Evolution not revolution: views on training products reform

By Francesca Beddie, Jo Hargreaves, Georgina Atkinson Research summary 1 February 2017 978 1 925173 74 1

Description

In 2016 the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Industry Skills Council and the Skills Senior Officials Network commenced deliberations in relation to the reform of national training products – training packages and accredited courses. Their aim was to ensure training products remain relevant and support skills development as technology, jobs and industries change. NCVER was asked to convene an event where stakeholders across the sector could discuss the challenges and opportunities around future reform efforts. The views arising from a symposium held on 9 August 2016 are captured in this summary paper.

About the research

At the request of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry Skills Council (ISC) and the Skills Senior Officials Network (SSON), a National Training Product Reform Group, comprising representatives from all of the jurisdictions, considered the longer-term reform of training products. This exercise, conducted during 2016, aimed to ensure that training products remain relevant and support skills development, in the face of technology, jobs and industry change. The role of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) was to convene a group of thought leaders to consider the challenges and opportunities for the reform of training products.

NCVER commissioned three essays to inform discussion at a symposium, held on 9 August 2016. The 60 or so symposium participants considered training product reform from the perspective of industry, educators, students and regulators. Their views are captured in this summary, which was prepared to assist the reform group. The areas of agreement are presented in the key messages that follow. The points of difference, about how to balance the various interests represented in the system, were also raised. This task will require deft negotiation to avoid the introduction of further complexity into training products, given that all participants agreed that training product simplification must be an essential goal of reform.

Key messages

  • An industry-led training products framework remains a cornerstone of the national training system.
  • Training products should:
    • establish occupational standards
    • enhance the capacity of learners to enquire and analyse
    • support dialogue between industry and educators
    • enable effective regulation to support training quality
    • encourage lifelong learner involvement and empowerment in the development of skills and knowledge.
  • Reform efforts should aim to preserve the effective aspects of the current training products while also looking to the future. These efforts should concentrate on the fundamentals:
    • high-level national industry standards, along with educational standards
    • educator and industry involvement in design and delivery.
  • Training products should reinforce principles for partnerships between industry and educators, as well as across education sectors, supporting more agile review and the efficient update of training products.
  • For people with educational disadvantages, VET training products shouldn’t be differentiated, but the learners should receive tailored support. They may be better assisted outside the current framework of training products.
  • Testing initiatives before implementing wholesale reform was generally viewed as the best approach, with pilots and trials seen as good ways to further inform the design of the training product system.

Dr Craig Fowler
Managing Director, NCVER

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