Lets start with something we should remind ourselves of every morning

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					TAFE Development Centre Professional Learning Series 2007
The Changing Role of TAFE Teachers.
Ray Griffiths – Kangan Batman TAFE 25/05/2007
My job this morning is to try to give you my views on the changing role of TAFE and how it will impact
on TAFE teachers.
In order to do that I’ll talk a little about context, on where we have come from, venture a view on where
we are at and conclude with a view of where I think we should be headed.
Let’s start with something we should remind ourselves of every morning.
In TAFE we change peoples’ lives for the better every day. Thinking about and adopting new ways of
working in TAFE is simply how we do this better.
Our economic, social and cultural development role is pivotal to a thriving democratic society and there is
nothing better we could be doing with ourselves than working in public TAFE in Victoria right now.
Simply put, compared to those who do not pursue post compulsory education, individuals with vocational
education and training exposure tend to engage more successfully with the economy and consequently
their households and communities tend to be more successful and the enterprises employing them tend to
Driven by the identified need for a more competitive economy, the first round of Training Reform
occurred in the 1980’s and early 90’s and public TAFE has been changing consistently ever since, as
governments and industry have articulated their requirements for a more focused, flexible and responsive
training system, and as the Australian economy has re-structured. The pace of our change has been
criticized for being too slow.
We have variously, some of us enthusiastically and others reluctantly, adapted to reforms including;
•   a national training system, with national quality control and qualifications
•   expanded entry level arrangements to new apprentices
•   industry leadership through ITABs
•   principles of CBT
•   training packages
•   the AQTF
•   User choice which heralded the opening of a training ‘market’
•   Increased flexibility in the teaching and learning process
•   Increased levels of government direction on priorities.
Of course significant elements of the old school TAFE model remain with us still, as we enter the next
round of training reform, this time driven by a bi-partisan COAG policy agenda which seeks improved
national consistency and even higher levels of flexibility and responsiveness from public TAFE, in
particular as issues around the skill shortages are recognised as arguably the greatest threat to future
national prosperity.
I see the key challenges of the COAG agenda for us are how we universally embrace competency based
training principles that allow genuine flexibility and how we embrace the challenge of engaging with the
existing workforce and higher level skills.
Broader factors driving change in the way we work include rapid technological change, an aging
workforce and falling birth-rates in previous decades, consequential skills shortages and the emergence of
an increasingly competitive global economy that has put increasing competitive pressure on Australian
enterprises (including our institutes).
We also know that there are significant gaps in the skill and qualification levels of our existing workforce
that must be addressed to build and maintain competitiveness. Existing workers will not be trained and
retrained on our campuses but in workplaces and homes.

