On Industry Currency for Trainers
March 31, 2016 9 Comments
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.