Time to competence, vocational assessment and organisational need
March 6, 2015 1 Comment
So in this post on better connecting the L&D and VET sectors I want to look at time frames and how the concept of time to competence may encourage L&D people and organisations to look at professional development training over nationally accredited (VET) qualification.
Most L&D departments are under pressure to deliver programs in quite short timeframes, (Can I have that as a half day?) which I have explored in other works. There is almost always a pressure from the business to ensure that staff are not taken ‘off the job’ for more time than is actually necessary. In this way a program that runs over even five consecutive days and then is finished may be preferable to a program that runs for 6-12 months even if it only runs one day a month. The logistics around making staff available are easier for one-off programs, in a lot of cases particularly where the person works in direct client facing roles, other staff have to be moved around or rostered in order to allow for a staff member to go on a training course. It is also often the case with VET training that there will be work that the staff member is required after the delivery of the program itself to meet the assessment criteria of the program. This in turn then, in a significant number of cases, leads to the staff member applying to have some of their work time allocated to completing their study which in turn puts additional time and resource pressure on the business manager.
The other time related factor which often comes into play here as well is that of the time commitment necessary from any managers, supervisors or team leaders involved with the staff who are undergoing training. With most professional development programs as opposed to nationally accredited programs, there is little or no involvement needed from the supervisory staff of those undertaking training. However this is, in most cases, not the same situation when we look at VET training. There is almost always in the case of VET training a requirement of ‘on the job’ observation or training which needs to be undertaken with the staff members in question. This is often further exacerbated where the manager or supervisors are not in the same workplace as the staff requiring supervision and observation and by the by the fact that often these activities have to happen on more than one occasion for each participant.
In addition there is also the issue of the time involved for the individual L&D staff members, with professional development style programs there is often not a lot of additional work which they are required to undertake. Again this is often not the case with VET training, in particular where the training program being delivered is not simply a generic program. There is time spent consulting with the RTO around the content of the program, looking at what needs to contextualised to the particular business unit or units who are being trained, signing off on paperwork, which it of particular relevance where VET training is being delivered through a funding or subsidy program such as an apprenticeship or traineeship scheme.
The other side of the coin is that one of the things that organisations like about VET is the robustness of the assessment and the competence that results from on the job training and rigorous training and assessment practices. This is particularly attractive to organisations who work in areas which could be considered to be high risk or where parts of the business deal in high risk areas. Should something tragic occur within an organisation which results in the serious injury or death and the organisation needs to testify about the competence of its staff, being able to say that staff had undertaken nationally accredited and been deemed competent, is far more potent than saying that they attended a 2 day course with no assessment of competence.
Now of course this should not be taken to suggest that RTO’s need to shorten their time frames, forgo ‘on the job’ observation and assessment or compromise the integrity of the training and assessment. Remember it is the robust assessment of competence that organisations value about VET. What it does mean however is that we need to understand and work with the needs of the business. This means asking questions like, do thee need a full qualification or just some units, is their training already being done in the organisation that we can map to accredited outcomes. Make the observation and ‘on the job’ processes as simple for the managers as possible, create good checklists, not just the performance criteria, give the staff journals to fill in themselves, explain to everyone how the process works and what is expected. Map out everything so the process makes sense for everyone. The more that both the managers and the staff understand and are engaged in the end to end process the easier it is for everyone to get the result that they want.
Also the easier we can make the process from the perspective of the L&D staff the easier it will be over all. If L&D can see that the time requirements for them in terms of staff undertaking an accredited program can be minimised, allowing them to do other value add undertakings the more like they are to champion the program and the easier it will be to get those successful outcomes.