2013 Archive

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Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 in Research

An Australia Council fact sheet tells us how the reading habits of Australians are changing – something of no small interest to teachers and trainers.

A changing story: trends in reading among Australians, based on data collected as part of the Council’s Get Reading! campaign, has good news to share. Despite the gloom sayers, the amount we are reading has stayed the same over the past few years. Most people read at least once a week. More than half the people surveyed read a fiction book in the past month, 37 per cent read a non-fiction book, and 27 per cent read a book to a child.

We’ve all noticed the shift from paper. In 2012, two-thirds of readers read online at least once a week, including articles on websites and blogs. The rise and rise of digital technology for reading is starkly portrayed by a bar chart in the fact sheet which shows 26 per cent Australian readers used portable reading devices in 2012 – up from just 4 per cent in 2009.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 12 December 2013 in Research

The Australian government’s Department of Industry (DoI) has just released the Australian Innovation System Report – 2013 (172 pages). This is the fourth such report – the series was initiated as one response to the 2008 Review of the National Innovation System (aka the Cutler Review). The report ‘demonstrates the importance of innovation and monitors the performance of Australia’s innovation system at the national level. “Performance” is measured by comparing Australia with the performance of other countries around the world.’

Innovation is a devilishly complex process, and hard to define. The report uses this definition:

Innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (goods or service), process, new marketing method or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.

The report elaborates on this a little, just to give us some bearings:

Innovation is fundamentally about market experimentation by business, involving the acceptance or, at least, tolerance of the risk of failure. This acceptance is enabled by recognising that learning will come from these mistakes … The most common [innovation] expenditure categories were acquisition of machinery, equipment or technology and training.

Innovation matters because of its direct bearing on productivity. The report notes that innovation:

… almost doubles the likelihood of productivity growth in Australian businesses. Compared to businesses that don’t innovate, innovative Australian businesses are 78% more likely to report increases in productivity over the previous year. An extension of this analysis shows that collaborative innovation with research organisations triples the likelihood of business productivity growth.

The 2013 report focusses on Australia’s capacity to engage with Asia, and VET professionals might be particularly interested in chapter 3, ‘Skills for innovation and engagement with Asia’.

Among the observations in chapter 3 are these:

·         The skills most used by innovation-active businesses in Australia in 2010-11 were business and project management skills, as well as marketing, financial and trades skills. Innovative Australian businesses were, in fact, more than twice as likely to use business management and marketing skills compared to non-innovators.

·         Innovative businesses are more than three times more likely to increase training for employees than non-innovators. In addition, the propensity of innovation-active firms in Australia to invest in training their employees is second only to their tendency to invest in acquisition of machinery, equipment or technology.

·         Given Australia’s geographical advantage, Australian universities and vocational education and training (VET) institutions are well placed to benefit from the Asian century by making the most of Asia’s booming tertiary education market.

·         85% of 25 to 64 year-old Australians who had attained vocational education were employed in 2010, the second highest level among OECD countries.

Referring specifically to the role of VET in supporting innovation, the report notes:

The VET system is an important vehicle for training technicians, engineers, managers and designers who can bring about high performance workplaces, which are more likely to be innovative. Both flows and stocks of vocational skills are important to process and product improvement as more sophisticated technical skills drive businesses to adopt increasingly complex technologies to complement their stock of skills or vice versa. Many of the business management skills and trade/technician skills required for these mixed mode innovations prevalent in advanced countries come from the development of a large and skilled, vocationally trained workforce. Industries that experience comparatively rapid changes in the knowledge base of their processes and products require more intensive vocational training.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 in E-Learning

Todd Walker is Deputy Vice Chancellor, Learning and Quality at Federation University. A little while back he tweeted:

·         Good article on how Blended Learning is making educators rethink their approach to teaching. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/blended-learning-getting-started-lisa-dabbs

As he often links to good resources (plus lots of news from Federation Uni) we followed the link. He was right. The link led to a post on edutopia – ‘Blended Learning: We Are All New Teachers’, by Lisa Michelle Dabbs. One of the useful things about Lisa’s post is the range of resources she links to – like Catlin Tucker’s blog, Blended Learning and Technology in the Classroom. We also came across the Research Agenda of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, dated October 2013– many of the items on this agenda will ring true for VET teachers and trainers:

·         research is needed to identify the most effective learning environments for different groups of students, with different characteristics

·         research for understanding what change management practices are most effective when implementing breakthrough models in K-12 blended and online learning

·         there is a need for research in the area of instructional design when it comes to discovering the promising practices for designing courses for student learning

·         research is needed on the type and frequency of assessments that are most promising for competency-based learning.

So thanks to Todd Walker for an unexpected blended learning journey. Todd’s Twitter handle is @DVC_LQ. Worth a follow.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 in Research

In May 2013 the National Centre for Vocational Educational Research conducted the Survey of Employer Use and Views of the VET System.

The analysis of data collected from the 2013 survey uses an improved methodology which has been applied to survey data from 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. This means that the data presented in the 2013 survey can be reliably compared with earlier data.

Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2013 (24 pages) covers a lot of territory. For example, the report provides information about the kinds of training choices employers make, their satisfaction with different kinds of training, how proficient employees are at their jobs and the effects of low proficiency.

The report also breaks down the data over time for each state and territory, by employer size, and by industry sector. These variations are important as they tell a more complete story than the rolled up statistics for Australia as a whole. The survey found that 83.1% of employers are satisfied that nationally recognised training provides employees with the required skills – this is down 6.1 percentage points from 2011. But a deeper look yields more interesting findings. Take satisfaction levels of employers with apprentices/trainees in three states:


Year – %












Some survey findings for Australia as whole:

·         65.2% of employers believe all their employees are fully proficient at their job

·         51.9% of employers used the VET system to meet their training needs, a decrease of 4.2 percentage points from 2011

·         47.5% of employers used unaccredited training, similar to 2011

·         12.4% of employers provided no training to their employees, up 3.1 percentage points from 2011

·         26.9% of employers have apprentices and trainees, down 3.5 percentage points from 2011.

Lots of food for thought.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 in VET Conferences

Date:     11-12 February 2014, and post-Congress workshops on 13 February

Venue:  Rydges Melbourne

Theme: Now is the time to look back – unravel the present – and see what lies ahead

eLearning Industry Association of Victoria and Ark Group Australia are organising the Eighth Annual eLearning Congress. The Congress concentrates on elearning in a business context and will range over topics like:

·         2014: Where are we now? The changing face of eLearning

·         Activity Based Working

·         eLearning & Compliance Training

·         eLearning as a ‘solution’ in capability development & speed to competency

·         Enhanced Blended Learning Strategies

·         From concept to product – McDonald’s shares how to design training with short shelf life

·         Multi-Device eLearning

·         Next generation Retail Induction Experience

·         PwC & Gamification

·         Quality control and evaluation – an end to end approach

·         Recognising your business goals to effectively tailor your learning strategy

·         The 70/20/10 principles that make coaching integrated and measurable The

·         SME/Business Partner dynamic

Organisations contributing to the Congress program include:

·         Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

·         Charles Sturt University

·         Lend Lease

·         McDonald’s Australia

·         NSW Department of Education and Communities

·         PwC

·         Telstra

·         Wesfarmers Insurance

There are two post-Congress workshops:

·         ‘Change happens. Be ready.’ The workshop will examine ways to make eLearning content easier to adapt, reuse, repurpose, maintain, contextualise, localise and improve.

·         ‘Choosing eLearning? Quality Matters.’ The workshop will step through the key decision points for implementing or expanding eLearning so that quality is not compromised.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 09 December 2013 in E-Learning

In early  November the Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Peter Hall, launched the Technology Enabled Learning Centre (TELC) network in Gippsland.  GippsTAFE explains how technology brings opportunities for regional students.

In mid-November, Hunter TAFE honoured long serving staff members who have been an essential ingredient to Hunter TAFE success.

AgriFood Skills Australia reports that a landmark pilot has delivered full time employment for first graduates on the Eyre Peninsula.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 06 December 2013 in VET Conferences

In quick smart time, TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) has issued papers from its annual conference held in September 2013. Named after the conference theme, TAFE Redefined(200 pages) is chocabloc with papers from the pre-conference workshops and the conference proper.

You can read about:

·         ‘The development of Higher VET in China: the current situation, priorities and possible areas to cooperate’, by Professor Liu Yufeng from China’s Ministry of Education

·         ‘Establishing standards and benchmarks for critical workplace skills: An international perspective’, by Steven B Robbins, Director, Research Innovations, Educational Testing Service

·         ‘How can TAFE prepare for the explosion of MOOCs?’, by Susan Hartigan, Director of Western Sydney Institute

·         ‘Indigenous workers and learners’, by Robert Ah Wing, Director, School of Indigenous Australian People, Southbank Institute of Technology

·         ‘Redefining the relationship of technical and further education providers with industry’, by Innes Willox, CEO of the Australian Industry Group

·         ‘Green Growth: Realising a transformational economy through enterprise, innovation and education’, by Andrew Petersen, CEO of Sustainable Business Australia

·         ‘How do we increase the number of women training towards career progression in non-traditional industries?’, by Sam Sheppard OAM, Director, Buildmore Building Solutions Group.

Papers from earlier TDA conferences are also available:

·         2011 conference – Balancing the Big Issues

·         2012 conference – East Meets West


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 in Research

The Parliamentary Library is a consistently wonderful resource on all manner of things. In the last few weeks the Library has produced a couple of items that are as useful for educators as they are for MPs and Senators.

Measures of student achievement: a quick guide provides accessible overviews of the six important measures of student achievement:

·         Australian Early Development Index (AEDI)

·         National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

·         Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR)

·         Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

·         Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and

·         Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS).


Posted  Monday, 02 December 2013

But what kinds of questions have the biggest influence on student learning?

The Washington University Teaching Center has a handy webpage on Asking Questions to Improve Learning. It covers general strategies for asking questions and responding effectively.

Open questions are powerful teaching tools. The webpage cites twelve teaching objectives for asking open questions, and offers sample questions to illustrate the point.

Questioning strategies are also linked to Bloom’s Taxonomy.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 in VET Reforms

In October, the Western Australian Minister for Training and Workforce Development, Hon Terry Redman, announced a review of the state’s VET sector.

The review will be chaired by Emeritus Professor Margaret Seares, who has an extensive background in the arts and education policy and was former Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at The University of Western Australia.

The review’s terms of reference ask for recommendations on:

·         A model for the most appropriate level of autonomy for metropolitan and regional State Training Providers including:

a.    the capacity of State Training Providers to operate in the new purchasing environment of the entitlement model

b.    how to ensure the state’s training needs are best met and that areas of training that are less commercially attractive are still catered for;

·         Strategies to support the growth of regional State Training Providers in a more open market,

·         A framework for streamlined information flows from industry and the VET sector to the Minister.

The review has until 30 April 2014 to submit its report and recommendations to the Minister.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 in Research

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has its own council – the COAG Reform Council review progress on outcome measures that the states and the Commonwealth have collectively agree to pursue. The Reform Council plays a monitoring role and reports its findings.

In late October the Reform Council released Skills in Australia 2012: Five years of performance (83 pages). The report looks at how Australia is travelling against VET targets set in 2008.

The results are mixed over the five year period from 2008-2013. On the upside:

·         workforce qualification levels rose

·         more people completed VET courses at a higher level – we are on track to double the number of Diploma/Advanced Diploma completions by 2020

·         workforce qualification levels also rose for disadvantaged groups, and gaps are closing.

On the downside:

·         job related benefits from training fell

·         we are not on track to halve by 2020 the proportion of working age population without Certificate III qualifications or above – the trend is good but not good enough

·         too many working age Australians have low literacy and numeracy skills.

There is a chapter on international comparisons which may give us pause to think. Among the statistics reported there:

·         in 2011, the proportion of Australian 20-24 year olds who were participating in education was 42.1%, below the OECD average of 44.2% (and the gap is widening)

·         the proportion of Australian 25-64 year olds with tertiary education was 38.3%, above the OECD average of 32.7% – Australia ranked ninth (Canada ranked first at 51.3%).

Reforms like these aren’t easy. We are having some successes and need to keep at it. We are stumbling in places and need to come up with new approaches to meet the targets.

You can download parts of the report on this webpage, where you’ll also find snapshots on the skills targets for each state and territory. From these one page snapshots we read that:

·         65.4% of working age Victorians have or are working towards a non-school qualification – 1.4 percentage points higher than the national average

·         57.9% of working age Tasmanians have or are working towards a non-school qualification – 6.2 percentage points lower than the national average.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 25 November 2013 in Research

The venerable and fearless Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Researchturned 50 last year. Over the decades the Institute’s research has turned over the rocks on economic and social policy. Education policy has frequently figured in its work.

The Institute’s Working Paper number 31 for 2013 is titled Making it real: The benefits of workplace learning in upper-secondary VET courses (33 pages).

The researchers – Cain Polidano and Domenico Tabasso – note that:

… this is the first study to demonstrate the potential benefits of incorporating a short, structured workplace learning component into classroom-based upper-secondary VET courses … [a] short structured workplace learning component (around 15 days on average in a 12 month subject) within classroom-based VET is associated with significant and large improvements in school completion and higher initial rates of full-time employment and wages.

When we make VETiS real, it makes a real difference.

You may be interested in earlier posts about VETiS:

·         VET in Schools – Getting it Right

·         A WA guide for approaching VETiS as a partnership between schools and RTOs.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 18 November 2013 in Research

Helen Smith from RMIT University was awarded an Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Fellowship to investigate approaches to ‘Improving tertiary pathways through cross-sectorial integration of curriculum and pedagogy in associate degrees’. Few of the 80 or so OLT Fellowships since 2004 have looked closely at VET’s role in tertiary education. That puts Associate degrees in Australia: a work in progress (210 pages) in a very select class.

Chapter 3, ‘The policy context’, is actually a great pitstop for history buffs. Tracking the emergence of the associate degrees in Australia takes us back to 1991. Along the way to the Bradley Report, Chapter 3 unpicks some of the dynamics at play in the VET-higher education relationship. By 2011, according to the report, there were 57 tertiary providers offering associated degrees – 5 dual sector universities, 12 TAFE institutes (five offering them jointly with a university partner), 18 universities and 22 private tertiary colleges.

