Challenges facing VET – Do we need to re-think the role of trainers and assessors?

Challenges facing VET

Over the years the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment has been revised several times:

The purpose (or justification) of each change was to improve the overall quality and reliability of training and assessment by improving the competencies of trainer/assessors.

However, when you look at each iteration of the Cert IV, it is based upon the previous version with additions, consolidations and revisions.  It’s a bit like re-inventing the wheel by giving it different coloured spokes.  Wouldn’t it be more to the point to actually find out what trainers and assessors need to do and then design the qualifications to match?

I’ve just finished surveying trainers and assessors to find out what they really do, and have been surprised at the variety of roles.  They do not all perform the same tasks.  My survey was necessarily small, which suggests that a broader survey would show up even greater differences in performance requirements.

Really when we think about it, that should have been obvious.  We have thousands of people working in a variety of training roles, both in enterprise and in RTOs.  RTO trainer/assessors differ from enterprise trainers and assessors in the tasks they perform and in what they need to know.  It is most unlikely that a “one size fits all” qualification can be designed for two such divergent work roles.

Even in the context of work in an RTO, there will be differences.  There are 57 current Training Packages and 1,435 qualifications.  It’s not logical to believe that every qualification is delivered and assessed in the same way.  It is unlikely that a trainer/assessor in Aeronautical Engineering will need precisely the same knowledge and skills as a trainer/assessor in Hospitality.  By this I don’t refer to vocational knowledge and skills but knowledge and skills to deliver the training and conduct assessment.

For some qualifications, a trainer/assessor may need more of an “academic” bent, particularly at the higher AQF levels.  For most qualifications in VET, however, I don’t think this is a priority.  We don’t really mind if a plumber or electrician doesn’t know when to use “there” or “their”.  Neither do I mind if my hairdresser can’t conjugate a verb.

What worries me is that the mistakes of the past will be repeated.  Next time TAE is reviewed it would be great if the qualification (dare I say “qualifications”) are designed from scratch after researching what trainers and assessors actually do, and what is expected of them in the real world.

(26 November 2019)

What do you think?

Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.

About the Author:

Sandy Welton is Instructional Designer and Principal of Welton Resources.

About this series 

There are many challenges facing VET.  One of them is the need for the industry’s own voice to be shared in a way that adds more light than heat.

This article is one in a series that will seek to explore some of those challenges.   The full series is available from HERE.

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