Dr Phil Rutherford
About VET systems
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Whether you are considering designing and implementing a VET system for your country or your organisation, this page is for you.

I have had the great pleasure of being involved in the development of all of the major VET systems in the world. But what we developed all those years ago have, in most of these countries, turned into a bureaucratic nightmare which is more about regulations and rules than it is about defining the future needs of nations and industries. In fact, if it was left up to industries (as we did in many cases) they would create something quite different to what is today touted as being 'industry-led' or 'industry specific' VET systems.

Here, for the first time anywhere, is the essential elements of a VET system that meets national or organisational needs.


1.  The first step is to clearly identify why you need to create such a system. This will be the vision towards which every other step will be aimed.

2.  Gain commitment from all of the key players - industries, individual organisaitons, unions, training providers, government agencies, staff, management (at all levels), in fact everyone. This is an essential first step because it is far too late to try and get their commitment when development of the system is underway.

3.  Identify priorities. It is sometimes too tempting to try and cover every level and vocational area too early. Don't. Pick the highest priority areas and develop your system around them. And then trial it within these areas. Once you've got everything right then you can move on to include other vocational areas and levels.

4.  Analyse the functions within the area you've identified. The most effective way of doing this is through the processes of Functional Analysis. Not Job Analysis or DACUM - these are useful processes for other purposes but in a VET system a Functional Analysis is the only appropriate method for identifying the skills and knowledge needed for the functions you're analysing. Remember, somebody in that function is going to be evaluated for their competence (ie, for what they actually do), not for the skills and knowledge - or qualifications - that they possess.

5.  Determine the current level of skills and knowledge in the function(s) you have analysed. This will give you a starting point for the next step.

6.  Determine which approach is most appropriate for bringing individual or collective competence from where it is now to where it must be if those performing that function are to be deemed competent. These approaches can include training, education, self-development, mentoring/coaching, and so on.

7.  Carry out the assessments necessary to determine whether or not individual and/or collective competence has reached the level described in the standards. When individual competence is assessed as being at the desired level, then (and only then) a qualification or professional award may be presented (if your VET system has an agreement with qualifications or award providers to do so). But more importantly, when the desired level is determined then the achievement of goals and objectives at all levels of an organisation or an industry may be evaluated. These can - and most often will - range from individual objectives (for undertaking the training and assessment), through those of his/her workplace, work area, business area, organisation, community and environment. Each of these must be evaluated separately but in the context of the organisation or industry as a whole.

Remember the question that was asked at the beginning of these processes? Here is where the reason for asking it becomes apparent. At this stage you can evaluate how well the outcomes of the system are achieving the reason for implementing it in the first place. If your original objective isn't being achieved then either it was wrong or the processes you've developed and applied are wrong. When that occurs it is definitely time to call in the professionals.

Copyright P D Rutherford 2009. All rights reserved.