Career Progression, Professional Development and VET
March 25, 2015 1 Comment
I wrote about this topic almost 12 months ago, (I don’t want to be a trainer all my life) but a couple of conversations I have had recently have got me thinking again about the whole concept of career progression, talent management and succession in both organisational L&D and the VET sector. As I sit back and look at the world of Learning and Development and Training, after having been involved in it for quite a lot of years, in all parts of the industry, accredited and non-accredited, public and non-public, delivery, management, strategy, in very large enterprises and small ones, I realise that the path I took to get to where I am was (like with most of the other people I know) quite crooked, there was very little in the way of straight line progression in terms of moving from one role to another and gradually climbing some career progression ladder. Not that these days it seems there is really that linear progression in terms of careers which were very much part of the generations before us. The other thing I noticed was that there was very little in the way of mentoring or talent management in any part of my career. I was essentially left to my own resources.
Which brings me to the subject of professional development and how it ties into career progression and talent management. It seems to me that the world of Professional Development in the VET sector is divided into two distinct streams;
- How to be a better trainer (which includes look at this lovely new piece of technology)
- How to meet compliance standards
Now some might try and paint their PD programs to make them look like they are something else, but in reality at least from what I can see the vast majority of PD falls into these two categories. Please note that I am intentionally avoiding talking about any PD that relates to industry currency that is a whole different ball game altogether. So my question is where are the professional development programs around leadership, ethics, management (not compliance management, management), mentoring. There are a whole range of skills that just don’t seem to make it onto the PD offerings for training professionals. Now I know what some of you are going to say, that sort of stuff is available through other avenues and generalist programs and you are probably right, but wouldn’t it be nice, I dare say even useful to have leadership, management and ethics programs that focussed on the sector. I certainly think it would be.
In order to do that however we would need to know what career progression looks like in this sector, and I am not sure that we do. One of the problems is of course one that exists in any sector where there are practitioners and administrators/managers, and much like in the social sciences practitioners at some point have to choose, whether to stay a practitioner or do I want to be a manager. Trainers and facilitators have to choose as well, do they want to stay heavily involved in the teaching side of the profession or do they want to move over into administration and management. This is why in a lot of organisations, particularly as the organisation gets bigger, more and more of the management staff coming from the administrative/co-ordination/compliance side of the business than the training side, the move seems a lot easier to make. And make no mistake this is not just the case in the non-public side of the sector, even in the public (TAFE) side we see the same thing and they have a very structured environment with all of these levels and things for trainers to traverse, but again at some point the trainer has to choose and in the case of TAFE added to the change in focus from actual training to administration which comes with any move like this there is also in a lot of cases a loss of ‘perks’ such as non-contact hours and the like, things that people from the administration side have never really had anyway so they won’t miss them when they move. The other thing we need to know is what makes a good manager in this sector, what is the skill set of someone in Educational Management? We also need to know how to take someone who is a good trainer and help them to become a good manager and we cant do this if we don’t know what we are aiming for. Then of course it is just a simple matter of getting people on board with the idea of doing something for their staff other than sending them to a conference or a two day program in flipped learning and that more than anything may actually be the biggest challenge.