02 SES 07 C, Core Skills for Work and Lifelong Learning
This paper is the third in a series reporting upon vocational education and training (VET) and social capital research-in-progress. In addition to seeking data, this suite of research is encouraging conversation moving VET social capital outcomes from the implicit to the explicitly valued realm. Earlier research found that VET, when well taught, does yield both human and social capital outcomes (Hughes & Hughes 2011). This was followed by a research finding that stakeholders (particularly employers) do want a VET graduate to possess more than just knowledge and skill. Indeed, VET graduate attitude qualities are high on the list of desired VET outcomes (Hughes & Hughes 2012).
In this instance the research question is – What are the motivations and means by which a VET teacher, so predisposed, contributes to a learner’s acquisition of attributes beyond technical knowledge and skill? And Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is the theoretical framework with the VET teacher as the subject and acquired social capital of the learner as the object - noting that the learning space can be likened to a workplace.
In Australia, a new iteration of underpinning key competencies is now poised for inclusion in the delivery of VET. This is identified as the Core Skills for Work (CSfW) Framework, but history indicates that such intended enrichment of VET learning is problematic. However, there is some resonance with the Hughes and Hughes (2011, 2012) advocacy of overt attention to social capital outcomes; and the intention is applauded.
Whilst there are numerous aspects to what might aid or hinder integration of CSfW with VET delivery, previous research (Hughes & Hughes 2011, 2012) points to the pivotal role of an educationalist orientated VET teacher. Accordingly, from a foundation of defining VET learner acquired social capital and meaning of an educationalist orientated VET teacher, this paper is an overview of VET teacher ‘why’ and ‘how’. In this research-in-progress, VET teachers who identify as seeking to facilitate outcomes beyond just technical knowledge and skill, are contributing to understanding of what they are seeking to achieve, how they do it, and how they evaluate outcomes.
Given the history of weak attention to foundation skills (by whatever name and configuration) in the delivery of VET in Australia, there is hope that this time the intentions will be achieved; and this paper posits relevance to the European Union advocacy of a Framework of Key Competences. However, the authors suggest that the appearance of EU focus upon community needs as compared to the Australian focus upon workplace needs is useful to strengthening activity system informed conversation leading to deeper learning. Harking back to the Hughes and Hughes (2012) agreeing with the Svendsen and Svendsen (2004) proposition that social capital is the missing link in the productivity debate, there is much to be gained by shared insights as to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a VET educationalist teacher nurturing social capital attributes of the VET learner - this is a step beyond what are presently thought of as foundation skills.
Commission of the European Communities (2009), Key competences for a changing world: Draft 2010 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the “Education & Training 2010 work programme”, Commission of the European Communities, Brussels. DEEWR (2012), Employability Skills Framework, Stage 1 – Final Report, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra. DIISRTE (August 2012), Core Skills for Work: Draft Framework for Use in Working Sessions, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Canberra. Engestrom, Y. (2001), Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization, Journal of Education and Work, Vol 14, No 1. European Commission (2012), Assessment of Key Competences in initial education and training: Policy Guidance, Commission Staff Working Document, EU, Strasbourg. Hughes, L.B. & Hughes, L.C. (2011), Social capital building within a human capital focused VET system: an Australian case study strengthening the deaf community – ECER 2011, Berlin. Hughes, L.B. & Hughes, L.C. (2012), Social Capital and VET – Researching Coupling of ‘Want’ to ‘Need’: and Australian comparison with Europe – ECER 2012, Cadiz. Hughes, L. & Cairns, L.(2013), ‘Competency-Based Training in Australia: What Happened and Where Might We ‘Capably’ Go?’ in L. Deitmer, U. Hauschild, F. Rauner & H. Zelloth (Eds.), The Architecture of Innovative Apprenticeship, Springer, Dordecht,. Koslovskiy, V., Voormann, R., Roossalu, T. (eds) (2010), Leaning in Transition: Policies and Practices of Lifelong Learning in Post-Socialist Countries, Nauka, St Petersburg. Svendsen, G.L.H. & Svendsen, G.T. (2004), The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital: Entrepreneurship, Co-operative Movements and Institutions, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham.
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