Could Private RTOs replace TAFE

So for a while now I have been tossing this idea around in my head as, in the great tradition of philosopher’s everywhere, a thought experiment and I just wanted to put some of that thinking down on paper to hopefully garner the opinions of others.  Firstly it needs to be said that I am a believer in equality of educational opportunity, everyone should have the same opportunity to receive the best education and that, within some boundaries, that education should be available at little or no cost to them.  I will talk about boundaries and co-contributions in a later piece, but any structure or framework for the delivery of educational outcomes need to meet the equality of educational opportunity position.  Now it has often been suggested that it is the equality of educational opportunity proviso which creates the need for public educational institutions to deliver such outcomes.  I would posit, that this is not necessarily the case, that at least theoretically one could construct a system where public education was replaced by private providers, particularly if we are able to let go of ideological positions.  Now before we go on, while I think I could probably make a case across the entire realm of education I am going to in this instance restrict myself to considering the delivery of Vocational Education and training.

So the question then for me becomes could non-public RTOs replace public providers (TAFE)?  Now there are in my opinion some areas where we have and also probably should have seen the vast majority of vocational education being delivered by non-public RTOs.  Take for example the community services sector, an enormous amount of training in the community services sector is already outside of the public provider system and of that training, a significant proportion is done by organisations (mostly not for profits) who are already service providers themselves and who hold RTO status to either simply train their own staff or their own staff and other people who want to enter the sector.  We see disability support providers delivering disability training, aged care providers delivering aged care, and despite some arguments to the contrary doing it quite well and meeting the needs of their own sectors.

So could this concept be translated to other areas?  One of the arguments raised by the public sector against the proliferation of non-public providers is that non-public providers play in the low delivery cost, high student number areas (often referred to as low hanging fruit), which leaves the public providers with having to deliver high cost, both in terms of delivery and infrastructure, programs and programs which may have very small intake numbers, which makes them less financially viable therefore requiring more support.  However, and here for me is the nub of the question, are for example trades, such as plumbing and electrical, delivered by organisations other than public providers?  The answer is, of course they are, they are delivered by industry associations, employers, and other non-public providers.  So if and again I would posit that this is the case, non-public RTOs are just as capable of delivery training and assessment programs across the range of qualifications within the VET system, given that they have or have access to the appropriate resources and infrastructure, the argument, if we ignore ideological commitments, is simply one about funding and structure.  If we ignore ideological positions, there seems to be no fundamental reason why public institutions need to be involved in the delivery of vocational education.  It appears that we could develop a framework where all of vocational education and training was delivered by non-public providers and that we could still meet the proviso for equality of educational opportunity.

Bear in mind here I am looking solely at the delivery and assessment of vocational education, I am not considering the other social contributions it is often suggested public providers make to communities, however as I have suggested in other places at least a significant proportion of these social contributions may be able to be achieved through other means.  Also it is important to note that I am not suggesting that this is what we need to do, as I said at the beginning I am simply tossing an idea around in my head to see where it leads me, and it seems, that it is possible to hold a position that says there should be equality of educational opportunity and at the same time hold the position that there is no requirement for the public provision of Vocational Education.  It appears that the basis for the public provision of vocational education is at its heart an ideological one and that equality of educational opportunity could be met through non-public provision given the right regulation, structures and funding.  There seems in my view no fundamental reason why public provision is required.

Anyway, as I said I am just playing with some ideas here and my thinking is still very early on a lot of this, but I would appreciate any input that others might have about this.  I would ask though that as I am particularly  focusing here on structural and theoretical ideas and not on an ideology that prefaces on viewpoint or another, that if we could keep ideological positions out of the mix that would be useful.  At least in the first instance I am simply interested in whether or not it is possible to create a structure of non-public provision which could meet an equality of  educational opportunity proviso and achieve outcomes similar to what are currently being achieved.


