narrowed Australia’s approach to responsible business practice and appears to have exacerbated a lack of interest in the role of business in community development and community engagement.

Businesses of all sizes, including public and private RTOs, that have big impacts on communities and their quality of life increasingly recognise that there is both an ethical imperative and a sound business case for focusing on sustainable community development. Implement policy that businesses must embrace concerning social responsibilities and not be solely focused on maximizing profits.

The environment is ripe in the VET System for the introduction of a formal “Social Licence” to operate a VET related business or RTO. A Social License has been defined as existing when a project/service/business has the ongoing approval within a local community and other stakeholders, ongoing approval or broad social acceptance and, most frequently, as ongoing acceptance.

How to fix Voc. Ed. & Training comprehensively – Issue Eleven

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Re-establish training and education opportunities directly linked to sustainable employment opportunities

As per business supply and demand models, there must continue to be no guarantee of continued subsidised training (VET Fee Help) simply based on ‘market forces’ and what students want to do, particularly in high profit low investment courses, for example see “Private vocational training and cherry pickability”, http://bit.ly/2crNE2y). Market Forces apply to what people want to do, and often the courses RTOs can make the easiest profit from, not necessarily what is actually needed in the community or industry sectors.

The development of more sophisticated forecasting and skills analysis capacities could be used to complement labour market testing, however, they are not a substitute for labour market testing. Where analysis indicates there is not a supply deficiency, the occupations should be taken off the skill supply and subsidised funding.

There needs to be a proper, rigorous process for managing this and ensuring there are genuine skill shortages and Australian workers and young people are not missing out on jobs and training opportunities.

Of course, all VET courses may still be available as full fee courses subject to the normal administrative and compliance requirements . Be aware, however, that many employers want a cheap employee (‘cheapie’).

Cheapies

Sylvia Pennington says, (The Sydney Morning Herald, March 15, 2013,  http://bit.ly/1c28ZdG) “Vendors began using cut-price foreign talent to up their profits and elbow Aussies out of jobs early last decade, as soon as they twigged they could, according to those who claim to have been stung by the practice.

While debate over the visa system rages, IT consultancy Mahindra Satyam has announced plans to use staff from India, Malaysia and the Philippines to up its Australian head count from 1600 to 5000 over the next two years.

Forty per cent of the staff would be located in Australia and 60 per cent offshore to Mahindra Satyam, head of ANZ operations Bobby Gupta told India’s The Economic Times on Tuesday. The region currently accounts for 8 per cent of the firm’s $US1.31 billion annual revenue.

One worker told Fairfax Media he was made redundant from his nine-year IT management gig with a national liquor retailer in 2003 after the company hired Satyam (now Mahindra Satyam) to take over the IT jobs of eight local staff.

“We were given a few months’ notice of our redundancy and in that time we had to train the Indian staff on how to support our internal systems. It was never said but we were made to feel that if you wanted your redundancy payment, you had to train them.

While training the Indian staff, we found out that they were all in Australia on 457 visas. “There were six of them with some rotating to give others exposure to the systems.” IT professionals say this practice is in common with other major systems integrators and consultancies that use short-term 456 and longer-term 457 visas to boost their bottom line by importing lower-paid overseas workers.”

3. Remove the fetters from management?

M. Ruhs says, ‘The potential of temporary migration programmes in future international migration policy’ (2006) 145 International Labour Review, pp. 14-15.”, “The design of the 457 scheme is often loosely linked to globalization, but it is clear that policy decisions play a major role. One crucial influence has been neo-liberal philosophies that seek to remove the fetters from management prerogative.

Ruhs classifies the 457 scheme can as laissez faire because of the absence of any caps or quotas, but even within this classification it appears as extreme, due to the absence of any labour market testing..

He says, there is always a need for host countries to manage the demand for migrant labour. This is because the level of labour immigration that is in the interest of individual employers is unlikely to coincide with that in the best interest of the economy as whole.

