Developing capable and competent employees in the 21st century : who controls the agenda?
The training agenda in Australia has been dominated by the competency movement since the technical and higher education reforms took place in the late 80's and early 90's. This also applies in many other countries with similar employment relations and training systems. Training is highly regulated in these contexts and tradeoffs negotiated between various governments and the major players in the area has allowed certain stakeholders to exercise considerable power over the curricula and the delivery processes. The arbitrary application of the competency framework has centralised and homogenised training options available to employers and employees alike. That centralisation has led to a bureaucratic entanglement which often does not meet requirements of either party. The adoption of competencies has also impacted on the higher education sector by tightening the interface between training for competency and the broader aims of education for capibility. However, the use of competencies as the basis for curriculum development, assessment and accreditation has enabled key groups to control the national training agenda. For these and other more positive reasons it is recommended that higher level training curricula should be based on capabilities, which are defined to include competencies. As well, it is recommended that there be greater freedom for employers and employees to strike more suitable agreements in relation to training and education, still within an official framework, but not arbitrarily controlled by other entities not directly affected by the agreement. A case study and industry examples are used to demonstrate the impact of the system on the training agenda and to demonstrate how this may be improved.