National Training Product Reform

Project Director

Ruth Schubert
T: +61 3 9035 6042

Project Details

A research project commissioned by the Victorian Department of Education and Training on behalf COAG Industry and Skills Council (CISC).

The focus of the work included:

(a) contemporary literature, including recent review activity

(b) the current use of Training Products by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in program design and in the structure of qualifications

(c) active case study examples of current practice by RTOs, industry and employers to assess the effectiveness of Training Products in meeting their needs

(d) a review of international examples that might be relevant in Australia.

Extract from final case for change:

In simple terms, training packages specify what the outcome needs to be (and in that sense, it is said of the Vocational Education sector that it is industry led), and it is the job of the provider to devise the means by which the outcome is achieved. These means are variously described as teaching and learning strategies, or even, in some cases, curriculum.

However, it is clear that the Vocational Education system is not developing the adaptive capacity individuals need for work and citizenship today.  Given the changing nature of work, the current system is even less prepared to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes needed for the future. Making minor adjustments to the current system will not be sufficient.

A number of reforms are required to ensure that high quality vocational education is delivered consistently. One aspect of this reform will involve the redesign of training packages. Training products need to be reformed because the current model does not adequately take account of the way we learn. Current training products specify relatedly narrow job tasks but do not adequately address the typical learning progressions that can prepare people for vocational practice.

Training packages have been so specific about outcomes that providers have tended to focus more strongly upon assessment. There are prevailing concerns about a “tick and flick” approach to the assessment of competence.  In response to ongoing concerns that the provider response has been inconsistent and inadequate, there have been periodic amendments and refinements to training packages. There has been a range of measures to try and make assessment more rigorous and authentic, and measures to assist providers with delivery.

However, herein lies the problem. The measures to assist providers with quality delivery are contained in companion volumes to training packages; but, as these are considered to be non-endorsed components of training packages, there is no obligation for them to be used by providers. Nor are they written in the form of standards to which providers are required to adhere, and be audited against. Therefore, the integrity of the teaching, and the learning that occurs, is compromised.

Final case for change summary and case studies were provided as working documents to the Victorian Department of Education and Training.


The research project was led by Associate Professor Ruth Schubert, and project team included Associate Professor Shelley Gillis, Dr Mary Leahy, Professor John Polesel, and Senior Fellow Neil Fernandes.