Leading the charge in cross-sectoral integration: Vocational teacher education and the embedding of units of competency

Year: 2006

Author: Smith, Erica

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In Australia as elsewhere, the national government is keen to improve pathways between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education. The limited availability of such pathways is often attributed to a lack of will on the part of universities. VET teacher-education in Australia has been grappling since 1998 with the challenges imposed by a VET-sector qualification at Certificate IV level that has become, through government regulation, a ‘licence to practise’ in VET teaching. This paper uses the discussions within the national community of VET teacher-educators and a case study in one university to illustrate the difficulties that exist in laying pathways and guiding students along them. It draws on the debates that have taken place in AVTEC, the Australian VET Teacher Educators’ Colloquium, the author’s research into assessment issues in embedding the Certificate IV within university courses, and preliminary data from an evaluation of students’ reactions to authentic and deep embedding. These data are used to argue that difficulties in cross-sectoral integration are real and are derived from different approaches to pedagogy and evidence requirements, rather than being manufactured by education providers anxious to maintain their boundaries. The VET teacher education community holds unique expertise in this area and therefore the work done in its own courses is of substantial significance.