On Industry Currency for Trainers

I came across a gem of a question today in a forum I am part of, which spiked a little thought bubble in my head about industry currency.  I did talk about this subject a little while ago but I think it is one that is worth revisting.  The statement was and I am paraphrasing slightly here – if trainers are not working directly in the industry they are training in how can they be trainers, as they don’t meet the currency requirement.  So why is this interesting, primarily because I have long thought that there are a significant number of ‘trainers’ both in the public and non-public sector for whom if the point was really pressed that currency would be a very large issue.  Why?  Well because they have not actually worked in the sector they are training in quite a number of years and have relied on going to conferences, attending PD sessions and gaining more qualifications (though this is more often than not done through RPL rather than formal study).  Now the standards (1.13) clearly say the following current industry skills directly relevant to the training and assessment being provided.  Now in their fact sheet on this standard it says, Your RTO should ideally ensure that trainers and assessors are regularly exposed to industry workplaces and that they have the ability to participate in workplace tasks, however they are clear that Delivering training and assessment in a workplace does not constitute the development of current industry skills.  Now it is the case that ASQA suggests other activities which a trainer and assessor could participate in to contribute to the demonstration of current industry skills which include:

  • Participation in relevant professional development activities: the implementation guide may provide a list of relevant industry associations. A trainer and assessor could consult with these industry associations to identify relevant development activities they could attend.
  • Participation in networks: this could include attendance at industry breakfasts, workplace health and safety meetings and discussions with employers.
  • Personal development: through reading of industry journals, with subscriptions both online and in print.
  • Undertaking accredited training: including single units of competency, skill sets and qualifications and demonstrating recent completion of a VET training product.
  • Returning to work: that is, working in the relevant industry on a part-time or casual basis.

I guess my question here is how many ‘trainers’ would if were to really dug down into it, have industry currency.  Vocational education is not like teaching, it is not just working through a curriculum (that shouldn’t be taken to in any way diminish the job that teachers actually do), there is a significant amount of technical and activity based skills and learning which are required to be passed on to students, which makes the vocational sector significantly different to the other educational sectors.  Trainers and Assessors in this sector need to have industry skills but more than that they need to have relevant and up to date industry skills, that is, industry currency.  As I said above there are a significant number of providers (both public and non-public) where trainers and assessors have not worked in their industries for many many years as they have been full-time trainers/assessors and have relied on conferences, networks, webinars etc in conjunction with RPL to keep their paper qualifications up to date.  I have to wonder however, how many of these would be able to do the jobs they are training students to do if they were dropped back into the workforce again.

I would be really interested to hear everyone thoughts on this.

 

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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.

9 Responses to On Industry Currency for Trainers

  1. Life Centric says:

    How would you be rated as a Trainer and Assessor Paul as I read through your qualifications and what you have done?

    Do you have Industry currency in your field?

    Have you taken accredited training in competency skills in your industry?

    No doubt by now you will be seething at even being asked these questions – yet you are involved in influencing VET in Australia and making suggestions about how Trainers and Assessors should be maintaining their ability to train and assess so it seems to me that you too should be involved as a Trainer and Assessor in your industry, whatever that is – if we follow your argument.

    This system is flawed; teaching to industry competencies at various levels of certification cannot and will never be consistent nor ‘competent’ – there are just far too many variables influencing, not the least is that of human behaviour!!

    Interesting that under Personal Development above, it talks about ‘reading’ industry journals; so is Personal Development more about Industry specific training & understanding at an intellectual level in this context?? My understanding of Personal Development is vastly different if that is the case – a minor point you might say but one that demonstrates interpretation, yes?

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Life Centric, not seething at all and there seems no reason for me to be. I am also very confident if ny currency and vocational competency and i am actively a trainer and assessor, i probably train etc about one day a fortnight on average usually in higher level community services qualifications. I hold a senior management position in a NFP and am involved in my sector on a daily basis.

  2. Kelvin Chu says:

    It seemed to me the way ASQA sets the trainers currency requirements is too idealistic. I think RTOs are desperately looking for trainers who can have the perfect fit to the wide spectrum of training courses operating under the Training Packages.

