Five guidelines that some Registered Training Organisation Managers seem to forget


copyright-symbols-and-rules-you-need-to-know-04 2015

Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne and attributed authors as noted.

For Private individual use. All rights reserved.


I have spent some six months attempting to engage with Private RTO managers, in particular, via their existing LinkedIn groups.

It is a sad reflection on many of the LinkedIn group moderators and members that rather than than adopt adult dialogue methods, that I might expect from business people, I was publicly called names, defamed, accused of ‘showing off’, called a very (very) poor communicator, accused of not suggesting but lecturing, and Blocked out right by some groups on the pretext of Spam or ‘too many comments/Posts’.

The common outcome – avoidance by those commenting to engaging with the apparently confronting content.

Not to forget the assumptions made about my views on Private VET Providers and Institutes of TAFE.

It made me, and others, question what the purposes of the ‘professional’ RTO LinkedIn groups are.

Given that Government Policy Officers and other vocational education and training agents belong to such groups (it is just a matter of looking at the membership lists), not to mention anonymous members who could be MPs or Senior Government Managers, it is an extraordinary revelation to me that so-called professional RTO LinkedIn groups would portray themselves in such a negative public way.

It is no loss to me to be called names and to be removed from so-called professional RTO groups, though my lawyer was clearly concerned about the public defamation aspects which he now has on file. However, to me it is remarkable that many RTO ‘professionals’ could not engage in dialogue about matters concerning what their organisations do – vocational education and training. Perhaps even worse, are the self professed VET experts who clearly do not have in-depth knowledge or skill, however, try to portray that they do – mainly I see it as ‘business spin’. Conceptual understanding is very low despite the ‘right words’ being used.

What is more, there seems to be a generalised view that somehow the vocational education and training system has no basis in education theory, intellectual discussion or academia. It begs the question, “What do RTO Managers think forms the basic framework of vocational education and training?” and “Why is there such resistance to obtaining specialised advice and support from educationists?” – i.e., people educated and practised well beyond the minimum (largely criticised) TAE Certificate IV in Assessment and Training, who stay up to date with developments in Education and Training overall.

The emphasis in the VET System has been hugely influenced by the behaviourist model of learning, which is the theoretical framework of Competency Based Training. It completely overlooks cognitivist (how the brain actually learns, remembers, etc.) and constructivist (experience and reflection) philosophies of learning and education, to the overall detriment of VET learners and trainees.

Behaviorism was a movement in psychology and philosophy (1920s t0 1950) that emphasised the outward behavioural aspects of learning (observation of something being done) and dismissed the inward experiential, and sometimes the inner procedural, aspects as well.

Cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition (thinking, knowing, memory).

Constructivism is a theoretical framework based on observation and scientific study — about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.

It became evident from reactions to my Posts that many RTO managers had no idea about vocational education and training and the importance of both Cognitivism (how the brain actually learns, remembers, etc.) and Constructionism (experience and reflection) in what they are managing.

Five Guidelines

I offer the following five guidelines to RTO Managers to help address the compounding problem in the VET System. Others may wish to add more.

1. Run the business – Managers must handle many specific tasks, mostly related to personnel actions and financial transactions, to keep the business functioning. They need to make decisions daily about the correct way to do things and to keep the team functioning. It does matter how well your business performs and how it syncs with the VET System overall.

2. Walking the walk. Valuable ‘book knowledge’ goes part way in educating RTO Managers about the actual workings of the business. It is, however, imperative that RTO Managers be required to have education and training practitioner experience. They should conduct their own field studies – get in the trenches with their staff (trainers) and business customers (learners/trainees). Another form of field study is for RTO Managers to participate in the meetings and conferences their trainers attend. In doing so, RTO Managers broaden their business knowledge and expertise.

These activities serve a dual purpose: They equip RTO Managers with the necessary knowledge about their business, and they demonstrate to trainers and trainees the degree of the RTO’s commitment when it comes to creating the best opportunities and outcomes.

3. The company RTO Managers keep. RTO Managers must take the time to understand how their organisations conduct business. RTO Managers should assign themselves with mentor roles from the staff who can educate him or her about the business. Such guidance helps the RTO Manager learn the inner workings of the business and how to manage in its political environment. I also recommend holding an open forum every three months in which the RTO Manager and business stakeholders, e.g.., trainers, trainees, industry reps, unions, employers, discuss what can be improved to create value overall.

4. A reading list for RTO Managers. No-one knows everything. However, if all that RTO Managers read are business publications and narrow focused LinkedIn groups, the richness and importance of the provision of vocational education and training gets lost. RTO Managers may tend to read technical business books and magazines without understanding or keeping up to date with vocational education and training. A simple way to share knowledge about vocational education and training issues is to set up an article exchange program among RTO Managers and their business users. It would also be innovative to deliberately include educationists in RTO professional LinkedIn Groups to broaden the dialogue beyond RTO business technique.

5. Be honest and civil.

Suggested additions received:

6. Talk to your customers every day (from Gayle Newnham)

Go forth – mingle and engage outside your comfort zone.


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