He goes on to argue that this entails ensuring that there are no opportunities for lowering labour costs by lowering labour standards, that demand for migrant labour is residual after recruitment of local workers fails, and that other methods of responding to shortages are not unfairly foreclosed. The 457 scheme fails to meet this fundamental challenge of managing the demand for labour.

Because the 457 scheme comes with extensive opportunities for renewal and with opportunities for the worker to apply for permanent residency, it may be wrong to call it a temporary migrant labour scheme. Instead it may be better characterised as a permanent migration program, though one that differs from the traditional program in that the workers are highly dependent on individual employers. This does not of course detract from but instead reinforces our argument concerning the need to meet the challenges of regulation.”

4. However little workers earn, there is always somebody who wishes they earned even less.

There is always somebody who wishes workers earned less. The solution is to import more cheap labor. But not just any cheap labour, cheap labour that cannot leave, that cannot accept a better offer, that cannot complain.

“Bonded labor” is the oldest idea in American labour markets. In the 17th and 18th centuries, about half the British migrants to the United States arrived as indentured servants, people who agreed to work for a term of years in exchange for food, lodging, and the cost of their passage.

Perhaps you assumed that such arrangements had expired centuries ago?

Think again.

How to fix Voc. Ed. & Training comprehensively – Issue Ten

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Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE, http://www.headstogether.com.au

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VET education-based framework overhaul

Following on from the recent Post, there is a need in voc. ed and training to remove the concept of “under-pinning knowledge” (which is often interpreted as not to be directly taught or assessed) and deliberately include appropriate level theoretical and practical knowledge as a VET program outcome, consistent with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). http://www.aqf.edu.au/

In an educational rather than a business context, there is a need to determine and implement a balance of theory and experience in VET programs beyond “under-pinning knowledge”. The displacement of theoretical knowledge from Training Packages reinforces the second-class status of VET and contributes to de-professionalising and de-skilling. Note it is possible to own an Registered Training Organisation (RTO) with a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment as the only “education profession” underpinning pre-requisite, or no education professional qualification at all! The emphasis tends to be on other industry and business qualifications.

The preciousness over the “Theory” versus “Experience” argument is immature and flawed. A synthesis of both theory and practice are needed for a rounded education and in particular for trainees to be in a position to change positions with a minimum of retraining. The emphasis on stultifying, work-based Units of Competency and Training Packages is counterproductive for trainers, trainees and employers.

Recognise and use the fact that “Education” and “Vocational Education and Training” are expertise in their own right

The preciousness over “Academic” versus “Practitioner” argument is outdated and flawed. Both are needed. Often it is the practitioner that finds ways to implement the new findings that academic research has discovered. Take for example the theories linked to the combustion engine, as determined by academics using Laws of Physics. Such academic work led to in-depth research on design, materials, etc that could work. Practitioners contributed directly and built the engines. And this process is dynamic, the theory and research continues and leads to further refinements and improvements. Such is the case for vocational education and training.

The tragedy is the lack of educationist input into the current VET System. Somewhere, someone decided that education theory and practice, and particularly vocational education, is not an expertise in itself. Would the same apply in the automotive industry? Would someone decide that engineering theory and practice expertise is not required? For some reason many people decide that education theory and practice is something anyone can just pick up. Perhaps this based on their individual perceptions at school and college/university in their particular field of endeavour.

Education isn’t easy. In fact, in its formal state, it’s probably one of the most complex, challenging things we do in our society, especially now, given the growing diversity of our student body and the greater amounts of information students are expected to know. As Diane Ravitch wrote a few years ago in the Los Angeles Times, “There are no simple solutions, no miracle cures to those problems. Education is a slow, arduous process that requires the work of willing students, dedicated teachers, and supportive families, as well as a coherent curriculum.” LORY HOUGH, http://bit.ly/1TeNjNe

The TAE Certificate IV in Assessment and Training is inadequate and flawed. It is most concerned with compliance in the use of Training Packages and Competency Based training (See: “Absurd limitations of VET Cert. IV & Dip. qualifications for the front-line contact person” http://bit.ly/2bPHwT2) rather than excellence in education and training. Voc. ed. and training practitioners must be qualified at least AQF diploma level. They must be educationists in their own right with knowledge and expertise in up-to-date education, training and assessment concepts and practice.

