Collective Capacity: Group Based Recognition in the Construction Industry

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Carroll, Rodger Wayne (2022) Collective Capacity: Group Based Recognition in the Construction Industry. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


The Australian construction industry has more than 35% of its workforce with no formal qualification (National Skills Commission. 2020). These workers’ low income and limited career opportunities place them at risk of remaining indefinitely at a low socio-economic status, a risk exacerbated by the impending construction trade licensing scheme, which requires workers to have formal qualifications. Buddlemyer et al. (2012) argue that a positive impact on social inclusion via education is the completion of a Certificate III qualification. This study explores a way in which these construction workers can achieve a Certificate III qualification through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). RPL is a form of assessment to recognise skills and experiences of the workplace that contribute to the acquisition of formal qualifications. RPL has a limited range of assessment methodologies suitable for marginalised groups, rendering current RPL strategies unsatisfactory in achieving the desired outcomes for these groups. As the building industry is a very collegiate environment with high unionisation and a group or team culture, an RPL system that incorporates this group/team culture may have a greater impact on encouraging non-qualified Building Industry employees to undertake the RPL process, and via a positive exposure to education, continue as lifelong learners with a potential increase in social inclusion. This research aimed to identify whether a group RPL practice creates a social environment and framework where fellow candidates and an assessor collectively describe and validate knowledge and skills in a collegiate environment. The research utilised a qualitative, mini-ethnographic case study approach. This design sought to understand a human phenomenon in its anthropological cultural context, within the boundary of a case study. This study undertook an in-depth investigation into group RPL practice with a construction industry cohort, in which participants reflected on their experiences in relation to RPL and group RPL. Data was gathered from experienced assessors and RPL candidates in the construction industry via interviews and observational data on the interaction that occurs between assessors and candidates in a group RPL activity. The researcher’s personal narrative provides a further reflective lens on the RPL process. Analysis and thematic coding of the data was conducted utilising a combination of Interactive Visual Concordance, Sound Event Recognition, and Image Processing Analysis, contributing to the themes of assessor competence, candidate identity, the relationship between assessor and the candidate and the concept of group RPL. This research identified influential features of the low/non-qualified construction cohort that informed the construction of a conceptual group RPL model and found that the candidates who undertook group based practical RPL assessment activities achieved a greater success rate than when RPL activities were conducted with individuals. Implementation of this model may create an engaging pathway for the identified cohort to gain certification and licensing. This research provides a significant contribution to the field of vocational learning and RPL in the construction industry; it offers a group RPL model that may provide assessment and recognition for this socially disadvantaged cohort, leading to meaningful employment and greater social inclusion.

Additional Information

Doctor of Education

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3903 Education systems
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords recognition of prior learning, group based recognition of prior learning, marginalised groups, assessor competence, candidate identity, ethnography, mini ethnographic case study, interactive visual concordance, spectrogram, sound event recognition, image process analysis
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