Innovation – the future of VET

Back in February this year we began talking to you about the future of the VET sector and the revamp of Training Packages as we know them. The topic of conversation at the moment is about future skills and the way we will be working in the future. The Prosperity through Innovation Plan[1], released by Innovation Science Australia in January 2018 called for urgent review of VET. The report says that

’ VET trained people will prove crucial as industries demand higher skills and ‘more frequent skill updates’.

As we face a world where more and more workers jobs are replaced by automation the work force must become more resilient and career savvy so that individuals learn to navigate from job to job and across industry sectors to embrace new opportunities!

One of the two key strategic opportunities for government, as outlined in the report is to ensure that ‘Australia’s vocational education and training system can be made responsive to the new priorities presented by innovation.’ For this reason, we thought it was time to focus on innovation. Sector wide change must be initiated by Government and then facilitated through partnerships between industry and training organisations to ensure that training aligns to the needs of industry i.e. the emerging work and skills demands.

Some questions to consider:

  • What type of RTO will be able to keep up with this change?
  • How can an RTO become an innovative business that is ready to respond to the needs of industry?
  • What are you doing in your RTO to develop a culture of innovation?
  • How can an RTO ensure that development of a culture of innovation within the RTO will flow on to the development of innovative training and assessment practices?

We will consider these questions over the next 2 months in our social media posts and blog posts. We will firstly look at how to become an innovative organisation. Then we will get down to the business of innovation in training and assessment.

So let’s jump in…..

What do we know about innovation?

The word innovation is used a lot but what does it mean? Innovation is more than another word for creativity or problem solving. Innovation can be defined as a new idea; a new use for an old idea; or an idea that can be implemented and adds value. So, innovation involves creative thought, but for an idea to be considered innovative it needs to be usable and add value.

The capacity to change and develop creative and innovative approaches to education is fundamental to the sustainability and relevance of education providers across all sectors in a society that is constantly changing. Innovation in an RTO setting may take many forms including: new products or services (e.g. educational resources, textbooks, equipment or study programs); new technology (e.g. ICT in e-learning); improved pedagogic practices (e.g. new training approaches such as the flipped classroom); changes to the leadership culture and improved work practices (e.g. using ICT solutions to enhance team communication).

Creating Innovative Outcomes

Innovation is more likely to occur in an environment where there is supportive and flexible management, team structures which enable sharing of ideas, positive challenges, collaborative decision making, and timeframes that allow exploration of new ideas and people with appropriate technical expertise. Innovation is inhibited when team members are bored, fear failure or ridicule, lack time or resources and are led by autocratic leaders. RTOS are places with a rich diversity of skills and backgrounds across the training and business staff. To enable creativity that achieves innovative outcomes, RTOs should encourage cross team collaboration and provide opportunity for staff from different disciplines to come together for idea sharing and vigorous debate.

A Framework for Innovation

Establishing a framework of innovative work practice will enable an RTO to apply innovative skills and ensure teams have a shared understanding of the process of innovation.

The 6 stages of this framework are described below. This framework will help you ensure your idea is feasible and will actually add value and lead to improved outcomes.

1. Identify a need or an opportunity.

The first step is to identify a problem that needs a solution or an opportunity for something new. There are a number of techniques to do this. Ask questions in an interview or focus group; conduct formal research with surveys, literature reviews or industry research; or you could observe the environment to identify the need or opportunity.

2. Generate creative ideas then apply critical thinking

This step involves generating creative ideas and assessing their usability by applying two types of thinking: divergent thinking which involves asking questions, brainstorming and generating as much information as possible and convergent thinking to critique and filter ideas and select the best possibilities. It is important during this stage to apply both types of thinking. Begin with divergent thinking and allow as much information to be generated without critique. Applying convergent thinking too early in the process can stifle creativity and limit ideas and outcomes.

3. Collaborate with others to get input and support

This step involves discussing ideas with others in team discussions, through networks or focus groups to gather input from a range of stakeholders and to garner support for your idea.

4. Reflect on the idea and gather feedback to refine the idea

During this step it is important to reflect and refine the idea. This could involve structured reflection, journaling, or working through a series of critical questions to refine the idea. It is tempting to jump past this stage quickly and move into action and implementation, but it is important to allow time to consider all that has been learnt through the previous 3 stages to refine your idea.

5. Present the idea to others

Once you have your idea refined it is important to gather reactions and feedback from people who will be the users of your idea. So this stage involves representing the idea in a tangible way and presenting it to them for comment. You could present the idea by developing a detailed description of the idea; drawing a plan; making a model; drawing a picture; writing a proposal; putting together a PowerPoint presentation and delivering it at a staff meeting.

6. Evaluate and test the feasibility of the idea

The final stage is to evaluate and measure the idea to test its feasibility and to ensure it meets the identified needs or opportunities from stage 1. This could be done through trialing and testing, surveys, checklists, interviews or focus groups.

Would you like to find out more about this framework? The Learning Community can help you with this. Contact us on info@thelearningcommunity.com.au

[1] https://industry.gov.au/Innovation-and-Science-Australia/Documents/Australia-2030-Prosperity-through-Innovation-Full-Report.pdf

Thanks for joining us. We would love to hear your ideas about innovation. Please leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gillian                                                      Karen

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