Rationalising VET qualifications: selected international approaches

Skilled workforce Vocational education and training Educational evaluation

Reducing the number of vocational qualifications available is a current or recent priority area of many VET systems internationally, but what is the best way to achieve this and is there anything that needs to be considered? Focusing on cases studies on New Zealand, England, Finland and the Netherlands, this research summary explores approaches taken to rationalise VET qualifications, such as occupational clustering, and how they might be applied in the Australian context.

Report highlights:

  • Two main methods have emerged internationally to significantly reduce the number of qualifications: reviewing existing vocational qualifications to remove those not in use or are duplicates, or reorganising qualifications into clusters, routes or vocational pathways.
  • Internationally, many qualification structures have been changed, such that they comprise: learning related to general capabilities, such as language, literacy and numeracy; technical skills appropriate to several related occupations; and further specialisation through optional units.
  • Ongoing qualification review processes ensure that qualifications remain relevant and they respond better to changing needs in the workforce.
  • Units of competency will become increasingly important in a VET system with a reduced number of qualifications. Internationally, modules (or their equivalent) are used to provide skills specific to an occupation and to allow a quick response to emerging skills or regional needs.
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