The emphasis is on the associate degree as a pathway, and the fascination is in the exploration of a pedagogy for associate degrees. It’s an approach that values VET and higher education pedagogies equally, and integrates them so that the strengths of each is optimised. As the report has it:

What we find in the associate degree is a mixture of contextual and conceptual knowledge. Arguably the qualification is based on a hybrid form of knowledge which brings theoretical and bounded disciplinary systems of meaning up against occupational knowledge where meaning is derived from situation and application. This presents a new and intriguing challenge for associate degree curriculum designers and accrediting agencies. It raises the question of how competency and disciplinary based knowledge is practiced in combination …

If you are looking for a way of explaining differences and similarities between VET and higher education pedagogies, you’ve found it. Chapters 6 and 7 do this difficult job well. And what of the learners? Smith writes:

The proposal that the associate degree – a higher education award – can contain competency-based learning units and employ competency-based assessment, is bound to be regarded as heretical by those who believe that competency ‘naturally’ belongs in a VET program and in VET institutions … However, as recent research here and in the US shows, the tide is turning and what have appeared to be immutable truths are now looking like outmoded beliefs. RMIT and other dual sector universities have already introduced competency-based VET electives into degree programs (Ballarat/Swinburne 2010), and evaluation has shown that students develop a deeper understanding of theoretical constructs through practical learning and say they feel more ‘work-ready’ on graduation. Students do not seem to be bothered by the combination of what have been regarded as incommensurable approaches to learning. They are more concerned to be learning something of value through whatever modes work for them.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 14 November 2013 in Research

A month or so ago, the OECD released A Bird’s Eye View of Gender Differences in Education in OECD Countries (44 pages). The authors are Angelica Salvi del Pero and Alexandra Bytchkova.

The table of contents is as good a guide as any about what’s in this paper:

·         Gender gaps in student participation and achievements

·         Drivers of improved girls’ education outcomes and boys’ underperformance

·         Gender differences in subject choice in tertiary education

·         Drivers of gender differences in subject preferences

·         Gender differences in the teaching profession.

Too much to blog about in 25 words or less! A small selection of interesting items from the paper:

·         A comparison of the incidence of women among entrants and among graduates in tertiary education suggests that women might also be more likely than men to successfully complete tertiary education in most OECD countries

·         … boys start falling behind before entry into post-secondary education

·         The share of women in computer sciences has actually decreased in the past 10 years in most OECD countries. Only in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Norway was the share of women among graduates in computing sciences higher in 2010 than in 2000 … In most OECD countries the share of women among engineering graduates increased between 2000 and 2010, with an average increase of 5 percentage points in both the OECD and the EU.

·         Gender gaps in reading are larger among under-achieving students, so it’s mainly boys who lack basic reading skills. In mathematics, gender gaps are instead larger among top-performing students, thus girls are underrepresented among high-achieving students in mathematics. Finally, in science there are more girls than boys among under-achieving students and more boys than girls in top-performing students.

·         Women account for 97% of teachers in early childhood education, 83% in primary education, 68% at the lower secondary level, 56% at the upper secondary level and 41% at the tertiary level.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 in Research

The Southern Metropolitan Regional Council of Adult Community and Further Education has just released A Different Journey – Youth in Learn Local Organisations (41 pages, plus appendices).

The research aimed to find out more about the characteristics of young people using a Learn Local Organisation as a place of learning and as a pathway to further learning and employment. The research also investigated the kinds of learning opportunities available to young people, and how the Learn Local Organisation helped young people to access pathways.

The research revealed that about 1500 young people in the local government areas of Bayside, Glen Eira and Kingston access Learn Local programs. That’s a significantly higher number than expected. A Different Journey shows that young people in Learn Local programs are commonly disengaged (or at risk of disengaging) from school and have low levels of numeracy and literacy. The good news is that Learn Locals are providing programs that work – young people are reconnecting to learning and receiving support to establish pathways. It isn’t easy though: resources are stretched to meet the needs of very vulnerable young people. A critical element of success is the maintenance of partnerships with schools, support services and local businesses and the report suggests that the capacity to build stronger and enduring partnerships would improve young people’s outcomes.

The perspectives of educators and young people are the centrepiece of the report. Qualitative data is used to assess the effectiveness of programs. There was a high degree of consistency across focus groups, for example, about factors that contributed to effectiveness, including:

·         the kinds of teaching approaches used and an engaging curriculum

·         a focus on student relationships

·         the culture of the Learn Local and its programs which enables young people to relax and focus on education.

A Different Journey proposes three broad areas for further consideration:

·         resourcing young learners equitably (in the same way as their mainstream school counterparts)

·         developing mutually respectful partnerships to create workable MOUs, data collection, funding models, outcome and pathways tracking, effective referrals and transition support and professional development opportunities and recognition of staff

·         an equitable model of funding for Learn Locals that are engaging and working with our most at risk and complex young people.

A Different Journey was researched and written by Louisa Ellum from BGK Local Learning and Employment Network and Fiona Longmuir from Educational Transformations.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 11 November 2013 in Research

Earlier this year, the VET Development Centre commissioned an independent evaluation of our professional development programs. The evaluation was undertaken by Professor Stephen Billett from Griffith University’s School of Education and Professional Studies, along with his colleagues, Dr Sarojni Choy and Dr Raymond Smith.

We thought we’d share some of the findings with you here.

The objectives of the evaluation were to identify and provide evidence:

·         relating to the benefits to practitioners as a consequence of participating in the VET Development Centre’s Professional Learning Program

·         that there are improvements in their teaching and learning practice as a consequence of attending the Centre’s programs, and

·         of practitioner pathways from the Centre’s programs into further professional learning opportunities, whether accredited or non-accredited.

The data for the evaluation came from a survey completed by 532 participants in Centre programs, supplemented by a small number of individual interviews.

The VET professionals who contributed to the evaluation project tell us that participants in our programs are seeking both professional and personal development – to improve their skills as teachers, managers and support staff, and to build their confidence and their careers.

Evaluations are always a bit of a nail-biter, so it’s affirming for us that those who participated in the survey and interviews reported that, in the words of the evaluation report:

Overwhelmingly, both the survey respondents and the interviewees reported that the Centre’s programs were effective in meeting their particular needs and well-directed towards the kinds of professional issues participants were addressing. The programs were well-delivered and presented, and in venues and with catering that assisted the participants believe they were respected. The programs also provided processes and outcomes that went beyond the specific focuses of their work, and subsequently met participants’ diverse professional development needs and some of their personal goals.

We are also heartened to read that:

… the data suggest the Centre’s programs have generated positive outcomes for the majority of respondents for a range of different goals associated with becoming a VET professional and for sustaining and developing further these capacities within a very dynamic and turbulent field of practice. Again, it is noteworthy that some factors associated with becoming a successful practitioner, developing further and sustaining that practice over time are outside the scope of what can be supported through educational programs. Therefore, this fact strengthens the pattern of very positive acknowledgement of the contributions of these programs.

A good evaluation also gives us things to think about and things to improve on. Professor Billet and his team make a number of recommendations to the Centre, including that the Centre might consider programs that:

·         assist with managing changes occurring in the VET system

·         assist with the promotion and enhancing the status of VET work

·         complement and supplement learning through everyday work individually or through assistance by other workers, for example by integration of the learning into the work contexts of the participants

·         identify and enable a trajectory or pathway into further and higher learning and development opportunities.

There was also a broad recommendation to the Centre to:

… develop means and methods of conducting post program surveys of participants’ transformed occupational practices and accounts of how such transformations may or may not be attributed to their participation in the Centre’s programs.

Over time, we’ll let you know more about how we are responding to these recommendations.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 in Research

Innovation Excellence is a great site to browse around – lots of stimulating material that goes way beyond the education sphere. There’s a good blog and a trove of innovation-related videos.

Innovation Excellence recently put up a page titled 25 Things Successful Educators Do Differently. It’s written with school teachers in mind, but you can see how most of these 25 things apply to teachers in any context. Here’s a list of just a few of the entries:

Successful educators are able to live without immediate feedback

There is nothing worse than sweating over a lesson plan only to have your students walk out of class without so much as a smile or a, “Great job teach!” It’s hard to give 100% and not see immediate results. Teachers who rely on that instant gratification will get burned out and disillusioned. Learning, relationships, and education are a messy endeavor, much like nurturing a garden. It takes time, and some dirt, to grow.

Successful educators know how to take risks

There is a wise saying that reads, “Those who go just a little bit too far are the ones who know just how far one can go.” Risk-taking is a part of the successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.

Successful educators never stop learning

Good teachers find time in their schedule to learn themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a certain subject matter, it also puts you in the position of student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.

Successful educators are masters of their subject

Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching”, you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.

These common teacherly wisdoms are worth reflecting on from time to time.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 21 October 2013 in Research

 ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program recorded a terrific conversation that occurred as part of a forum conducted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

The program is called Youth transitions – the journey from school to work. But think big – the conversation touches on the relative benefits to individuals of VET and higher education, the importance of valuing vocational training, the need for the school system to be a stronger player in VET, and the lack of interaction between the education sectors that creates disconnects for learners.

The participants – who delightfully disagreed with each other on many points – were:

·         Professor John Buchanan – Workplace Research Centre, University of Sydney Business School

·         Dr. Kristy Muir – Associate Professor, Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW

·         Bill Scales – Chancellor, Swinburne University of Technology, member of the Gonski review panel, and member the Bradley review panel

·         Dr. Tom Karmel – (then) Managing Director, National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

It runs for just over 50 minutes – sounds like a long time, but you should know that it ends just when it was getting interesting!

You may like to read a couple of our earlier related posts:

·         VET in Schools – Getting it Right

·         The many pathways of the labour market and educational transitions in Australia.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 in Industry

In June 2013, The Australian Industry Group (AiG) released Apprenticeships: Achieving Excellence (16 pages). This short report covers a lot of ground very sharply. The Key Points are listed on page 5 – they include:

·         Apprenticeships remain an important, highly valued and unique pathway to skilled employment.

·         Employers continue to report high levels of skill shortages for technicians and tradespeople.

·         Australia’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills-related subjects at senior secondary school is unacceptably low which has a negative impact on preparation for and interest in an apprenticeship.

·         There is a need to re-establish a focus on the core relationship between employers and apprentices.

·         A National Apprenticeship Commission is needed to achieve national consistency and address other apprenticeship challenges.

·         Completion rates need to be addressed through measures to support employers and apprentices.

·         There is a need to promote and celebrate the excellence of apprenticeships to create positive attitudes in young people and wider community.

There is a stand-out statistic on page 5 that bears recording here:

The latest available data for 2012 indicates that there were 454,700 apprentices and trainees in-training. In 2011, this represented one in five people, or 20.7% of learners, in the public vocational education and training system.

One in five learners in the public VET system.

On the need for STEM skills, the report notes that:

Increasing STEM and foundation skills in young people can have a flow-on effect to apprenticeships by potentially lifting the number of young people with an interest in and the capacity to undertake an apprenticeship.

There’s a clear message from AiG about the importance of making apprenticeships –employer-apprentice’ centred. The report is direct:

The focus of an apprenticeship is the workplace. This is the core ingredient for trade skills development that makes it much more highly valued than other, often institution-only, pathways.

It’s good to see strong support for promoting excellence in apprenticeships. The report specifically recommends that:

WorldSkills and other programs which showcase apprenticeship achievements need greater prominence so aspiring young people and apprentices see this as a worthy and celebrated vocation and society in general recognises the value of high level technical and trade careers.

You may like to read a couple of our earlier related posts:

·         Employer demand for STEM skills – AiG report

·         Keeping an eye on apprenticeship numbers.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 in Workforce Development

The United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has invested a good deal of effort recently in looking at what factors encourage industry to fund training. In July 2013, the Department released its International Evidence Review on Co-funding for Training (126 pages). The scope of the paper is:

… the actual expenditure by employers to finance training supported in part by public funds. This includes all direct costs incurred by the employer in training new and existing staff, including the fees and payments to external providers and those associated with internal training provision.

It’s a topic that resonates in Australia, so it’s handy to have a paper that has vacuumed up, and analysed, evidence from around the globe. In addition to weighing up the literature, the paper includes detailed case studies on:

·         the Australian Apprenticeship Incentive

·         the Irish Skillnets Training Network

·         the Dutch Payment Reduction for Education programs.

The Executive Summary is to the point. Among the findings and recommendations are these:

·         Institutional and personal factors have a stronger influence than financial incentives on the take-up and completion of training. The uptake of co-funding instruments and employer co-investment in training are particularly influenced by perceptions of the benefits and effectiveness of training.

·         … a perceived focus only on the costs and funding mechanism for training is insufficient. Instead there is a need to place greater emphasis on the benefits of training, and consider the full range of mechanisms to encourage more employers to invest in high quality training for more of their workers.

·         The evidence suggests that employer ‘buy-in’ can be developed over time based on positive experiences and perceptions of training … Involvement of stakeholders, including employer representatives and trade unions at industry or local level, can also help to generate and maintain employer and industry ‘buy-in’. Such support is likely to be particularly important with employers or sectors that have limited experience of training.

·         The complexity of the administrative procedures for accessing funding discourages take-up amongst firms. In particular, instances of discretionary case-by-case assessment of funding applications or requirements to submit formal training plans tend to favour employers that provide training for their employees. Evidence from Australia and Ireland suggests that the engagement of employer networks or group training organisations to act as intermediaries can offset this effect and support smaller firms in particular.

There’s a fascinating table on pages 32-33 that categorises the kinds of co-funding arrangements that are used in countries as diverse as Australia, Finland, Germany, Korea, Japan and the United States.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 14 October 2013 in Research

How is international student mobility shaping up?’ (4 pages) is an OECD overview paper published in July 2013. It analyses data about students studying in countries other than their own – for example, Australian students studying in other countries. The data is for tertiary education, which in OECD-speak means students who are studying Advanced Diplomas or higher qualifications. So the data isn’t a good match for the VET sector. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to dip into this publication quickly just to see how Australia is faring. There are some surprises.

Australia’s share of the international tertiary education market rose to 6% in the period between 2000 and 2011, while the US share fell from 23% to 17%. The paper notes that ‘almost half of all foreign students were enrolled in one of the top five destinations for tertiary studies abroad: the United States, with 17% of all foreign students worldwide followed by the United Kingdom (13%), Australia (6%), Germany (6%) and France (6%).’

International students frequently stay in their country of study – the stay rate is mostly over 20%. The stay rate is more than 30% in Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic and France.