Sustaining the unsustainable? – A rescue package for Victorian TAFE

So as many of you are aware the Victorian government has handed down its 2015-16 budget and there is a lot being said about skills and training, but also a lot not being said.  Matthew Dale has written a good article on what is not being said, particularly with respect to non-public RTOs here.  I however want to take a different tack from Matthew and focus on one particular part of the budget, namely a TAFE rescue fund worth $320 million.  Now before I go on, and these days I feel like I have to say this all of the time simply because there are so many voices out there who seem to want to jump on anyone who dares to suggest that TAFE needs to change the way it thinks and delivers its services, I am a supporter of publicly funded and supported education, and a robust public sector provider seems to be play a part in the delivery of equitable high quality outcomes which meet the needs of various stakeholders.  It is also the case that the provision of these equitable high quality outcomes can also be achieved through non-public sector means.  We need to have both sides of the equation right and we need to make sure we are maximising the benefits that can be delivered by both public and non-public providers.  That being said however I worry, particularly in the Victorian case, that what we are doing is at least in some cases supporting the unsustainable, encouraging bad management (both fiscal and human resource), and not getting the best possible returns on our investments, be those returns social or financial.

TAFE is primarily a provider of educational services, it delivers like all providers of educational services a range of products designed to meet the needs of employers, students and the other stakeholders in the VET sector.  Now surely like any other provider, responsible management would suggest that income generated from the provision of these services (be that through government-funded programs or fee for service arrangements or whatever) should be sufficient to cover the costs associated with the delivery, management and administration of such training.  But I hear you cry TAFE as public provider has an important social role to play in the community.  Well that may be fair enough, it may have this social role and I will explore this a little later, however shouldn’t then at least the amount of income generated cover at least the actual costs associated with the delivery, management and administration of those programs themselves?  But we have seen as reported last month in The Age an upwards of $50 million loss by TAFE in Victoria, with Holmesglen losing over $13 million and Bendigo and GOTAFE losing $10 million a piece, with the rhetoric being that this is a result of funding cuts and the evils of the non-public sector causing enrolments to drop substantially.  But, and this is a big but for me, we also see Chisholm with an operating profit of $30 million and a regional TAFE, Wodonga, managing a $1.3 million surplus. So my question is then if both a large TAFE and a small TAFE in Victoria can manage to balance their books in these so-called tumultuous times, then what are the others doing that is leaving them so deeply in the red?  Is it just as simple as has been suggested in some circles that both Chisholm and Wodonga were simply better managed and better able to adapt and take advantage of the changes that took place in the system, and rather than complaining about the lack of funding, simply got on with the job, adapted and managed to produce a surplus?

But I am often told that things are not that simple, that it is not an even playing field and that TAFE performs social functions over and above those functions that it has as a public provider of educational services and this may well be true in some or all TAFEs.  What troubles me I guess is that it is not easy to see what government funding is being directed toward when it is being provided to a TAFE.  Is it going to support the social functions of TAFE, its infrastructure, support for the delivery of training or costs related to management and administration.  While I have very little problem with the concept of a TAFE being supported to deliver social outcomes over and above their role as a provider of educational services, supporting poor management practices and an inability to delivery training within the confines of the income produced by that training is a much harder pill for me to swallow.

I am also sometimes worried about the suggestion of the social equity and equality role that TAFE plays. It is something that we hear quite often, TAFE needs more support because it provides things to the community that other educations providers don’t.  It provides support for people with disabilities, learning issues and other disadvantages, equitable access to programs, community and social space, and a range of other things which fall under the umbrella of social good.  Now while it may be true that is some areas TAFE is the only avenue for the provision of these services and the only educational provider that services people with disability or disadvantage, this is simply not the case in general.  Many non-public providers work extensively with people with disability and disadvantage, and either through their own programs or in conjunction with other service providers seek to provide equitable access to programs.  There are also many community service providers who provide a range of services and spaces which do similar things to social activities of TAFE.  So to claim that these kinds of activities are things that are only provided by TAFE while it might be right in some cases cannot, I don’t think, be used as a blanket statement.

So I guess my point is a simple one and one that I have made before and that is, perhaps before we throw money at TAFE, TAFE needs to have a really strong look at what it does, what its core business is and how it delivers and manages that business and if we are going to throw a massive $320 million dollar lifeline to public providers we should know what it is that that $320 million is going to actually rescue or as I said we may well be sustaining the unsustainable.


