Keeping up by Letting go
Recommendations from recent reviews (and likely an outcome of the in-progress rapid review) are that ASQA needs to take an educative role to guide registered training organisations toward compliance expectations.
Included in the many challenges facing VET are the interpretation and application of the operating requirements outlined in the Standards for RTOs 2015. I’m no legal expert so I’m not entering into any commentary around how robust the legislative instrument is; although I am of the opinion it’s fairly easy to read and refer back to should any clarification be needed.
What I do find as a presenting challenge though, is residue learnings
Once humans learn something (correctly or not) there is an almost equally difficult process of unlearning particular content. Unlearning often involves a process of reframing experience, thoughts and attitudes to come up with another way of looking at things. It’s difficult to do too, as it involves ‘letting go’ of once held notions accepted as the ‘truth’ of a matter.
When you combine this with the brain’s ability to retain (and distort) memory over time, we’re left with an interesting result. The outcome is made more interesting when you factor in retrieval. Known in layman’s terms as the ‘forgetting curve‘, this theory is that unless we consciously review time and again the learned knowledge we have, we start to lose it. The curve – and our knowledge and skills – looks like this:
What does this have to do with challenges facing VET?
In my opinion, words such as the following become quite dangerous, “when XYZ, first came in, we were told… “, “back when …”, “under the XYZ, we did…”, “it always used to be that…. “ and anything else that refers to a past time.
Lengthy experience in the VET sector is good when looking to build a history of understanding, but it can also be detrimental if the constant changes in VET do not constitute a process of unlearning, relearning and constant review. With every change that is introduced, the content must be received, interpreted and applied according to the new requirements. Old ways, old interpretations and old applications need to be unlearned and replaced with up-to-date information.
It requires constant vigilance on the part of a consultant, an RTO owner, a compliance professional and/or a VET practitioner to be aware of new information, to be able to analyse that and determine what, if any, existing information needs to be unlearned and replaced with the new. The rate of change in the VET sector means this process is required more frequently than some other circumstances in life. It’s a time-consuming process but most of all, it’s a situation that begs the question: what’s the benefit of someone with decades of VET experience IF that experience is not accompanied with an agile currency of all matters VET?
In the current system, it is imperative that people and organisations stay up to date. It is imperative that a full understanding of compliance-related operational requirements is held. It is imperative that some information needs to be unlearned in order to achieve the former. And it’s a given that achieving all of this can be exhausting; in time, dollars and effort.
Clear guidance from the regulator can only serve to reinforce what information needs to be learned and reviewed often, and what past practices can be safely retired. Hence lessening a little, the burden of keeping up.
Published 2 January 2020
What do you think?
Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.
About the Author:
Michelle Charlton is the Principal of VET PD Group. Michelle currently works with her team to offer specialised VET and RTO services, through resource development, validation services, and VET professional development opportunities.
Her earlier contributions to the Challenges in VET series include: