Safeguarding Australians : mapping the strengths and challenges toward sustainable improvements in OHS education and practice
reportposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Yvonne Toft, M Capra, D Moodie-Bain, Ryan Kift, P Pryor, I Eddington, Darren Joubert
The broad aim of the project was to facilitate alignment of occupational health and safety (OHS) education with evolving workforce requirements. With a focus on education of the generalist OHS professional, the project was informed by current issues in OHS education, including (1) lack of an agreed core body of knowledge for OHS; (2) lack of clarity regarding the required level of education for an OHS professional; (3) appropriateness of current teaching strategies for equipping OHS professionals for operation in a changing business environment; (4) appropriateness of external modes of delivery of OHS programs; (5) availability of suitably qualified OHS educators; and (6) preparation of OHS professionals to be lifelong learners. The investigation strategy facilitated extensive consultation with professional, regulator, educator, registered training organisation and graduate stakeholders. Mapping the content and delivery of OHS education at Australian universities involved exploring the disciplinary underpinning of current programs, and eliciting stakeholder expectations of the learning outcomes and underpinning curriculums required for generalist OHS professional competency. Further insight resulted from identification of strengths, challenges and gaps in the delivery of OHS education as perceived by stakeholders. Three key requirements for delivery of OHS graduate outcomes were identified: (a) undergraduate tertiary education has to be recognised as the entry-level qualification for generalist OHS professionals; (b) OHS undergraduate education programs need a multidisciplinary base; and (c) a work-integrated learning model of education needs to underpin the curriculum design process. In an ALTC OHS educators' workshop, analysed data were presented to stakeholders, who were empowered to take ownership of project outcomes. Workshop participants established the Academy of OHS Education and Research, a significant project outcome with potential for massive positive impact on the future of OHS education in Australia.