Vocational Education and Training blog

The changing face of vocational education, 2016

Change and Change and Change again, I have seen it all happen since the end of the 1980’s.  With the:

    • nationalisation of qualifications, and with that, the removal of individual quality models
    • a system where supposed ‘industry experts’ provided input to each training package, mystery experts, see the Indana Jones clip.The youtube clip says it all, who is designing the unit material and why is it so difficult to update it? answer: there are too many players.

  • the competency based training system, where 15 years later, arguments still abound about why anybody would chose this model across all sorts of teaching areas.  Engineering for example is very strong in maths and theory, which do not lend themselves to CBT
  • the abolition of external exams, so different standards in every teaching institution
  • the removal of tertiary teaching qualifications, new teachers have different knowledge of how to teach and different teaching abilities. The most important thing to teaching is planning lessons, and many new teachers are weak in this area.
  • a funding model based on completions, this has caused students to be pushed through the course, many have different levels of employability, with surface knowledge only.
  • a system where the administration of training has overwhelmed training itself.
  • In TAFE NSW, the introduction of new Learner Management Software, a bulky database, which in itself is great if you love programming, it’s proven clumsy to set up classes and manage students.
  • the introduction of a new Smart and Skilled funding model and Private RTOs set up, so many that have failed.  The latest failures giving a dividend of 14 Million dollars to the Directors of that RTO just weeks before bankruptcy declared.

TAFE is facing challenges with all these changes.  It’s now an aggressive and competitive training market place and whether there can be a swift and smooth landing after battling the turbulence of change is unpredictable.  With the right management decisions, and a little help from Government reform, TAFE NSW is well positioned to actually manage all vocational training in NSW – through testing and assessment.

If there was external qualification testing in this new vocational marketplace today, so so many students would not pass many vocational challenge tests after just completing training with many RTOs.

The fix … and this is my idea…. is to deregulate the nationalisation……allow individual RTO’s to model their own courses but have State or National testing agencies.  There will be emergent prestigious teaching RTOs which are in high demand and then the others.  Employers will soon know which RTO is best.  I base this on the American model, where every college has it’s own course and it’s own standards.  If the course and the teaching offered is not good, that college will fail.  Look at the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert), there is a framework of the course outcomes and many online sample exams, but only a few certified testing centres where students do the final tests to be granted the qualification.  The failure rate is high, with a pass mark of 70%  The student below wrote in a blog http://www.techexams.net/forums/mcsa-mcse-windows-2012-general/111868-70-410-failed-again.html   accessed Feb 27, 2016.

I took the 70-410 three times and failed with my scores being 643, 662, and 681 today. I am tired of taking this exam. I am working as a desktop engineer and don’t have any server work experience. I am going for this certification to help me get a job as a junior server admin. I have read the Don Poulton Cert Guide and the MOAC books. I also did the practice questions in the Poulton book along with the 2 practice tests. Finally, I also did the MOAC labs using Server 2012 with VMware Player. 
Does anyone have any study tips to pass the exam? Are there any other study materials you recommend? Are there any practice exams that you recommend such as transcender, measureup, or selftestsoftware? Any help would be appreciated. 

So this student was not just arbitrarily passed by an RTO, he had to do an external exam…. which he has failed 3 times!  Microsoft will not grant the qualification to people who do not meet the grade.

So, it’s all about competitive advantage and marketing and delivery and outcomes. And its especially about quality and testing.  Quickly being able to fix holes in a course structure and model it better to suit the needs of the market.


With an Australia wide training package comprising a number of units, there is a long time delay to have any fixes to units or courses implemented.  I recall under TAFE NSW, the old ‘Schools’ model which vanished in the early 1990s.  The School of Electricity for example.  Any college could phone the Head of School and implement a fix on the spot.  Today though, even different Institutes in TAFE do not talk to one another, only relying on the national model and a few ‘cheats’ with the local delivery to satisfy each unit’s outcomes.  Exams were all set by the Head of School in those days and held externally.  The OTEN model is strong and is perhaps the pinnacle of TAFE NSW, with online delivery being a growth model for lesson delivery.

So the divergent co-existance of TAFE NSW Institutes is in itself part of this problem with standardisation of teaching unit topics, assessments, recognition of previous training and challenge tests.

In this new market, should TAFE NSW converge and become like that smaller model it once was?  Should TAFE NSW go back to the old ‘Schools’ model?  Should ASQA and Training.gov.au become a State run operation? (in other words, should TAFE NSW self accredit it’s courses?)  Should TAFE NSW become the testing centre for all other RTOs students?

These are just questions for thinking.


The TAFE plunder http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/2016-02-28/7193402
Background Briefing ABC National, Sunday Feb 28, 2016 with audio podcast
Regulator ‘flying blind’ in widely-rorted vocational education loans scheme http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/regulator-flying-blind-in-widely-rorted-vet-fee-help-scheme/7202882
Background Briefing ABC National, Friday Feb 26, 2016



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