Connecting L&D and the VET Sector
February 13, 2015 7 Comments
We talk about VET as being industry led and aimed at the needs of industry and skilling of workers, yet in most organisations L&D departments spend large sums of money on non-accredited, sometimes overseas based programs to meet their staff training needs. A few clear examples are
- Prince2 Project Management Training VS Certificate IV or above in project management
- The C.A.R.E and Sanctuary Models in Youth work VS Certificate IV or about in Child, Youth and Family intervention.
Why is an organisation happy to spend $250,000+ on a program from the USA, with no accredited outcomes, but not willing to spend the same amount on a VET program that provides or if well-constructed is able to provide the same kind of learning outcomes and more.
Why do organisations send staff to a 5 day Prince2 course costing close to $3000 dollars when they could undertake an entire Certificate IV in Project Management for the same or less?
While some of the answer here lies with brand, reputation and portability of qualification (particularly with say the Prince2 program which is recognised internationally), some of the answer also lies squarely at the feet of the VET sector and while some of the issues have to do with the construction of the training packages, how they are developed, others are directly concerned with how the VET industry interacts with organisations.
There is a lack of understanding of how VET works within industry and organisations, it is often viewed as being inflexible and focused on full qualifications, while what industry wants in flexibility and the ability to access and train their staff in particular skills or skill sets. The VET industry also seems to fail at capturing and utilising well, all of the formal and in particular informal learning that occurs in organisations and converting that into accredited outcomes. L&D departments have specific business goals that they need to meet and the VET sector needs to be able to intersect with those goals and offer solutions that are appealing in both in terms of outcomes and in terms of budgetary considerations. Trying to sell an L&D manager a certificate IV in business program on the basis that it is government subsidised fails even though the cost might be much less than other options because it is not what they want. They want time management for some staff, excel training for others, communications skills for yet others and they know that trying to sell the concept of a full qualification to the operational managers in the organisation will fail for the same reasons. It is not what they want.
While full qualifications may make sense to individual students looking to participate in the workplace, improve their employment options or to make themselves more attractive in terms of promotions, it is rare, (or at least this seems to be the case anecdotally), that even with customisation of content and the importation of units to try to meet the organisations need, there are still gaps and things that are not needed. I can’t count the number of times I have heard people say ‘Can’t we replace that Workplace health and safety unit with something more relevant?’ or ‘Why are these units in here, that is not how we do business, can’t we change them?’ Unfortunately as I have before this often turns around on students who have done a generic program through a provider and are out looking for a new role or career. On the surface the qualification looks ok, but when the potential employer looks into the units before deciding to make and offer or worse they find out later through an incident, that something that they consider critical to the operation of their business wasn’t covered, the whole qualification looks worthless as does the sector in general.
But what can we do about it how can we better connect the world of L&D to the world of VET.