A Call Out


This is a call out to my colleagues in NSW and other parts of the world who would like to showcase their research at the 2018 OctoberVET event.  I am sure you will know about this annual event organised by AVETRA.   If you don’t, have a look at the interesting topics that have been investigated in 2017 and previous years, and you’ll find all the necessary details at the AVETRA website.

I am organising the NSW event, which will be held in Sydney, as well as via an online webinar to ensure that all the far-flung VET family can join in.  So if you can’t get to Sydney, you can always either present or watch via the webinar.

What makes these events really valuable is to have those people who are doing research, either practitioners or academics, come forward and share their findings.  You might be just playing around with the idea of some research and you would like to gauge the interest of others; you might have some preliminary findings from something you have partially completed; or you might have recently published some work that you would like to showcase.

All of this sharing is really valuable for us to make sure we keep the informed conversation about our highly-valued VET sector alive and engaging.  This is really an imperative time to have these conversations, and your input to them is what will make the difference.

Please get in touch with me, Anne Bowden, at annie.bowden@gmail.com or on +61 0419 42 5555, if you have any thoughts on something you would like to share at this important NSW event.  Remember, you could be physically present at the Sydney site, or you could be online from anywhere in the world.  We do have some international followers of the Hub so maybe they will be interested also – we hope so!




Many of the Hub members will have joined in AVETRA’s OctoberVET events in years past.  Well, it’s on again in 2018 even bigger and better.

AVETRA is calling for expressions of interest from people who wish to run an OctoberVET event in their area in 2018. What an outstanding opportunity this is to showcase, disseminate and debate VET research.  We are hoping that there will be members of this Hub who will take up this exciting opportunity to share their research, whether still in development, recently published or perhaps even published sometime ago but with reason to bring it to the light of day again now.

OctoberVET events can be large or small, formal or informal.

If you have an idea for an OctoberVET event, please email or call Steven Hodge (s.hodge@griffith.edu.au / 0421224474) or Anne Bowden (annie.bowden@gmail.com / 0419425555).  We are happy to work with you to refine or develop your event.

I am thrilled to be working with Dr Steven Hodge to coordinate this year’s event.  I will be even more thrilled to hear from any of you with ideas.  You don’t have to take responsibility for conducting an event, you might just have research that you are burning to share.  Ignite that passion here first if you wish, by including a comment in the reply area below; or contact Steven or I to get things rolling.


Although not strictly an OctoberVET event, the other important calendar date is 26th October 2018.  AVETRA will be hosting a further Research Forum at the Canberra Institute of Technology on that date.  Check out the details on the AVETRA website.  Look forward to seeing some of you there!





What a Vibrant Community

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

There is so much going on in the VET research world at present!   I hope you find my comments on these few items of interest.

The AVETRA A-News publication this month is a bumper issue. I strongly recommend it to you. You will have received it from the Secretariat if you are a member, otherwise you can find it at http://avetra.org.au.  Two of the highlights for me are:

Robin Shreeve’s call for the attention of the research community to investigate the detail of the Business to Business (B2B) activities of VET, particularly in light of a number of previous sector restructures, especially funding restructures, based on the premises of earlier work. In particular Robin refers to the Scott and Deveson Reports.  If you happen to be interested in collaborating on this, please leave a reply below. I am sure many of us believe this is an important area of which to develop a stronger understanding for policy and practice initiatives.

I feel that the second item may be a case of my being the last to know. Please forgive me if you have already received this sad news. The passing of a true stalwart of applied research, Rosalind Carter, is such a tragic event. My condolences certainly go out to her family and her colleagues who will miss her enormously.  It saddened me greatly, as I am sure it will many of you, at a personal level.  On reading the A-News’ comments regarding Ros’ significant contribution to an applied learning, applied teaching and applied research framework for TAFENSW,  I realised that she has in fact made a global contribution in this area. As Dr Ruth Schubert points out in her article in A-News, countries experiencing economic success have a shared concept of this applied approach to tertiary education.  The picture below shows Ros’s involvement in the NSW OctoberVET a few years ago.  She was such a wonderful person to work with professionally and personally.

