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110 ways to implement the national training system

Campus Review, 5 November 2002

It is well-known that a national training system is being implemented in the vocational education and training sector. But it is a challenge to find a platform to stand on to look across the whole sector and to see how this implementation is occurring and what stage it has it reached. This challenge was recently met by Reframing the Future, the national staff development and change management program funded through the Australian National Training Authority to assist with the implementation of the national training system. National project director SUSAN YOUNG decided to compile a report that would clearly show how the implementation was occurring.

EACH year, Reframing the Future is in contact with more than 7000 VET professionals, the length and breadth of Australia. Reframing the Future works with VET providers to support their implementation of training packages; their compliance with the Australian Quality Training Framework; and their development of more client-centred approaches to training.

While Reframing the Future personnel have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening across the whole of the VET system, it needed a way of sharing these insights with the VET community.

Report launch at conference

The resultant report produced by Reframing the Future is a valuable 18,000-word publication, simply called '110 ways to implement the national training system'. The publication contains insights into the work of 110 Reframing the Future projects conducted during 2002, randomly selected from over 200 projects undertaken in 2002 by more than 7400 participants.

The publication was written by the consultant to the project, John Mitchell from John Mitchell & Associates, and Susan Young, Suzy McKenna and Carol Hampton from the Office of Reframing the Future. Copies of the report, which will be available after November 14, can be ordered now from http://reframingthefuture.net

The report will be publicly launched by Dr Geoff Wood, chair of the national reference group for Reframing the Future, at the major national conference to be conducted by Reframing the Future on November 14, 2002 at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. The report's content justifies the conference title, 'Training on Track'. The conference will appeal to all VET stakeholders and will showcase a wide range of projects and initiatives. To register for this key conference, see http://reframingthefuture.net

Set out below are some excerpts from the report.

Multiple insights

The report provides multiple insights into the implementation of the national training system:

  • the different contexts in which the national training system is delivered, ranging from the provision of training for bus drivers in Sydney to training police in outback Queensland
  • the diverse group of providers in the national training system, including TAFE institutes and private colleges, Lifeline Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia, the Red Cross and the Fire Brigade, as well as enterprise providers such as Ella Bache and Accor Asia Pacific Hotels
  • the varied challenges presented by the national training system, from meeting the training needs for the diploma in beauty to using the new conservation and land management training package
  • the determination of providers to meet the requirements of the Australian Quality Training Framework, particularly for quality and consistency in assessment, for such different groups as new arrivals to Australia in multi-cultural Bankstown, Sydney, to the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation in Victoria
  • the innovative approaches taken to developing provider-industry relationships, in industries ranging from drilling, hospitality, health, construction, recreation, arts and business to agriculture and engineering

The report shows that implementing the national training system is a complex, continuous undertaking, requiring the skill and energy of VET organisations, practitioners and clients. The report provides 110 windows to see that skill and energy at work.

Staff development focus on AQTF

Reframing the Future has five sub-programs and the first of these, which normally accounts for about half of the program's activity, is called staff development. This sub-program involves work-based learning projects focusing on compliance with the AQTF and on the implementation of newly endorsed training packages: core business for the VET sector.

In 2002, 112 staff development projects were conducted, involving 4018 participants. 47 organisations were involved in this sub-program for the first time in 2002.

Profiles of a sample of 65 of the 2002 projects are contained in the report. Some highlights from the 65 projects include:

  • the creative development of new assessment strategies, models and tools
  • the use of collaborative strategies between providers and industry partners
  • the re-alignment by RTOs of their internal skills and resources to suit their clients' training needs
  • the involvement of sessional and management staff, in addition to permanent teaching staff

One profile in this section of the report is of Central West College of TAFE in Western Australia, which focused its project on developing holistic delivery and assessment strategies in simulated environments, which were immediately validated by industry. Through work-based learning strategies, lecturers in the college were encouraged to develop assessment plans that cluster work-related skills in meaningful ways across units of competence.

The Central West College project provided much needed opportunities for lecturers to network with colleagues and industry. The lecturing staff were also encouraged by the facilitator, Jan Bowen, to transfer their learning from one situation to a range of situations, by applying the holistic model of delivery developed during the project.

Strategic management and change management

The strategic management and change management sub-program involves project teams at executive and senior management levels addressing strategic and change management issues in order to create high-performing VET organisations within the national training system.

