Whilst apprenticeship and traineeships began as early as the 1788 it was not until the 1990’s that major things began to change direction for VET. Traditional industries and trades began to decline in some areas, more women were looking to obtain qualifications and enter the workforce and there was an increase in the number of service industries and networks of private training providers.Before the 1990’s, Australia had eight separate training systems which were not recognised between each State and Territory. It was during this period that the necessary changes were made to the VET sector to create the nationally recognised certification of all accredited qualifications.
Since its inception, the key purpose of the VET sector has been to provide training in the necessary skills and knowledge to assist people who want to upgrade or seek recognition for their current workplace skills or obtain the foundation skills which are necessary to gain employment.
Somewhere along the way the purpose of providing skills and knowledge has altered. Many training providers began to focus on the knowledge components of the elements rather than the skills. The practical applications that were required within a VET course became diluted throughout the delivery and in many cases through the development of learning and assessment resources. For many qualifications, the assessment process became paper based, consisting of written knowledge questions, written projects and simulation became class based lectures with the demonstration of skills on one occasion.
Before you get riled up, there is a place for this type of assessment process BUT they must align to the practical application required to complete the actual tasks related to specific qualifications.
I have noticed, that as the training packages are improved and transitioned, there is a definite shift back to the practical skill emphasis on assessments and delivery, which to me, is a breath of fresh air. Whether it is a unit in hospitality or business there is now a focus on the learner having to demonstrate tasks on a specific number of occasions. In some cases, they need to demonstrate anywhere from 2 to 8 times.
Some may say that this is excessive but it all depends on the qualification and the industry as this is clearly a requirement which may be justified to ensure that the learner has the required skills to actively work within that type of industry. I am sure that you would not want a mechanic working on your brakes who has only attempted to do this task once, in a simulated environment. The need for the workplace or the simulation to be completed consistently over multiple periods is how adult learners, gain the skills and knowledge to perform the job activity.
As VET providers and writers of development content it is essential that when reviewing or developing your assessment tools you drill down into your assessments and ensure that you are meeting these specific criteria. The skills component of the assessment tool has been identified from the auditors as being one of the most non-compliant aspect in many materials. If the RTO is unable to supply and provide sufficient evidence to support the learners completing the practical skills, then your materials may be a risk of being deemed non-compliant during a sanctioned audit.
It is essential that there is ongoing transparent communication with industry to ensure that the suit of learning tools which are developed, and the delivery of training which is provided, remains current and relevant to new and emerging trends of each industry sector.
We need to stay focussed on the fact that the purpose of VET is to provide the learner with workplace skills and knowledge to give them the best opportunity to obtain employment in their chosen industry field. This will provide greater outcomes for the individual learner, employer and the economy.