About 13,000 Australian students study abroad, and 96% of them study in OECD countries. There were 4.3 million study abroad students in 2011 and the figure is growing at about 6% each year. The paper notes that in 2011, ‘the largest numbers of foreign students came from China, India and Korea. Asian students represented 53% of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education worldwide.’

How is international student mobility shaping up?’ is number 14 in an OECD series called Education Indicators in Focus. The series provides an overview of how nations compare on a range of education measures. Other titles include:

·         ‘How are girls doing in school – and women doing in employment – around the world?’

·         ‘How is the global talent pool changing?’

·         ‘How well are countries educating young people to the level needed for a job and a living wage?’

·         ‘How difficult is it to move from school to work?’

You may like to read a couple of our earlier posts about international students in Australia:

·         The statistics: International VET students – members of Australia’s VET community (1)

·         Intercultural Teaching: International VET students – members of Australia’s VET community (2).


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 10 October 2013 in Research

Through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), the Victorian government collects and publishes On Track survey data. On Track contacts school leavers within six months of leaving school to see if they are on a path to further education, training or employment. This is a valuable dataset – On Track reports on the Destinations of School Leavers have been published each year since 2003.

On Track‘s main page provides links to a reports that draw on the survey data. In addition to the Destinations of School Leavers reports, at the time of writing you can access reports and data tables for:

·         Longitudinal Survey of school leavers

·         Year 12 completers from 2003 onwards

·         Year 12 completers and early school leaver for every Victorian local government area from 2010 onwards

·         TAFE Study Area reports for the past two years (there are 13 TAFE Study Areas – Ballarat, Bendigo, CBD, Central Gippsland, Eastern, East Gippsland, Geelong, Goulburn Ovens, North West, South East, South West, Sunraysia and Wodonga)

·         Year 12 completers and early school leavers for each of the 31 Local Learning and Employment Network areas.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 in E-Learning

The excellent work of the National VET E-learning Strategy (managed by the Flexible Learning Advisory Group) is on show in a May 2013 report, E-learning’s contribution to workforce development (40 pages), written by Damian Oliver and Garima Verma from the Workplace Research Centre at the Business School, University of Sydney.

As the Executive Summary is quick to make plain in its first paragraph, the report is about the contribution of e-learning to workforce development and productivity.

The report presents findings that emerge from the analysis of interviews with 24 employers, employees, RTOs and industry stakeholders in three sectors currently implementing e-learning strategies: Aged care and community services, renewable energy, and glazing and glass manufacturing.

The report indicates that:

In the experience of workers, managers, trainers and industry stakeholders, e-learning functions best when:

1.    e-learning is integrated into a course design structured around workplace outcomes and which cater to a range of learning approaches

2.    students and workplace sponsors have access to appropriate learning and technical support

3.    e-learning is integrated into the organisation’s strategic approach and culture.

Other notable findings from the report include:

All stakeholders cited significant benefits of e-learning in overcoming geographic barriers to training, and e-learning is especially beneficial compared to block training as it reduces travel time, accommodation expenses and time away from work. In this respect, e-learning especially benefits small workplaces, which are less likely to have the resources for training.

One aged care and community services provider reported that e-learning made staff more confident with paperless systems, sped up paperwork and communication, and freed up time for staff to do substantive work. Similarly, stakeholders in glass and glazing manufacturing report that e-learning tools developed for training are being incorporated into daily practice, with training participants using programs such as calculation apps that assess the weight and handling requirements of glass panels.

The report also explores the features of e-learning that stakeholders believe enhance its effectiveness. The features that make a difference are the training course itself, learning support, IT support, and strategic approaches to workforce development.

The report’s conclusion spots up three key messages from the study:

·         the inherent characteristics of e-learning continue to promote flexibility in delivery, currency of training, and connection to the workplace

·         additionally, deep learning requires an investment of additional resources, particularly for learning design and support. This distinguishes effective e-learning from other examples. The emphasis should be on maximising quality and not minimising cost

·         e-learning has significant opportunities in the future due to expanding internet access and use of mobile technologies.

The National VET E-learning Strategy website houses many resources. Among them are

four excellent case studies on e-assessment which were published in 2011.

You may like to read a couple of our earlier posts about similar topics:

·         Why mobile learning is the future of workplace learning – infographic  

·         Validating assessment online with industry

·         Six technologies that will soon influence the way we teach and learn.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 07 October 2013 in Industry

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) has assembled a range of Industry Snapshots. As AWPA explains, the Snapshots:

·         include labour market and other economic statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to provide a picture of recent growth and current trends within each industry

·         incorporate a section on workforce initiatives, compiled from Industry Skills Council (ISC) e-scans, from information provided from the ISCs and from other research activities. Specialised occupations are also listed for each industry.

Most of the Snapshots run to 13 pages.

It helps to know a little about the four scenarios AWPA has used to support flexible planning. There is a brief outline of the scenarios in each of the Snapshots. A more detailed overview of the scenarios is provided in AWPA’s Scenarios for Australia to 2025(53 pages).


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 03 October 2013 in Research

In July, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) released a discussion paper on Performance indicators in the VET sector. The paper was produced for the National Summit on Data for Quality Improvement in VET, held in April 2013.

It’s worth leafing through just to get a sense of the kinds of RTO quality indicators that are under being investigated. A couple of examples will give you an idea.

Under the heading of efficiency, the indicators that could be used include:

·         qualification completion rate

·         proportion of recognition of prior learning (RPL) granted

·         time taken to complete a course

·         share of cost to employers providing apprenticeships and other types of training

·         private spending by the student on a VET course

·         administrative and support costs per student or FYTE

·         salaries and salary related costs

·         turnover

·         operating expenses

·         operating revenues.

Under the heading of quality of teaching and learning, the indicators that could be used include:

·         student:teacher ratio

·         proportion of trainers with Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE)

·         proportion of trainers with degrees or diplomas in teaching/training

·         level of staff engagement in professional development

·         proportion of delivery subcontracted

·         proportion of VET in schools students who continue in VET post-school

·         the proportion of students enrolled in higher education who receive credit for VET or who were admitted based on previous VET

·         proportion of VET by online delivery

·         proportion of delivery at the workplace

·         proportion of delivery in the classroom

·         proportion of graduates who report that training was relevant

·         extent of collaboration with industry

·         student participation in extracurricular activities.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 in Research

Mind mapping and concept mapping are strategies that many teachers build into their practice. One of their strengths is that they help learners to sort out visually how different ideas and processes relate to each other.

The terms ‘mind mapping’ and ‘concept mapping’ are often used interchangeably. Philippe Boukobza has mapped the differences and similarities on his blog.

There are lots of resources available for mind mapping – and lots of them are free too.

TeachThought has two helpful lists:

·         25 Top Concept-Mapping Tools For Visual Learning

·         10 Ways To Support Learning Styles With Concept Mapping.

Lifehacker offers a rundown on the Five Best Mind Mapping Tools.

Gee, if you’re really keen you could attend the 6th International Conference on Concept Mapping in Brazil in September 2014.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 26 September 2013 in Research

The Australasian Association for Institutional Research (AAIR) is an organisation that brings together people who are responsible for (quoting the website):

… activities involving the collection, analysis and interpretation of information descriptive of an [educational] institution and its activities, including its students and staff, programs, management and operations.

The AAIR Journal is published from time to time and well worth dipping into. The current edition, for example, includes a paper by Sara Booth from the University of Tasmania titled‘Utilising Benchmarking to Inform Decision-Making at the Institutional Level: A Research-Informed Process’. (If you’re interested to read Sarah’s paper, you can download a printer friendly version.)

The paper provides an overview of seven kinds of performance benchmarking:

1.    Sector Benchmarking

2.    Process and Academic Standards Benchmarking

3.    Information Benchmarking

4.    Process and Outcomes-based Benchmarking

5.    Standards Benchmarking

6.    Discipline-Specific Benchmarking

7.    International Institutional Research Benchmarking.

The paper is written from the perspective of a higher education institution. That said, the notions that the paper considers are readily translated for application in VET. In fact, there’s such a lot of common ground between VET and higher education that you wonder why we don’t emphasise that as much as we emphasise the important differences in their missions.

The Australian Council for Educational Research also has a short guide on Benchmarking for continuous improvement. The guide is one of 22 Enhancement Guides that ACER produced to assist universities to extract the greatest value from the data collected via theAustralasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE). AUSSE collects data on ‘the time and effort students devote to educationally purposeful activities, and on students’ perceptions of the quality of other aspects of their university experience.’ In New Zealand, universities, polytechnics and private providers are using AUSSE.

You can download all the AUSSE Enhancement Guides here. They cover topics such as:

·         Enhancement guide for senior managers

·         Enhancement guide for quality assurance staff

·         Enhancement guide for course/program coordinators

·         Enhancement guide for librarians and libraries

·         Developing institution-wide approaches to student engagement

·         Enhancing interactions between students and staff

·         Establishing student expectations

·         Monitoring quality data over time.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 in Research

Pathways are a familiar part of our thinking about transitions. The general sense of what they are and how we need to work with them are part of the furniture. The Productivity Commission has recently released a fascinating report entitled Prevalence of transition pathways in Australia (main report 54 pages). The report shifts the furniture around quite a bit. It catalogues the labour market and educational transitions that people make at different stages in the lifespan. And gosh there are a lot of them.

The report has identified 17 significant transitions across four age groups:

·         youths, aged 15-24

·         young adults, aged 25-39 (2289 individuals)

·         mature adults, aged 40-54 (2354 individuals)

·         seniors, aged 55-64 (1046 individuals).

The analysis was undertaken using data from Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia – good old HILDA. The report gives a detailed explanation of the way the analysis was done that may interest some readers. If that’s not to your taste, skip right on to chapters 3 and 4. It’s just useful to note that individuals are tracked over a 10 year period from 2001 so we get a much richer idea of how frequently people enter a transition period. For many people, it’s the norm rather than the exception.

Chapter 3 breaks down the data by pathway type and age group. There is further data in Appendix C.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 in Research

This is our second post on international VET students. Our first post looked at the numbers. But teaching matters more than numbers of course.

At the 2012 AVETRA conference, Ly Thi Tran from RMIT’s School of Education spoke on ‘The Intercultural Approach to VET Teaching and Learning’ (you can access both thepaper and the slide presentation.) The paper reports on a research project (funded by the Australian Research Council) involving 150 interviews with international onshore students, VET teachers, student coordinators and managers from 25 VET institutes in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. The quotes from students and teachers convey the joy and complexity of learning and teaching in an intercultural context. The slide show lists eight characteristics of the intercultural teaching approach, including:

·         Consciously searching for information related to international students’ home country and workplaces practices

·         Positioning international learners as a resource of knowledge and productive contributors

·         Providing a necessary condition to get local students to take an interest in international students’ home contexts

·         Providing a necessary condition to get local students to take an interest in international students’ home contexts.

The UK’s Higher Education Academy has produced a useful report called Engaging home and international students: A guide for new lecturers (32 pages). Most of what the report covers will resonate with VET teachers and trainers. For example, there’s a section on common issues in small group teaching (page 20). It begins by citing a common experience that teachers encounter, then indicates what kind of cultural influences might be behind the experience, and then offers strategies a teacher can adopt to deal with the cultural issue that is getting in the way of learning.

The characteristics of intercultural teaching find some echoes in an Australian Education International report, Student Voices: Enhancing the experience of international students in Australia (35 pages). The report summarises the views of international students about how things are going inside and outside the classroom. The report’s key findings include:

·         Large proportions of students move through education pathways and there are opportunities for stronger collaboration between providers involved in these pathways.

·         The initial experiences of international students are extremely important, laying the foundation for their success in Australia.

·         Institutions use a variety of different orientation programs, including using later-year international and domestic students as ‘buddies’ for new students.

·         In promoting activities, it is important that the promotion encourages both international and domestic students to participate.

·         Students want work experience – and volunteering is a popular option. Work experience is often about gaining relevant experience and opportunities for social interaction, rather than for the income alone.

Quotes from students in focus groups bring to the fore the social dimension of international education:

·         A domestic VET student said that teachers ‘put us in groups, mix it up … each one of the Australian students is working … in a different group and we’ve all got a couple of international students, we’re a team … Now I’m probably better friends with the [international student] that’s in my classes than anyone else because we have worked together and had that bonding time.’

·         An international VET student said that the institution’s career centre ‘help me how to build a resume, what are the things that you need to add in your resume to build up your good profile and actually it worked for me you know. I got a good job in a good hotel… and … I always thank [the career centre]… because it has really stood me out in the world.’


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 16 September 2013 in Research

International VET students are important members of Australia’s VET community. This is the first of two posts about international VET students. This first post looks at the extent of the VET sector’s engagement with international students based on the numbers. VET professionals may recall the Productivity Commission’s 2011 report about the Vocational Education and Training Workforce. Chapter six of the report, ‘Implications of a changing environment for the VET workforce’ (25 pages), makes particular mention of the international students. Among other things, it’s noted that the presence of international students in our VET community requires a rethinking of practice for teachers, managers, administrators and those providing student support services.

According to Australian Education International data for the 12 months to June 2013, there were 93,180 international students enrolled by Australian VET providers, and another 64,255 enrolled in ELICOS programs. Of the VET-enrolled students, 23.6 per cent are from India, 10.7 per cent from China, 6.9 per cent from South Korea, and 6.6 per cent from Thailand.

Of course, not all those students enrolled in VET are studying in Australia. In early August,Victoria University ran a conference on Victoria and the Asian Century. Dino Bettiol fromNMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) presented to the conference on ‘The role Victoria can play in the provision of vocational education and training in the Asian region and the experiences of NMIT – the opportunities and challenges’. (Slides from Dino’s presentation are available here.) Drawing on 2011 NCVER data, Dino shows that:

·         31 Australian TAFE providers delivered 533 VET courses in 27 countries to 58,516 students

·         12 of the 31 providers were Victorian-based and accounted for 75.3 per cent of total delivery.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 13 September 2013 in VET

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) recently released Cost-benefit analysis and returns from additional investment in Vocational Education and Training (142 pages). TDA commissioned the report from Independent Economics. An Executive Summary (8 pages) is also available.

The report investigates two questions:

·         Are there net economic benefits from increasing investment in VET beyond the 2011 policy settings? If so, how large are these benefits?

