VET, RTO’s and Innovative Accelerated Learning

How long doe sit take to train someone, how long does it take to be competent.

I have been involved in a number of discussions around the time it takes for someone to be competent.  Mostly this has revolved around the Cert IV in Training and Assessment qualification, however it did bring home to me once again the abuses of Australia’s Nationally Accredited VET system that occur in the name of profit, while be wrapped in this veneer of Innovative or Accelerated Learning.

Now first off I need to be very clear here; I am not against innovation or accelerated learning, I have plenty of examples of both, both within the VET sector, and external to it that has provided participants and organisations with the outcomes they were looking for.

Too often though, the terms Innovative delivery and accelerated learning, are simply code for how can we get as many people through the door as possible in the shortest possible time.

Why is this such a large issue in the RTO world, well because, despite what people may argue, it is not an open commercial market place, where market decides the value of the course or program and part of that decision is how the program is delivered and the outcomes it provides.  No the VET system is one where, the government sets the price for courses, through funding.  Now I admit this is a little bit of a simplification, the government does not actually say that the price of a  Cert IV qualification is $3000, it says we will give an organisation or a person $3000 to be trained in this qualification, it is not for want of a better analogy a recommended retail price on to p of which the RTO may place a premium.  It is simply the dollar amount the government will provide for the qualification.

So if therefore it costs an RTO $2500 to deliver the program and the government funding they get, either directly or through organisations is $3000, then they are making $500 per participant.  So therefore it makes sense if an RTO can reduce the cost related to delivery they can increase their profitability.  One very easy way to do this is to simply make the course shorter, with less contact time between the trainer/assessor and the participants, therefore reducing a significant cost and releasing the trainer to run other courses.  Shorter courses also means more course can be run over a 12 month period of time, therefore again more profit.

Again I need to state that I am not against RTO’s making a profit, private RTO’s are necessary and they need to be able to be profitable in order to be able to provide the service they do.  The problem for me is RTO’s that put profit before outcomes, who believe that they have some right to issue Nationally Accredited Qualifications (rather than it being a privilege) and using the smoke screen of Innovative Delivery and Accelerated Learning to cover up bad practices and bad outcomes solely designed to increase their profit margins.

It takes time to train people properly, particularly if they don’t have any background skills in the area, it takes more than 5 days for someone to be a competent Trainer and Assessor, it takes more than 12 days for someone to be a competent aged care worker and it doesn’t matter how you wrapper it.  Competence takes time.

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Dear Informal Learning

Sukh,

Ok this made me laugh just a little. Good points though.

Thinking About Learning

Dear Informal Learning,

I understand from previous correspondence that you are interested in coming into my organisation and selling your wares. I’m always up for a laugh looking for opportunities to waste my time ways to help support people who want to learn and develop while at work. So sure, come on in.

There are some things, though, that I’d like your help with so I know better how to make people aware of who and what you actually have to offer? Please answer the below in good time before your impending arrival.

1) Apparently you’re already here?

I’ve been getting the message from different quarters that you’re already in and amongst the people in the organisation. When did you actually do this? Was it when we allowed people to read books in their break time? Or was it when people had access to the internet? Maybe it was when…

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“Thinking Aloud”- What significant benefits would L&D professionals obtain through a postgraduate qualification?

An interesting discussion around qualifications for L&D professionals.

The Twain SHALL Meet

This is my first official blog outside the confines of the University system and has been some weeks in gestation, for various reasons. The theme of the Blog is prompted by a series of tweets, blogs and comments, during and after CIPD HRD13, from connections in my twitter network.

A post by @mervyndinnen piqued my interest with his article questioning whether many in the L&D industry had a real ‘passion for learning‘. Mervyn’s view was that people had a poor view of attending programmes and that L&D conferences followed a well trodden path in terms of what was presented and by whom. The next post came from guest blogger for CIPD @sukhpabial who was clearly underwhelmed by what he had heard at the same event asking the question, Has L&D stalled? I responded by saying that, in my experience, the Google example is not the norm by any stretch…

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The Learning Pyramid

I found this today and thought I would pass it on. I really like the way the pyramid as a way to look at what the best delivery method might be for particular learning programs

Queensland’s VET Investment Plan 2013-14

The consultation draft of the Queensland VET investment plan for 2013-14 is out and it is worth reading over.

Coming off of the recommendations and the governments response to the Skills and Training Taskforce, the Queensland government  has just released it’s consultation draft of the Queensland VET Investment plan 2013-2014 and in particular has introduced us to the Certificate III program part of the investment framework.