Anyway that’s just my opinion.

Trainer Utilisation – What does a good model look like?

I posted something on this topic a number of years ago, when there was a lot of discussion around the proposed changes to the TAFE award in Queensland, where trainers were supposed to only undertake face to face teaching duties for 21 hours a week, along with a host of other conditions, including non-contact time, professional development leave and the like.  I thought however it was it was time to revisit this topic again as I have seen a number of discussions about what models of trainer utilisation and employment look like in both the VET and L&D sector.

Firstly some background when I was training in the corporate sector (non-VET) the busiest year I had amounted to training (actual face to face in a classroom training) for 190+ days of the year and over 3000 people.  This averages out at about four days per week with the fifth day usually taken up with travel.  Now admittedly there was not a lot of formal assessment outside of the training itself, that was part of these courses, they were mostly enterprise technology courses on how to use large enterprise systems.  However I can tell you that by the end of that year I was tired and really needed to have my time off, but it was work that was needed to be done and clients were happy with the result.   On the other side of coin, I have had public providers say that we would have to have a number of different trainers to deliver a program of courses over a time frame of a month, because their staff couldn’t/wouldn’t do that amount of amount of training, either at all, or only if they were paid overtime for everything over what was in the award, which would have made the delivery uneconomical for everyone.  Now don’t get me wrong here I am saying that there shouldn’t be awards and that people should not be paid and paid fairly for the work that they do, however surely it seems to me that we need to really think about is what is reasonable utilisation and what does it look like when we need to balance it against the needs of the provider and business and in addition we need to consider the training/assessment work divided as well.

The training/assessment divide is an important one because for any number of reasons staff might be involved either, on a ad hoc or ongoing basis in doing more of one of these types of work during their week plus others.  In previous providers I have had staff who spent most of their time doing assessment work, primarily because the participants were either undertaking RPL or distance learning or other kinds of self paced work and the need for face to face training days was simply not part of the programs there were involved with.  I have had others who had a fairly even spread between the two and then of course those who spent most of their time doing face to face training, either because it wasn’t VET training or because that was their strength and we engaged others to undertake assessment work.

I guess what I am driving at here is should we expect that trainers and assessors are for the most part doing training and assessment type work (and professional development activities where necessary) pretty much all of the time that they are at work or is do we need to outline how much actually time trainers should be doing each of these activities, such as no more than 21 hours face to face in a week and what sort of organisational models support achieving the best outcomes for everyone.  I tend to lean towards not defining the amount of time that staff should be doing each activity, if they need to be delivering training for 5 days in a row that is what they should be doing, if they need to be assessing that is what they should be doing and so on for other activities.  Now some might say well what about time for research or training development or other such activities, if we don’t delineate how much time staff should be allowed to have to undertake these activities, all they will be doing is training and assessment.

I think for me one of the answers to questions such as this is What is the role?  If someone is a trainer and assessor then surely the majority of their time should be taken up by those activities and other activities should work in around what are their main activities.  Given that whether or not you are a public or non-public provider of any kind of training, be it accredited or not, the delivery of training and the associated assessment activities are what in the vast majority of cases produces the income stream that allows the provider to continue, should not this be the aspect that is given the priority in terms of staff utilisation.  One of the solutions to this that has been adopted by a lot of providers both public and private now, is simply to utilise trainers and assessors on a contractual basis, and  there is certainly value to be gained through these types of arrangements for everyone it seems.  I have had plenty of interviews and discussions with trainers who love the flexibility of being able to work on this basis, particularly in the assessment space where they are paid an hourly or per assessment rate and can essentially sit on their couch in pyjamas marking assessments if that is what they want to do.  That being said there are also advantages for everyone in the employee model, where staff can be assigned to other work like program development and similar activities when they are not undertaking training and assessment, but this then requires that the people who are hired as trainers have a range of skills wider than just delivery and assessment and the attitude to match those skills as well.