OctoberVET 2015
Carmel Ellis-Gulli, Rosalind Carter, Anne Bowden, Bronwyn Thompson, Kevin Heys at Ultimo TAFE for the webinar.


In a similar vein I noticed that Wendy Perry has highlighted a very interesting article from the MIT Technology Review on Linkedin which disceusses the need for the German tertiary education system to address new ways to incorporate applied skill development as well as skills to adapt to the changes w will experience with AI aspects of jobs.
Have you heard of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE)?  I am sure you have.  I attended a very interesting webinar on its long-term vision to 2030 (see the recording at the link).  Of particular interest was the inclusion of the relationship between VET and higher education as a unified tertiary system; as well as the concerns raised regarding the continued loss of focus of the equity issues in policy decisions.  It made me reflect on where we are at in VET since the cessation of the National Vocational Education Advisory Council (NVEAC) in 2014.  Presenters in the webinar referred to the foundational policy of A Fair Chance For All of 1990 as being the current benchmark.  As such, it seems that all areas of tertiary education in Australia could benefit from a focus on this aspect of our operations.


Don’t forget to check the Happenings on this Hub to see details of some interesting conferences coming up.


And please …. Make a reply on any of these matters if you want to keep a conversation going amongst all of our VET practitioner community members.

The Power of Data Linkage

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Graphic Source:  Freepik

Have you heard about data linkage?  According to NCVER, one of the major benefits of this approach to qualitative research is the power to be unlocked by correlating data from two or more data sets.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics Data Laboratory provides access to a huge array of data including unit level data, and compiled data.  There are restrictions to the use of this facility.  If anyone else is interested, it may be worthwhile AVETRA approaching ABS to determine if members who complete the required undertakings could be given access. If you have any thoughts about this, leave a reply below please.

NCVER has been active in providing us with a discussion paper, as well as best practice guidelines.  The guidelines are based on the international ‘Five Safes” to guide research.

I cannot give this topic the understanding it deserves, so I will leave it to the experts and recommend that you view the webinar held on 14 June and/or the slides.  I learned a great deal about this new and exciting approach to using data.  The advice of Cain Polidano, “just because we can use data linkage doesn’t mean we always should” seems very sage to me.  Like many other ethical and efficiency issues related to research, there are a number of limitations as well as benefits.

The recent establishment of the National Data Custodian is another development showing that research is being enabled and valued by governments and other organisations.  This body is discussed in the webinar.

The presenters, Cain Polidano from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research; Tenniel Guiver from the Australian Institute of Family Studies; and Kristen Osborne and Patrick Korbel from NCVER provided a valuable discussion of the topic, as well as information on some recent research projects which have made good use of data linkage to uncover the benefits for the VET sector.  As always, Michelle Circelli did an outstanding job as moderator.  I highly recommend this webinar to you.

As always, please leave any comments below, because a conversation on this topic would be very interesting I think.


Get Even More Value from AVETRA and the Educator Hub

AVETRA A-News is a highly informative publication released by AVETRA twice a year.  To see previous editions visit the AVETRA website.  One of the impressive things about the publication is that the contributions come directly from our industry.  AVETRA is now calling for articles for the next edition of ‘A-News’.

A-News welcomes any news of interest and relevance to the AVETRA community (including photographs, recent appointments, promotions, awards, upcoming and relevant conferences, or any other event or story you feel would be appropriate). If you or your colleagues would like to make a contribution to the magazine, then please send this to Josie Misko via emailjosie.misko@ncver.edu.au. Josie can also be contacted on 08 8230 8647. The due date for content will be June 15, 2018.

It has been my pleasure to engage in a number of international activities during the last few weeks.  I would like to share with you three of these activities.

