Is Any Qualification Worthless?

Not so long ago the VET system was put under the spotlight for a number of “worthless” qualifications being pushed onto students for nothing more than profit. We need to be mindful we exist as part of a system in which education enables people to competently do useful work. At least that’s the idea. What’s the deal with so many worthless qualifications? Why are some providers duping students into studying them? Shouldn’t purveyors of that sort be stopped?

It has been said that there are organisations out there that are exploiting students in a money grab by enticing them to study useless qualifications. What I’d like to know is how those qualifications became endorsed in the first place. One may be led to believe that appropriate consideration for what to endorse such that they may become nationally recognised training components have gone through rigorous analysis to ensure they are actually worthwhile. Somewhere, out there, there must be an employment need for those qualifications.

Perhaps as a niche but that means there is still a need.

One of the VET reform objectives has been to provide data and consumer information enabling students to make decisions about what to study, where and how. For the most part, I think it has been done well. It is reasonably simple to look for courses of interest and providers who are local or offer flexible study. The trouble with “worthless” qualifications is not necessarily the providers who offer them and yes, try to entice people to study with them.

Let’s be honest here, providers of the non-worthless variety of qualifications also work to entice people to study with them. I don’t see how that is really any different. What is different is the choices people make about what they study.

  • Should somebody study something job-related? Yes.
  • Should somebody be able to study something out of self-interest? Yes.
  • Should somebody study something that might be fun? Yes.

If a person decides to study something that is unlikely to result in employment directly related to that study, that’s okay. They had a choice and they made it.

Published 29 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:

At the time of writing, Christopher Ward was Trainer/Assessor at Fortress Learning.

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