For skills-universe members, who are private Skills Development Providers (SDP)s, or private providers of Education & Training.
Do Occupational and Vocational Learning Practitioners require Academic Qualifications?
23rd Jan 2017 at 12:47 pm #24719
People with qualifications in trades, such a mechanics, carpenters, electricians, etc. are often utilised as lecturers at TVET Colleges and instructors or trainers at industries that offer training. Some of them are even posted as training managers, assessors, learning materials developers, etc. This is fine seeing that they are the experts with lots of experience in their respective fields. There is, however, a huge difference between teaching and doing. You all know the old joke about those who can, do and those who can’t, teach. In reality the other way around often proves to be even more difficult.
Conducting education and training is a vastly different science from executing a specific trade. Experts in trades often do not know how to prepare learning event plans, develop training materials, and many more. Tragically nobody seems to care. Or is it possible that the responsible people and bodies do not understand that teaching people trades also requires educational methodology? Thinking that the science of occupational and vocational education and training (OV ETD) is simple is not only myopic, but also uninformed. Even though on the same, if not higher level, the educational methodology needed for OV ETD differs vastly from that in use by universities.
OV ETD educators need more than just practical and rather limited training skills. They need to also know the theory and philosophy upon which work integrated learning rests. What is needed is at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational and Vocational Learning which will prepare educational practitioners in both occupational and vocational learning for their jobs.
I identified ten salient fields of knowledge that would at least alleviate the flaws in the quality of learning currently offered in OV ETD. Keep in mind that such learning practitioners, be they facilitators, assessors, training managers, researchers or whatever, should have much deeper knowledge than just outcomes based education and training if they are to pursue a career in occupational or vocational learning.
- They need to understand and know how to communicate orally and verbally.
- They need to understand and know how to manage OV ETD, including facilitation, mentoring, coaching, assessment and quality assurance.
- They need to understand and know how to plan and manage an OV ETD institution strategically.
- They need to understand and know how to design and develop assessment instruments as well as how to conduct assessment.
- They need to understand and know how to guide and support students.
- They need to understand and know the theory of OV ETD methodology.
- They need to understand and be able to act as leaders in OV ETD.
- They need to understand and know how to conduct quality assurance of OV ETD, including internal and external quality assurance. Internal quality assurance should include moderation of assessment.
- They need to understand and know how to plan and execute projects in OV ETD.
- They need to understand and know how to design OV ETD curriculums.
- They need to understand and know how to develop learning materials for OV ETD.
- They need to understand and know how to conduct research in OV ETD.
In closing, practitioners in OV ETD do not only need skills, i.e. practical competence. They also need foundational competence and this requires comprehension. It is not good enough to be able to execute certain tasks – true foundational competence requires a deep understanding of the theory behind the fields of learning. Only once the theory is understood can one, through experience, gain reflexive competence.
23rd Jan 2017 at 1:10 pm #24744
I totally agree Hannes, my experience the past ten years with local TVET College is that the majority of instructors at the Engineering side of the TVET College are former artisans with some of them without an N1,N2 or N3 trade qualification. Instructors do need to have at least an Assessor’s and Facilitation qualification in order to guide learners in their respective trade related theory. They also do need to understand the three pillars of Training & Development namely skills, attitude and foundational learning.
23rd Jan 2017 at 1:42 pm #24743
Hannes what do you think about adding learning about thinking and what exactly learning is?
I divide ‘teaching’ in this field (in the order of complexity of teaching) in three groups:
- The monkey see monkey do metaphor.
- The ‘copy and paste model’ where learners have to copy the knowledge provided by lectures and texbooks first into their brains and then on test and exam papers. Traditionally 1 and 2 goes hand in hand.
- Enabling learners to think and solve problems meaning lectures should know how to use thinking scaffolds and rubrics to get learners to world class levels of competencies.
23rd Jan 2017 at 1:52 pm #24742
23rd Jan 2017 at 3:03 pm #24741
I agree wholly with the issues raised. However, let me throw a curve ball. What makes FETs & companies to choose this route?I would not be naive and think they don’t have a valid reason. The confidence learners show when they taught by someone who has done a task & experienced on it. Definitely, improves the attitude & skill of the learners. However, the downside is lack of theoretical knowledge.
Another avenue is to have a facilitator just reading from a book to the learners, to an extent they just dose off.Other times, learners wishing they were given the learning material and read it at their own pleasure.
Just to share an experience, currently Í’m being RPLed by CHIETA for Assessor/Moderator accreditation. I’m very much happy with their approach that Assessor must also be experienced & competent in the Occupation they shall be assessing against. As much as other Assessors assess on Occupations they not experienced on.
My ex-Boss who was an Accountant was sceptical of using Assessor not from that Occupation & experienced. Of course, their business interest is on the ROI and how quickly Learners integrate in the workplace.
My take of an Assessor is to have the following:
- Academic knowledge.
- Occupational experience.
- Skills,Knowledge & Attitude.
- Assessor qualification.
23rd Jan 2017 at 3:28 pm #24740
I just took a flight read through the post……very good points made here.