·         If there are net benefits, is it better to simply invest in additional VET places, or is it better to also undertake reforms to improve completion rates or the quality of training?

Put another way, would the economy benefit from increased VET funding, and if so, how should increased funding be used?

Among other things, Independent Economics reports that:

·         Significant economic gains are available from investing in additional VET places. These net benefits are generated by graduates, module completers and re-skillers.

·         The large size of these net benefits indicates that, at 2011 policy settings, there is likely to have been under-investment in VET.

·         Policies to improve completion rates or training quality should be evaluated by comparing the net benefits of these policies against spending the same funds on expanding VET in its current form.

The report notes that if increased funding is used to expand the number of VET places, then the overall productivity of the labour force is expected to rise. Higher VET funding is estimated to have different effects for different industries. For example:

·         The manufacturing, construction and transport industries rely heavily on labour with VET qualifications, meaning that it experiences a relatively large boost in its output when VET funding is higher

·         Mining is estimated to receive only a small boost from the additional investment in VET because capital and natural resources have more influence on the industry’s production than labour.

The report also considers whether more funding for VET is better spent in providing more student places or improving the quality of VET teaching. This is an important question which required further analysis – the data isn’t there at the moment to work towards an answer.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 12 September 2013 in Workforce Development

Rob Stowell, Director of Learning Australia recently noted the release of a range of professional development materials for VET Educators.

The materials are located at the Learning Australia website. They are designed to build the professional skills of VET Educators in assessment, teaching and learning.

Each set of materials includes easy to follow instructions and master copies of all handouts needed to conduct highly interactive, engaging and challenging professional development activities for VET Educators.

You are welcome to forward this message and website to colleagues who may be interested in the work of Learning Australia.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 in VET

The here and now demands most of our attention. Working out how to deal with an uncertain future vies for our notice too. Sometimes it’s useful to spend a little time looking at where we’ve come from, and how history influences the here and now, and how it shapes the future.

In August, the Rear Vision on ABC Radio National ran a story titled ‘The Cinderella sector: vocational education and training in Australia’. The full transcript and audio of the program are available here.

In just 30 minutes, the program traverses a hundred years of vocational education and training, concentrating on the period after 1974 when the Kangan Report overhauled our thinking about VET, for the first time crafting the elements of a national system.

The program features the views of:

·         John Dawkins, from 1987 to 1991 the Hawke government’s Minister for Employment, Education and Training, and currently chair of the National Skills Standards Counciland chair of the Australian Qualifications Framework Council

·         Peter Rushbrook, Senior Research Fellow at Singapore’s Institute for Adult Learning

·         Robin Ryan, Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Education at Flinders University, and formerly a South Australian TAFE official

·         Tom Karmel, Managing Director of NCVER.

John Dawkins notes that the evolution of the VET sector continues to follow

… a pattern of not so much moving towards Commonwealth control of the sector but rather developing a national system where the Commonwealth and the states agree to set standards which apply throughout the nation.

Is VET really the Cinderella sector? Robin Ryan responds like this:

In a large way it still is because even though there are thousands and thousands of people enrolled in the sector, far more than universities, primary schools and secondary schools combined, if you just go by student contact hours and courses and so on, it still lacks a status as an equal to the other sectors I think. So yes, the Cinderella sector is still there, but it’s fighting and it’s got attitude.

Anyone interested in more detailed history might want to check in at the NCVER’s webpage, History of VET in Australia: Overview. One of many fascinating resources listed here is a timeline of VET in Australia, from 1969 to now – you might find this version of thetimeline easier to read.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 in VET Reforms

In July, the Business Council of Australia issued its Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity –you are spoiled for choice as you can select from an overview brochure, the full report (192 pages), the recommendations report (32 pages), or a summary (44 pages).

The report steps out nine areas that, in the BCA’s view, need focussed attention if Australia is to stay on a sustainable path to growth and prosperity. The fourth of these areas is ‘Realising the potential of people and workplaces’.

The report makes recommendations that are specific or relevant to the VET sector, including:

Action 4.1

We should ensure that literacy and numeracy deficiencies in school students are addressed early by requiring, as a condition of Commonwealth funding, that state governments ensure primary students meet minimum standards before entering secondary school. We should address deficiencies in literacy, numeracy and other foundation skills in employees by raising the profile of Workplace English Language and Literacy program brokers and other proponents of foundation skills, particularly with small business; by testing foundation skills in schools; and by continuing the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practitioner Scholarships program so as to build the capacity to teach foundation skills.

Action 4.2

Build on Australia’s strength as an education exporter by implementing the recommendations of the International Education Advisory Council. This should focus on:

·         improving quality in education offerings

·         improving the student experience, including student accommodation

·         establishing strong partnerships between Australian educational institutions and those in Asia and other parts of the world.

Action 4.4

State governments should encourage a greater proportion of young people to undertake education and training up until at least Year 12 or the equivalent, by encouraging a broader range of educational pathways and greater specialisation of vocational subject offerings between schools, and greater student choice of schools.

Action 4.7

A priority medium-term agenda for COAG should be to improve the focus of vocational education and training (VET) to:

·         strengthen Commonwealth strategic oversight of VET to be comparable to the oversight of higher education

·         subsidise VET students comparably to higher education students

·         remove gaps and duplication between the Commonwealth and the states to increase education provider autonomy within a rigorous quality framework.

Action 4.8

The Commonwealth and state governments should examine the incentives for education providers to improve the transition of young people into the labour force by:

·         increased use of work-integrated learning such as internships and cadetships

·         increased focus in secondary and tertiary education vocationally oriented courses on employability skills, such as team-work, problem-solving and effective communication.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 in Industry

Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) has recently commenced hosting the Industry Skills Blog.

Contributors to the blog so far include:

·         Gary Cobbledick, Managing Director of Spectra Training, writing on ‘Making Training Relevant to Business’

·         Angela Elson from DEECD’s Higher Education and Skills Group, writing on AWPA’s ICT workforce study

·         Professor Rod McDonald, Managing Director of Ithaca Group, writing about where training fits in business decision making.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 26 August 2013 in E-Learning

In light of ongoing concerns about the consistency of RTO assessment outcomes, the National VET E-learning Strategy commissioned six RTOs ‘to engage industry employers and stakeholders to take part in the validation of assessments through the use of technology’. Industry e-validation of assessment exemplars: Independent review report (29 pages) examines whether engaging employers and stakeholders via e-validation improves consistency.

The six participating RTOs were:

·         Kangan Institute of TAFE (units of competency within the automotive industry, as part of the Certificate III in Automotive Vehicle Body)

·         TAFE NSW – New England Institute (aged care units of competency from the Certificate III in Aged Care)

·         Tasmanian Skills Institute (units of competency from the Certificate III in Children’s Services and Diploma of Children’s Services qualifications)

·         SkillsTech Australia (units of competency within the coal seam gas industry as part of the Certificate II in Process Plant Operations and Certificate III in Process Plant Operations)

·         TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute (units of competency from the Certificate III in Fitness and Diploma of Sport and Recreation)

·         Canberra Institute of Technology (units of competency from the Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade).

The report’s conclusion notes that:

It is clear that the approaches trialled in the pilots can be used more broadly by RTOs to actively engage industry in the validation process. In fact, Industry Skills Councils seeking to improve consistency of assessment outcomes particularly in high risk qualifications or units of competency could support the development of industry-wide approaches to e-validation. However, what these pilots have also highlighted is that individual validators within industry may not necessarily have access to technology of similar currency to that in use within RTOs, nor will they have the same level of confidence or expertise in its use for validation purposes. In light of this, implementation of e-validation more broadly across the system may require upgrading of technology within industry partners and up-skilling of industry partners in the use of that technology.

The report makes five recommendations for the future use of e-validation, including that:

Consideration be given to the professional development needs of VET practitioners and industry representatives in assessment, validation of assessment and the use of technology in the validation process.

The independent review was carried out, and written up, by Shelley Gillis and Berwyn Clayton from Victoria University’s Work-based Education Research Centre, in collaboration with Andrea Bateman from Bateman & Giles Pty Ltd.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 22 August 2013 in E-Learning

The Twitterverse is alive with educators tweeting about education. They are easier to locate in the flock thanks to the list keepers among us. You might want to browse these.

Edudemic has 300+ Educational Twitter Hashtags Being Used Right Now. This eclectic list includes #andragogy at one end of the alphabet, and #VocEd at the other. In between, there’s everything from #NATECLA (UK National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults) to #pblchat where you can exchange with colleagues ideas about problem based learning, which we posted about a little while ago. (There’s a longer, though similar, list called The Unofficial Index to Educational Hashtags.)

OzTweechersPLN (PLN for Professional Learning Network) maintains a wiki that helps keep track of useful resources and ideas that appear on Twitter. The focus is on school education. If you visit the #hashtags page you’ll find links at the top of page three about hashtags – what they are and how to use them.

And there’s the famous list of Australian-based Twitter Hashtag Chat Times curated by teacher Jeannette James. Mostly for teachers in school education. Makes you think that maybe there should be a list this long for VET teachers, trainers and assessors.

If you’ve got a couple of minutes to spare, visit the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and watch this video of South Australian English teacher Selena Woodward (@TeacherTechnol) talking about how Twitter and other social media have influenced her professional practice.

(Also from Edudemic, another list to while away your spare time: 100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, by Degree of Difficulty.)


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 22 August 2013 in VET in Schools

Every year the NMC Horizon Report (44 pages) spots up the technologies that are next in line to influence the way we teach and learn. (NMC stands for the New Media Consortium, and includes the Consortium for School Networking, and the International Society for Technology in Education.)

The report we’ve linked to above focusses on technologies that are coming to school education. It makes for interesting reading because the learning technologies are ones that school leavers will have expertise in using. You can bet that they’ll expect to see them in their post-school learning environments.

The school sector

According to the report, this is what’s coming to schools in one year or less:

·         cloud computing, and mobile learning – back in June, we posted a link to an infographic mobile learning.

In two to three years:

·         learning analytics, and open content

In four to five years:

·         virtual and remote laboratories, and 3D printing – also back in June, we posted a couple of links about 3D printing.

Tertiary education

That’s the school sector. If you visit this page on the NMC website you’ll see a list of other technology outlook publications. And yes, you beauty, there’s one for you: Technology Outlook – Australian Tertiary Education 2013-2018 (28 pages). If they haven’t already arrived in your neck of the woods, watch out for these technologies.

In one year or less:

·         learning analytics

·         Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

·         mobile learning

·         social media.

In two to three years:

·         3D printing

·         badges

·         information visualisation

·         location-based services.

In four to five years:

·         flexible displays

·         the internet of things

·         virtual and remote laboratories

·         wearable technology.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 in Research

In July, the Retail workforce issues paper was released by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and Service Skills Australia (SSA). The paper is a first public step in a study exploring issues facing Australia’s retail workforce now and in the future.

The objectives of the study are:

·         to examine factors which are impacting on industry workforce needs over the coming 5-10 years, including changing demographics, opportunities arising from the Asian century, economic change, techno logy, and human capital

·         to analyse sources of skill supply and demand into the future

·         to identify specific issues in relation to skill supply and demand and skills formation particularly in relation to the high proportion of unskilled workers, low engagement with VET and higher education, the need for improvement in school-based programs and workforce development practices for example in job design, recruitment and retention.

The retail workforce is complex and the issues paper does a great job at setting out that complexity in an accessible way.

The paper is worth picking through – it provides a useful set of tools for thinking about how other industry sectors are dealing with realities like globalisation, new technology, and the Asian Century. In other words, there’s value in the paper that goes beyond its immediate relevance to the retail sector.

The issues paper is peppered with questions to which AWPA and SSA are inviting comment. If you’re interested in responding, you are asked to do so by 23 August 2013. The submission form is here.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 16 August 2013 in TAFE

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) have released their initial Policy Position Papers supporting TDA’s positioning for the political candidates in the Federal election 2013.

These cover:

·         Pathways in tertiary education and funding

·         Skill set funding – reforms to workforce training

·         Direct Federal engagement with TAFE under future major funding agreements

·         Commitments to critical skills funding and skill shortages

·         International education and advocacy for streamlined visas for VET/TAFE students

More information from TDA can be found on their website.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 16 August 2013 in Research

The Regional Australia Institute is a relatively new think tank on the Australian scene – it got underway at the beginning of 2012.

The Institute recently launched Insight – an interactive, online tool that provides a fascinating overview of competitiveness in Australia’s regions – and by regions we mean all 560 of Australia’s local government areas (LGAs). Insight also rolls up the LGA data into the 55 Regional Development Australia areas.

Insight is pretty easy to use, but if you want a quick tutorial, there’s a four minute videohere.

You can choose from 10 themes to explore the relative rank of each LGA or RDA area – themes include human capital, innovation and labour market efficiency. You can compare information across areas too. Here’s a list of things learned from Insight in the course of writing this post:

·         The Ararat Regional City LGA ranks 291 out of 560 LGAs on the human capital measures. Looking more closely, it ranks 249 for the proportion of the population with a university qualification and 212 for the proportion of the population with a technical qualification.

·         Canterbury Council in Sydney ranks 99 for university qualifications and 480 for technical qualifications.

We’ll leave the rest to you. Apart from being good fun to wander around, Insight is a handy resource for VET sector strategic and operational planning.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 in VET

In recent years, Project Based Learning, or PBL, has captured the attention of teachers in all sectors of the education community. It’s become a collection of ideas rather than a standardised approach – that’s great because there’s lot of room to innovate. PBL has particular appeal in the VET sector because it provides a generous framework within which to cluster competencies and assessment tasks.

A few weeks ago, the excellent Edudemic website ran an interesting post called The Differences Between Projects And Project-Based Learning. It presents a chart that claims to pick the differences, though the contributor of the post (Jeff Dunn) thinks the chart is just one skewed view. We agree.

Like any good teacher, Dunn asks a lot questions:

What do you think of this chart?

Is it accurate?

Are the descriptions correct?

What would you change?

Thought you might like to think about them.

We came across this post via a school teacher, Rebecca Davies, who frequently uses Twitter to share teaching resources and as an avenue for professional development. Her Twitter handle is @becdavies00. You might also like to have a look at the online results of a terrific project undertaken by her Year 7 class – the Manor Lakes Book Drive website explains what it’s all about. 7 Rebecca’s Class Blog mentions the Book Drive too, along with much else about the students’ learning journeys. The Book Drive even got a write up in the Wyndham Weekly.