  3. Anna Keavney says:

    I think that if the Trainer is attending a range of PD activities, conferences and networking events then this combined with a background of solid work experience in the relevant discipline then this should be sufficient to demonstrate currency and to keep up with developments in work practice.

  4. Paul,
    Just wondering if that question was mine you were referring to by any chance? It is certainly a topic that I feel very strongly about in the sense that I believe for a trainer to remain ‘truly current’ (regardless of what is mentioned in the standards as a minimum benchmark) that all trainers should do some work in the industry they train in. As we know, trainers are meant to be SME’s in their chosen area as they are passing on skills to the existing/future workforce to improve industry and in some cases, change lives. I have worked as an accredited community services focused trainer for the last 4-5 years whilst developing a not-for-profit organisation helping Youth at risk and people impacted by Domestic and Family Violence. I will continue to work as a trainer until I can bring our not-for-profit to a place where it is is financially self-sustainable (as i need to earn an income to survive and love my job as a trainer). Over this time, I have met many people who have trained full time and completely lost touch with industry and would not be able to function well if put back in. I speak of this purely from a community services perspective because the type of work that we do can dramatically impact on peoples lives, so I think it is of the utmost importance that people regularly work within their chosen field to ensure they;
    A) keep up to date with industry changes as they change so regularly and
    B) ensure that they can practically implement these themselves so they have context to share with their students in order to prepare them for entering the same field.
    I know not everyone is going to agree with me here and thats ok, we are all entitled to our thoughts and beliefs. In saying that (another personal thought here) I seriously think that all trainers would only benefit by working in their chosen field for just 1-2 weeks per year. And I suggest that if the thought of going back to that kind of work worries you or is not appealing, then perhaps you may need to think about your suitability in training that subject as it will show through in your delivery. I know that im potentially bringing some ‘heat’ my way in saying these things but once again, these are my thoughts/opinions and I would value hearing everyone elses on this topic 🙂 Like Paul, I believe that it is a discussion we must undertake to improve the quality of our sector.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Josh,

      It was your comment that prompted it. It is one of those things that sit in the back of my head most of the time. We are lucky where I am and in the last couple of places that I have managed, the RTO has been part of a wider organisation and has trained in qualifications related to their core business and all of the trainers have actually still had roles in the business, which make it much easier to ensure their currency.

  5. Dr Dan Hill says:

    Paul,

    Topical and relevant as usual. A perspective I’d like to introduce is that industry currency is a dependant requirement. Trades and most highly technical skills are always being improved and refined. Without constant industry ‘practice’, a trainer may quickly find themselves teaching the equivalent of abacus addition in a calculus class (or more accurately, paper-based calculus in an html algorithm class!).

    But when it comes to Business training and (dare I raise it) TAE training, industry currency may actually be gained through just ‘doing your job’ in many cases. Especially if you’re an independent contractor who runs your own ABN-based training and/or assessing business.

    Hence the dependancy. If X, then current equals Y. If BSB/TAE, then currency equals ?

    What have you found in your travels?

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Dan,

      I would agree with you entirely about the concept that currency is dependent on the industry. For example I have industry currency relevant to the leadership and management qualifications because I run a significant business unit within an organisation (GM Training), where I am the person in charge of the leadership and management programs (among other things). I am also responsible for the business, finances, staff etc. Given that it is an NFP also shows currency with Community Sector Management. Because it is the training part of the business and is an RTO and I deliver some of the training personally and work with compliance and reporting and all of that TAE currency as well. The same thing I think applies if you are running your own business as an independent contractor delivering TAE and other training.

  6. Josh Sheinberg says:

    I also agree with you both here in the sense that the concept of currency should be industry determined where you have exceptions to the rule in the sense of BSB/TAE quals listed as above. As I had mentioned in my LinkedIn responses, I can only speak for community services but can also agree with Dr Dan Hill when saying that industries such as trades (where just like community services and health, things are changing all the time) there is a necessity for people to be actively engaged in the workforce applying the skills they are teaching in order to remain current. In some of my LinkedIn comments, I seemed to be met with some fierce adversity to the suggestion of this. However, it’s definitely a vital discussion that must be had more often if we are to increase the quality of service delivery in the VET sector I believe.

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