Evaluating Australia’s VET system by comparing it with VET in other nations
VET professionals are close observers of policies, programs and regulatory regimes that influence student opportunities and outcomes, and influence how we design, deliver and assess training. Adept responses to constant change in VET system governance and funding models characterises good professional practice, and is critical for industry stakeholders and RTO viability.
Focusing on Australia’s VET system can leave little time to appraise VET systems in other countries. Yet doing so increases opportunities for exchanging ideas – learning from others and passing on our own good ideas. An international perspective can also help us benchmark our own VET system’s performance.
Learning from current international practice
The benefits of knowing how things are done elsewhere in the VET universe are amply demonstrated in Fellowship reports submitted to the Melbourne-based International Specialised Skills Institute (ISSI). A 2016 VDC Newsletter article looked at Clare Rasmussen’s Fellowship report on VET professional development systems in Europe. Based on first-hand evaluation, Clare (Federation University’s Director of VET Practice) offered recommendations about how Australia could strengthen VET professional development.
Other insightful ISSI Fellowship reports are all publicly accessible here. They include:
- Assessment Issues in Commercial Cookery Education: A Finnish Perspective
- Improving completion rates amongst apprentices in regional and remote Victoria.
Learning from VET system design in other countries
It is instructive to consider how VET systems operate within national secondary and tertiary education systems. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training has produced short publications (6 pages) that inform that understanding, including Spotlight on VET Germany, Spotlight on VET United Kingdom, and Spotlight on VET Austria.
Variations in VET systems described in the Spotlight series prompt thinking about how Australia’s system varies and what our development options might be. For example:
- In Austria, 75% of learners who complete compulsory schooling are in VET programs
- In Germany, ‘vocational action competence’ is the preferred model of skills development – it’s a ‘holistic and integrated approach to competence acquisition’ rather than ‘acquisition of isolated skills and competences based on the learning-outcomes approach.’
Revitalising VET in the US
In some states in the US, VET’s value is under vigorous reconsideration. A recent article from The Hechinger Report puts it like this:
‘People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with [bachelor degree] credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.’
California is seeking to reposition VET through a new program, Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy. Colorado is redesigning and re-energising apprenticeship program delivery. Reading between the lines, it seems Australia is ahead of the US game in many respects and lagging in some.