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THE VALUE OF VET - PART 2

10/07/2017

The True Value of VET

Last week, we looked at the fact that, although Vocational Education and Training (VET) is offered across a huge array of industries and supports graduates to enter those industries, VET is still seen in a number of circles in Australia as being a second rate cousin to a university degree. This week, we explore that disparity further and identify just why it is that VET should be valued.

The ‘second rate cousin’ view of VET is not shared internationally. For instance, Skills for Australia CEO Sara Caplan, has commented that in Germany it is the other way around, as industry sees high value in the quality of training offered through the equivalent of the VET system which is very industry focused.

VET plays a very important part in education. The graduates of VET become the workers of industry tomorrow. Is this not of critical importance? The answer is yes, and let’s look at why.

If we produce graduates who just tick a box, then we are going to produce tick-box workers who are not committed, not truly prepared, and who do not bring the professionalism and true integrity required to do a job well.

The fact is, our industries suffer when we produce graduates like that.

This is not to say that all RTOs are doing this, as we wish to state categorically that they are not – RTOs are on the whole very genuine and their workers are very committed to VET and what VET offers. This is great – and something to be appreciated. VET is real, it offers education in a practical, real-life way that prepares students for work ahead. This is extremely valuable. With this as our dearly held premise, what this article offers is the possibility that we can go higher – because the truth is we can, and we will all (our workplaces, our industry, our communities) benefit enormously when we do.

The fact is that there is a whole new level of quality that education can be delivered at – and this presentation is offered to invite those in the industry who are ready and want to, to take it higher so that VET can be seen for all that it truly is, and can deliver at its full potential.

To return to the value of VET, there is a basic equation that is relevant here:

The quality of graduate from VET = The quality of worker in our industries.

If we deliver the highest possible quality of education to our VET students, then the quality of worker in industry is going to be higher – naturally so.

But it doesn’t just stop there. There is another equation:

The quality of worker in industry = The quality of output industry produces.

Therefore, if we have low quality workers, the quality of industry output is poor. Conversely, if we are producing high quality graduates (and therefore workers) then the quality of industry output is going to be much higher.

And this has a follow-on effect:

The quality of output industry produces = The Gross Domestic Product (or GDP) of the nation, i.e. our financial/economic performance as a whole.

 

Therefore, we are talking way beyond just producing someone who can ‘do the job’. We are talking about the quality of worker thataffects and produces the quality of industry and the quality of industry output, and our entire performance as a nation in terms of GDP.

That’s a pretty big picture we are talking about here.

And this discussion is also not just about today. RTOs are producing graduates daily that become the workers of tomorrow. Hence we are setting up our future – the future we all will share and experience as well as the future quality of industry and society that our children and their children will inherit from us.

We have a responsibility, to industry, to the public (both now and in the future) for the quality of education we deliver. And the consequence can be a wonderful addition to the Australian industries and overall quality of life, or it can be less.

Evolve College wishes to see a whole VET sector that works to this level. We work to this standard, to show as a fact that it is possible.

VET plays a critical role in our industry and society. Next week, in the final part of this series, we issue a call to action to all RTOs, coming from a very deep respect for and appreciation of RTOs, but being very honest about the gap that exists between where the VET industry currently sits and where it could be, as a known and valued leader in education.