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National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

This literature review, commissioned by the National Quality Council, provides a historical account of the development of competency-based training in Australia and summarises the issues arising from the range of reviews conducted on elements of the national training system. It also explores the variety of ways in which competence is conceived both in Australia and overseas. The review is divided into three chapters. The first looks at the origins and introduction of CBT in Australia, including its relationship to the United Kingdom model from which it was derived and other aspects of the National Skills Framework which affect it; for example, training packages, the Australian Qualifications Framework and the Australian Quality Training Framework. The second chapter looks at a range of definitions and conceptions of competence and competency, how these compare with current Australian conceptions, their strengths and weaknesses, and what, if anything, they might offer to any reconceptualised view of competence. The third section contextualises the review based on Council of Australian Governments'objectives and discusses the issues arising from the literature considered in the first two chapters, including a range of reviews and analyses that have been conducted of CBT and of other key planks of vocational education and training. It will attempt to draw these elements together to provide a summary of viewpoints and suggest some of the issues arising from these findings. The literature suggests that: (1) competence can be conceptualised in two broad ways. One takes a view that competence is a personal construct, while the other grounds competence in the context of an occupation and even a particular workplace. It suggests that a balance needs to be struck between these two constructs; (2) support for CBT and training packages remains strong, but that attention needs to be given to the quality of both delivery and assessment. The literature also suggests that training packages could be better understood and used, and that some refining of the underpinning concepts, processes and products is required; and (3) the professionalism of vocational education and training teachers and trainers needs to be reemphasised and enhanced. The literature also suggests that perhaps it is time to revisit the nature and level of training for VET's professional staff. (Contains 2 figures and 8 notes.

Descriptors: Competency Based Education, Vocational Education, Models, Competence, Definitions, Qualifications, Educational Quality, Literature Reviews, Employment Potential, Job Skills, Educational Opportunities, Foreign Countries

National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. P.O. Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Tel: +61-8-230-8400; Fax: +61-8-212-3436; e-mail: ncver[at]; Web site:

Autor: Guthrie, Hugh


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