A review of a learner-centred vocational education system starts with its design

Year: 2021

Author: Harrison, James

Type of paper: Individual Paper

An interesting reform of vocational education is currently being undertaken in New Zealand that is significantly changing the roles of existing education design and delivery responsibilities but might potentially miss the transformative possibilities that this opportunity provides. Such possibilities include the development of lifelong learning capability of every individual to determine what they need and how to obtain it as and when needed; the integration of the education system between vocational and academic outcomes given the seamless continuity that exists between vocational and professional roles; and the creation of an architecture which recognises what is stable and what is changing so that diversity of practice in specific fields is maintained without qualifications being limited in breadth of knowledge content.Further to completion of recent PhD studies. the author demonstrates how a contemporary vocational education design can combine all of the above possibilities within a new framework described here.At the architectural level, it combines recognition of the stable processes that are present in all fields of practice supported by a framework of developmental practice that enables ongoing learning and development throughout many careers by making use of integrated problem solving, research and experiential learning processes. It implicitly recognises that the knowledge base of one individual can never cover a whole field of contemporary practice, but the field can be enriched by a diversity of provision and providers in a common space. Here individuals can qualify in professional, paraprofessional and technician roles based on common stable functions. The qualifications in such a vocational system represent the above generic roles, but can be continually evolved to encompass new technological developments without changing the qualification structure itself. Finally, there is much new research to be done to make such a system learner-centred and this reform is seen as a significant opportunity and driver for re-imagining education research in many dimensions of tertiary education.