In general, this would include high level content and practice in vocational education andragogy/heutagogy in the education of VET practitioners.

Andragogy is the method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education.

Heutagogy says it is the learner who should be at the centre of their own learning, and hence that ‘learning’ should not be seen as teacher-centric or curriculum-centric, but learner-centric. (1) Since the theory was first launched in 2000 it has become accepted as a practical proposition with its approach being particularly suitable in e-learning environments. Recent (post-2010) research into brain plasticity indicates that the approach can be useful in increasing learning capability.

How to fix Voc. Ed. & Training comprehensively – Issue Nine

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Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE, http://www.headstogether.com.au

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Dispense with self-limiting Training Packages (including Train the Trainer)

The significance of both behavioural psychology and systems theory for the development of Competency Based Training (CBT) is explicitly demonstrated by McDonald (1974: 17).

Behavioural education concepts and systems theory both take a one-size-fits all view. That makes CBT dubious especially when restricted to specific work tasks. It is a self perpetuating problem because VET Trainers are trained (train-the-trainer) using CBT too.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and business leaders have, at last, recognised the limitations of vocational education and training that is reliant on so called Training Packages and behaviourally-based models of education and training. (See: “VET sector a “disgrace” and in need of comprehensive review, say business leaders” – DOMINIC POWELL / Monday, August 29 2016 – SmartCompany. http://bit.ly/2bSlfRj

If you are still in doubt about this, here is another recent analysis by a respected vocational education and training practitioner: “The failure of privatisation and the case for a fully public TAFE system” http://bit.ly/2bRP19v

VET educationalists have long recommended replacing Training Packages with Capabilities Frameworks, or something else that reduces the bureaucratic and administrative load so VET documentation can be kept up to date to achieve broader transferable outcomes for trainers/learners/trainers.

Documenting and understanding Capabilities may inform the development of the current Units of Competency, however, the two are not interchangeable. The relationship between competency and capability can be observed in a competency model adapted from the work of Trichet and Leclerc as shown in the diagram below.

The diagram focuses on how to represent competency as a rich data structure. The heart of this model is to treat knowledge, not as possession, but as a contextualised multidimensional space of capability either actual or potential. The mode involves three important elements:

  1. orientation towards and focus upon activity-based teaching and learning.
  2. identification and integration of appropriate subject matter content within a broader teaching and learning context represented by a hierarchy of competencies.
  3. straightforward identification of the assessment that would demonstrate successful teaching and learning.

Terminology

Competence: describes what individuals know or are able to do in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes at a particular point in time.

Source: a person who provides “the competency”, for instance a healthcare worker.

Proficiency level:  degree of mastery of a skill or area of knowledge

Capability: The sum of expertise and capacity. Describes the extent to which an individual can apply, adapt and synthesise new knowledge from experience and continue to improve his or her performance

Subject matter: content Knowledge, skills, attitudes, attributes

Taxonomy: a classification hierarchy of capabilities; a framework for correlating educational attainment with evidence of qualities that relate to abilities relevant to the performance of work roles.

Evidence: evidence may be thought of as successful teaching and learning outcomes including summative assessment.

Tool: formative assessment and teaching methodologies

Situation: the current context

Save VET – A community service model of vocational education and training

A so called “open market” puts the needs of companies above the needs of consumers. However, the lack of ideal conditions makes the open market mechanism ineffective. The perfect conditions required are possible only in theory not in practice.

A community service delivery model relates to the range of services the System might deliver to the community and how things are organised to deliver those services to the benefit of most, not a few.

The current laser focus on profits and profiteering is threatening the very underpinnings and viability of voc. ed. and training in Australia. Fortunately, not everyone ascribes to the winner takes all philosophy. Germany, for example, has taken a much more circumspect approach. Over the last 25 years, the social market economy has offered a genuine alternative to the Anglo-centric infatuation with neo-liberalisation.

