ACCORDING to a paper written by Prof Erica Smith, competency-based training (CBT) is open to many critiques, but the most pertinent is its failure to adequately train its teachers. (See more:  Not Yet Competent)

The paper, A Review of 20 years of Competency-Based Training, calls on those working in vocational education and training to maintain the critique.

The dysfunctional consequence of this complacency has been that, with no other system with which to compare CBT, practitioners are less able to recognise its deficiencies and thereby work for improvement.

But Erica argues that core to the problems is the lack of proper teacher training, thus the lack of teacher capability.

Part of the difficulty in discussing this area is the lack of data.  This was revealed in the Productivity Commission’s report on Vocation Education and Training Workforce published in May 2011.

It is estimated that there are about 1 million people working in VET in teaching and non-teaching roles.

It is estimated that 60% of the staff in TAFE are casuals, and maybe 40% across private providers.

It is estimated that more than 40% do not have a basic teaching qualification in TAFE; even more in the private sector. There is no registration for VET trainers (as it is in secondary education).  The base qualification (Certificate IV in TAA) is not mandated. It’s recognised that with casual staff, it’s far more difficult to train and for them to attend courses in professional development.

For trainers (and assessors), VET is a tough road. The pay is not good (casuals are paid about $60/hour for contact hours only).  Trainers have to keep up with their vocational skills (one of the benefits of the high workforce casualisation is that they are in contact with trends in their industry). They also need to understand competency based training (CBT) – to come to grips with it’s complexity – and know how to teach and assess. The Certificate IV in TAA itself is fraught with its own set of difficulties, not the least being that some training providers pass on incorrect methods, especially about CBT assessment. On top of this, trainers need to be digitally literate to provide more learner engagement and flexibility.

As Erica Smith says:

It is likely that many teachers and trainers may not even know how to deliver CBT, let alone engage in a critical use of the pedagogy. Teachers’ de-skilling leaves them without the power to argue the case; in fact many do not seem to see a case to argue.

In this interview with Erica, we discussed the ongoing need for critiques of competency-based training, teacher training, CBT assessment and plans to improve teacher capability.

Erica Smith Interview Part 1 : critiquing competency training [7:35]

Erica Smith Interview Part 2 : issues with CBT assessment [4:25]

Erica Smith Interview Part 3 :  complexity of the CBT system [5:09]

Erica Smith Interview Part 4 : what’s ahead for teacher training  [2:52]

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