So if we start to look at what a good model might be, I don’t think that it is a model where there are lots of full-time trainers and assessors delivering a range of different courses and I think this counts whether it is in the VET or non-VET sector.  Multi skilled people, who can train, assess, develop, sell, talk to organisations, manage other staff etc are becoming far more valuable, I think, when we think of full-time employees, as they can be utilised as needed within the organisation.  Now of course to be able to this requires that the organisation itself is not so stratified and siloed that staff cannot be plugged into tasks and project teams where necessary or that the person in charge of the training development team actually talks with the person in charge of the training team and makes these things possible.  All of that aside though I think the days of large groups of full-time trainers and assessors employed by any organisation public or not are at the very least on the way out if not long gone, particularly where those staff aren’t multi skilled across a range of areas.  So that leaves us with alternatives, which we are seeing happening more and more across a wide range of industries, not just training, where administration, management and coordination are handled by permanent employees, while the delivery and assessment activities are done on a contractual basis, usually with a core group of training professionals.  Where development of new resources and programs is either managed internally with project teams made up of internal and external resources or the whole development process is done externally and the provider is the customer and chief stakeholder.  Now these arrangements tend to have the benefit to the provider of only needed to engage people as necessary and not having to unproductive time or having to find other activities for staff during slow spells,  it seems to benefit the employee through their ability to pick and choose and allows them the flexibility to work when and where they want.  Although I am more than happy to admit there for employees, there is or could be the problem of having enough work to pay the bills, particularly where their skills might be part of a saturated market.

So I would be really interested in two thing;

  1. What models different people use in the market place to manage their staff, particularly their training and assessment staff, and
  2. What people think the best model is.

Anyway that’s just my opinion.

What’s wrong with just being a trainer?

I am proud to be a trainer!

I am a trainer at heart and I have been for quite a long time now.  In fact since the 90’s I have trained more than 20,000 people in subjects as varied as how to use outlook or word, how to manage multi million and multi billion dollar projects, how to help people in crisis, how to be better counsellors and support workers and pretty much everything in between.  I know what good outcomes look like and I know that the work I do and have done is valued by organisations and individuals across the globe.  But you know what,

I am sick and tired of people saying that trainers need to be better educated, or better skills or have more educational theory pumped into them!

I am particularly sick and tired of it when the people saying it are academics or researchers, self-styled educationalist guru’s or whatever pithy title they want to have for themselves, who have for the most part never or at least hardly ever actually set foot in a training room and delivered training.  The vast majority of trainers who I know and have worked with, and trust me there is a lot of people who fall into that group, are absolute professionals, who are highly skilled not just in delivering training but in their field or fields of excellence as well.  They are not someone who has just spent time at university learning how to teach curriculum from a book, but who have never actually been out in the work place doing what they teach.  No these are people who not only know their industries and the skills and knowledge that that industry needs but they also know how to pass it on.  And I am not just talking about the VET sector here either I am talking about the whole training and L&D industry professionals delivering solid outcomes to people and organisations every day.  On any particular day these people might be teachers or educators or coaches or mentors or facilitators or what ever is required, but like me at heart they are trainers.

Now teaching is typically defined as, “to cause to know something, to guide the studies of, to impart knowledge or to instruct by example, precept or experience.” where as  training seeks “to form by instruction, discipline or drill” or “to make prepared for a test or skill.” Training usually has a more specific focus than teaching, which seeks to instil a deeper knowledge over a longer period of time. Training, on the other hand, seeks to help people master a specific skill, or skill set, until they are able to execute it efficiently, and training is what I do and that is what most of the people I know do.  We give people the skills and knowledge they need to perform tasks and job roles both now and in the future, to help they get employment, improve their position or just simply be better at what they do, and here is the thing, that is what the people that we work with want, whether they are organisations or individuals, they are not particularly interested in me assisting them on their lifelong learning journey or to assist them to engage in an immersive andragological educational experience, they want the have a particular sets of skills and knowledge either for something they need to do now or something they want to do in the future.

