Connecting L&D and the VET Sector

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

  1. Prince2 Project Management Training VS Certificate IV or above in project management
  2. 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.

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.

7 Responses to Connecting L&D and the VET Sector

  1. Ryan Tracey says:

    Read this with much interest, given that I am one of those L&D folks who has sourced both the VET sector and private (non-accredited) vendors to provide training to the people in my organisation.

    Paul, you ask “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?” I can tell you that part of the reason is that it takes 5 days rather than 5 months. While the VET option will be rigorous and comprehensive, it will also be a long slog. Wrapping it up in 5 days is for some a better option, especially when the training is time sensitive.

    Another reason, unfortunately born through my experience, is red tape. A while ago I headed up an initiative that put a dozen of our PAs and EAs through Business Administration certification. Sure, this was intended to developed their capabilities for their day-to-day activities, but also it was intended to improve their employability and give them something to feel proud of. I’m not trying to be condescending regarding the latter; some of them had never earned a qualification since leaving high school, and getting a nationally accredited certificate was a BIG DEAL. So what was the problem? I almost drowned in the paperwork. It seemed never ending, and it really put me off seeking this kind of training in the future.

    I really like your idea of splitting up the training offerings. Why can’t a VET institution run a 1 or 2-day workshop, which happens to give credit in a particular qualification pathway? Do a bunch of them over the course of the year and guess what… do these other ones and you’ve earned yourself a nationally recognised certificate. yes, competition with the private sector will be fierce, as it will with the universities and grad schools, but VET is renowned for focusing on the practical – and that’s exactly what many of us in the corporate sector want.

  2. Brett says:

    Thank you for posting Paul, very interesting and relevant comments.

    As you indicated Paul, and Ryan commented, I think the biggest single factor is the (not withstanding RPL) time factor in completion of this training and the perceived ROI.

    I know within the WA public sector, whilst VET courses are made available in various formats, the emphasis is certainly on non-accredited short courses offered by private providers. As with industry, Government departments are limited in L&D funding and seek the biggest bang for their buck. Similarly, skills needs are mapped to strategic needs and consequently are often very specific.

    Many RTO’s focus primarily on qualification completions and don’t market skill sets to organisations effectively. Perhaps there is a message here for RTO’s as well.

  3. Kim Hassall says:

    VET training is a traditional training framework and is a light year removed from what I call Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Currently I Chair Education and Professional Development for the Aussie section of a very large International Institute. Its members have usually been in the workforce for several years and TAFE / VET programs don’t cut the mustard. As there is no framework for unaccredited courses we invented one and the modules from un-accredited short courses we put into a framework. These are called Professional Development Programs. They go through a recognition process as well. Most TAFE Colleges and RTO do not have the capability to teach most of these programs and so the world of CPD is in its own space. A GM wanting to do a specialist niche program ain’t going to join a class part time for two months with unemployed students anyway.

    The sooner the regulators realize that combinations of short programs will hit the mark far moreso than any TAFE programs. might move to helping industry get what it needs, Trying to funnel CPD training through a ‘used by’ VET framework seems a desperate grab for a non VET space that is sorely unaddressed in many countries.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Kim, I think that there is a lot of truth in what you say. I was talking yesterday about the disconnect between a lot of people in the VET sector as opposed to those in the L&D space and the need for the VET sector to understand that for a lot of L&D people 6-18 month long courses are never going to fly even if they are free. Short Sharp, well focussed programs that meet particular needs are more often what is required.

  4. Mark Jones says:

    Again Paul…very relevant… but welcome to my world…I see your paradigm played out every day! We talk about business learning needs and training analysis, and of course contextualising learning to meet the needs of students… but really do we do it well. Your post maybe suggested ‘not so well’. We talk also about flexible learning… maybe we need to go back and define the work flexible and then we may see some change! (MJ)

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