Griffith University’s  Steven Hodge has authored a paper that provides an overview of training and assessment issues covered in the VET sector’s landmark reports highlighted on VOCEDPlus.

Beginning with Kangan, he works through the three pivotal papers released during the Dawkins era (and described in the paper as the transformative trilogy!) as well as the Deveson, Finn, Mayer, Carmichael, FitzGerald and Karpin reports. He also takes a look at the first review of training packages by Kaye Schofield and Rod McDonald in 2004.

The paper provides useful summaries of the key points from this range of reports. Hodge concludes that the early reports emphasised the educational and social roles of VET and “stressed the need to incorporate general and vocational education for those entering vocational programs to realise multiple goals of the technical and further education sector to benefit individuals, society and employers.”

The ‘transformational trilogy’ saw a shift in language to begin the emphasis on an industry-based focus to VET teaching and assessment with teachers and trainers portrayed as “specialists in facilitating learning” with later reports emphasising the importance of industry standards and assessment, not forgetting the role of the key or ‘generic’ competencies. These, according to Hodge, bring “general and vocational education together to develop a certain kind of worker capable of thriving in changing work environments.” However, he notes that:

“key competencies [were] a challenge for training and assessment since they are developmental in nature and elusive in terms of assessment. In contrast, the industry-specified vocational competencies are specific and measurable.”

The Carmichael and Fitzgerald reports emphasised that learning could take place in diverse settings, not just institutions and paved the way for recognising and accrediting an individual’s competency regardless of its origin.

Training packages, he points out, were an attempt to provide a process where industry could directly influence VET curriculum and embrace CBT. However, Hodge also says that:

“The training package model crystallised as a way to address a range of persistent issues that dogged implementation of Dawkins’ vision. In retrospect, that vision did not comprehend the depth of curricular innovation required to meet the demand for completely new relationships among groups interested in vocational education.”

There were considerable challenges in implementation, he maintains, not helped by the lack of available research and that research was – unfortunately – “too slow and uncertain a process on which to base reform.” The research process was just not nimble enough and he argues that the “unresolved conceptual problems and lack of systematic connection between research, theory and practice are still characteristic of Australian VET today.”

One historical overview of the landmark reports looks at research in VET. Another looks at governance and policy, while a third looks at the place of VET. We also highlighted Roger Harris’s summary of VET workforce issues, and their professional development, in a previous VDC News article.