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As a result of the demands being placed upon us by governments, industry, enterprises and individuals,
progressive thinkers in public TAFE know what direction is needed, but in many ways we are still
struggling as organisations to break the chains of historical models of education typified by the whole
notion of a ‘school’ and teacher as pedagogue.
That said, our role is no doubt broad and were you to segment our market today you might find that the
traditional teacher centred, classroom/workshop and timetable based delivery model is exactly what a
proportion of our students want. It is however a diminishing proportion.
So, whilst there probably always will be parts of TAFE where learners need us to operate more like
schools, or even like universities, and teach more like the teachers who taught us, increasingly our quest
for student-centred learning, enterprise flexibility and responsiveness is creating models of teaching and
learning far removed from our past.
The blending of new and traditional techniques to provide optimal choice for the user is what is required
rather than a formulaic approach.
However we cannot afford to perpetuate the current dominant organisational model or ‘architecture’ of
TAFE and of TAFE teaching into the future. To do so would be based on the needs and preferences of
conservative managers, unimaginative bureaucrats, conservative teachers and teacher unions held captive
by their least progressive members; with students and enterprises coming in a distant last.
The traditional and dominant school or institutional TAFE model of organisation has more to do with
medieval than 21st Century thinking.
We can safely refer to this ‘architecture’ of education being medieval on the basis that it was the 1440AD
introduction of the Gutenberg printing press that eventually enabled the teachers of the day to move from
one or maybe two students, laboriously copying books, to the introduction of classes and class sets; this
no doubt led to the invention of timetables, the building of classrooms, libraries and the need for
education managers and bureaucrats. (I can probably thank Gutenberg for my job). This era spawned the
first models of formal education, firstly for religious and then economic elites.
It may be mischievous, but none the less it is tempting to suggest that in some dark corners of education
not much has changed since.
Never the less, the later progress of institutional education pretty much matched the development and
democratisation of industrial societies so that we moved from this medieval structure through the late 19th
and in the 20th century to what could be termed a mass production/mass consumption education model.
Henry Ford said of the T model Ford you could have any colour you liked so long as it was black. Many
would argue a close correlation between this and the choices open to students of the mass production
education model.
As an aside, along with a mass production education model grew an industrial model that saw teachers
identify with the need for industrial protection as manufacturing workers did. With educational leadership
often absent and Fordist management principles prevailing, perhaps we should not be surprised that we
found solace and protection in homogenizing workloads and regulating our working day to the minute
and hour spent on various segmented traditional teacher functions; elements of which the monks of
medieval times, or a teacher from the turn of the 20th Century, would no doubt recognise were they to
look at the MECA today.
It would not be unreasonable for us to expect more today, because of course we are now very much in a
post-industrial society where all around us, there are ongoing revolutions in the way people work,
communicate, seek and receive services.
Contemporary TAFE professionals might expect their leading practices to be recognised and rewarded
better by both their employers and their union in industrial instruments, but much is left still to do.
For example in an era where you could conceivably use the internet to organise and pay for a complicated
itinerary of international air travel, hire car and accommodation, restaurant and theatre bookings in New
York or London - in say thirty minutes from the comfort of your office chair; it will probably still take an
hour or two at best in a queue to enroll at your institute.

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Once enrolled it may be difficult, although to our credit not impossible, to avoid being herded into a class
of people, most of who are not homogenous in their needs, where administrative requirements and in
some instances staff preferences will dictate what, where and when they will learn, practice and be
Value stream mapping of a typical apprentice day at TAFE might find, for various reasons, between 30%
and 40% of the time spent in class or workshop less than fully productive learning time.
Contrast this to your own personal preferences when seeking professional services. If you are like me,
you will be increasingly intolerant of organisations that are not nimble, streamlined and efficient, or
professionals who keep you waiting. You’ll detest slow or poor service. You’ll hate being herded for any
purpose, treated as a ‘number’, homogenised, pasteurised or in any other way ‘ised’.
Yet, despite sometimes lumbering back of house systems and some evidence of teacher/bureaucrat
centred decision making, at our best in publicly funded TAFE we are already willing and able to provide
effective, efficient up front assessment and partner with students/enterprises to facilitate their learning and
assessment in customized accelerated and flexible ways.
Our institutes, their leaders, managers and staff are at different places on the journey to a post-industrial,
contemporary style of service provision.
There are variations between our best and worst practice within the institutes as well as between them.
But we will know we are there when everyone on our radar has the capacity to negotiate a student centred
model of receiving exactly what individuals need when and where they want; and when we are delivering
exactly what enterprises need to make them more competitive. Our market position will be unassailable.
Some researchers have called this move to individualized learning ‘mass customization’ to neatly draw
the distinction with the outmoded but not quite yet discredited mass production education model.
I guess there is a mental gear change is identifying the transition of a large part of what we do:
•   From traditionally delivering what training packages and the AQTF tell us to customizing what
    learners/enterprises want; using training packages and the AQTF, but perhaps going beyond
•   From homogenizing students to providing each and every one with an individual learning plan and
    the means to fulfil it
•   From enrolments days to constant rolling enrolment
•   From providing training as an end in its own right to building capability with new measures for
    outcomes like jobs, promotions or ROI for firms
•   From isolated ‘institutional’ to ‘value chain’ thinking with commitment to the partnerships arising
•   From synchronous to asynchronous teaching and learning
•   It is de-bureaucratizing and de-institutionalizing our own organisations.
•   It is about effective e-business and e-learning models
•   It is from teaching to facilitating learning
•   It is from classroom and campus to workplace and home
•   From workbooks and workbenches to project based learning, and more.
Our educational debate has seen many of us reflect on principles of pedagogy reflecting teacher centred
learning, through exploration of the co-production of knowledge and skills in androgogy, to an emerging
discussion now around the concept of heutagogy, or student led education where the teacher is mentor,
facilitator, broker and guide.
Since we know that tens of thousands of Australians successfully learn new skills every day without the
benefit of a TAFE institute or a TAFE teacher, we are also a bit intrigued by the ways of private and
enterprise RTO’s, the enterprise training departments of big companies and the private consultants (many
ex TAFE staff) who are finding new ways to engage with students and with companies and their workers
at the expense of public TAFE’s market share.