The fact is that the lecturers are exactly that when they lecture.They are lecturers. So the needs and understanding of class room training and a condusive learning eviroments skills are of cardinal value. You can be the best “SME” but if you lact the skills for skills transfer,you are not effective.(In a classroom)
It is also a problem where you may have a “SME” mentoring a apprentice…..HOW good is his ability to tranfer the skills. “COACHING SKILLS”This is why, all my clients and companys i represent,i do coaching and mentoring skills with mentors. Some can”naturals” and some just have to learn.
As i have stated before,to be a lecturer you need a totally diffrent skill set.
Much is covered in the post. A lecture needs lecturing skills.
A coach/ mentor needs coaching/mentoring skills.(Allso two diffrent skills) But the one compliments the other.
ODETDP Qualifications are relevant here.
23rd Jan 2017 at 3:38 pm #24739
24th Jan 2017 at 5:46 am #24738
Hannes, firstly your question is one that is long overdue and possibly a lot more complex than meets the eye. The term you have used, vocational learning practitioner, is important to note. Although the entire L&D value chain is critical, the focus seems to be placed on those at the coal-face – educators.
Different types of educators, however, require differing skillsets. Lecturers, trainers and facilitators are not one and the same thing, and while I agree that there needs to be both educational and practical experience, there are a range of “soft” skills that are far more important in the latter two. Cas summed this up very well in his three points. The third point speaks to true facilitation and capacitation of learners from a knowledge and practical application perspective. Lecturing has its place, but in my opinion the pure lecturing modality actually holds back vocational training.
Without any question assessors and moderators need to have a higher degree of knowledge and practical application so as to be as fair as possible to the learners (whether conferring a qualification or not). This is more effectively regulated than vocational trainers and facilitators, which is a massive issue in and of itself.
I firmly believe that anyone who stands up in front of a group of learners for the purposes of educating them must have suitable qualifications according to the subject matter and skills being transferred – or there is most likely no transfer. This does not necessarily mean that one has to have tertiary qualifications specifically related to ETD, but a thorough understanding of pedagogy and multi-modal learning is essential.
A completely separate skillset is required in each of the different L&D functions, such as QA, and each requires its own set of skills, depending on the level of that function and the amount of supervision required.
I am not of the opinion that all aspects of the ETD process require a practitioner to have tertiary qualifications specifically related to ETD but all facilitators and trainers must have a very strong understanding of the entire ETD process as delineated by the SETAs and SAQA and preferably should have tertiary qualifications or vast experience in the subject they are training or facilitating. This is even more critical when disseminating technical skills and knowledge.
24th Jan 2017 at 6:17 am #24737
Jared, I fully agree with you that the first and foremost requirement is that the educator/lecturer or trainer must be a subject matter specialist. In addition, she or he needs certain tools to pass the learning (knowledge and skills) on. There are many methods, including the ones that you mentioned. However, a vocational or occupational specialist needs much more that just being a subject specialist in a trade – they need to understand the theory and philosophy behind work integrated learning. My doctoral studies dealt with quality assurance of occupational learning and in the process I identified the twelve aspects listed in my article as the ones that are needed for quality learning. Stated differently, the quality of learning suffers if any of these are absent.
24th Jan 2017 at 6:20 am #24736
24th Jan 2017 at 6:53 am #24735
The lack of qualifications and general ability as facilitators and educators is a problem in the industry as a whole. Yes I agree 100% Hannes. OV ETD and TVET practitioners must all have the skills as outlined by you.
The problem of course is that many do not have these skills, see no problem in this regard and do nothing to upskill themselves. Many of the facilitators are not subject matter experts and many do not have the experience and exposure to enable them to develop critical thinking skills and comprehension skills in the learners.
The question I ask however is what is being done to eradicate this problem???
24th Jan 2017 at 7:19 am #24734
24th Jan 2017 at 11:10 am #24733
Major companies are beginning to recognise this problem. There is currently a degree on offer at the North West University Potchefstroom campus. I did the degree as well as the honours degree and have found it to be very advantageous in my facilitation. However, the assessor, moderator, SDF, facilitation modules are not allowing students to exit with registration from the ETDP SETA.
One also needs to take serious account of the fact that pedagogics is totally ineffective when dealing with adult learners. I have been facilitating for many years and I have had to change my approach when facilitating a class of adults.
One certainly has to think critically, creatively and with much innovation to really make contact with adult learners. As a facilitator you must have a vast knowledge of your field of facilitation as well as the methodology of teaching adults. My foundation phase teaching certificate is useless when teaching adults.
24th Jan 2017 at 11:23 am #24732
24th Jan 2017 at 1:44 pm #24731
Hi Dr Nel, I am looking forward to reading your article. I have been in the training industry for many years, I have many years in the industry sector i work in and various University qualifications in Training & Development. My passion has always been to facilitate and although i don’t get to do it very often anymore. I find that every session is different. Sometimes I find I am faced with Directors and Top Management and have to come with more an intellectual approach and another session will be with entry level employee’s, whom often don’t even understand the Training Manuals given to them and therefore we play games, interact in groups and generally get the intended message across and that is what I find so awesome about adult learning. Training Providers need to start thinking more out the box.
