A mission statement for Vocational Education and Training
June 9, 2016 3 Comments
Those of you who were at the recent VET Leaders congress at Edutech 2016, may have heard a forum discussion, that I was part of, about the future of VET in Australia. During the conversations I suggested that one of the things that we clearly need in the VET sector in this country is a clear vision, or a mission statement if you will. There was some discussion about the problems of achieving something like this at a government, strategic level and that any kind of statement which was created at this level would be compromised to some extent by the agendas of various stakeholders. Now while I understand this concern and have seen it happen at all levels of not just government, but private enterprise as well, I tend to think that it may miss the point of what I was suggesting and almost throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. So what was it that I was driving at when I suggested we need to have a vision for VET?
When I looked around the various websites and documents about the sector from government departments and the like, I could see a lot of talk about what VET was and how it was delivered, but very little that was inspiring, very little that would make me want to become involved in the sector, whether as a student, a provider or an employer. It was all very boring and perfunctory and well, to be honest just a bit disappointing. There were also lots of statements about data and regulation and quality, but again it was all written in such boring and uninteresting ways that no one could actually get excited about it.
I wrote late last year about the problems of the VET brand in Australia and that as a sector we needed to do something about it and that actually having an overarching brand for the sector would make a significant difference. The general public, students, their families, even their employers are not terribly interested in figures and data and papers written about completion rates and how the VET sector helps disadvantaged people to improve their chances of workforce participation. I mean even I got bored writing that sentence, now imagine how someone feels who is trying to find somewhere to study aged care or plumbing, or any other VET course, or trying to decide whether to go to Uni or and RTO, feels when they read that. I have got a word for you – uninspired. People want to be inspired to take action, they want to feel that the decision they are making is the right one, they want to feel reassured and unfortunately data and boring statements about what VET is doesn’t do that.
Now to be fair, I know that a lot of providers both public and private do a tremendous amount of work on their brand and their vision and position themselves wonderfully within the sector. I know that we spend a lot of time thinking about our position and brand, and what it says about us and what we do. However I can’t help but think that if we had an overarching mission statement, a vision for the sector from which we and other providers could hang our particular brand, our way of living up to that vision then the sector as a whole might be a better place.
The vast majority of providers, be they public or non-public, do a fantastic job of providing outstanding outcomes for students and lets face it, this sector changes peoples lives. There is absolutely no doubt about that what so ever. We are however as a sector absolutely terrible at telling people this, in motivating, inspiring and meaningful ways. We as a sector need to have a single cohesive vision of our purpose and goals. We need to make this explicit and we need to spread it far and wide. We need to make the value of vocational education and training part of this countries psyche and ensure that it is valued for the amazing contributions that it makes no matter who delivers it.
So here is the challenge for you all. What should a mission statement or a vision for VET in Australia contain, what is it about this sector that will inspire and motivate not just those of use within the sector, but everyone else as well?