Australian Vocational and Competency-Based Training: The Tourism Sector

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Governments are compelled to continuously enhancing the techniques for delivering instruction because education is one of the most important strategies to achieve development. Vocational Education and Training was established in Australia as a result of constant pressure from the government to change the manner that education is delivered (VET). This has become even more crucial in light of the fact that Australia now heavily depends on tourism for money. With the help of VET, many Australians are able to complete some form of education and use their abilities to develop the tourism sector. Additionally, the government has been able to adapt and sustain VET in line with shifting policy. Numerous industries connected to tourism have even transformed their policies so that they are harmonious with VET. Using this approach, the tourism industry in Australia has been able to tap into the skills of the workforce. Even though VET is facing a lot of problems in Australia, it is an accepted approach with policymakers ensuring that there is a linkage between this approach and any changes taking place.

Education Training Programs in the Tourism Industry

The working environment requires collaboration and wholesome engagement in order for learning to occur. Effective learning only takes place when there is interaction and collaboration especially in a workplace (Abrams & Berges, 2010). Today, people even those in employment are forced to act as if they are self-employed even when they are employed implying that there are particular skills which are of immense significance (Ballenden, 2001). The tourism industry in Australia goes through instances where the season is low and there are minimal jobs. For this industry, having particular unique skills makes one competitive. According to Ballenden (2001), today people are not trained to seek jobs but to find clients to consume their products or skills. For people to perform most of these functions effectively, Australia took up the use of VET which has proven successful in creating people with immense critical thinking skills especially in the tourism industry.

The step towards the adoption of VET came with the realization that there is a growing gap between education and training, a situation that produced individuals who could not apply their skills in the current market. With Australia facing a variety of economic crises and the financial situation of the country falling sharply, it was necessary to produce individuals that are self-sufficient (Ryan, 2011). Even though VET was received with a lot of concerns over quality, the country could experience the success of this approach. According to Ryan (2011), the gap between education and training has been filled over time. Currently, employers are in support of vocational training as it aides in the growth of generic skills. These are particular significant factors considered in the process of determining the employability of individuals.

VET is one of the most effective approaches used in creating a workforce that is effective, willing to collaborate and works well with others. One of the approaches used in VET is Competency Based Training (CBT). Among its many definitions, the most comprehensive explanation of CBT is that it is an approach where education is based on the skills of an individual (Guthrie, 2009). Competence can be innate and it requires particular techniques to tap into this ability. CBT is looked at as education that “places primary emphasis on what a person can do as a result of the training” (ACCI, 1992 as cited by Guthrie 2009). In other words, an individual is only trained based on the competencies attributed to them and focus is placed on those skills that are needed in the market. For instance, there are individuals who are immensely good at marketing and thus vocational training helps them grow in this sector. Aside from the numerous attractive scenery, this is one of the aspects that has contributed to the growth of the tourism industry in Australia.

Another educational approach that is commonly used specifically to help in the development of generic skills is community based learning. According to Ballenden (2001), this form of learning combines both enterprise skills and individual competencies so that the outcome is a person who is not just employable but is also capable of employing. These skills are significant but they also require life-long learning just like other VET approaches (Ryan, 2011). In this case, it is up to the individual to realize that the community is a tool and a source of learning experiences. For instance, Australia does not just market its beautiful scenery but they collaborate with communities such as aboriginals in order to sell both scenery and culture. The cultural aspect makes the tourism industry in Australia unique and marketable. The skills needed by a community at a particular time keep changing regularly, and this requires a keen eye from the student. An individual must always be equipped with knowledge that helps them access new content and develop new skills. In an erratic economic environment, such skills are necessary for the sake of competitiveness and survival.

Recent Changes

Abrams and Berges (2010) confirm that the economic environment has changed over time and thus the way knowledge is delivered has also transformed. In the quest to ensure that VET keeps providing only the skills that are needed, change focuses on the responsiveness of the tourism industry, funding, and quality regulation. The various VET reform taskforces are engaged in ensuring that the approach makes a connection between skills and responsibilities for industry and commonwealth. For instance, tourism goes hand in hand with safety. It is the responsibility of the people in the tourism industry including ministers and those in the hospitality to provide safety for their clients. It is thus important for the stakeholders to have knowledge on safety in addition to the training related to tourism. Owing to the fact that individuals are encouraged to create employment, trade apprenticeships are valued as a pathway for career growth (Beddie & Curtin, 2011). Initially, there was no strong connection between VET and higher education. However, this trend is changing now with more focus being placed on the connection between the two so as to grow industries. For instance, it will be possible for a polytechnic to deliver certificate I in tourism all the way to a master’s degree through the use of coursework.