Reunification provided Germany with a real-life experiment in the balancing of social and economic goals; and Enquete Commission’s study on growth, prosperity and quality of life provides a genuine desire to engage in alternative visions of social progress. See: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40309-014-0058-1

What is fast emerging is the alternative to neoliberalism called a commons based economy. This encompasses peer to peer, social sharing, collaborative consumption, commons, and economic democracy. These are all terms that cover economic activity that moves beyond the “market and the state”, based on co-operation and harnessing human creativity.

The commons economy moves us beyond commodification, marketisation and privatisation. Goods are produced because they are useful and beautiful, not just to generate cash for a few.

Capitalism is known to generate artificial scarcity – through propaganda, marketing and commodification – to keep everyone insecure, working hard for dubious future gains and over-consuming to benefit a few. That is a standard technique of neoliberalism and capitalism – e.g., defund and make TAFE (public education) unworkable and hand it over to the profiteering, commodifying models of privatisation under the guise of “efficiency” and “effectiveness”, however, completely to the disadvantage of students, employers and communities.

We’ve known for a long, long time that the Privatised VET System doesn’t work. Fix it comprehensively – stop tinkering at the edges.

Band-Aid-Vectors-1

 

It only took 20 years for the realisation, that history in education had shown that privatisation of vocational education and training would be a disaster. It has been -unequivocally.

Unfortunately, we still see only the tip of the iceberg and corporate speak to try and suggest otherwise. $6 billion in rorts is not a drop in the ocean what ever number of RTOs were involved in the rorts. And, even more importantly, the often forgotten thousands of students who have had qualifications cancelled, left with incomplete courses and, the salt to the wound, the public VET Provider TAFE being directed to fix up the mess caused by certain private RTOS and take on duped students, without recognition.

Even the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) has only recently introduced a Code of Ethics for their member Private RTOs; they say Private RTOs will be independently assessed by ACPET for quality and ethics, 20 years after the System began. No conflict of interest here? Given ACPET hasn’t done anything in this regard since its inception, what has been happening before now? Why should ACPET be trusted now? The organisation name is a misnomer – it has publicly proven that it is a “Council for Private RTOs”, not “private education and training” which includes students and trainers.

There will be no national effective “moving forward” until an educationally-based framework is adopted and the Business/Industry-led VET System framework is totally replaced.

I have consistently been drawing these very issues, and much more, to public view and also to Government Ministers both Federal and State. Interestingly, the only ridicule and trolling emanates mostly from Private RTOs directors and self-professed “business people”. That tells my colleagues and I something. It doesn’t take Einstein to realise that a Private RTO relying totally on Government Subsidies to function is not a “business” at all – it is a quasi-Government Agency relying on public handouts. And the ridicule and trolling hardly demonstrates a cohort that understands its “business”, “clients” and “professionalism”. To me, it demonstrates a cohort that is anxious, insecure in its “business” environment and lacking the necessary networks and cooperation that could actually help them.

For those who still want to ridicule and troll the many people that have exposed the educationally unsound framework of the current Industry-led VET System, I draw your attention to an article that highlights what well regarded Business leaders think about the Privatised VET System of the last 20 years, including:

  • Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA)  believes a shift away from VET’s current training packages is needed to broaden skills taught. Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell agrees.
  • It’s run by the trainers for the trainers
  • There is no consideration for the people they are training.
  • Each region is different and has different requirements, and the governments need to recognise that. Courses offered need to be appropriate for the region, and that’s not necessarily how the current system works.
  • Another primary recommendation is to broaden the skills provided by VET courses to provide better skills that are “transferable across occupational clusters”, with CEDA criticising the current courses as being “restrictive.”

