Training & assessment, briefings, and workshops

Peter Strempel

Organisations mostly rely on employees to come with the skill-sets they were hired to exercise, but staff need development over time.  Plus, any change in how an organisation delivers value to its clients and customers often requires up-skilling and entirely new capabilities.

VET standards governance
FIGURE 1: VET standards are nationally controlled.

On this page I explain what I can do help in —

  • Training to a level of formal accreditation under Australia’s VET system, and programmes to upskill employees with modules of accredited courses.
  • Briefings and workshops to help with keeping employees updated about changes, or to brainstorm and help drive improvements.

What I don’t do is training in specialised industrial processes.

Accredited training

Australia has a regulated, national approach to training and skills formation, governed by a structure that includes Commonwealth and state governments, employer and union representatives, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), and learners themselves through feedback mechanisms (see Figure 1 on the right).

Unfortunately a regulated system means a ot of acronyms and layers of complexity. This is one of the reasons why training is best designed and delivered by a certified trainer like me. Bear with me, I will try to simplify as much as possible.

The content of accredited training, and the practice of VET even for non-accredited programmes, aligns with the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACS) and the Australian Qualifications Framework (see Figure 2 below).

Training and qualifications frameworks
FIGURE 2: Australia’s training and qualifications frameworks.

The diagram shows five levels of competence defined under the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (CSfW) as —

  1. Novice with little or no practical experience, highly reliant on explicit ‘rules’ such as instruction and rules, and requires significant guidance and support.
  2. Advanced beginner, with some practical experience still reliant on rules and assistance, but is beginning to exercise autonomous behaviour in familiar, routine situations.
  3. Capable performer with enough practical experience to identify patterns and organising principles and establish priorities for action, can adopt a systematic, analytical approach to tasks, including in unfamiliar situations.
  4. Proficient performers have considerable practical experience with growing recognition of principles that guide actions. Workers at this level respond to situations in an increasingly intuitive and flexible way, seeking guidance only when making important decisions.
  5. Expert performers have extensive practical experience with an understanding of both big picture issues and fine detail. Such workers operate intuitively and flexibly in highly complex situations, and are capable of innovating by improving on practices for more efficient outcomes.

I have prepared more detailed descriptions of the various qualifications on a separate page.

It is important for both employers and trainers to pitch training programmes and their delivery at the right target group, so training should be based on a sound understanding of what level of competence already exists among proposed training programme participants.

Each accredited VET module, accessible through the national VET course repository, has guidelines about pre-requisites for modules, so learners participating in a particular module or programme must meet all those prerequisites, which in turn means employers should be able to measure the competency levels of their employees.  Alternatively, a trainer like me can audit the competency levels of employees according to VET standards.

Accredited VET modules range between Certificate I and Advanced Diploma level shown in Figure 2 above.

With a Certificate IV Training & Assessment, I am accredited to teach and assess AQF courses to Certificate IV level.  My master’s degrees in business and IT mean I specialise in those areas.

My qualification ensures I know of and meet national standards for training program design, delivery, and assessment, but also that I understand and apply the fundamental principles underlying the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (CSfW).

The CSfW was developed collaboratively by industry and government, brought together into a single framework by the Commonwealth Government in 2013 to make more clear and explicit a set of non-technical skills and knowledge that underpin successful participation in work.  These non-technical skills were identified by employers, consolidated in the framework, and expressed in a number of training modules embedded into accredited courses.

The scope of the framework, applied to vocational education and training is illustrated in Figure 3 below.

FIGURE 3: Interlinking priorities of the CSfW.

Key to the framework is recognising a number of contexts for learning and skills development, shown in Figure 3 as the outer ring of situations in which such skills are necessary and exercised.

The content of Figure 3 is based on a diagram in the original CSfW document, and shows the core goal of highly skilled workplace competence being comprised of three interrelated areas: basic management and coping skills necessary for work; literacy, language, and numeracy (LLN) competence; and the specific technical skills required by job rôles.

Another, equally important set of principles applying to VET concern training delivery itself—the way trainers relate to learners.

A common range of learning styles was described by Ken Pawlak and William Bergquist in their article for the Professional School of Psychology —

Andragogic, from Greek words meaning ‘leading man’ (as opposed to pedagogic ‘leading children’).  This method focuses on adult learners with existing knowledge and experience, but with a need for further training, possibly for career advancement or taking on a new rôle.  It is the preferred model for VET programmes, assuming adult learners to be largely self-motivated and self-directed, independent, and want to manage their own learning processes.

Appreciative.  The assumption here is that participants are already well educated and trained, and come to a workshop or seminar to collaborate for extended and new understandings.  A good model for moderator-led workplace briefings and workshops.

Pedagogical.  As already noted, this style adopts an authoritarian ‘telling’ approach most familiar from school classrooms, assuming learners to lack knowledge and skills, and to require a high degree of imposed discipline.

Transformative learning and teaching seeks to pack the punch of a major new life experience, such as those usually associated with marriage, the birth of children, the death of parents or other loved ones.  It is probably best suited to personal development and team building programmes.

Briefings and workshops

Sometimes organisations may want to conduct training programmes that are not accredited to a certificate level, but still adhere to VET standards.  Such modules can count towards a future certification.

Or employers want to conduct briefings and workshops that could benefit from a professional moderator who knows how to address adult workers, lead discussions, and impart relevant information in approaches that engage participants.

I can help you in all these ways, by applying my skills and experience in designing and delivering outcome-directed training to formal courses and less formal information briefings and workshop sessions.

I have particular experience in change management briefings and workshops, but also in ITIL-driven IT Service Management (ITSM), and project management.

To find out how I can help you, contact me to organise a discussion of your needs.