A study of the historical development of VET reveals that there was a lot of concern over the funding for this approach because the government would spend billions of dollars in its implementation. The main source of concern over funding VET emanated from the idea that the government had to find a way of chipping into the educational approach. According to Beddie and Curtin (2011), the current approach being taken is competitive funding which is aimed at reducing the influence of the employer. Using this approach, VET will now focus on simple markets and the training can cover a wide range of programs.

It is of immense significance to ensure that VET provides only the highest quality of skills so that there will be no waste of funds or resources. A historical analysis of VET by Ballende (2001) reveals that one of the major concerns over this approach was whether it would provide quality. However, this has changed over the years with Australia being one of the numerous success stories in the tourism industry. However, maintaining this high quality requires the constant application of drastic and effective measures. In lieu to this, VET will employ the use of external moderators and employ transparency especially when it comes to performance. Today, any institution offering VET training related to tourism is vetted by external moderators (international) and internal quality assurance officers.

Links between Changes in VET and National Developments

The versatility and malleable nature of VET has made it a popular educational approach in Australia for a long time. The changes made in VET are aimed towards meeting and remaining consistent with the national developments. One of the major aspects involved in national and international developments embodies quality education and skills aimed at providing superior services in the tourism industry. VET will undergo changes related to quality and regulation where focus will be placed on a skill that is needed at a particular time (Beddie & Curtin, 2011). For instance, the tourism industry in Australia needs advanced marketing skills because this is a competitive industry. In connection to this, the industry constantly requires customer care skills and this is what VET targets. New organizations will be involved in the creation of new skills and knowledge. VET will ensure that all the tourism organizations obtain the necessary skills that provide not only the necessary but high quality services. In this way, even the quality of education will improve over time.

In tough economic times, it is necessary to always conserve the amount of money available for a variety of purposes. Even the tourism industry is erratic and there are instances where cash flow is low. It is thus necessary to find ways of conserving money even in the involvement of vocational training. The lack of sufficient funds and sources of employment is a reason why governments such as the Australian leadership encourage people to create employment. In a bid to save the government some money, VET has decided to use alternative sources of income (Beddie & Curtin, 2011). In this way, the government will be in a better position to save some money that can e utilized in other projects.

In connection to the tough economic times, governments are now more focused on creating ways of making money more than spending money. Such a scenario requires self-sufficiency and this is only obtained through the use of suitable skills. In lieu to this, VET is focusing on using even more intensive methods that will help in the identification of needed skills. For instance, an individual working in the tourism industry can be a marketer as well as a chef. In addition to this, a lot of focus is placed on the growth of industries that will be useful in the extraction of income for the various nations and international countries. Ballenden (2001) explains that the survival of governments and organizations requires the development of competencies and skills and this is the current goal of VET. Using these approaches, VET links to the national and international development goals.

Issues or Problems in the Tourism Industry

Transformations of VET do not come without challenges and most organizations have had to deal with the production of learning materials, support of lecturers and trainers in the process and the need for developing collaboration. In his analysis of the future of VET, Ryan (2011) explains that the push for the numerous changes in VET emanates from the need for students to transform their approaches towards jobs. The job market in the tourism industry is currently highly competitive and the students in institutions of higher learning are forced to focus on any training that would get them a job in future. However, the use of CBT and other new approaches requires the revision of the current materials used at the workplace. For instance, it is compulsory for schools to provide better training materials that are concurrent with the new standards of VET. For example, providing quality may require one to understand the applications of newer kitchen appliances. This requires financial input and such a scenario may be challenging to the already overdrawn government accounts.

Change is usually not easily accepted considering that it requires adjustment of schedules and routines. In the process of implementing the changes instigated by VET, there is need to provide support to the lecturers, teachers and trainers from a variety of situations. The aim here is to ensure that the trainers are involved and taken through the process of change so that it is easy for them to implement the new approaches. A lot of support is required in this case and this is further complicated by the fact that not every trainer will be ready, willing and capable of accepting and implementing the change. The trainer is the one responsible in helping the student in the tourism industry develop interest in some aspects. For this reason, this is a precarious process. In fact, the whole process may require the teachers and lecturers to undergo training. The funds required for the fulfillment of such a process is a challenge in itself.

