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Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE, www.headstogether.com.au
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Multi-level thinking required
In the next few years, Training Packages will be the least of Voc. Ed and Training practitioners’ and industry concerns. Training Packages, as they are currently constructed, will continue to become outdated and irrelevant as job roles change, work opportunities alter and technology advances. Many related Australian Voc. Ed. and Training products will be archived as meaningless articles of a bygone era when Voc. Ed. and Training was “industry-led” i.e., product-based, not up-to-the-minute educationally-based.
The continuing “industry-led”; largely status quo, product approach and more band-aid fixes are not going to allow Australia even to aspire to being a world class Voc. Ed. and Training system, let alone actually being one.
Due to the acknowledged close relationship between Voc. Ed. and Training and society, economics and employment, the “interdisciplinary” and “multi-disciplinary” research fields relating to Voc. Ed.and Training should have been expanding day-by-day with Government and private sector assistance, well beyond the current restrictive “industry-led” conceptualisation.
There must be change at multiple levels. It is irresponsible to simply try and shift responsibility resting with RTOs to ASQA and allow RTOs to deny that there is no major, systemic problem that they have contributed to. Being part of the Voc. Ed. and Training System means all RTOS, public and private, share the responsibility. Standing back in a self-righteous way, “I do the right thing”, denies the interconnection of all of the components of a Voc. Ed. and Training System. The “component” most overlooked is the student.
Members, beneficiaries, stakeholders and professional associations of the industry-led Vocational EDUCATION and TRAINING System need to take deep collective responsibility, and the Government policies need to be re-written to reflect that. The current fragmentation of “the System” is a recipe for disaster, as has already been demonstrated in recent times. A direct move away from the free market approach and towards up-to-the minute Voc. Education and Training evidence-based, conceptual frameworks would be a good start.
It is not only about collective membership and ownership of the Voc. Ed. and Training “industry” that members, beneficiaries, stakeholders and professional associations belong to. Policies to improve the Voc. Ed.and Training must focus on building a more comprehensive system that optimises the return to students, rather than RTO directors and Boards, through public and private investment, that then may be reflected in student, business and workforce confidence.
As will be seen in future Posts, it is and has been a huge mistake to think that the privatising of Voc. Ed. and Training and forcing a free trade market model will lead to such student, business and workforce confidence. The evidence was there in history, and history is now repeating.
Reject self-professed, subjective “VET experts”. Especially those with conflicts of interest such as their own profit making or input into the design of the current System. I strongly suggest the adoption of a multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, appropriate, evidence-based approach. The free market, product driven corporatisation model will not provide that appropriate evidence-based approach.
Students are not products as they must actively engage for education and training to be successful. What other “product” does that? Voc. Ed. and Training is not a business, it is a service and community good that might benefit from appropriate business practices in its implementation.
Many employers, lack effective strategies for acquiring and developing skilled workers. They think they do but they lack the educationist insights into capability needs (rather than work-based competency tasks), and often fail to invest in effective training. They do not view the Voc. Ed. and Training System as a continuing resource they could be contributing to for longer term benefits. Rather, it is viewed as a product to obtain in the cheapest way possible, preferably by Government funding. Regrettably, that is a reflection of the current “industry-led” Voc. Ed. and Training System.
Continued: Issue Three