VET Qualification Reform – smashing the current and complicating the future

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Then along came some VET Reforms
All the VET practitioners tried really hard
But couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Humpty Dumpty is a metaphor for the specifications currently found in Training Packages. I am frustrated with politicians, bureaucrats, VET lobbyists, VET experts, and other ignorant or naïve people telling me that they are simplifying the VET system when they are actually doing the reverse. They either think I am a fool or they are deluded.

Training Packages

Many people learning about the Australian VET system for the first time, often are confronted with a vast array of terminology and acronyms. It has been known for a long time that the term, Training Package, is a misnomer. Training Packages do not specify training, nor do they include training materials. A simple solution would be to rename it. But the proposed VET Qualifications Reform wants to smash it to bits.

After 29 years since the current Australian VET system was implemented, there are many people working in and around VET who do not understand what is meant by competency-based training and competency-based assessment. Some people don’t understand that qualifications have an occupational outcome, that have been determined by industry. Also, there are some people who don’t understand units of competency.

Some people complain about how vague or ambiguous units of competency are. They want more information provided (making documents bigger). Some people complain that the Training Package documents are too big, and should be reduced in size. We should acknowledge that Training Package developers have to find a balance between having enough details documented, but not too much.

We wouldn’t have a problem if politicians, bureaucrats, VET lobbyists, VET experts, and some VET practitioners learnt to use our current VET system. It has many good features. It isn’t that bad. But we are going to make massive and unnecessary changes.

VET Qualification Reforms

The framework for a future VET Qualifications architecture has been published by the Australian Government. It compares a boring ‘charcoal grey’ framework with a ‘colourful’ future framework. Of course we want to move to the vibrant future state.

Reference: accessed 3 September 2021

In the following diagram, I have compared the current and future states side by side, in an attempt to compare the two frameworks.

And the next diagram show the connections between the current and future states.

It seems that we will be creating new documents, and the new document titles are likely to still confuse people. Also, it seems that we will rearrange the existing information (maybe I should use the ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ metaphor). I think we are adding complexity.

I could further analyse the proposed VET Qualifications Reforms, but that would be a waste of my time. Changes are going to happen anyway. So here is an illustration showing my concerns.

I may be wrong. I would like to see a complete sample for an entire set of documents that are planned to replace what we currently have. Then I will know if I am wrong, or right. I hope we get to see a sample before government ministers and their bureaucrats make the decision to implement chaos.

I can image the massive confusion, massive frustration, massive non-compliance, and massive costs associated with implementing the VET Reforms. Unfortunately, I cannot image that the future will be better than what we currently have. My greatest concern with the VET Reforms (now known as Skills Reform) is the potential of damaging, if not destroying, the entire Australian VET system.

Author: Alan Maguire

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

4 thoughts on “VET Qualification Reform – smashing the current and complicating the future”

  1. Thank you, Alan, for bringing this to our attention. The VET Qualification Reform explanation reminds me of the old NOS (National Office Skills) modules used back in the late 90’s. For example, Deal with Conflict and another module Negotiation skills were developed and used as ‘imported units’ for an array of qualifications (courses), bookkeeping, accounting, management etc. It was in my early days of training and I presume they were removed so there would be Qualifications that led the occupational outcome. However, I do remember these first AQF Qualifications were not flexible.

    Where the document stated “Occupational standards would be developed at the job-function level – describing what a person needs to be able to know and do to perform a job function in the workplace. They would be used to support holistic delivery and assessment that looks much like what people actually do in the workplace.”
    Hello, isn’t this contextualising? What we have been doing for the last 2 decades?


  2. Hi Alan
    Unfortunately we continue to complicate the VET system which is increasingly compliance driven. When training packages were introduced we were advised to be holistic in our delivery and assessment otherwise we would be driven into micro assessment that doesn’t look anything like real workplace tasks. What have we ended up with? The Micro!


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