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

(C) Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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

For Private individual use and comment.


VET education-based framework overhaul

Following on from the recent Post, there is a need in voc. ed and training to remove the concept of “under-pinning knowledge” (which is often interpreted as not to be directly taught or assessed) and deliberately include appropriate level theoretical and practical knowledge as a VET program outcome, consistent with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

In an educational rather than a business context, there is a need to determine and implement a balance of theory and experience in VET programs beyond “under-pinning knowledge”. The displacement of theoretical knowledge from Training Packages reinforces the second-class status of VET and contributes to de-professionalising and de-skilling. Note it is possible to own an Registered Training Organisation (RTO) with a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment as the only “education profession” underpinning pre-requisite, or no education professional qualification at all! The emphasis tends to be on other industry and business qualifications.

The preciousness over the “Theory” versus “Experience” argument is immature and flawed. A synthesis of both theory and practice are needed for a rounded education and in particular for trainees to be in a position to change positions with a minimum of retraining. The emphasis on stultifying, work-based Units of Competency and Training Packages is counterproductive for trainers, trainees and employers.

Recognise and use the fact that “Education” and “Vocational Education and Training” are expertise in their own right

The preciousness over “Academic” versus “Practitioner” argument is outdated and flawed. Both are needed. Often it is the practitioner that finds ways to implement the new findings that academic research has discovered. Take for example the theories linked to the combustion engine, as determined by academics using Laws of Physics. Such academic work led to in-depth research on design, materials, etc that could work. Practitioners contributed directly and built the engines. And this process is dynamic, the theory and research continues and leads to further refinements and improvements. Such is the case for vocational education and training.

The tragedy is the lack of educationist input into the current VET System. Somewhere, someone decided that education theory and practice, and particularly vocational education, is not an expertise in itself. Would the same apply in the automotive industry? Would someone decide that engineering theory and practice expertise is not required? For some reason many people decide that education theory and practice is something anyone can just pick up. Perhaps this based on their individual perceptions at school and college/university in their particular field of endeavour.

Education isn’t easy. In fact, in its formal state, it’s probably one of the most complex, challenging things we do in our society, especially now, given the growing diversity of our student body and the greater amounts of information students are expected to know. As Diane Ravitch wrote a few years ago in the Los Angeles Times, “There are no simple solutions, no miracle cures to those problems. Education is a slow, arduous process that requires the work of willing students, dedicated teachers, and supportive families, as well as a coherent curriculum.” LORY HOUGH,

The TAE Certificate IV in Assessment and Training is inadequate and flawed. It is most concerned with compliance in the use of Training Packages and Competency Based training (See: “Absurd limitations of VET Cert. IV & Dip. qualifications for the front-line contact person” rather than excellence in education and training. Voc. ed. and training practitioners must be qualified at least AQF diploma level. They must be educationists in their own right with knowledge and expertise in up-to-date education, training and assessment concepts and practice.

In general, this would include high level content and practice in vocational education andragogy/heutagogy in the education of VET practitioners.

Andragogy is the method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education.

Heutagogy says it is the learner who should be at the centre of their own learning, and hence that ‘learning’ should not be seen as teacher-centric or curriculum-centric, but learner-centric. (1) Since the theory was first launched in 2000 it has become accepted as a practical proposition with its approach being particularly suitable in e-learning environments. Recent (post-2010) research into brain plasticity indicates that the approach can be useful in increasing learning capability.


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