Is training the same thing as teaching?

For several years, some people have been trying to shift vocational education and training from being a ‘training system’ to a ‘tertiary education system’. This requires the removal of the words ‘training’ and ‘trainer’ from the lexicon.

Some people have started to drop the word ‘training’ and starting to use ‘vocational education’ instead of ‘ vocational education and training’. I believe that removing the words ‘training’ and ‘trainer’ undermines the value of VET. It is trying to make VET something that it is not. It seems to be a shift towards academic studies rather than training and developing skills for work.

The recently released Australian Skills Classification has used the occupation title of ‘Vocational Education Teacher’ instead of trainer and assessor. In a previous article, I have expressed my disappointment with the use of this occupation title. Also, the Australian Skills Classification does a poor job at describing the occupation and describing the tasks performed by trainers and assessors working in the Australian VET system.

The Australian Skills Classification has used the icon of a mortarboard (also known as a graduate cap or academic cap) to represent the occupation of trainers and assessors. For me, this icon is symbolic of university. It isn’t the best icon for representing trainers and assessors working in the VET sector.

Having earned a bachelors degree, masters degree, or a PhD is no guarantee that a person can be an effective trainer, especially an effective trainer in the Australian VET system. People need vocational skills to be a trainer, not academic achievement.

Training skills and methods can be fundamentally different to the skills and methods needed to teach. Teaching school children and teaching university students is not the same as training job seekers and workers. And being a current teacher or university lecturer does not automatically mean that the person can deliver competency-based training and assessment services without receiving the appropriate training.

Australia needs skilled and experienced butchers, bakers, dress makers, florists, hairdressers, carpenters, brick layers, roof tilers, plumbers, electricians, air-conditioning mechanics, civil construction workers, welders, machine operators, warehouse workers, office admin. workers, farm worker, gardeners, truck drivers, bus drivers, heavy equipment operators, vehicle mechanics, pet groomers, veterinary assistants, dental assistants, laboratory technicians, operation theatre technicians, chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants, aged care workers, disability support workers, etc. to be trainers. We need people with vocational skills and current work experience, and we need these people to proudly identify as being a ‘trainer’.

The mortarboard icon does not symbolise a trainer in the Australian VET workforce.

Teaching is not the same as training. And a teacher is not the same as a trainer.

A teacher will have a four year Bachelor of Education or a minimum of a three year degree, followed by a postgraduate course such as, Graduate Diploma or Master of Teaching for a particular age group, for example, early childhood, primary or secondary. Each state or territory may have slight variations to the qualification requirements to be a teacher. Basically, teachers will have attained a qualification at the AQF Level 7 or above.

Will a Vocational Education Teacher need to meet the same qualification requirements?

  • If no, we are setting up two-tiers of teachers: ‘real teachers’ and ‘un-real teachers’, ‘first-class teachers’ and ‘second-class teachers’, or ‘higher educated teachers’ and ‘lower educated teachers’.
  • If yes, we are stopping skilled and experienced workers from helping others to learn the skills to perform work , a trade, an occupation, or a para-profession.

A person can be a trainer without being a teacher. And the qualification requirements for a trainer doesn’t need to be at the same level as a teacher.

What level of qualification does a trainer need?

The first qualification designed for vocational trainers was introduced in 1998. It was the BSZ40198 Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training. After 23 years, some people are saying that this qualification, and the subsequent qualifications that have replaced it, have been pitched at the wrong level:

  • TAA40104 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

What AQF Level is the correct level of trainers working in the VET sector? Some people say AQF Level 4 is too low. Of these people, some say the AQF Level 5 is the correct level. And others say AQF Level 7. To make things really confusing, there are some people who say the AQF Level 3 is the correct level. Not everyone can be right. We can go to the AQF document and use it to determine the correct level. No need for discussion. No need for opinions.

Go to the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF):

  • Review the criteria for the various AQF Levels
  • What descriptor for knowledge and skills best fits the role of a vocational trainer?
  • Does the description of autonomy, judgement, and responsibility match the role of a vocational trainer?

Please tell me what you think the correct AQF Level is.

Author: Alan Maguire

35+ years experience as a trainer, instructional designer, quality manager, project manager, program manager, RTO auditor, RTO manager and VET adviser.

2 thoughts on “Is training the same thing as teaching?”

  1. Wow. That’s a real understanding that I wholeheartedly agree with. Trainers must love imparting knowledge that they have learnt over many years of experience and more importantly the mistakes they have made. My favourite quote is by Issac Newton …”it is by standing on the shoulders of giants … He meant that without the people before him who discovered what they did he would not have discovered anything without their findings before him. Trainers are facilitating learning and passing on knowledge not teaching it. You can’t teach experience.


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