Putting ‘Education’ back into Vocational Education and Training

experience

1. Educationists have been excluded from the industry led VET system since its inception. VET is totally an Industry-led System – however, no-one has been able to explain what “industry” is. That is a mistake. Who represents the “vocational education and training “industry”?

2. The latest iteration of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment trains for skills in system compliance but that is about all. VET is an “Industry-led System” therefore “Industry” gets what it accepts.

3. Educationists need to be welcomed into contributing to the “topics” in the VET System” and the  knowledge

I contend that some of the quality and other issues in the Australian VET System could be addressed by putting ‘education’ back into Vocational Education and Training.

The emphasis has been too swayed towards the existing workplace and the short-term needs of employers that distort broader educational and economic goals.

Guided reading and extracts (sources noted in text).

1. Education

Industry led “Competency-based Training BT is tied to the existing workplace and it does not provide students with access to the disciplinary systems of meaning that underpin vocational practice. Instead it provides students with access to contextually specific elements of theoretical knowledge, which can limit students’ capacity to use knowledge in novel contexts. Government and its educational systems must equip the whole population for rapid social, economic, cultural and technological change, and this goes beyond training for specific jobs.”

“The implications for VET policy are that it needs to move from a focus on products (such as training packages and assessment materials) to a focus on processes (brokering standards, accreditation and assessment). The conceptual basis of qualifications will need to move from training people for specific workplace tasks and roles to a focus on the person and their development in preparing them for a broad occupational field.” http://tinyurl.com/km65vdp

2. VET Trainers

A recent quote from a VET practitioner, ” I believe that the “dodgy” RTO’s interpretation of competence and the regulator’s inability to recognise this is what is wrong with VET”

In Germany, a major strength of that dual system is the high degree of engagement and ownership on the part of employers and other social partners. But the system is also characterised by an intricate web of checks and balances at the national, state, municipal, and company levels that ensures that the short-term needs of employers do not distort broader educational and economic goals.” http://tinyurl.com/kft5pvt

One main difference between Germany [and the UK] is that in Germany, enterprises pay for education and accept government regulations of in-house training programs. If a German company decides to take on trainees – which no employer is obliged to do – it offers to take on the costs for education. But the company is then obliged to implement training regulations that, in the end, are formally legalised by federal government decree.  http://tinyurl.com/mdsk8n8

Improving VET is intrinsically linked with the quality of teachers. Various patterns are emerging within the different national improvement strategies. First, a much greater emphasis is being placed on improving the quality of vocational teachers rather than workplace instructors; only in countries with a ‘dual system’ serious steps are being made to upgrade the qualifications of the latter.

In England and Scotland, the focus on workplace ‘trainers’ is limited to their (students’ performance) assessment role. Second, general subject teachers in vocational schools are typically better qualified than vocational subject teachers (the dual system-based countries are again exceptions here). Most countries are trying to standardise qualifications and limit the traditional regional differences (like in Italy and Spain). http://tinyurl.com/lepbqqv

Vocational education and training in Germany is deeply embedded and widely respected in German society. The system offers qualifications in a broad spectrum of professions and flexibly adapts to the changing needs of the labour market.

3. Education

…VET must prepare students for a broad occupation within loosely defined vocational streams rather than workplace tasks and roles associated with particular jobs – Buchanan 2006

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, said in 1949, (http://tinyurl.com/k2bh8cw) “It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.”

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society.

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

4. Educationist

Frank T. Whilhems said in 1959 [http://tinyurl.com/n9ld7tx], “Up to a couple of years ago, I rebelled emotionally against the term “educationist”. The very word had a made-up sound to my ears. And the fact that so much of the time it was (and still is) used as a dirty word didn’t help.”

…I came to see that there really is a need for some such term to designate those who train themselves for a career applying systematic thought and the whole matter of educating human beings.

Most educationists can be called teachers too, or educators; but their job identification may be as supervisors or administrators or college professors. Yet not all who wear these titles are educationists.

For there is something distinctive about the life-long student of learning and teaching – the scholar whose discipline is education. ….[I]t seems fairly obvious that much of the antagonism against [educationists] stems from a yearning for a return to privilege and from a scarce-hidden contempt of the masses. Much that has been thrown at [educationists] is mere scapegoating, a refusal to face our country’s problems entire and a search for the cheap panacea.