Considering that VET will now cover even institutions of higher learning, it is immensely difficult to have uniform best policy practices. Universities and other educational institutions find it difficult to align their best policy practices because of the differences in learning. For instance, the training that a chef studying a diploma course and a Barista who requires a certificate differs immensely. According to Abrams and Berges (2010), VET targets in creating a work environment where an employee can perform a variety of tasks. However, institutions of higher learning and other training organizations use a variety of methods to meet this requirement depending on the competency levels of the student. Consequently, it becomes immensely difficult to match the best practice policies.

Responses are Best Practice

I strongly believe that any educational system that meets the economic and developmental requirements of a region or area is applicable because it provides a suitable source of skills and takes advantage of the skills of the populace. The problem with an educational system is evident when the educational system becomes redundant. Redundancy here implies the inability of education to meet the goals of development. VET was introduced as a way of ensuring that the training received by the population meets the national developmental goals. This is the source of the definition of best policy practices. For the sake of this paper, ‘best practice’ is a phrase that refers to actions and approaches that are aimed towards meeting national and international development. In this case, the VET approaches related to the tourism industry are connected to the national and international development goals. Based on the success of the tourism industry, I believe that Australia has benefited from the responses to a great extent.

In response to the changing global economic environment, Australia revised its approach to VET and this has been immensely helpful in connecting national and international developmental goals with education and training approaches. For instance, training related to sectors in the tourism industry is aimed towards ensuring that the developmental goals are met. According to Ballenden (2001), an educational system is only viable and applicable if it contributes to economic development and liberation of a population. VET already meets this requirement by constantly transforming its modes of application. VET normally changes depending on the economic needs of a population, and Ryan (2011) uses this argument to explain the long existence of VET.

I applaud the fact that VET allows individuals to exploit their potentials to the fullest. VET has been able to meet this requirement to a great extent as evidenced by the growth of this industry in Australia. Understanding the contribution of VET in the economy of Australia calls for an analysis of the various areas where the approach has contributed positively. For a long time, VET was and has been used to improve the skills of individuals. According to Abrams and Berges (2010), the current workforce requires employees who are in a position to perform more than one task. VET allows vocational training which enables individuals to exploit their various potentials. In this way, VET meets the best practices in a community.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Changes

The current costs of implementing VET may be quite high but considering its numerous achievements and successes, it is a worthy endeavor. Since its introduction in Australia, VET has undergone numerous changes that have seen its improvement in terms of qualityand funding. Even though such steps cost a lot of money and time, they have helped the country to close the gap between education in the tourism industry and the national developmental goals. For instance, after the September 11 bombing incidence every trainee in the tourism industry is now equipped with basic knowledge on safety. According to Ballenden (2001), it is always important for an education or training system to give rise to individuals who are not just employable but are also willing to create employment. The introduction of VET has been able to meet this requirement and this makes it an attractive endeavor.

Responses towards the problems with quality and funding of VET are met with viable alternatives. For instance, there has been a need to train and employ quality assurance officers to ascertain the value of VET offered in a variety of institutions. While this costs money, it also implies that trainers will always be keen to meet the strict requirements of the quality assurance officers. Consequently, the whole process becomes applicable and usable in the current environment. In addition to this, it helps in the production of individuals who are critical thinkers and are equipped with a variety of skills.


The introduction of VET in Australia was aimed at helping the country tap into the existing competencies in the population and transforms these into skills that could be applied in economic development. In as much as it was initially faced with a lot of problems and worry over quality, this approach has been able to produce individuals who are critical thinkers and contribute to the economy by marketing their skills. There are numerous approaches used in VET including competency and community based education. The most advantageous part of these forms of approaches is that they can be manipulated in order to fit into the skills requirement in the economy. That is why VET has been transformed slightly and this allows it to accommodate new skills and get rid of unwanted ones. The major changes that have taken place in this approach include that related to quality and funding. As a result, VET is now improving and this makes it one of the most suitable approaches towards education, training and development.


Abrams, C., & Berges, Z. (2010).Workforce cross training: A re-emerging trend in toughtimes. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22(8), 522-529.

Ballenden, C.(2001). “Skills for the 21st century: The limits to training packages.” In: Knowledge demands for the new economy / [edited by Fred Beven, Clive Kanes& Dick Roebuck]. Volume 1, Brisbane, Qld. : Centre for Learning and Work Research, Faculty of Education, Griffith University : Australian Academic Press, 2001. pp. 39-45.

Beddie, F. & Curtin, P. (2011).The future of VET: A medley of views. Adelaide: NCVER.

Guthrie, H. (2009). Competence and competency-based training: What the literature says. Adelaide: NCVER.

Ryan, R. (2011). How VET responds: a historical policy perspective. Adelaide: NCVER.

February 09, 2023
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