Having read over the presentation and additional information about the program, I have to say I think it is definitely a move in the right direction, particularly when there are a number of community services Certificate III qualifications in the initial funding list, including disability and aged care.  This is a solid statement about the value and need to have a starting point qualification for people with low skill levels to be able to participate in the workforce in the continually rapidly growing Community services and Health sector as well as about the importance of the sector to Queensland as a whole.

The industry Partnerships Strategy looks useful as well, particularly with the addition of funding for skills sets in critical skill shortage areas.  This is a funding shift that I have been  banging on about for quite some time now and believe that we should be focusing more on going forward, particularly where people already have a certificate III or even IV qualification.  My only concern in the discussion paper is that ‘The department is pursuing enhanced partnerships with the tourism, agriculture, resources and construction industries that support the four pillar economy.’  Now while I understand the governments focus on its four pillar economy, the largest growing employment sector in the state is the community services and health sector.  I would say to the governement, yes purse partnerships with the four pillar economy, but pursue them with the community services sector as well.  This is where significant outcomes in terms of employment can be easily made.  The sector is crying out for and will continue to cry out for, long after the mining boom is over, for skilled workers across the entire community services and health sector.

A revamping of the VET in schools program to get better align funded school based VET study with clear occupational outcomes is certainly a step in the right direction, again particularly if they look at links and employment outcomes related to the community services and health sector.  Again doing this would produce significant employment outcomes for school based VET.

So for anyone that is interested feedback and suggestions on the plan are open until 24 May 2013.

Herding Cats – Capturing informal and social learning

Social and Informal Learning in taking off in leaps and bounds,

with significant number of courses and programs available for free via various MOOC’s or through providers of free online education the profile of this kind of learning has increased dramatically.  Add into this workplace learning, communities of practice, on demand e-learning, and corporate social media, just to name a few and you soon realise that Learning is happening all over the place.  And I have to say I think that is a fantastic thing, anything which encourages people to learn or makes it easier for them to learn is good for everyone.

However, with all of this learning going on, how do we as organisations know what it is our staff know and how can we be comfortable that they are actually capable of doing the things they have been learning and is it important that we know.

Let me answer the second half of that question first, Yes, it is important that organisations know what their staff are learning, what their skills and capabilities are, what they are competent and not competent to do.  Why? because without that knowledge organisations cannot best plan for the future.  Without this information decisions about workforce needs and capability cannot be accurately made, nor can we properly succession plan for the organisations future.  It is hard to know who are going to be the next senior leaders with your organisation without knowing the knowledge, skills and capabilities.

The first half of the question if harder to answer however, how do organisations capture what it is that their staff know, what it is they have learnt over a year or six months, how does an organisation verify that learning and how can it be integrated into the work of the organisation and where the organisation is ‘providing’ the opportunities to learn, say through communities of practice etc, how do they determine the return on investment they are getting.

Even the simple act of capturing the information about staff learning can be challenging, do you try and capture everything, do you have a system where staff upload what they think is relevant information about their learning activities, does the organisation try and vet the information that is uploaded or captured to ensure that the learning activity was undertaken, or that if possible the person was deemed competent, or do you only accept formal qualifications as evidence of knowledge.  I guess for me it depends on the purposes for which you are looking to capture the information.  If it is being captured primarily so that staff have a record of their learning activities, both formal, non-formal and informal, which they can utilise to show industry currency or professional development, then I think casting a wide net, without too much checking of competence etc is fine.  If however the organisation is using the information as one string to its workforce planning or succession planning bow, or as looking to recognise formally the skills people have gained from informal sources, then I think the capture needs to be much stricter, perhaps even with competency based assessment backing up the learning from these informal avenues.

If you are in organisational learning I would love to hear what you think or what you do in terms of capturing what your staff learn informally.

OPEN EDUCATION: MARKING MOOCS

Great little Blog post on what I think is one of the biggest issues facing MOOC’s and the like. That is how does one show that one learnt anything, or that you are competent in the materials. From an organisational point of view I really dont care if you have done 100 MOOC’s on a range of subject, unless there has been proper assessment (and sorry peer review of your ‘work’ just doesnt cut it for me) then dont even both putting it in your resume as it is meaningless unless you can actually show that someone is willing to say that you are competent.

ANIMAL MY SOUL

The issue of how a mark MOOCs is a moot point at the moment.

As Europeans race to play catch up with their U.S. counterparts, (no educational body left behind!?), two glaring questions rise to the fore in many articles about these massive open online courses.

These are:

  • How do institutions make money from them?
  • Will MOOC students be able to gain credits for offline courses?

The answer to both these questions, in my view, ultimately rests on how the courses are evaluated.

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