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Staff opinions on the use of national competencies in programmed learning extension

Peter J Carr

Department of Primary Industries, Knoxfield, PB15 Ferntree Gully Delivery Centre, Victoria 3156,.


Programmed learning extension (“training”) is considered by Coutts (2004) as one of the main rungs in the concept of a capacity building ladder. This model of extension is generally defined as a packaged learning event with set topics and learning objectives, incorporating adult learning principles. DPI conducts many extension projects loosely within this definition, but is inconsistent in linking these to nationally recognised competencies under the National Training Framework, as recommended by Coutts. Consequently participants may gain no formal recognition for their training, there is no pathway to a qualification and delivery can be variable. Further, training authorities cannot measure DPI’s training contribution, as there is no reporting mechanism.

As DPI explored these issues, it was decided to gauge staff opinions on the benefits and disadvantages of aligning these extension projects with competencies, and providing opportunities for assessment. A written survey followed by semi-structured interviews of 33 CAS staff across Victoria was undertaken to determine their views on the use of competencies in programmed learning extension. The results of this survey are presented.

Three key learnings from this survey are that 1) Most staff thought competency alignment provided far more benefits than disadvantages; 2) the main advantages were seen as providing recognition of skills attained, quality control, credibility and professionalism and; 3) the main disadvantages were seen as lack of demand for recognition by farmers, lack of flexibility in delivery, and excessive time and paperwork for compliance.

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