Might be worth having a look – some of these young online whiz kids will be VET students in the not too distant future.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 in Research

In 2012, Ako Aotearoa and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) released the results of a collaborative research project designed to highlight effective ways to involve the student voice in directly improving the quality of the student experience, including their learning outcomes.

Ako Aotearoa is New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

The research identified nine best practice approaches from a mix of private and public tertiary education providers around New Zealand, including:

·         Best Pacific Institute of Education: Class leaders

·         Eastern Institute of Technology: Cross-campus representation

·         Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology: Council and programme representatives

·         Otago Polytechnic: Class representatives and student sub-committee to Council

·         University of Auckland: Board of Graduate Studies and the Teaching and Learning Quality Committee.

The Quick Reference Guide (4 pages) sets out questions intended to assist providers to reflect on the value they place on student representative voices. The Guide also lists indicators that draw on the characteristics of good practice in engaging the Student Voice.

You can download here three other papers the project has produced:

·         Student Voice in Tertiary Education Settings: Quality Systems in Practice (full report)

·         Student Voice in Tertiary Education Settings: Practice Examples

·         Using the Student Voice to Improve Quality (summary report).

For good measure, there is a NZUSA website dedicated to the project, which goes under the banner of ‘Student Voice: Nothing About Students, Without Students’.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 29 July 2013 in Research

In June, NCVER released a research report by Berwyn Clayton, Pam Jonas, Regan Harding, Mark Harris and Melinda Toze: Industry currency and professional obsolescence: what can industry tell us? (44 pages).

Industry currency is centrally important for VET professionals. Industry currency means that the skills and knowledge that training brings to learners and industry are contemporary and powerful. Professional obsolescence is the flipside – if your understanding of industry is drawn from the 1990s, it’s unlikely that the training you deliver will be relevant or interesting.

The report compared the ways in which industry currency is maintained by two groups of workers:

·         those in the plumbing, hairdressing and printing industries, and

·         those in the science, engineering, human resources and health sectors.

A primary motivation for this research is an acknowledgement concerns are often expressed about the lack of industry currency of many VET professionals. The research doesn’t focus specifically on VET professionals though. Instead, the researchers asked what we could learn about maintaining industry currency from people working in trades and professions.

There’s a side benefit to this research report. The insights it offers can help VET professionals in their design and delivery of training for existing workers.

As with all NCVER reports, the key messages are stated right at the beginning, like an executive summary of the executive summary. The key messages in this report are:

·         Strategies used in the plumbing, hairdressing and printing industries to maintain skills include networking, attending industry events and vendor training, reading industry magazines and trade journals, and undertaking online research.

·         Employers in the science, engineering, human resources and health professions are supportive of ongoing training for their employees and have processes in place to ensure it occurs. The majority of this training also takes place in the workplace.

·         In both the trades and the professions there is ready acceptance that for updating strategies to be successful there needs to be a joint commitment from both the individual and the employer.

It’s worth reading just to get a more detailed sense of how different stakeholders regard the importance of industry currency for teachers and trainers. Among employers, it’s not black and white. However, most stakeholders have high expectations that VET professionals will have a solid understanding of present industry needs and a familiarity with future directions. And it’s not always about technology, as the report notes:

·         The hairdressers, for example, considered there had been limited technology-driven change in their industry. The key drivers of change were more aligned to styling techniques, product innovation and consumer trends. In the plumbing and printing industries changes in technology were having a greater impact and were creating gaps in the currency of those in the industry as well as trainers. Technological change in these two industries was also creating new industry sectors, along with the need for qualified people to become trainers in them. However, despite these changes it was still the view that the basics of the industries remained the same.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 26 July 2013 in Research

In April we posted an item on Meeting Tips which struck a chord with our readers. That’s not surprising – meetings are an essential and frequent part of our work in VET. That’s where we swap and explore teaching ideas, plan and report on joint activities, and keep in touch with strategic directions and day-to-day business.

It’s easy to fall into ‘meeting habits’ – the way we conduct our meetings tends to follow patterns we don’t question much.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, has a few new meeting habits that it might be worth thinking about. He explains them on the Quartz website in a post titled ‘The secret to making meetings useful? More discussions and fewer presentations’.

His meetings begin with a period of silence. Not for meditation – for preparation. And no PowerPoint presentations allowed.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 19 July 2013 in VET Reforms

Senate Legislation Committees get together twice a year to run a ruler over budget allocations – generally these Committee sittings are called Estimates.

On 3 June, the Economics Legislation Committee considered the budgets and performance of ASQA and TEQSA. You can download the Hansard report for this sitting day and read the exchanges between Senators and Chris Robinson (ASQA Chief Commissioner – pages 52-62) and Carol Nicoll (TEQSA Chief Commissioner – pages 40-52).

There were some interesting questions and responses on the day.

Chris Robinson indicated that AQSA has ‘completed 1,633 audits since we commenced operation on 1 July 2011. We have 433 audits that have commenced but are not yet completed. Another 600 training organisations have been earmarked for an audit.’

In response to a question from Senator Nash, Chris Robinson indicated that ASQA has received about 1,600 complaints about providers between 1 July 2011 and 31 March 2013. When asked by Senator Nash whether he was surprised at that number of complaints, he replied:

·         ‘Well, there are about two million publicly funded VET students in Australia, and there is another significant number of private students, but at the moment there is a process going on to collect data about the number of VET students who study from private RTOs. So, there is not full data about the sector at the moment. That is 1,600 complaints in over a year and a half out of several million students. It is a high enough number, but it is not excessively high.’

Senator Mason asked if TEQSA’s job was to run a quality assurance regime or a regulatory regime, to which Carol Nichol replied:

·         ‘We are a regulator that has responsibility for regulation but also for quality assurance. We bring together two elements, in essence. We have a responsibility to ensure that the sector is functioning appropriately. That is the regulatory side. We also have a responsibility within our objects for quality improvement in the sector. We see the quality improvement as something that we have only brought our attention to this year. While quality improvement or enhancement can occur through regulation, it will also occur through the quality assessments that we have started this year.’

(By the way, TEQSA has a YouTube channel.)


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 18 July 2013 in Research

A few weeks back the NCVER released an important research report by Sian Halliday-Wynes and Josie Misko. Assessment issues in VET: minimising the level of risk (40 pages) tests the validity of long-standing concerns that the knowledge and skills of too many VET graduates don’t match the benchmarks for achievement set out in training package qualifications. These views matter because they bring into questions the reputations of individual graduates, VET providers and the VET system as a whole. High quality assessment practice is fundamental – it underpins the effective guarantee that qualifications are held only by people who have met the standards of performance the qualification requires.

The authors looked in particular at aged care and children’s services. They conclude that:

·         ‘… there is a compelling case for strengthening the assessments in nationally recognised vocational education and training, especially in circumstances where the quality of assessments may be threatened by a rapid expansion in training delivery and/or registered training organisations.’

Key messages from the report include:

·         A lack of systemic validation and moderation processes within and between providers and training systems is reducing the level of confidence in the comparability and accuracy of assessments.

·         The tendency on the part of assessors to develop and implement their own assessment tools and materials, as well as system imperatives for assessors to customise assessments to local contexts, may be factors contributing to a reduction in the comparability and accuracy of assessments. The regular use of independent assessors can help to minimise this risk.

·         The Certificate IV in Training and Assessment may require more explicit content in relation to assessment if it is to provide teachers and trainers with the levels of underpinning knowledge and practice sufficient for undertaking quality assessments.

·         The regular involvement of employers in assessments, including off-the-job assessments, needs to be encouraged.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 in VET

Holmesglen Chief Executive of 31 years, Bruce Mackenzie, announced in April that he will soon retire. His length of service, and Holmesglen’s substantial accomplishments under Bruce’s guidance, put Bruce in a unique position to offer insights into the practice of leadership in VET. It’s a good thing, then, that the Insights Blog operated by the LH Martin Institute invited Bruce to provide a guest post on ‘Leadership in vocational education and training institutions’.

We’ll just quote two excerpts from Bruce’s post that we think will be enough to attract you to read the full post:

·         ‘I have often been asked what were regarded my most significant achievement. After all, you can’t spend 31 years as an organization’s chief executive and not achieve anything. However, I can’t answer that question because my management style was always based upon continuous improvement and continuous change. What was important yesterday, was not important the next. Leadership is not about replicating, it’s about creating.’

·         ‘I regard our employees as assets rather than a cost. I find it odd that when valuing educational organizations, professional accountants count bricks and mortar as assets and employees as liabilities. In educational institutions, the real assets are the people and their products.’


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 15 July 2013 in Research

A new VET Development Centre report gets to grips with how VET practitioners work with industry and the community to create new knowledge. Melanie Williams of timeFUTURE used a case study approach to identify how this kind of engagement works, how it measures up to TEQSA requirements for demonstrated scholarship in any institution offering qualifications at AQF level 7 or above, and what shortcomings or advantages attach to conducting applied research undertaken by VET teachers.

Let’s clarify two points in Melanie’s 52 page report:

Scholarly engagement – Building knowledge with industry and the community (856.83 kB)

First, the word ‘scholarly’ is not the preserve of university teachers. Scholarly engagement has a range of characteristics that are present in the practice of VET teachers – the report describes characteristics such as developing novel production methods and providing students with structured opportunities to engage in producing new knowledge.

The second point to clarify is that ‘mixed-sector institutions’ refers to any institution that offers at least one qualification at AQF level 6 or below, and at least one qualification at AQF level 7 above. These are providers that don’t conform to a traditionally strict, but now outmoded, separation between VET qualifications and higher education qualifications.

The report weighs up practice, as represented by the three case studies or narratives, and quality as it is commonly understood in university research. It’s clear that more work is required to develop a balanced approach for assessing research practice, planning and management in mixed-sector institutions. The report presents a set of draft indicators for scholarly practice (drawing on earlier research published in Towards a culture of scholarly practice in mixed-sector institutions). The indicators are in the table below.

Indicator Does the scholar:
Clear goals ·         Articulate the problem clearly and identify important questions in the field?

·         Define a clear purpose and achievable objectives for the work?

Adequate preparation ·         Situate the work in the literature of the field?

·         Bring together the resources and skills necessary to move the project forward?

Appropriate methods ·         Use an appropriate, systematic and planned approach?

·         Apply the methods selected in a rigorous manner that is responsive to changing circumstances?

·         Follow ethical practices?

·         Maintain records of process and outcomes?

Collaboration ·         Dialogue with a range of stakeholders from multiple disciplines?

·         Draw on specialist expertise and advice?

·         Engage in shared reflection?

Critical analysis and synthesis ·         Interrogate, contrast and contest existing knowledge, assumptions and ideas?

·         Support knowledge claims with evidence and argument?

·         Synthesise results to draw conclusions within a conceptual framework?

Significant results ·         Contribute new knowledge, the new application of knowledge or improved professional practice in the field?

·         Open up additional areas for further exploration?

Making knowledge public ·         Subject the work to peer review?

·         Disseminate the work through teaching, publishing and discussion with end users?

Reflective critique ·         Make explicit the influences and assumptions that the scholar brings to the work?

·         Reflect on the processes and outcomes?

·         Bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to the critique?

·         Use critical evaluation to improve the quality of future work?

Melanie’s paper observes on a couple of occasions that mixed-sector institutions can fill niche research roles, particularly in pursuing research that engages industry and community members. Engagement is a broad strength of VET practice, and has strategic potential for positioning mixed-sector providers as reputable research entities.

The VET Development Centre has considered the place of research in VET from a number of perspectives. We recognise that there is a growing number VET providers offering a growing number of qualifications at AQF level 7 and above. This reality takes VET providers into unfamiliar regulatory territory and places significant expectations on teacher practice and provider culture, all of which demands well-supported professional development.

Two earlier blog posts offer an overview of other investigations into research practice in the VET sector:

·         Our post on 6 May (‘Advancing research practice in VET’) introduced Towards a culture of scholarly practice in mixed-sector institutions by Melanie Williams (timeFUTURE), Fleur Goulding (Holmesglen), and Terri Seddon (Monash University), the VET Development Centre led the research consortium that produced this NCVER report.

·         Our post on 2 May (‘VET practitioners are VET researchers’) introduced the research project undertaken by the Victorian TAFE Association for VET Development CentreNaming and Claiming a Research Culture in Mixed Sector Institutions (1009.53kB)               


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 28 June 2013 in Research

The VET Development Centre recently commissioned Melanie Williams, Principal, timeFUTURE to research the scholarly practice occuring in mixed-sector institutions.

The first piece of research was titled Towards a culture of scholarly practice and the second report, which has just been released is titled Scholarly engagement – Building knowledge with industry and the community in mixed institutions.

Towards a culture of scholarly practice (833.14 kB)

Scholarly engagement – Building knowledge with industry and the community (856.83 kB) 

Further information regarding the latest report will be posted soon.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in VET Reforms

Back in April we posted about a position paper released by the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) called Improving vocational education and training – the case for a new system. The position paper invited stakeholder comment on its proposals before taking recommendations about changed regulation for VET to the Standing Council on Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (SCOTESE).

We have moved to the next stage now. SCOTESE, comprising all Australian ministers responsible for tertiary education, met on 7 June and among other things considered the NSSC’s recommendations. The meeting’s Communique records endorsement by all ministers of the new Standards Policy Framework submitted to SCOTESE by the NSSC.

The Framework was released (along with explanatory details) in a document titledImproving Vocational Education and Training: the Australian Vocational Qualification System (58 pages).

A quick way to see what’s changing

This post describes at a very high level what’s in the Framework for the new Australian Vocational Qualifications System (AVQS). It’s beyond the constraints of this blog post to examine the proposed standards in detail. However, a quick way in to what’s changing might be Appendix A of the NSSC paper. The appendix provides a very helpful comparison of the proposed Australian Vocational Qualification System (AVQS) standards with current AQTF standards.

The significance of the new regulatory regime

The Communique sets out the significance of the Framework like this:

The Framework proposes to consolidate the elements of vocational education and training into a stable and assured Australian Vocational Qualifications System (AVQS); one committed to ensuring the integrity of vocational qualifications. The AVQS will provide a stronger, clearer single set of standards that can be applied nationally, increasing the focus on the core business of a provider, quality teaching and assessment, and enabling a system-wide shift towards a more responsive regulatory model that reduces the regulatory burden for providers that have consistently demonstrated quality training and assessment. The Framework will provide the basis upon which draft regulatory standards are developed.