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So it is not only about uncoupling the psychological block between the old architecture and a
‘student/client’ centred future but also breaking the dependence of what we do as publicly funded TAFE
institutes on the recurrent funds of governments.
This capability building business we are in is certainly no less legitimate if paid for by individuals or by
enterprises rather than tax payers.
At its leading edge Victorian TAFE is providing exemplary, innovative and highly valued services to
industries, enterprises and individuals.
We have come an enormous way in the adoption of a wide range of innovative teaching and learning
practices including up front assessment, RPL, workplace learning, project based learning, e-learning, and
other flexible learning methodology. Many of you are already involved in the transition from traditional
teacher to partnering learners, facilitating their learning through a range of avenues and experiences.
The widespread adoption of all this across our publicly owned TAFE’s is now required to put us at the
leading edge and ensure our long term sustainability in a rapidly changing environment.
The dominant organisational model, whilst containing valuable elements for part of our future, needs to
be shaken and stirred and changed because it is clearly holding back the widespread implementation of
the reforms government, students and enterprises so clearly demand.
There should be a groundswell from progressive TAFE teachers to ensure their contemporary work is
recognised and rewarded by their CEO’s, Institute Boards and the AEU in forward looking industrial
instruments, not rehashed retrospective logs of claims.
In conclusion the sorts of capabilities required across teams of professional TAFE staff – (not neatly
homogenized ‘school teacher’ duties for all) include but are not confined to;
Knowledge of;
•   Subject/profession/skills area
•   Contemporary adult learning practices and principles
•   Industry sector
•   Enterprise specific issues
•   Contemporary best practice
•   Career paths
•   Qualifications structures
•   Market requirements.
Skills in;
•   Listening to establish what learners/clients want
•   Facilitation of individual and group learning
•   ICT
•   Learning management systems
•   Knowledge management systems/repositories
•   Instructional design
•   Assessment
•   Consultancy
•   Market analysis
•   Self management
•   Managing diversity
•   Business development and management.
Attitudes that reflect;
•   Love of learning
•   Acceptance of challenge
•   Willingness to embrace change

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•   Flexibility and adaptability
•   Cheerful acceptance of ambiguity
•   Commitment to the contemporary role of public TAFE to help enterprises grow, communities prosper
    and individuals reach their full potential.
Behaviours that epitomize being;
•   Student/customer centred
•   Professional
•   Team oriented
•   Consultative
•   Reflective
•   Empathetic and having
•   Integrity.
Finally let me reiterate that this transformation is already well under way, but it requires leadership at all
levels to challenge the dominant model of TAFE and TAFE teaching to see us really engage successfully
with the future as employers and providers of first choice.
The roles of TAFE professionals are to some extent already, and will be more in future much more like
those of today’s consultants and private sector training professionals and the links with our school teacher
past will eventually be broken for most of us. I would argue the sooner the better.
The risk of doing otherwise is that individuals, enterprises and governments will go elsewhere for a
contemporary service; and none of us want to see that.
Thanks for listening and enjoy the rest of the day.

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