Trainers, Developers and Experts: There is No One Ring That Binds Them All

As a trainer and assessor for some 15 years in government and private training organisations and the last 18 months actually training the TAE40116, I have some anecdotal evidence to share that dovetails nicely with Sandy Welton’s research report mentioned in her “Re-thinking the role of trainers and assessors” article.

Starting as an enterprise trainer in Defence (I completed the Instructional Techniques course) where I taught basic trade skills, I moved to a private RTO after gaining my TAA40104 (5 days in the classroom and another month or so of endless assignments that were copy and paste from the learner guide). Five years later after a paper-pushing exercise of upgrading to the TAE40110, I was chasing my boss’ job and I started my Bachelor of Adult & Vocational Education. By the time I finished the degree I didn’t want the boss’ job anymore, but my colleagues were happy to point out the positive changes that a deeper understanding of the VET space brought about in my training and assessing practice as well as the negatives that come with no longer accepting the status quo.

Fast forward a few years and 3500km north of my previous boss, I found myself learning more about the TAE40116 than I thought was possible as I prepared to train and assess it. My plan and passion were and still is, to be part of creating the next generation of quality trainers and assessors.

Upgrading qualifications is not the same as updating knowledge or skill

For the past eighteen months, I have been mostly, frantically, training and assessing to clear the backlog of trainers and assessors requiring the Upgrade or update to their TAE40110, initially before the end of March 2019 and then before 01 July as many trainers left it until the last minute (or were not given the time by their boss – but that’s a whole other story) to commence their training, thinking that this upgrade would be as simple as the last 2 from BSZ98 to TAA04 to TAE10, turn up, sit in class, answer some questions and put the hand out to collect the shiny new qualification, done and dusted in a few days.

How wrong they were.

I tell all of my classes that my training is more of a bicycle tour of the landscape than a bus tour. The difference is that on a bicycle tour you need to work to keep up and you have some input into your destination for the day while a bus tour requires no effort because you have no control. I like bicycles.

The most common complaint I hear is “I’ll never use this *stuff*, my assessments are already prepared and I just have to fill them in or mark them then give them to the boss for filing!” as they blunder through creating a number of assessment tools, each containing a number of assessment instruments, all while analysing the training package, the qualification and the unit of competency to make sure they have not missed anything.

An ideal world

In an ideal world, each trainer and assessor would be an expert in their field (or fields) and have the training that they need to train and assess at the level they require. An entry-level trainer would be mentored by an experienced trainer and would have the basic skills and knowledge to handle individuals and small (or even large) groups in a classroom or workplace setting. As they gained confidence, they would build their knowledge and skills through micro-credentials that would eventually comprise the next level of qualification.

Using a micro-credential approach would have a number of benefits;

  1. Flexibility according to industry, organisational and individual needs at the time,
  2. Pathways from baseline trainer to trainer/assessor to training developer and beyond
  3. Continual professional development.

Using the current TAE units and skillsets as a starting point, the base level trainer would be required to have the equivalent of the enterprise trainer – presenting skill set and Enterprise Trainer and assessor skills sets, with the addition of the TAELLN412 Access resources and support to address foundation skills in vocational practice for a total of 7 units with an emphasis on actual training skills.

The base-level trainer would have the following units under their belt as they entered a training situation:

  • BSBCMM401 – Make a presentation
  • TAEDEL301 – Provide work skill instruction
  • TAEDEL401 Plan, organise and deliver group-based learning, or TAEDEL402 Plan, organise and facilitate learning in the workplace
  • TAEASS401 – Plan assessment activities and processes
  • TAEASS402 – Assess competence
  • TAEASS403 – Participate in assessment validation
  • TAELLN412 – Access resources and support to address foundation skills in vocational practice

As the trainer builds confidence and skills after a period of around 12-18 months on the boards, being mentored and coached, they could progress to the next tier by adding the missing TAEDEL401 or TAEDEL402 unit as well as the TAEDES401 Design and develop learning programs and TAEDES402 Use training packages and accredited courses to meet client needs units.

For those looking to move into a design and development role, they would choose to add two or three of the design units from the Diploma that aligned with their career aspirations or role requirements. A micro-credentialled approach rather than the current skill set and qualification approach that would consider the needs of the individuals in building on the base qualification.

The ‘one ring’ to bind them all has not worked, maybe it is time to throw that ring into the fires of Mordor and forge a series of smaller rings more suited to the hands that do the work.

Published 4 December 2019

What do you think?

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

About the Author:

Kavin Windsor previously trained TAE as a contract trainer providing face to face TAE courses in Far North Queensland.

Coming from a military background and having trained military trade personnel for almost 10 years he has seen a number of changes in both the conduct of training and the learners. His aim is to provide the new cohort of TAE qualified trainers and assessors a quality experience that will prepare them for the changes in VET that are certainly ahead.

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