Please see: “VET sector a “disgrace” and in need of comprehensive review, say business leaders” – DOMINIC POWELL / Monday, August 29 2016 – SmartCompany. http://bit.ly/2bSlfRj

I also invite the same people to review my comprehensive analysis of almost all aspects of the current VET System and note the similarity of the content. This puts to paid that I don’t support business, etc. Business itself recognises the current VET System is a disaster since its privatisation and lack of educationalist input: “How to successfully design and implement a Vocational Education and Training (VET) System that works” http://bit.ly/1YWwUgu

Still doubt my position, research synthesis, assessment and analyses? Here is another recent analysis by a respected vocational education and training practitioner: “The failure of privatisation and the case for a fully public TAFE system” http://bit.ly/2bRP19v

Conclusion

  • While VET is industry- led, and considered a “business” there will be negligible moving forward in any national educational sense.
  • While education and training is considered a product- there will be little moving forward in any national educational sense.
  • While students are considered inputs – there will be little moving forward in any national educational sense.

We have known in the past, and know now, from up-to-date vocational and training theory and practice, what will benefit students, trainers, employers and the Nation, rather than only the public purse profiteers with no more than a Cert IV level understanding of “training and education”.

How to fix Voc. Ed. & Training comprehensively – Issue Eight

(C) Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE, http://www.headstogether.com.au

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Agree on a New Vocationalism and a New System Model

 

Old Vocationalism is that which is orientated towards the expressed needs of graduate employers/’industry’. It typically involves listening to employers/industry “wants” – what they want most to see in new graduates and then making room for that in the curriculum.

At the heart of the Old Vocationalism is the development of employability skills

A New Vocationalism approach to graduate employability should be focused on the capacity and disposition of graduates to learn thereby differentiating it from the ‘old vocationalism’ of specific workforce skills.

Change the name of the VET System

 

The VET “brand”  (internationally the acronym alludes to “animals” and “war veterans”) is tarnished irreparably ever since it was privatised, commodified and marketised. Voc. Ed. and Training is not a business. Students are not products. Profiteering from public funds and unethical business practices is amoral.

Perhaps change the System name to VTE (Vocational Training and Education) or something else to avoid misleading and confusing acronym.

Remove and replace the open market, privatisation, marketisation and commodification model and return to the original community service model based on evidence-based vocational education and training theories and practices. (e.g., the Mechanics Institutes, Technical Schools and TAFE).

Community service model of vocational education and training

 

A so called “open market” puts the needs of companies above the needs of consumers. However, the lack of ideal conditions makes the open market mechanism ineffective. The perfect conditions required are possible only in theory not in practice.

A community service delivery model relates to the range of services the System might deliver to the community and how things are organised to deliver those services to the benefit of most, not a few.

The current laser focus on profits and profiteering is threatening the very underpinnings and viability of voc. ed. and training in Australia. Fortunately, not everyone ascribes to the winner takes all philosophy. Germany, for example, has taken a much more circumspect approach. Over the last 25 years, the social market economy has offered a genuine alternative to the Anglo-centric infatuation with neo-liberalisation.

Reunification provided Germany with a real-life experiment in the balancing of social and economic goals; and Enquete Commission’s study on growth, prosperity and quality of life provides a genuine desire to engage in alternative visions of social progress. See: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40309-014-0058-1

What is fast emerging is the alternative to neoliberalism called a commons based economy. This encompasses peer to peer, social sharing, collaborative consumption, commons, and economic democracy. These are all terms that cover economic activity that moves beyond the “market and the state”, based on co-operation and harnessing human creativity.

The commons economy moves us beyond commodification, marketisation and privatisation. Goods are produced because they are useful and beautiful, not just to generate cash for a few.

Capitalism is known  to generate artificial scarcity – through propaganda, marketing and commodification – to keep everyone insecure, working hard for dubious future gains and over-consuming to benefit a few. That is a standard technique of neoliberalism and capitalism – e.g., defund and make TAFE (public education) unworkable and hand it over to the profiteering, commodifying models of privatisation under the guise of “efficiency” and “effectiveness”, however, completely to the disadvantage of students, employers and communities.

privatisation