Now I know that there are going to be people reading this who go, ‘well you just have a very limited viewpoint on what this sector is’ or ‘well that because of the way things are structured, if we had more educationalists (or whatever) involved and a different structure things would be different’  or ‘You just don’t understand your just a trainer.’

Dam right I am just a Trainer and I for one am proud of that fact.


Anyway that’s just my opinion, Happy Easter Folks, have fun and be safe.

Fruit of the poison tree – The problem of non-competent trainers

So what happens when a trainer or assessor who is not-competent assesses someone as competent?


So I have been involved in a number of discussions recently about the quality of delivery and assessment of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and the resulting competence of ‘trainers’ as a result of that.  Now before I go any further here it is important to note that this is not just something that is occurring in the non-public sector, but across the board, we are seeing it seems just as many people coming out of TAFE lacking the skills and knowledge they should have as we are from the non-public providers.  A lot of the conversation has been around the problems of finding good, competent capable staff out of what seems to be these days an absolute tidal wave of rubbish.  People who can’t present, don’t know basic things like the principles of assessment, or how to unpack a unit of competency.  Now of course over time some of these people are going to become competent despite their original non-competence, but there still exists of course the problem that at the time the certificate was issued they weren’t competent and therefore should not have been given the qualification in the first place.

Now there has been much discussion about what should be done about this and how it can be addressed, but there seems to be a consensus that at some point the regulator must have to step in and cancel or withdraw a whole pile of qualification which were issued where they should not have been.  Now whether or not this will actually happen is certainly a matter for conjecture, however a recall of this nature would have quite a significant effect on people who had built careers on these qualifications which have been found to be soiled.  This is even more problematic for those who were actually competent in first instance but whose qualification is called into question by association or for those who have become competent since the issuance of the certificate.  Now the argument could be made that  given that they are now competent or were competent originally the withdrawal or cancellation would not prove to have an adverse effect because they  would simply need to provide evidence of that competent to acquire a ‘real’ qualification. The big question which pops up then however is who is going to pay for that. If the person in question undertook their qualification in good faith, and then at a later date the regulator removes that qualification then it would seem that either the company that issued it (which is probably then out of business) or the government should be responsible for the costs of re-assessment. Of course it could also be suggested that very few people do a 2 day certificate IV or a 5 day diploma in good faith or that they can be unaware that after a 6-12 month program where they are struggling that they are not actually competent.
On top of all of this though sits the issue of ‘Fruit of the poisonous Tree’ as they say in the US. If someone who has a qualification but who is not competent, assesses the competence of another person then it is not a reach to suggest that that persons competence and resulting qualification may also be questionable.  We have already seen a significant number of qualifications from one provider cancelled and a range of others from both public and non-public providers called into question, now not to question the competence of those people who assessed these qualifications, but it would seem to me to necessary to investigate that issue as well as the providers from which they gained their qualification.  Now let’s explore what might happen is ASQA starts to cancel, withdraw or recall certificates from even one Certificate IV TAE provider, let alone more than one.  Even if not all certificates are ‘recalled’ it throws into question the veracity of all of the qualifications issued by the provider even those non-TAE qualifications.  Further it must call into question two things,

  1. The competence of any person deemed competent from someone with a ‘recalled’ qualification
  2. The hiring and assessment practices of any providers which employed a person with a ‘recalled’ qualification

It is as I have indicated above a ‘Fruit of the poison tree’ scenario, none of the decisions about competency can be taken at face value and from there it is ‘turtles all the way down’

So what can be done about all of this, well , one solution (which will probably never happen) is to license only a very select number of providers both public and private to assess VET sector competence, rather than the almost open slather that we have at the moment and support the sector (through funding) to have everyone re-assessed. It would be a mammoth and costly task.

Another solution would be a formal licensing process for VET sector professionals assessed by an independent 3rd party with strong ongoing CPD requirements. This would also solve the problem of PD and currency for trainer and facilitators.

The other thing that sits in my head along side of all of this is the skill and knowledge sets (and qualifications) of those in education management roles an what we expect them to be. Ethical, experienced and appropriately qualified CEO’s and education managers in training providers would not allow the delivery of poor quality or substandard qualifications, and not hire non-competent people thus over time improving the quality of the training being provided and the industry as a whole.