In other words, the intent of the new regulatory/compliance regime is to reduce regulatory burdens on high quality VET providers, and keep much closer watch on providers with patchy track records.

From RTOs to LTOs

As part of the changes, we will all have to get used to a new acronym – RTOs that issue vocational qualifications will be known as LTOs, or Licensed Training Organisations. LTOs that meet regulatory requirements will be awarded a licence to issue nationally recognised vocational qualifications. The licence will be valid for a period of up to five years.

Why are these changes being implemented?

The NSSC explains very clearly why a new regulatory approach is necessary. The problem for the VET system which the Framework responds to has three parts:

1.    Inconsistent quality of training and assessment is undermining the integrity and value of vocational qualifications

2.    Lack of publicly available information regarding an RTO and its performance

3.    Standards do not enable a regulatory framework that supports current and future goals of vocational education and training.

A detailed explanation of each of these problem areas is provided in chapter 3 ofImproving Vocational Education and Training: the Australian Vocational Qualification System.

The policy objectives of the Australian Vocational Qualification System

The paper also lists the 10 policy objectives that the new regulatory framework needs to meet. Including that it:

·         promotes integrity and confidence in the vocational education and training sector and outputs from it;

·         supports the achievement of a flexible and adaptable skilled workforce that readily responds to the needs of industry

·         is enforced fully and consistently by the vocational education and training regulator/s;

·         provide an appropriate level of learner protections;

·         support provision of appropriate consumer information;

·         support and align but minimise the overlap with standards in related sectors (including Higher Education).

LTO Standards Framework

The new LTO Standards Framework is presented on pages 20-35 of the NSSC paper. The Framework proposes nine standards:

·         four standards for Training and Assessment

·         two standards for Obligations to Learners and Clients

·         three standards for LTO Governance and Administration.

Implementation timelines

The transition to the new standards will happen relatively quickly:

·         it is expected that by the end of 2013 the new standards will be drafted and approved by SCOTESE

·         by end June 2014 it is expected that legislation required to apply the new standards will be passed;

·         the transition to the new standards will commence on 1 July 2014 and be completed by mid-2016.

So in less than 12 months, the AQTF will begin to make way for the AVQS.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in Research

The National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC) has just released its first National Report on Social Equity in VET, prepared by Monash University’s Centre for the Economics of Education & Training (CEET) and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

The 194 page report is a rich store of data and analysis intended to provide a baseline for tracking VET equity outcomes over time. There are separate chapters on:

·         Indigenous Australians

·         People with a disability

·         Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people

·         People from remote locations

·         People from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds

·         Gender, and

·         ‘Second chance learners’.

There is also an appendix on VET offered in prisons in 2012.

The territory covered is vast, so it might be best to provide a sense of what the report contains by reference to some specific items that illuminate the central role VET plays in the securing equity across Australian society. Here’s a selection from the report’s findings:

·         In 2011, 22% of Indigenous Australians aged 15-64 years participated in government-funded VET, which was well over twice the participation rate of non-Indigenous Australians (9%)

·         Less than 2% of people with a disability were enrolled in or completed an apprenticeship or traineeship in 2011

·         The participation rate for people from a CALD background (12%) … was higher than the participation rate for all Australians (11%). When this group is narrowed down to people from selected new and emerging communities, the participation rate increases to 29%

·         Low SES graduates were less likely than high SES graduates to be in employment after training. Low SES graduates who were not in employment before training were less likely than their high SES counterparts to be employed after training

·         After completing VET study, men more frequently entered full-time work and women more frequently moved into part-time work. Women, however, also moved into further study more frequently than did men.

Among the highlighted findings for second chance learners are these:

·         43% of students who completed a Certificate III course in 2010 reported Year 10 as their highest level of school education

·         78% of students with less than Year 12 or equivalent reported undertaking training for employment-related reasons

·         In 2011, 77% of males and 67% of females with less than Year 12 or equivalent reported being employed after training.

·         28% of eligible prisoners were participating in VET.

The breakdown of data to state and territory level also yields many insights. Here, for example, is a passage from the chapter on people from low SES backgrounds:

There was considerable variation among jurisdictions in the proportion of students from the most disadvantaged areas who were not employed before training but employed after training. New South Wales had the lowest proportion of graduates from low SES areas that moved into employment (35%) while Tasmania had the lowest proportion of module completers from low SES areas that moved into employment (24%). The highest levels were reported in Western Australia, where 60% of previously not employed graduates from low SES areas and 62% of previously not employed module completers from low SES areas moved into employment.

The National Report on Social Equity in VET is a wonderful resource. The report makes it clear to us that there is much yet to do. At the same time, these data are a tribute to the contribution to national and individual wellbeing that is made by the VET system and VET teachers, trainers and assessors.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in Research

In education, a lot of work we need to do is bundled up as projects of one kind or another – a change project, an instructional design project for a new client, a project to embed a new approach to literacy support for all students, a project to migrate all learning resources to the learning management system, and so on.

Every project comes with risks and opportunities. It’s usually a good idea to work out what the risks and opportunities are expected to be and to plan for them, and to adapt to the unexpected on the way through.

A short article on the Project Smart website condenses project risk management to ten golden rules. You can read it here.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in Research

Early in 2013, McKinsey and Company released a number of resources on how to make secure links between education and employment. The outcomes of a multi-country survey (Australia wasn’t involved) of young people, employers and educators captured many findings that are worth taking some time to consider. For example, 70 per cent of educators believed that young people leaving education were work ready, yet fewer than 50 per cent of young people held that view.

McKinsey’s research and best practice examples are presented in a variety of ways which can be accessed from the ‘Education to employment’ webpage:

·         A video of about six minutes

·         A report, Education to employment: designing a system that works

·         An infographic


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in VET Conferences

Date:     14-16 August 2013

Venue:  Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Theme:  Global learning – expanding the boundaries of e-learning in the global TVET community

VETnetwork Australia is hosting the 2013 annual conference of the International Vocational Education & Training Association (IVETA).

Keynote speakers are:

·         Anders Sorman-Nilsson –founder and creative director of the research and strategy company Thinque, an active member of TEDGlobal.

·         Stephen Billet, Professor of Adult and Vocational Education in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

The wide range of workshops on 14 and 15 August include:

·         Rural TAFE – Moving into the Global Market

·         Benchmarking professional development of mining industry trainers

·         Doing the digital dance – paradox and potentially at the boundaries in vocational teacher education

·         Young people’s expectations and experience of the transition to work: A summary of the research and case studies of Australian initiatives.

On 16 August a number of tours are offered, including Guided Tour of Local (Melbourne) Education Facilities.

You can access online registration and program details at the conference website.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in VET Reforms

ABC Radio National’s Breakfast Program reported on 31 May about dropping apprentice numbers. You can listen to the report here. As the report notes, skilled workers aren’t created overnight – a drop in apprenticeship numbers now creates a scramble later when the economy picks up, or major infrastructure projects are launched.

In mid-May, the NCVER released ‘Apprentices and trainees 2013 – early trend estimates, March quarter’. The data indicate a steep decline in both trade and non-trade commencements between March quarter 2012 and March quarter 2013:

·         trade commencements are forecast to fall from 25,100 to 21,500

·         non-trade commencements are forecast to fall from 71,100 to 31,600

NCVER will release a detailed breakdown for the March quarter in September.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in Research

The Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) released its 2013 Environmental Scan in May. Already Australia’s largest industry grouping, the Scan projects that the industry will grow by 35 per cent over the next 10 years.

Titled A time for action (45 pages), the Scan identifies five challenges confronting the industry:

1.    high demand for care from the community

2.    government reforms, including the Aged Care Reform Package and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

3.    matching qualifications to the actual jobs skills required

4.    developing sustainable workforce development models including more fluid pathways for workers to move between sectors and from VET-based to higher education-based roles and vice versa

5.    ensuring that training packages respond to industry need and then reach industry in the most efficient time.

A time for action lists the ten community services and health occupations that grew most quickly over the period 2006-2011. Top of the list was Occupational and Environmental Health Professionals, a category which grew by 75 per cent (from 10,840 workers to 18,924 workers).

Over the next five year period, A time for action projects that another 46,800 registered nurses will be required, along with a further 23,900 aged and disable carers and 18,400 child carers.

It’s interesting to note that a VET qualification is the highest of level of qualification for an increasing proportion of managers of child care centres, health and welfare services and health practices.

CS&HISC administered an online industry survey in preparing the 2013 Scan. The most commonly reported concerns with training were:

·         the speed with which some providers are graduating students may compromise quality training

·         capacity of e-learning and simulated learning environments to substitute for a workplace setting.

These reservations are important given that only 60 per cent of survey respondents were satisfied with the quality of training.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in Research

The Productivity Commission’s paper, Forms of work in Australia, provides a fascinating account of how the shape of Australia’s workforce has changed in recent years. Released in April 2013, the paper replaces guesswork with factwork. For example:

·         In the decade to 2011, Casuals and fixed-term employees were no more prevalent at the end of the decade than at the start.

·         In 2011:

a.    permanent full-time and part-time employees accounted for about 60 per cent of the workforce

b.    Casual employees and self-employment accounted for a little under 20 per cent each.

·         An increase in the employment share of higher-skilled jobs was associated with the increased prevalence of permanent employees.

The paper considers what drives the prevalence of different forms of work – casual, permanent, part-time, full-time, owner-manager and so on.

The report contains many intriguing nuggets of information about the workforce, such as:

·         Three industries – construction; professional, scientific and technical services; and health care and social assistance – accounted for about one quarter of employment in 2001, but were the source of nearly half (46 per cent) of all net jobs created between 2001 and 2011.

·         The share of workers aged 50 to 69 years in employment increased reasonably steadily from 21 to 27 per cent over the decade 2001-2011.

·         Available data suggest that the proportion of employing businesses with fewer than 20 employees rose slightly between 2003-04 and 2006-07, and did not change much between that year and 2010-11.

·         Public sector employees accounted for about 16 per cent of employment in 2001, but only accounted for about 11 per cent of jobs added to the economy from 2001-2011.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 24 June 2013 in VET Reforms

A few weeks back we blogged about the House of Representatives inquiry into the role and operation of the TAFE system. As a follow up, we thought you’d like to know that the Inquiry received 172 submissions. They come from organisations as diverse as ACPET, Australian College of Educators, Box Hill Institute, St Vincent de Paul Society and the South Australian Dairy farmers’ Association.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 21 June 2013 in VET Conferences

Dates: 1-6 July 2013

Conference program theme: Our Youth – Our Future

We hope some of you will be lucky enough to visit Leipzig for the 2013 WorldSkills Competition. While the Competition is running, there is a diverse conference program happening as well. Even if you can’t attend one of these conferences, it’s useful to know about them and perhaps follow up the outcomes from those that interest you.

The conference program is too full to capture in a brief blog post, so here’s a sample:

·         WorldSkills Leaders Forum 2013 is the place for leaders from government, industry, and education to address global skills issues

·         Global Skills Marketplace is a day of seminar on current developments in vocational and education training worldwide, and the opportunity to share best practice

·         Specialist Forum on Dual Education looking at the way apprenticeships and schooling are twinned in Germany

·         Learning in Europe: Mobility and Training – Insights and Outlooks considers the place of international mobility in developing vocational competencies

There’s more. Individual conferences are hyperlinked at the left hand side of this webpage.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 20 June 2013 in E-Learning

Workplaces are brimming over with mobile devices of all kinds. It’s natural that workplace learning is going to make more and more use of all that mobile power.

This infographic just takes a tour of the extent to which mobile devices have become commonplace in the workplace and how learners, teachers and businesses can take advantage of their capacity to support learning.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 in E-Learning

This isn’t about coffee. It’s even better than coffee, and that’s a big claim!

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) wanted its teachers to develop confidence in using ITC in learning and teaching. Who better to introduce learning technologies to teachers born before the Internet was invented than learners who have grown up with google as a verb.

AUT’s Centre for Learning and Teaching (or CfLAT) decided to create the perfect LATTE – Learning and Teaching Technology Enablers. LATTEs are AUT students who are teaching their teachers how to get the best learning and teaching outcomes from ICT. It seems to be working a treat.

There’s more on this innovative approach to teaching teachers from a number of sources:

·         via this video from AUT’s 2013 ICT Visioning Day, including presentations by LATTEs to a roomful of teachers – runs for 23 minutes but you can bail at around 17 minutes when the Q&A begins, or stick around for this bit noting that the sound frays sometimes

·         via the slide presentation slide presentation from the ICT Visioning Day

·         via this 2012 blog post

·         on the LATTE page of the CfLAT website.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 in Research

Earlier this year, South Western Sydney Institute (SWSi) released an e-booklet titled SWSi innovate SWSi innovate (88 pages). It comprises 16 case studies and innovation exemplars prepared by John Mitchell.

The booklet specifies elements of innovation that SWSi adheres to. First, that innovation is intentional not accidental – it flows from analysis, planning, implementation and review. Second, that innovation is aimed at providing a benefit – there can be lots of innovations, but only some make a difference that matters. Third, that innovation relies on a combination of knowledge, commitment and perseverance. The booklet includes a detailed description of SWSi’s innovation model.

The case studies and innovation exemplars are broad ranging. They include:

·         SWSI’s partnership with Genting-Star Tourism Academy in Manila. Genting is a well-regarded operator in the tourism and entertainment industries. The company selected SWSi as its training partner in 2010. Responding to Genting’s workforce development strategy required adaptability and the willingness on SWSi’s part to produce innovative solutions for a range of core activities, including delivery, partnership management and ensuring compliance.

·         The Telstra Technical Career and Qualification Pathway, which is a joint venture between Telstra Operations and SWSI. As the case study puts it, ‘the broad aim of the initiative is to recognise and refresh the skills of Telstra’s technical workforce’. For Telstra, the long-term outcome ‘is that its technical workforce will have further success in delivering ICT services and solutions to its customers’. The venture is fully online and delivers qualifications so that each competency revolves around daily work activities. In addition to skills in contextualising training and using online delivery, VET professionals needed to extend their capability in partnership building and maintenance.

·         ‘Stories of practice’ in community services. This innovation is delivered in a workforce development context. It brought to community service workers a method for reflecting on and sharing their expertise in homelessness services. The thoughtful deployment of learning technology supports the development of communities of practice as an ongoing benefit, in addition to participants achieving dual qualifications in social housing and mental health.

