Updated version, originally published as Really reforming VET – February 2015
Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne and attributed authors as noted.
For Private individual use. All rights reserved.
How do we reform a vocational education and training system? The evidence, rather than political spin and individual subjective opinion, suggests:
1. Fundamental changes urgently required at multiple levels
There needs to be changes at multiple levels, it is irresponsible to simply shift responsibility resting with RTOs to ASQA and allow RTOs to pretend that there is no major, systemic problem.
2. Adopt a multi-disciplinary, evidence-based approach
*Dump self-professed, subjective VET experts (especially those with conflicts of interest), and adopt a multi-disciplinary, evidence-based approach. No-one knows everything.
3. Change the policy development context
* The Australian public policy context tends to address social issues through government policies rather than collective action and business involvement. Where social issues are managed by governments, business involvement in community development is allowed in codified form and enforced through mandatory legislated provisions. The wisdom of the community always exceeds the knowledge of the experts http://tinyurl.com/kbx5e3h, http://tinyurl.com/k8sumyp
4. Responsible business community role
* 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. http://tinyurl.com/kju6wqy, http://tinyurl.com/ps8mgf4,
5. Agreed definition of “industry”
* Determine and Apply an agreed System-wide definition/conception of “industry”, however, consider all of the beneficiaries and stakeholders – not just industry.http://tinyurl.com/mkyatnt
6. Definition of VET consistent with international view
7. Better and all encompassing engagement and thinking
* Lift the standard of opinion, comment and debate in the VET System by engaging with all stakeholders and beneficiaries (e.g., trainees, trainers/educationists) – not just “industry”. http://tinyurl.com/qzgpc32, http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g,
8. Collaborative – led VET System
* Establish a Collaborative-led VTE System – including ways to determine and predict as best as possible, what employment opportunities exist post training, not just market-determined spin and propaganda http://tinyurl.com/ntx4lst,http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g
* With a Chief VTE Educationist (not ombudsman) to start drawing the current factions together. http://tinyurl.com/lbrevhd
9. Change the name
* Drop the VET (“animals“, “war veterans“) “brand” – change it to VTE (or something else to avoid misleading and confusing acronyms)
10. Drop the privatisation and marketisation model
* Drop the marketing model for education and return to a community service model. A service delivery model relates to the range of services the VTE System might deliver to the community and how things are organised to deliver those services.http://tinyurl.com/p44w4tk, http://tinyurl.com/onovyn8
11. Level playing field funding model
* Take into account the different training and education needs of rural and metropolitan contexts. Increasingly local /regional relationships based on partnership and collaboration are central elements in VET program planning and delivery. Social policy objectives remain important elements in VET provision.http://tinyurl.com/k3um6j2
12. Drop the corporatised/industry model of management
13. Stop funding free enterprise profits with public monies.
* Stop funding free enterprise profits with public monies. http://tinyurl.com/mshbwss
* Determine and adopt funding models that take into account Private and Public RTOs Legislative responsibilities – not one-size-fits-all. http://tinyurl.com/k3um6j2
14. Require Private RTOs to be not-for-profit organisations and utilise the existing Laws, Standards, Financial Auditing, etc. that apply to not-for-profit incorporated associations. By Law, any (modest) surplus/profit must be put back into the organisation, not the pockets of Directors. http://tinyurl.com/mshbwss
15. Review and implement VET-Fee Help to protect learners/trainees from public debt not agreed to.
16. Reduce the number of Private RTOs
Reduce the number of Private RTOs – Allow each provider to develop its own qualifications and require them to be accredited by a qualifications authority. This is the model used in higher education to accredit qualifications offered by non-self accrediting higher education institutions. This will quickly reduce the number of VET providers by a couple of thousand. Only providers that are serious and have the necessary resources and capacity would develop their own qualifications. It would create a system in qualifications, rather than a market for the price charged for qualifications, which only drives down fees and quality.
17. Utilise and adapt existing structures for provision of VET
* Consider using existing Statewide and Nationwide community assets and organisations, such as Neighbourhood Houses (not-for-profit organisations), as accredited and funded as RTOs as “the norm” for delivering a range of locally relevant (not just market-led) VET courses – e.g., Aged Care in Upper Yarra Valley with e-learning innovation – http://tinyurl.com/krero3j, http://tinyurl.com/lljds5b
* Transition and recurrent funding to ensure Neighbourhood Houses can easily meet ASQA Standards
* Develop shared roles, such as Compliance Managers, for groups of Neighbourhood Houses to reduce duplication of costs and ensure consistency
*Actively fund collaborative ventures between Neighbourhood Houses and Institutes of TAFE
18. Drop Training Packages (including Train the Trainer)
* The significance of both behavioural psychology and systems theory
for the development of Competency Based Training is explicitly acknowledged 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.
* Replace Training Packages with Capabilities Frameowrks (or something else that reduces the bureaucratic and administrative load so documentation can be kept up to date) to achieve broader transferable outcomes for trainers/learners/trainershttp://tinyurl.com/k2yu6gr, http://tinyurl.com/ltkb23g, http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g,
19. Do not implement contestable models maintenance
* Do not tender for development of “Competencies/Capabilities” development and maintenance – involve highly skilled people, including educationists, broad networks of VET System stakeholders/beneficiaries and direct consultation, not just invitations to comment or complete a survey. http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g
20. Reduce the number of qualifications
* Reduce the number of qualifications. There are too many, too specialised (narrow) courses with low enrolments.
21. Drop under-pinning knowledge
* accept and implement a balance of theory and experience – ‘real’ knowledge not “under-pinning knowledge” (interpreted as not directly to be taught).
* Get over the “Theory” versus “Experience” argument. Both are needed.http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g
22. Recognise that Education and VET are expertise in their own right
* Get over the “Academic” versus “Practitioner” argument. Both are needed.
* Recognition by all that “education” is an expertise in itself.
* Recognition by all that “vocational education and training” is an expertise in itself.
* Dump the TAE Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training – Educate and Train VTE Trainers beyond the current minimum compliance level – they must be educationists with knowledge and expertise in education, training and assessment concepts and practice. http://tinyurl.com/qgpq3sq, http://tinyurl.com/qgpq3sq,http://tinyurl.com/lvg5wja, http://tinyurl.com/pp3xvuk, http://tinyurl.com/kavb5gp,http://tinyurl.com/n7eulzl, http://tinyurl.com/mzef4hc, http://tinyurl.com/mbk7m4g
23. Quality in VET
Only when there is some consistency, and some agreement about conceptions of quality in VET, can we expect quality assurance mechanisms to be truly effective.http://tinyurl.com/mfd72rw