Philosophy, people and process: a case-study of vocational education and training in a community development context

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Townsend, Robert A (2004) Philosophy, people and process: a case-study of vocational education and training in a community development context. Coursework Master thesis, Victoria University.


In 1994 the Commonwealth Government allocated funds for the design and development of a number of Rural Access Community Training Centres throughout Australia. This program derives from the strategic plan, A Bridge to the Future: Australias National Strategy for V.E.T. and specifically, objective number three (3); achieving equitable outcomes in V.E.T. The key question for this thesis is; how successful has vocational education and training (V.E.T.) reform been in empowering one local community to plan for, manage and deliver new education and training services? The focus of this thesis is a case-study of how one community is coping with vocational education and training (V.E.T.) reform and an analysis of the critical factors involved in facilitating change within communities, community organisations and the Australian vocational education and training system. A case-study approach was utilised to research Glassy Waters, a small rural community with a population of some 650 residents situated on a system of rivers and lakes in Victoria. The methodology utilised in gathering information for the case-study is mixed-mode relying on some of the principles of participatory action research and specifically the participant observations of the researcher. The research also relies on interviews with key stakeholders to ascertain information, views and experiences of a community in the process of creating a new vocational education and training centre. This thesis reveals that Glassy Waters Advisory Corporation (G.W.A.C.), a community managed organisation, has been successful in meeting the primary objectives of Commonwealth policy to establish a Rural Access Community Training Centre and increase access to V.E.T. programs for some disadvantaged groups living in the local community. However, both the policy and the implementation process has had limited impact on the prevailing management and employment culture and practices within the Glassy Waters community. The Glassy Waters case-study provides indicators that certain factors act as barriers to the implementation of a new learning culture within the community and therefore act as barriers to disadvantaged people accessing V.E.T. programs. The need for a new learning culture within the community was identified by government representatives as crucial to the success of the new training centre and the development of new learning cultures has been identified by a policy mix implied by Commonwealth and State/Territory governments as central to the V.E.T. reform process in Australia. The Glassy Waters case-study reflects that although change is occurring on the edges of the vocational education and training (V.E.T.) sector in terms of the key tenets of national vocational education and training (V.E.T.) reform, the actual communities that are the target of these new services are a long way from being receptive of new learning cultures in either a theoretical or practical sense. The concepts of learning communities/regions and learning organisations are still just concepts and many individuals, communities and organisations are struggling to implement new principles of learning within long established community structures. Therefore, there is evidence that it is timely for governments and local communities to review the philosophy, people and processes of national vocational education and training (V.E.T.) reform to ensure that all stakeholders, including governments, industries and communities are on the same track. There is also evidence that communities want government resources to be allocated toward the kinds of community development projects and programs that address the philosophy, people and process of vocational education and training and not just products and outcomes.

Additional Information

Master of Education

Item type Thesis (Coursework Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords Vocational education and training, community development
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