Units of Competency, Skill Sets, and Qualifications

I have been talking a lot recently about accredited and non-accredited training, skill sets and units of competency. One of the things that concerns me is the focus on full qualifications and how they are delivered.

Now I understand that a RTO’s and TAFE market full qualifications and market them in the way that they do is driven almost entirely by the way in which the Australian Governments funds training. For the most part funding only applies to full qualifications. The unfortunate thing about this is that it constricts the way a lot of training providers think about delivery.

I want to put forward an idea today about an alternative and what I think is ultimately more effective method of delivery. Those of you who have heard me speak over the last few months may already have heard outlines of this idea and of how it works for our organisation.

Think about undertaking an undergraduate Arts degree at university. You choose from a wide range of different subjects spread over a number of semesters, which gradually build towards a major or maybe two. This is not necessarily how VET training works and I wonder if there is not some value in thinking about delivery differently.

Rather than (and I will give examples from the community services package because I know it well) enrolling someone into a cert IV in community services work why not let them choose from a range of courses say ‘effective communication’ ‘maintain quality service delivery’ ‘cultural competence’ ‘work effectively with young people’ ‘advocate for clients’ etc. Let the participant choose their path, develop the areas they want, get a feel for different sectors of work and decide where they might want to go.

Given this idea a participant may start off thinking they want a qualification in social work, but may end up realising that they realise and want to do youth work or maybe they might decide they want to do both.

Of course funding this form of training delivery from a government point of view is going to be much more difficult than just funding a place in a cert IV in disability work, which may not be what the participant really ends up wanting to do. It would also make it more difficult for RTO’s and TAFE’s to market and administer. However it seems at least in my mind a model of training delivery that has a much more congruent outcome for the learner.

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

3 Responses to Units of Competency, Skill Sets, and Qualifications

  1. Glenn says:

    I kept thinking of an analogy. Imagine a consumer walking into a fast food restaurant because he is hungry, but doesn’t want anything on the menu. “Can I have a cheesburger without the cheese and pickles, a serve of fries that are no longer than 3cm in length and a large coke with no ice, just add enough water to dilute the coke to the same amount ? ”

    I fully agree with your ideas above, but in practical terms the funding model and the way TAFEs traditionally operate are real obstacles not to be underestimated.

    Some private training providers do promote their courses in a way that the UOCs are treated as outcomes which fall out of the training, not the primary focus. For example Leadership Management Australia LMA courses are all like this. Buried in the fine print in many of their courses you find which UOCs are involved, but mostly the programs are described in terms of what the learner will be learning.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Glenn, I agree completley that the both the funding model and the way in TAFE’s have and do operate are significant hurdles, but I guess what struck me was your analogy. My daughter use to manage a large fast food resturant and they actually got a significant number of people who would walk in and make requests not dissimilar to the one you describe, and the response to the person was almost always, yes we can do that. Why? Customer Service is the simple answer and an understanding if you give people what they want they will keep coming back, they will tell their friends and encourage them use you whatever service you offer.

      Unfortunately until we can come up with a more customer focused funding model and a more business centric approach from TAFE’s and governments we wont get too far. I guess I take some solace in the fact that organisationally this is how we run training and if i can encourage more organisations to look at it as a model things might actually change.

  2. Pingback: Does our Government Funding Model effect Training Delivery « Organisational Learning and Development

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