Most of the time … educationists have shown far greater than average personal maturity . [Educationists] concern for true educational opportunity has deep roots to hold [them] steady.

Educationists have become important because they have built so well. They will continue to grow in importance in just the degree that they continue to believe in people.

5. Vocational Education and Training System – Australia

Educationists views have been excluded from the so-called industry-led VET system since its inception. My direct experience of educationist involvement in development of Training Packages was that they were to serve a moderation/facilitation role in DACUM/Focus groups to help manage the various “warring” industry positions about what should be included or not included in Training Packages.

On occasion, it was possible to act as devil’s advocate and make proposals to perhaps broaden the knowledge base beyond the immediate needs of the workforce to a consideration of what trainees needed, but in the end, what industry wanted was included.

And industry views tend to be what was needed in the workforce at the time not a consideration of the needs of trainees.

That is why I believe the Training Package model for VET is flawed.

learning

How extraordinary. “Education” is in the Australian VET System title and not an educationist to be found. The latest iteration of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment trains for skills in VET system compliance but that is about all. We are told VET is an Industry-led System so industry is getting what it accepts. It is easy to see how the emphasis has been swayed towards the existing workplace and the short-term needs of employers that distort broader educational and economic goals. A recent quote to me from a practitioner, ” I believe that the “dodgy” RTO’s interpretation of competence and the regulator’s inability to recognise this – is what is wrong with VET”

6. Vocational Education and Training System – Germany

Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training (VET) has been a major factor in Germany’s economic success and inventiveness over the past six decades. The holistic approach, its high quality, and first-class reputation have made the German dual system itself an export success, too. ” Content and training methods are largely jointly determined by the industry and training colleges to reflect current vocational practice and ensure a successful mix of theory and practice. http://tinyurl.com/phfrre9

Vocational education and training in Germany is deeply embedded and widely respected in German society. The system offers qualifications in a broad spectrum of professions and flexibly adapts to the changing needs of the labour market.In Germany, a major strength of that dual system is the high degree of engagement and ownership on the part of employers and other social partners. But the system is also characterised by an intricate web of checks and balances at the national, state, municipal, and company levels that ensures that the short-term needs of employers do not distort broader educational and economic goals.  http://tinyurl.com/kft5pvt

…in Germany, enterprises pay for education and accept government regulations of in-house training programs. If a German company decides to take on trainees – which no employer is obliged to do – it offers to take on the costs for education. But the company is then obliged to implement training regulations that, in the end, are formally legalised by federal government decree. http://tinyurl.com/mdsk8n8

European guiding principles on professional development of trainers in vocational education and training:

Trainers are lifelong learners: recognise their identity and work; support their lifelong learning.

  • Companies’ support is crucial for trainers’ CPD: raise awareness of benefits and get companies on board in supporting training and trainers.
  • Trainers’ competence development benefits from a systematic approach: define what trainers need, provide training and learning opportunities, recognise competences.
  • Supporting trainers in companies is a shared responsibility: ensure effective cooperation and coordination.
  • Competent trainers in companies matter: make them part of a broader agenda and use all available funds and programmes.

The VET system as a whole is well-resourced, combining public and private funding. Germany has maintained strong financial support and maintained the apprenticeship offer for the VET system even during the crisis. Germany has a well-developed and institutionalised VET research capacity, including the Federal Institute for VET, (BIBB), and a national network of research centres that study different aspects of the system to support continuous innovation and improvement in the VET system.

7. Implications for Australian VET policy

1. VET needs to move from a focus on products (such as training packages and assessment materials) to a focus on processes (brokering standards, accreditation and assessment). http://tinyurl.com/km65vdp

2. VET needs to move to capabilities instead of competencies. http://tinyurl.com/km65vdp

3. The conceptual basis of qualifications will need to move from training people for specific workplace tasks and roles to a focus on the person and their development in preparing them for a broad occupational field. http://tinyurl.com/km65vdp

4. The conceptual basis of staffing and workforce needs to move away from the flawed Human Capital Theory

5. VET needs to enable trainees to become efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of their life not just the workforce.

6. As Vocational Education and Training implies, the System needs to include broad education to transmit accumulated knowledge and skills but also the accumulated experience of social living and working.

7. Educationists need to be welcomed into contributing to the “topics” in the VET System” and the  knowledge

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