In 2002, 34 strategic management and change management projects were conducted in registered training organisations around Australia. These projects involved more than 850 senior and executive managers who are engaged in strategically positioning their organisations to provide high quality training for Australian industry and enterprises. Profiles of a sample of 13 of the projects are provided in the report.

Strategy-making means developing strategies. Some highlights from the 13 profiles in the report include strategy-making to:

  • reposition RTOs for the future
  • change cultures and structures within RTOs
  • improve client-focus within RTOs

One of the profiles in this section is of Swinburne University of Technology TAFE division, which undertook a strategic review. The TAFE division acknowledges that if it is to remain at the leading edge and continue to meet the requirements of the national training framework, it must develop a new vision of its future role. This vision will need to address and align identified expectations of industry with an organisational capacity that is customer-focused and able to deliver sustained vocational training services in a flexible and client-oriented way.

The strategic review undertaken by the TAFE executive group of Swinburne TAFE division involved an environmental scan which identified the major external factors that will impact on Swinburne TAFE over the next five to eight years, including an analysis of emerging industries and services and their implications for the VET sector. The project also involved the development of a number of "what if" scenarios. One expected outcome of the project is that the TAFE executive group will have a shared vision of Swinburne in 2010 and an agreed set of change management strategies in place prior to the 2003 strategic planning cycle.

Communities of practice

The communities of practice sub-program involves project teams developing communities of practice that address aspects of the national training system. Communities of practice are groups of staff bound together by common interests and a passion for a cause, and who continually interact. Communities are sometimes formed within the one organisation, and sometimes across many organisations, which suits VET, where providers are encouraged to work closely with industry and other stakeholders in the sector, such as employer groups and unions.

A total of 48 communities of practice were funded by Reframing the Future in 2002. These communities involve more than 2323 participants from all over Australia and represent coverage of all provider types and a broad range of industry areas. Profiles of a sample of 26 of the projects are provided in the report.

Communities of practice in this sub-program involve groups of VET stakeholders and practitioners bound together by common interests. Some highlights from the 26 projects profiled include:

  • Improvements made to training delivery by the communities
  • Enhancements made to assessment processes by the communities
  • Collaboration achieved between dispersed or disparate community members

Members of the community of practice within the TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute are bound by the common interest of establishing effective relationships to support the implementation of the metal and manufacturing training package. The major stakeholders in the community include representatives from industry, schools and TAFE, who are focused on meeting AQTF Standards 7, 8 and 9.

Convenor Grant Heeley reports that the response from industry to the community of practice is outstanding and the results, to date, include a four-fold increase in the number of trainees this year, in a trade area that was thought to be in decline. Features of the community include the supportive involvement of both a union, AMWU, and an employers' group, AIG. Consideration is now being given to expanding the community of practice, to become state-wide.

Information and research dissemination

This sub-program encourages staff to access and use information and research findings as an integral part of their professional practice in implementing the national training system. Fourteen projects were conducted in this sub-program in 2002, involving 246 participants. Profiles of a sample of six of the projects are provided in the report.

Some highlights from the six projects include:

  • Knowledge management strategies were used to underpin improved training delivery
  • Industry-provider relationships provided valuable research and other information to training providers
  • New models for training and assessment emerged from research projects

North Coast Institute and the TAFE Industry Partnership Centre in NSW collaborated in one of the projects in this sub-program. This project was driven by the participants' desire to research and develop a model of engagement that enables effective planning, management and implementation of processes to predict and meet the rapidly changing skill needs of new and emerging industries and technologies. Project participants are developing internal and external knowledge management strategies to support Australian industry and economic growth.

Facilitator Chris Taylor suggests that this project will enable the institute to meet the training needs of the North Coast's industrial, business and social landscape in a pre-emptive, strategic way. The project strongly supports the strategic focus of the institute.

The profiles set out in the report are proof of the determination of VET practitioners and their organisations to support the full implementation of a training system that is nationally applied and recognised and of a high quality. While the challenges are many there are substantial rewards for individual customers and enterprise clients, as well as professional satisfaction for VET practitioners.

To hear more about the above projects, attend the Training on Track Conference at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney on November 14, 2002, where 42 projects will make presentations in the sub-program break-out sessions and another 40 will be presenting Poster Sessions. Register at $150 per head via http://reframingthefuture.net and receive your complimentary copy of '110 ways to implement the national training system' when you arrive at the conference.