Anyway that’s just my opinion.


Funding, Funding, Funding – Providing real sustainable Vocational Outcomes

I was talking with a group of industry friends last week, some TAFE, some non-public and some non VET people thrown into the mix and as it often does the issues of funding, market contestability and VET-FEE HELP came up.  After we had finished a quite lengthy discussion (to be fair we did get derailed on VFH for a while) I got to thinking that it might be time to revisit the issue of funding.  One of the things that really bought this to the front of my mind, was when on of the people who were not directly involved in VET, ask ‘How the hell do you guys keep track of all of the different funding and what about to who and how to access it.  I tried to look for something the other day and it gave me a headache after about 5 minutes.’  The problem is that they are right, between AAC funding for apprentices and trainees, direct grants to organisations, JSA funding, direct funding to providers, VFH (which I know technically speaking is not funding but a loan), and whatever else is out there, it is a nightmare and if it is a nightmare for those of us in the sector and for industry types who have some understanding of the system, how much more difficult is it for the average person in the street, particularly the average person in the street who is heading to Centrelink to start looking for work and is approached by an Educational Consultant on the foot path on the way in, providing all sorts of promises.



Now I have spoken at length, both here and in other places,  about things like the effects of contestable funding on Public providers, focussing funding efforts on real vocational outcomes and how government funding effects training delivery, however as a sector we really do need to get this whole, who and what is funded and by whom piece sorted, sooner, rather than later. The problem though, and I think this is a problem more so for the VET sector than other educational sectors, there are often a range of other factors involved that are not as present in other areas.  Training is often linked to workforce participation, eligibility to benefits, employer benefits and incentives, it is often used as an instrument to manipulate certain workforces, industries and groups in line with policy, strategy and perceived needs.  It is also often used within organisations to reward staff, to establish talent pools and meet compliance needs.  So rarely is training solely done for the educational benefit of the individual doing the training, there is always other forces at work, usually managed through funding initiatives (except perhaps and in the case of FFS and even then there is still an effect).  Then on top of this there is the argument around public and non-public providers which I am not going to get into here.

Now before I go any further I should put a couple of things out there.  Firstly I believe in equality of opportunity when it comes to education, If you are capable of doing a PhD you should be able to do it, if you are capable of doing a Certificate II you should be able to do that as well.  Secondly there is no such thing as free education, just because the student doesn’t pay directly doesn’t mean it is free, someone, somewhere has to pay for it eventually and thirdly there are always going to be those people who are going to require additional assistance in order for us to provide equality of opportunity.

So what should funding look like;

It should be as simply as possible, if it is not easy to understand, then read the big letters above, because we will continue to see these thing happen if people don’t know what is available and how to access it.

It should provide students (and organisations) with the opportunity to choose where and with whom they are trained.  Students (and organisations) should be able to decide (within reasonable parameters) how they want to study and what works best for them.

It should provide the best possible return on investment in terms of vocational outcomes, after all why are we subsidising vocational education if it is not providing a vocational outcome.

It should for the most part be about education outcomes for participants, not a new Mercedes for TAFE directors or multi million dollar profits for non-public providers.  Funded training should be focussed on providing what the participant requires for a real vocational outcome.

It should allow us to be able to meet the needs (as much as actually possible) of our various industries (including trades and small  business) for skilled competent workers.

And it shouldn’t give you a headache to try to figure out whether someone is eligible.

Anyway that’s just my opinion



Paul can be contacted at either

Rasmussen Learning Consultants  or

Spectrum Training



Customisation of Learning – Connecting L&D and VET

A lot of training providers talk endlessly about their ability to customise a program to meet the needs of an organisation.  However, how many of them actually do it or do it in a way that really meets the needs of the organisation?