·         Skills for Somali women. This innovation exemplar describes the design and delivery of bi-cultural training for Somali women. The VET professionals involved relied on specialist understandings of how to encourage women who have a Somali and refugee background to engage with the unfamiliar Australian VET system and learning environment. The innovation is a wonderful integration of familiar components of VET foundation skills delivery.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 in VET Reforms

On 23 May, the Queensland Parliament passed the TAFE Queensland Bill 2013. TheExplanatory Notes to the Bill set out the objectives of the legislation as to:

1.    Establish an independent body, TAFE Queensland, to be the public provider of vocational education and training (VET); and

2.    Ensure that TAFE Queensland operates in an effective and efficient way and is commercially successful.

Under the legislation, TAFE Queensland is established as a new statutory body that will be responsible for all Queensland TAFE Institutes from 1 July 2013. The legislation paves the way for a commercial footing for TAFE in Queensland and for implementing a new funding model for access to subsidised training from approved providers. Government funding for VET will be contestable and these arrangements will be phased in by 1 July 2014.

The changes follow the final report of the Skills and Training Taskforce which made 40 recommendations. In its response to the Taskforce report, the Queensland government supported 36 recommendations and gave in principle support to four recommendations.

The government’s response addressed each of the recommendations, including indicating that it would:

·         target training funding towards VET in Schools options that deliver clear employment pathways

·         open up third party access to public training infrastructure

·         enhance online service delivery to provide flexible solutions that complement traditional training delivery.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 in E-Learning

Technological change has a sneaky habit of arriving almost by stealth and then quickly infiltrating nooks and crannies that you didn’t even know existed.

3D printing might just be another technology that asserts itself in unimagined ways and places. John Faine’s ABC Radio program on 8 May devoted a segment to 3D printing, while Faine’s guest, Bruce Jackson, printed off a working ball bearing on a portable printer. You can listen to the segment, and watch a video clip of the ball bearing being created,here.

It’s now a short step from 3D printing making its presence felt in education. How 3D Printing Will Revolutionize the Classroom is an infographic from OnlineDegrees.Com that does some down-to-earth forecasting about the potential uses of 3D printing in learning and teaching. For VET in particular, the possibilities seem endless. If it seems a bit far-fetched, so did using mobile phones for assessment just a few years ago. And those of us who a just a little bit older can even remember when the photocopier was under lock and key – cumbersome, expensive to use and there was only one in the building.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 in VET Reforms

In mid-2012 the South Australian government launched Skills for All, the features of which included:

·         Fee free certificate I and II qualifications

·         Fee free training in areas that match state strategic priorities, including science, engineering and technology

·         Co-contributions to training fees for certificate III to advanced diploma qualifications (with concessions available for some groups)

·         VET FEE-HELP for diploma and advanced diploma qualifications

·         Skills for All training is delivered by RTOs that meet requirements over and above those in the VET Quality Framework (meaning some RTOs cannot access Skills for All funding).

In April, South Australia’s Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST) released the second of its summary reports (37 pages) on the progress of Skills for All.

Among the key findings are these:

·         Total enrolments in both TAFE SA and private RTOs increased by 43 per cent between semester 2 2011 and semester 2 2012

·         TAFE SA enrolments increased by 20 per cent

·         Private provider enrolments increased by 108 per cent

·         69 per cent of enrolments were at certificate III and above, and 31 per cent were at certificates I and II

·         Of 372 applications to become a Skills for All provider, 128 were refused, mostly due to a lack of evidence of local industry engagement, student and employer satisfaction, satisfactory graduate outcomes and delivery specifications that did not provide adequate assurance of quality

·         15 Skills for All providers have received approval to offer VET-FEE HELP (eight from SA and seven from Victoria)

DFEEST has also released results from the 2012 Skills for All Student Satisfaction Survey, which show:

·         91.1 per cent of respondents agreed (and 40.6% strongly agreed) with the statement ‘Overall, I was satisfied with my training’

·         95.9 per cent agreed that ‘Trainers had an excellent knowledge of the subject content’

·         92.7 per cent agreed that ‘Trainers made the subject as interesting as possible’.

When asked what changes would improve training, respondents’ suggestions included:

·         lengthen course duration and classroom/practical delivery times to avoid students feeling rushed through the course;

·         spend more time in practical training;

·         raise the quality of learning resources and materials;

·         provide better support for external study mode students;

·         deal more effectively with students who are disruptive in the classroom or who are not suited to the course and job outcomes; and

·         better manage course scheduling, learning and communications between the training provider and the student.


Posted by VETCentre on Friday, 31 May 2013 in E-Learning

Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) recently released Digital literacy and e-skills: participation in the digital economy (68 pages). The report is one outcome from a project IBSA commissioned when its 2012 Environmental Scan found considerable concern about the e-skills base of the new and existing workers.

The advent of the NBN means that industry is assessing what the NBN can do. One finding from the project is that a majority of small businesses – which employ more than half of the workforce and generate more than a third of Australia’s wealth – don’t have a plan for extracting the most from what the NBN has to offer.

That’s one digital divide. There’s another that the report suggests is worsening – the divide between those who have good e-skills and those who have limited e-skills. The report notes that those with low digital literacy include people who have low incomes, lack tertiary level education, are aged over 55, live in rural and remote areas and have non-English speaking backgrounds.

The report suggests that in the main, current skill sets and units of competency dealing with e-skills are a good reflection of the skills industry requires. The challenge is to ensure that training in those units and skill sets is accessed widely within the community and industry.

The project identified new skills areas that will be reflected in 17 new, and 25 enhanced, units of competency. These skill areas include:

·         Commercialise a digital technology product, design or idea

·         Promote virtual access to 3D digitised cultural and community assets

·         Promote digital literacy skills in the local community/group

·         Develop online sales, service and marketing strategies

·         Serve and interact with customers online in real time

·         Develop online sales, service and marketing strategies

·         Work with others in a virtual/off-site/telework team.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 in Research

J Clark Gardner is an instructional designer who has done us all a great favour by putting together a set of five animated videos on the ADDIE instructional design method. Addie stands for:

·         Analysis

·         Design

·         Development

·         Implementation

·         Evaluation.

The videos are short – between 3 and 7 minutes roughly – and you can find the links to them on this webpage.

At the bottom of there are also links to some of the projects that Gardner has worked on.

One of the videos also stars here on the Kapp Notes blog. It’s in the company of three other videos about instructional design (though the one titled ‘The power of chunking’ is a bit longwinded).


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 in Research

As any teacher, trainer and manager will ruefully observe, there isn’t enough time. There are dozens of time management techniques, training programs and books and too little time to get around to them!

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is something of a specialist in time management. In a Harvard Business Review blog post – titled ‘How to Allocate Your Time, and Your Effort’ – Saunders narrows the practical time management down to just four items. And the first of these is probably the one we skate over too often: Decide where you will not spend time.

Saunders’ views may not sit well with everyone, but it’s helpful to have a framework to start with, and even something to disagree with, when you are trying to work out how best to manage the time you have.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 20 May 2013 in Research

It sometimes helps to know a little about the demographics of the communities from which our learners come.

The SBS Census Explorer enables you to compare two locations at a time. If you select the ‘Explore Places’ tab at the top of page, and then choose to compare one place with another, you retrieve 2011 Census data on languages spoken at home, year of arrival in Australia and levels of English proficiency, and gender and personal income.

For example, in selecting Morwell and Oakleigh in Victoria, and by hovering the cursor over the bars on the household income chart, the Census Explorer tells me that:

·         in Morwell, 8.4 per cent of households earn $1500-$1999 a week

·         in Oakleigh, 12.9 per cent of households earn $1500-$1999 a week

·         across Australia, 12.5 per cent of households earn $1500-$1999 a week.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has developed Community Profiles based on 2006 and 2011 Census data. There’s a ‘Community Profiles tutorial’ on the list at the right of the page. But you can jump right in and find your way around:

·         enter location in the box at the right and select ‘Go’,

·         you will be taken to a page for the location you entered

·         select the Quick Stat button above the map

·         scroll down for data under a number of headings.

As an example, by entering Werribee and selecting the Quick Stat button, you can then select the ‘People’ category to reveal information from the 2011 Census about Werribee, such as:

·         7.5 per cent of Werribee’s population was aged 15-19, compared to 6.5 per cent for the whole of Victoria

·         7.5 per cent of Werribee residents were attending a technical or further education institution, compared to 7.3 per cent for the whole of Victoria

·         2.9 per cent of the population was born in India, compared to 2.1 per cent for Victoria and 1.4 per cent for Australia

·         16.5 per cent of employed people were working as technicians or trades workers, compared to 13.9 per cent for Victoria as a whole, and 11.2 per cent were working as machinery operators and drivers, compared to 6.1 per cent for Victoria.

The ABS also produces Census At School 2013 which may provide resources that are useful for teachers and trainers in some areas of delivery like marketing. See, for example, the infographics based on data collected from the 2012 Census At School questionnaire.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 20 May 2013 in Research

The Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) held its 2013 annual conference in Perth in early April. The dust has barely settled, but AVETRA has already posted more than 40 conference papers online. You can access the full list of papers here.

Rebecca Saunders from Murdoch University outlined the impact of a VET teacher professional development program called Instructional Intelligence. The program was conducted over four years in WA’s TAFE system. In the context of policy changes, intensifying expectations about teaching quality, and industry expectations of the VET system, the specific aim of the Instructional Intelligence program was to extend the instructional repertoire and expertise of VET teachers. The program was long term and involved modelling, implementation and reflection of instructional innovations.

Rebecca summarises her findings like this:

·         Teachers’ beliefs and instructional practice changed as a result of the program. Further, teachers reported that their use of new instructional processes had a positive impact on student learning.

Rebecca presents professional development programs for the VET Development Centre.

Mark O’Rourke from Victoria University reported on the innovative use of computer games to deliver skill sets and engage learners. The White Card Game was developed to deliver safety training in the construction industry. Close attention was paid to aligning learning outcomes and the scenarios that unfold in the game. As Mark notes, game-based delivery offers active learning, ‘especially effective for learners who are disadvantaged in conventional learning environments’. It improves retention and successful completion of training.

Karen Vaughan and Andrew Kear (from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and NZ’s Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation respectively) presented a paper called ‘Hi viz learning: the transformation of on-job assessment for carpentry apprentices’. The key changes in the new assessment approach include:

·         a shift from around 6,000 workplace assessors to around 75 assessors employed by the Industry Training Organisation, and

·         the establishment of assessment teams, each comprising an evaluator/trainer, training advisor/assessor, moderator and apprentice.

Among the other papers listed are:

·         Education for diverse and productive futures: A white woman learning from Aboriginal voices – Rose Carnes (Murdoch University)

·         Stories from the (other) edge: why do existing workers want a diploma qualification? – Mark Doran and Alicia Toohey (Southbank Institute of Technology)

·         Scholarship in VET: Naming and claiming a research culture in TAFE – Denise Stevens (VET Development Centre) and Nita Schultz (Victorian TAFE Association)

·         Rethinking pedagogic innovation in VET: Negotiating the ‘in-between’ spaces – Melinda Waters (VET Development Centre).


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 16 May 2013 in E-Learning

There is no doubt that ever improving access to ever improving learning technologies has forever changed the expectations of learners, the practice of teachers and trainers, and the organisation of education providers.

These technologies are still relatively new and we are still working out how to maximise their contribution to learning outcomes. Blended learning is the catch-all term for constantly evolving practice that brings learning technologies together with models of distance and face-to-face learning and teaching.

Education Elements has produced a six minute video called The fundamentals of blended learning. It describes four models of blended learning that are gaining currency. The video is based in school education – however, the models described are also being applied in VET in higher education. The video also tells us something about the expectations young people entering tertiary education will have about how learning is done in contemporary education settings.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 in VET in Schools

In 2010, the Western Australian Department of Education issued A guide to establishing partnership arrangements between schools and registered training providers.

States and territories have varied requirements for VETiS delivery and auspicing arrangements. The guide’s 44 pages comprising 20 pages of information that is generally applicable to VET in Schools (VETiS) and the remainder which is more specifically related to policy and rules in the WA.

A helpful and distinguishing feature of the WA guide is the emphasis on VETiS delivery and auspicing in the context of a partnership between providers and schools.

Along with benefits to schools and employers, the introduction notes the benefits of VETiS partnerships for RTOs:

·         quality assure and continuously improve nationally accredited training

·         establish relationships with potential students

·         clarify career and training pathways

·         enhance articulation for school students to post-school VET options.

The guide identifies four modes of delivery arrangements that require partnerships:

1.    The Auspiced Mode

2.    The Fee for Service (Outsourced) Mode

3.    The Combination Mode (where the RTO quality assures a school’s delivery and assessment)

4.    The Profile Hours Mode (where the school accesses the provider student contact hours).

The guide sets out six steps that schools and RTOs are advised to take together in order to secure a strong foundation for a sustainable partnership. The guide’s partnership checklist is useful aid when establishing and reviewing existing MoUs or contracts.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 in Research

VET leaders and managers are decision makers. Part of their work is to make decisions that will have long term consequences, and the best decision is rarely arrived at with ease.

In April, McKinsey Quarterly published an interview with two decision making specialists – Chip Heath and Olivier Sibony. Making great decisions identifies four interventions that leaders and managers can use to lay the groundwork for deciding which way to go.

If you open the sidebar in the article, those four interventions are briefly described:

1.    Widen your options

2.    Reality test your assumptions

3.    Attain some distance

4.    Prepare to be wrong.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 09 May 2013 in VET

Nominations have opened for the 2013 Victorian Training Awards, now in their 59th year. There are six individual categories and eight organisational categories.

Nominations must be submitted by 10 May. Entry details are available on the DEECD website.

Winners will be announced at the Victorian Training Awards dinner on 6 September.

The VET Development Centre is a proud, long term sponsor of the Victorian Large Training Provider of the Year award which was awarded to South West TAFE in 2011 and Box Hill Institute in 2012.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 in Research

 In late 2012, Edudemic posted an infographic that compares four learning theories – behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectivism. If connectivism is unfamiliar to you, don’t worry – you are not alone! Connectivism is billed as the learning theory for the digital age. It’s worth spending a bit of time reflecting on how your teaching practice aligns with the handy summary the infographic provides.