24th Jan 2017 at 3:28 pm #24730
24th Jan 2017 at 4:02 pm #24729
Herewith the link to the Gazette
24th Jan 2017 at 4:42 pm #24728
Dr Nel, as always a very good discussion. All the points are so valid (appreciated). There is one problem that I experienced, and maybe this is not the discussion for it, but I am going to give it a go. In my past experience, I found great Providers giving the theory part the quality it deserves. On the Employer part whereby the learner needs to complete a number of specific practical tasks – there was the “Kimberley-se-gat” for sure. I saw with my own eyes, how learners did their “practical” component by sitting in a room stapling and de-stapling, being ordered to make coffee, do filing that is years behind – and this had nothing to do with the qualification. When I asked whom their mentors were, the learners didn’t know what I was talking about. These learners were a group of disabled individuals. Everything the Employer advised, that was done, was a lie. These learners were treated like slaves. This have been evident in various audits I conducted, and unfortunately the Provider gets the raw deal, and get told that the practical component is not good enough. The Mentor reports are brilliant, but surprise, surprise – these Mentor reports were investigated and the apparent “mentors” don’t even work in the same province as where the learners were – shocking, shocking and shocking.
We concentrate on how we conduct training, how we develop learning material, how we can change some interventions to better our service(s), we continue to make amendments to all our policies, templates, learning material – but who is actually monitoring where the learners are conducting their practicals? This should be investigated, and a standard should be set of how learners are treated in the workplace, whether they are on a learnership or not.
24th Jan 2017 at 5:14 pm #24727
Definitely, what you raising is a fact. Even students who do their experiential learning are not immune to that, to an extent leave companies without any accumulated experience other that improved filing skills. Remember, some of these students will qualify as Technologist from the signed off Logbooks. Just before the end of their training,they run around trying to get signatures from Mentor who do not even know their names. Duly Mentors sign, so that students can qualify.
What I introduced was, ask students to write a weekly report of what they learnt in that week. In way ensuring Mentors do their part. Thereafter,meet Mentors every second week and ask for their reports as well. Yes, it was difficult to get Mentors’ reports at the start.Adding to that, we made Mentoring a KPI with % achievement bonus. Since then, I had more time to do other tasks & relationship nbetween Mentoer/Mentee blossomed.
I came to a conclusion, employers are not interested in helping the Gov and students/learners, other than securing SETA grants. Even the Service Providers have been caught up in this storm. Of course, siding with the piper.
My take for Skills Providers to be following to have better ROI and be able to help employer/students/Learners:
- Coach & Mentor.
24th Jan 2017 at 6:25 pm #24726
In general I agree with all of the points, however in some sectors…
- There are so few people technically capable of training, sometimes the technical skill is the lesser of two evils. For example, if there are only 5 people in the country who can train something technically, and 4 of them are not OV ETD experts, it is simply not possible for the one to do all the work.
- More importantly, the OV ETD ‘experts’ are usually in large tertiary institutions and are so out of practice with the real technical grindstone that they are less than useless in the real training world which is cutting edge and changing weekly.
There HAS to be balance, and consideration of specific needs of a sector, which is why all this Registering, Financial, Qualifications of Directors stuff being insisted on will kill off availability of our sectors’ access to qualifications if insisted upon.
In the perfect world we would have technically proficient OV ETD experts doing the training, but we do not live in a perfect world.
25th Jan 2017 at 6:40 am #24725
Hi Tando, I agree with you 100%. Interesting that you mention the ROI for Skills Providers, maybe Employers should conduct a ROT (Return on Training) and see how important training really is. I did this exercise a decade ago and there was a formula (remembering that the university battled to understand the formula haha) – if I find it, I will post it. Very interesting, but very little Employers actually look at this.
25th Jan 2017 at 6:41 am #24724
25th Jan 2017 at 10:32 am #24723
25th Jan 2017 at 10:34 am #24722
25th Jan 2017 at 11:26 am #24721
Lynel, Tando also raised some valid challenges in the preparation of practical assignments. There are many other disadvantages in having learners prepare practical portfolios at their places of work, most of which boils down to inefficient training. I am of the opinion that this approach will never work. The idea is for learners to, eventually, achieve reflexive competence. This will not happen because learners hardly ever spend enough time on their practical portfolios for reasons that the two of you pointed out. The most value can be gained from practical assignments if learning providers add a few, even just two extra days, to their contact learning sessions for a portfolio building workshop so that learners can prepare their portfolios under supervision and enjoy guidance and support. Don’t forget that assessment is not just about finding people competent or not – it is an important part of the learning process and we should use it as an additional learning opportunity. Quality assurance bodies should understand and accept that gaining reflexive competence needs lots if time and practice. Therefore, reflexive competence and workplace assignments should be the responsibility of the employer and not be taken into account for the issuing of credits and certificates.
25th Jan 2017 at 11:34 am #24720
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