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

(C) Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne, FAIM, MACE,

For Private individual use and comment.


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.

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”

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.


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


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