Posted by VETCentre on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 in Industry

In March, Auto Skills Australia released its Automotive Environmental Scan 2013 (95 pages). The Scan provides an insightful perspective on the challenges that confront Australia’s automotive industries. There are many cross-currents that are not easily resolved and which make it challenging for VET providers. A sample of some of the cross-currents from the Scan’s Executive Summary is instructive:

·         A survey of 700 automotive businesses conducted by Auto Skills Australia reveals that 50% of automotive businesses are affected by shortages of skilled labour, and 56.5% expect skill shortages to affect their business operations over the next 12 months. For motor mechanics alone, this translates into a national shortage of approximately 19,000 trained workers during 2012-13.

·         The number of automotive businesses in operation is declining at an average rate of 450 businesses per annum. This is expected to accelerate, with the majority of these business closures being small businesses employing between 1-19 employees.

·         Attraction of labour to the automotive industry remains a key issue. Competition from other industries, negative perceptions of the industry and a lack of sufficient industry marketing to target groups have all contributed to this situation.

The Scan reports ongoing concerns within industry and among VET providers about VET assessment arrangements, noting that:

·         Businesses have bemoaned the fact that the assessment process delivered by training providers is rather crude and generally contains only two levels, either – ‘competent’ or ‘not competent’. It is the view of industry that this is a poor indication of the true capability of an apprentice or trainee. What industry would welcome is a graded system of assessment that would provide a better indication of the particular strengths and weaknesses of each person. Many training providers have also indicated that they would welcome the introduction of a graded assessment system over the current assessment model.

The Industry Skills Councils website provides on one page links to the Environmental Scans of the 11 Industry Skills Councils. You can access them here.


Posted by VETCentre on Monday, 06 May 2013 in Research

In an earlier blog post we provided an overview of Naming and claiming a research culture in Victorian TAFE – a report prepared for the VET Development Centre by the Victorian TAFE Association.

This post continues that theme by looking at a recent NCVER report, Towards a culture of scholarly practice in mixed-sector institutions. Written by Melanie Williams (timeFUTURE), Fleur Goulding (Holmesglen), and Terri Seddon (Monash University), the VET Development Centre led the research consortium that produced the NCVER report.

A spur to this research study is that many VET providers are offering, and planning to offer, a growing number of higher education qualifications. The report employs a widely used framework for research practice developed by Ernest Boyer which identifies four forms of scholarship – discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Each of these forms of scholarship features in VET practice in the mixed sector institutions – institutions that offer a mix of certificate, diploma and degree qualifications.

The challenge of developing a scholarly culture in the VET sector is complex, and it is a priority. As the report’s conclusion says:

·         The research highlights the potential opportunities that mixed-sector and VET institutions have to shape support for scholarship so that it meets the needs and interests of their staff, students and stakeholders, without necessarily imitating what they perceive takes place in a university. While there is much to be done to improve the quality of scholarly practice in VET and mixed-sector institutions, Australia’s knowledge culture and innovation capacity will be enhanced if the scholarly contributions made by these institutions are strengthened.

Good research practice in mixed-sector institutions offers many advantages to learners, teachers, institutions, industry, society and the economy.

At a forum organised as part of the research project, VET practitioners assisted in identifying a range of strategies that can build research capability in mixed-sector institutions, including:

·         enhancing understanding about what it means to construct a scholarly culture

·         building workforce expertise

·         addressing the terms and conditions under which scholarly work is produced

·         working with industry and other external agencies to build collaborative scholarly partnerships.

A key part of the challenge ahead is to incorporate ‘research’ and ‘researcher’ into the identity of VET practitioners and into the strategic plans and operational practice of all VET providers. The VET Development Centre will continue working towards the practical realisation of that identity for VET practitioners and VET providers.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 02 May 2013 in Research

The VET Development Centre promotes the importance of embedding a scholarly culture in the VET sector. Research is often thought of as an activity that ‘belongs’ to the higher education sector. However, this conventional assignment of research to universities undervalues the significance and breadth of research activity that VET practitioners undertake.

In late 2011 and early 2012, the Victorian TAFE Association undertook a research project for the VET Development Centre that explored the nature and extent of research that occurs within Victorian TAFE. The title of the resulting report – Naming and Claiming a Research Culture in Victorian TAFE (39 pages) – makes it plain that though we might call it by other names, research is alive and well in Victoria’s TAFE sector. As the report notes:

·         There is no doubt that TAFE practitioners undertake research in various ways (action research, qualitative research, research and development) and for various reasons (teaching innovation, partnering with industry, professional development, technological advances) but they do not always name it for what it is; and as they do not often write up their research in academic papers, they do not claim their research in the same way as their HE counterparts.

The reticence to name and claim research activity in Victorian TAFE has meant that a systematic and coordinated approach to planning, tracking, reporting and documenting that activity. It means that the accumulated knowledge and know how generated by research within Victorian TAFE is not systematically disseminated and has less influence on policy and practice.

Naming and claiming a research culture in Victorian TAFE explored the current state of play. Its purpose was to provide a framework for thinking about how best to value a scholarly culture within Victoria’s TAFE system, and how to support practitioner researchers. The report raises many questions, such as:

·         What is or what should be the place and role of research in TAFE?

·         What form of future professional development would support a research role for TAFE practitioners?

·         How does participation in research increase/benefit an individual’s opportunities for promotion or career progression?

The VET Development Centre is providing a leadership role in developing a more coherent and consistent approach to developing a research culture among VET practitioners, and across and within VET providers.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 in Research

In April the Industry Skills Councils, the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) and DIISRTE released the VET Quality Project (VQP) report (68 pages).

The VQP arose as a response to frequently expressed industry frustration about the questionable competence of some VET graduates despite holding a nationally recognised VET qualification. This concern shone a spotlight on the adequacy of assessment practice and standards – are additional safeguards required? Trust in assessment outcomes is, after all, fundamental to the ongoing credibility of any system of education, including VET.

The Industry Skills Councils were at the forefront of the VQP – they are responsible for developing competency standards in collaboration with industry. However, ISCs are not in a position to track whether VET providers deliver and assess standards in a comparable way. The VQP was charged with bridging the gap between the design of competency standards and the delivery and assessment of those standards.

The VQP reached the conclusion that changes in Standards for RTOs and Training Package Standards were necessary to maintain and build industry confidence in the VET system as a whole. The proposed new measures are outlined in the VQP report and cover specific trainer requirements; language of delivery; learning resources; prospective learner information; range of training conditions; learner characteristics; mode; and volume of learning.

As an example, the proposed new measure regarding ‘specific training requirements’ reads as follows:

·         Specific trainer requirements are additional requirements to the national VET Standards for RTOs. This measure is to be applied to the delivery of training in high risk and/or high consequence areas.

It’s important to note the last sentence in that dot point. The additional measures would be applied by each ISC on a case by case basis rather than applied to all units of competency. When the measure is applied to a unit of competency, it might mean that a trainer must have one or more of the following: a specified number of years of vocational experience; a specific qualification; a specific licence or set of licences; or demonstrated participation in continuing professional development.

The VET Quality Project is related to the NSSC’s review of the standards for the regulation of vocational education and training mentioned in an earlier blog post. The NSSC will consider the VQP report as part of the wider standards review.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 18 April 2013 in Research

Mission Australia’s report on its 2012 Youth Survey offers an overview of what young people aged 15-19 value and what they think about many aspects of their lives. The survey breaks the data down in various ways, including by state/territory and gender.

The findings on young people’s views on education are likely to be of interest to VET educators whose work is mostly with school leavers and young apprentices. For Australia as a whole:

·         79.5% of females highly valued a satisfying school or study experience compared with 64.8% of males

·         69.4% of respondents reported they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their studies – males were slightly less likely than females to report feeling very satisfied or satisfied

·         school or study problems were a major concern for 36.5% of young people.

Mission Australia recently completed a survey of 200 small, medium and large businesses who had engaged Mission Australia for assistance in filling job vacancies. A media releaseoutlines some of the survey findings, including:

·         While around 60 per cent of employers recognised the benefits in employing younger staff who could be moulded to the needs of their business and were willing to learn on the job, many were concerned that young people they’d taken on had proven to be unreliable and immature.

Employability skills are lacking for many young people, underlining their importance in VET delivery.

The media release outlines a suite of reforms it believes would help young people make successful transitions to work. Among those reforms are:

·         earlier support for students from Grade 10 upward to be actively engaged in examining career choices and undertaking work experience, with the range of options including work, training or pursing university studies equally promoted

·         actively supporting/mentoring young people in the transition from school/training/university to work, and particularly in the first year of their working lives

·         increase in the number of incentives available to employers for traineeships and apprenticeships for young people.


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 18 April 2013 in Research

The National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS) at Flinders University is commencing a research study titled ‘Skill shortages in Australia: A better understanding of their complexities and consequences’. There is a brief description of the study on the NILS website.

There’s no doubt that skills shortages are complex. NILS has worked on unravelling that complexity for a number of years. Sue Richardson of NILS has written an excellent report entitled What is a skills shortage? (33 pages). Published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research in 2007, Richardson recognises that ‘skills shortage’ is a slippery idea. She proposed that skills shortages could be classified in four ways:

1.    Level 1 shortage. There are few people who have the essential technical skills who are not already using them and there is a long training time to develop the skills.

1.    Level 2 shortage. There are few people who have the essential technical skills who are not already using them but there is a short training time to develop the skills.

1.    Skills mismatch. There are sufficient people who have the essential technical skills who are not already using them, but they are not willing to apply for the vacancies under current conditions.

1.    Quality gap. There are sufficient people with the essential technical skills who are not already using them and who are willing to apply for the vacancies, but they lack some qualities that employers consider are important.

In 2012, NCVER published another NILS report on skills shortages – Skill shortages: prevalence, causes, remedies and consequences for Australian businesses. The report’s conclusion offers interesting food for thought. In part it states that:

·         The causes of skill shortages are very diverse. The dominant cause is a lack of specialist knowledge, but future-demand uncertainties, slow recruitment processes and high market wages are also involved. Lack of availability of adequate training is not reported to be a major cause of skill shortages. We find that the causes vary by firm size and they are often influenced by the degree of competition facing the firm in the product market.

·         Some industries are more susceptible to complex skill shortages (those with multiple causes), including agriculture and construction. For other industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, and property and business services, the incidence is low.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 in TAFE

In late February, TAFE Directors Australia released Reinventing service delivery: Case studies of TAFE Institutes meeting industry and government goals (48 pages).

Written by John Mitchell, the case studies look at how five TAFE Institutes have partnered with industry:

·         Redarc Electronics and TAFE SA Adelaide South

·         Toyota Motor Corporation and SkillsTech Australia

·         Apache Energy and Challenger Institute of Technology

·         Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia and Kangan Institute

·         Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Riverina Institute.

A key to successful partnering is captured in the title to chapter 4 – ‘Flexibility is shorthand for TAFE Institutes reinventing their service delivery’. Mitchell explores service delivery using four dimensions. The Kangan Institute case study is presented as an example of how these four dimensions were achieved in practice. Kangan:

·         changed the conventional way of interacting with clients

·         integrated complementary services, including providing hands-on learning and advising textile workers about how new technologies can be used for niche tasks

·         allocated specialist tasks to its staff based on their advanced knowledge and interests, their commitment to the model and their willingness to learn new skills

·         changed the delivery location, with an emphasis on deploying digital learning techniques.


Posted by VETCentre on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 in Workforce Development

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) has just dropped on the desk a weighty tome: Future focus: 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy (212 pages). Fortunately for those us who need to get this read over breakfast, AWPA has kindly produced a Key Messages document which summarises the Strategy and floats in at just 4 pages.

As the Key Messages document makes clear, the Strategy proposes a wide ranging series of measures to enhance workforce development and position Australia for the future, including:

·         Increasing qualifications to meet growing demand for higher skills

·         Improving productivity in the workplace

·         Building labour force participation to meet current and future needs

·         Raising language, literacy, and numeracy skills

·         Enabling individuals and the tertiary system to be more adaptive

·         Strengthening quality in the tertiary sector

·         Making an investment in skills that will pay for itself.

In terms of the VET workforce, the Strategy proposes ‘greater integration between VET and higher education, and professional development to engender a flexible, adaptable workforce under the ambit of a new national body tasked with driving excellence in the VET sector.’

VET practitioners may be particularly interested in section 6.3 of the Strategy – ‘Building high quality in VET through professional development’ (pp 138-143). This section ends with a recommendation that reads as follows:

·         That a national body and program be established, based on the model of the Office for Learning and Teaching, to:

a.    drive excellence in VET teaching, learning and assessment

b.    design and promote teaching and learning strategies that can be used to develop adaptive capacity in individual learners

c.    promote effective use of technology in teaching and learning

d.    provide a substantial program of professional development in teaching and learning strategies to improve language, literacy and numeracy

e.    develop and implement a national VET workforce development strategy


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 11 April 2013 in Industry

Australia’s 2013 Skillaroos team is gearing up for the Leipzig WorldSkills Competition. The Competition runs from 2-7 July. WorldSkills International (based in Brisbane) is responsible for making the Competitions happen every odd year. In 2013, 65 countries will participate in the 42nd Worldskills Competition.

There are 32 Skillaroos competing in categories from plumbing and beauty care to web design and jewellery making. They hail from Paramatta to Perth, and Gladstone to Ararat.

You can support the Skillaroos by helping them meet up with their tools and equipment. WorldSkills Australia has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help meet the cost of getting three tonnes of gear to Leipzig. Donations of any size are welcomed, so if you’ve got a spare fiver this is a good way to put it to work.

At the 2011 Competition in London, an international consortium launched a research study that explored the outcomes of participation in WorldSkills Competitions. Brought together by the WorldSkills Foundation, the research partners included RMIT University, supported by Deakin University. The research findings were upbeat: ‘WorldSkills competitions raise quality, promote professional development and drive improvements in vocational training.’

The research study – known as MoVE, or Modelling Vocational Excellence – is running again at Leipzig. You can find out more about MoVE by reading the booklet about the study, titled ‘WorldSkills – Inspiring skills excellence’ (12 pages).


Posted by VETCentre on Thursday, 11 April 2013 in VET

Edudemic has come up with an infographic called ‘Tips for Running Effective Meetings’. The website makes modest claims for this downloadable aid: ‘They’re nothing world-changing but they are useful to remember.’

2013 Archive | VDC