I think unfortunately, or fortunately for those who do, not many.  Often in the VET sector customisation means little more than choosing different electives, although not too different or there might not be someone able to train them. Unfortunately in most cases, just changing electives is not really customisation, it is far more a case of here are the options we are offering what would you like to choose. This of course is not something that is just confined to the VET sector, a great many licensed and proprietary training programs offer very little in the way of real customisation, however it is the ability to customise training to suit specific organisation and even individual need that is a strength of the VET system.

Customisation is building the training program in such a way that it achieves the goals that the organisation wants.  It is about using their documents, their policies, their procedures.  It is about building a program that produces a participant who has the skill set that the organisation requires, and who is able to utilise that skill set in their work.  The common complaint about this kind of customisation from providers is that you still have to do what the training package says, they have to be assessed on the performance criteria and you have to make sure that the skills and knowledge which are taught to the student are not so workplace specific that they are not easily transferable to other workplaces and roles.  Now of course, this is true, but I don’t think that anyone ever said that what was listed in the performance criteria was all a program could to contain.  It doesn’t say anywhere in the packages that you cannot add additional information or assessment or training.  What it says is that this set of skills and knowledge, assessed against this set of performance criteria is the evidence that is required to deem this person competent in this Unit of Competency.

The other issue that is often bought up is where there is something in the performance criteria that for whatever reason the organisation doesn’t do or does completely differently.  An example of this is a unit of competency around strength based practice in support work and counselling.  There is a process mentioned in the performance criteria which while correct and used by a lot of practitioners, is probably not used, described differently, or used differently, by equally many practitioners.  So (leaving aside questions whether or not the criteria should actually even be in the unit) often staff undertaking this unit end up being trained in something that their organisation does not use and in some cases is actively opposed to the use of.  This also then tends to mean that where that unit is an elective and can be left out it is, which may dilute the overall strength of the qualification from the organisations perspective.  It may also mean that the organisation may then have to go out and source additional training or develop it themselves, around the content which is contained in the unit.   So what does customisation look like here, for an organisation that doesn’t use the particular segment of the unit of competency, given that we know that in order to meet the performance criteria it can’t be left out, and it needs to be assessed.  Having done this on numerous occasions the answer is in general remarkably simple, do both and assess both.  Assess the accredited unit according to the performance criteria and the other according to what the organisation wants.  It is then a case of explaining to the students that while you have provided them with two options, one is the preferred method where they work now, but there are other organisations which may prefer to use the other method.  Is it a little more work?  Yes, but it will also makes the organisation much happier than saying well we have to teach them this method because that is what the training package says and then let them come up with a solution around how to train their staff in their preferred method.

Customisation is also about little things,  like making sure that when you are talking about documents and policies the examples you use are, where possible, from the organisation itself.  It is about using the language of the organisation as well, particularly if you are talking about reporting lines, hierarchies and business processes and software.  It is about sitting down with the manager, the L&D person or whoever you are working with and saying, what are the skills and knowledge you need your staff to have at the end of this and what tasks do you expect them to be able to undertake and then structuring the course around that.  Take the time to cluster and structure delivery and assessment so that it makes sense in the context of the work environment.  There is very little point in training someone in a skill they are not going to use for 6 months.  It is better to provide them with the training in proximity to when they will use the skill, to enhance the retention of the skill and knowledge.

Customisation is actually an enormous strength within our VET system.  This becomes particularly evident when it is compared to many of the other proprietary training programs that are out there, most of which can’t be changed or customised to suit particular circumstance, because the material is copyrighted and licensed and often, because of this the people delivering the training have no say in the content or its delivery.  So in order to meet the criteria of the provider that owns the program they have to deliver it in, often, a very particular manner which unless you are training large numbers of people or spending large sums of money on the training are probably not going to be altered by the program owner.  This ability to customise should not be taken to mean that we can and should ignore the rules of the VET sector, things like Volume of Learning, and the rules relating to assessment and evidence, however the space circumscribed by those rules allows us much more latitude to be able to develop and deliver a program that meets the needs of our clients than most licensed training would ever be able to do.

The real problem is that most providers seem very reluctant to do it.

Anyway that’s my opinion.


Paul contacted via;

Rasmussen Learning Solutions

Spectrum Training

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