  1.  The EUROPEN-PEN International group, coordinated by Svenja Zenz has shown considerable interest in how Australian VET engages in ‘learning by doing’.  Through their practice enterprises network they engage VET learners from more than 7,500 institutions with simulated real-world problems and activities.  Svenja is very keen to hear from anyone who might want to learn more about this method of learning, where learners are immersed in simulated businesses which are aligned with real-world businesses.   Svenja can be contacted at zenz@penworldwide.org.

    Svenja’s organisation reminds me of previous activity in Australian VET involving the Network of Practice Firms.  From my research it seems that the coordinating body of that group is no long operational.  If anyone has any information on similar learning by doing operations in Australia I would love to receive your response in the comments area below.

2.  The e-Discussion on Quality, Innovative Apprenticeships for the Future of Work includes contributions from countries throughout the world on how VET can input to the important area of apprenticeship.  Internationally this term has interesting definitions and understandings.  Some of the possible interpretations is one of the things I have learned by engaging in the online debate.  I recommend the e-discussion to you if you are interested in how others are trying to innovate and create greater value from apprenticeships for the future.

3.  And finally, an excellent webinar which was hosted by UNESCO’s Secretariat in Bangkok on Friday 25 May.  The question under discussion was:  “What are the solutions when schools are succeeding superficially, but the overwhelming majority of students are failing to learn?”

The webinar shared a great deal of data on enrolments and achievements.  The measures of achievement were largely against high-stakes international assessment schemes such as PISA.   As always, there was a good debate on the need to measure a variety of outcomes of education, including STEAM and workforce participation rates, rather than narrow high-stake assessments.

Of particular interest to me was the significant shift in the numbers of students enrolling in schooling; the share of funding in a variety of countries between different educational sectors; and the outcomes of countries with higher levels of student-directed learning and elaboration techniques compared with teacher-directed and memorization techniques.

EAP Memorization and Elaboration Graph.jpg


I recommend the report by the World Bank Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and Pacific which focuses on the experiences of countries in the region that have been able to expand schooling and successfully pursue system-wide education reforms. If you are running a little short of time, a read through the list of figures will give you a very good idea of the areas covered.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief catch-up on VET in Australia and abroad.   Please share any thoughts in the Reply field below, as this forum will always work best when there is engagement from all of you – its members.









Robin Shreeve at 2018 Practitioner Research Conference

Over 60 practitioners and researchers attended the AVETRA inaugural VET Practitioner Research conference on 26/27 April in Melbourne.  Pictured is the new AVETRA President 2018-2020 Mr Robin Shreeve.

The conference provided practitioners with the opportunity to present their research in 30 minute slots, to discuss their research intentions and seek advice in 10 minute slots, and workshops on a range of topics that would add to their research expertise, including working with NCVER, developing collaborative proposals with industry for applied research, researching and understanding industry knowledge, developing e-assessments, entrepreneurship and research capability development, developing a small scale research proposal, and doing research in and on your own organisation.  The guest keynote speaker, José Luis Fernandez Maure, Head of International at TKNIKA in the Basque Country, provided some wonderful insights as to how they are developing their VET workforce and taking innovation and applied research into all areas of vocational education.

The Conference Archives on the AVETRA website contains copies of most presentations, as well as a link to a great summary of the event via Kira Clarke’s great twitter feeds.  Feedback from the conference has been most positive with support for further practitioner research conferences.  As one participant said:  For me the benefits of the conference was the opportunity to mingle and learn from others already involved in research and how you go about it, and the potential fields/topics covered… having seen the enthusiasm of those attending and the support and guidance provided by those already qualified and supervising higher degrees, it gave me a good example of how well I would be supported if I was to undertake such an endeavour.

Don’t forget, to learn more about AVETRA and how you can be supported in your research go to the website, or leave a Reply to this post and we will be in touch with you for sure.