Curriculum and “Training Package”: A Changing Mode of Governance in Australian Vocational Education and Training

By Helen Smith.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper traces changes in one of the modes of governance in vocational education and training in Australia. This was achieved by displacing a vaguely defined, but nevertheless robust notion of curriculum which played a role in the governance of vocational education in the Australian states for nearly two hundred years, becoming demonstrably unsustainable as a mode of governance under a differently constituted national system which incorporated ‘work-place training’ into accredited courses.
As an assemblage of routine classroom practices curriculum is performed in different modalities: demonstrating a plasticity of form that has afforded it a singular level of durability. Since the seventeenth century curriculum has articulated schooling as first a middle class and then general Western cultural form, eventually becoming a vehicle for government educational policy. During the 19080s Australian vocational curriculum became a pre-eminent instrument of policies aimed at establishing a national training system. Through that process curriculum took on a role as policy: moving into domains way beyond its original relational and territorial boundaries.
By the mid-1990s the socio-economic relations of fast capital and the demands posed on vocational skill development by a globalising economy had extended the reach of curriculum-as-policy beyond the limits of its managerial elasticity, Curriculum-as-policy finally collapsed in 1996, under the weight of its own highly-engineered constituents and the expectations visited upon it. As a mode of governance, curriculum was quite suddenly displaced by a mechanism with a more modest brief, and a correspondingly broader reach. This was a device named, somewhat ambiguously, as the ‘Training Package’, and articulated as multiple ‘Training Packages’. In this moment of change, definitive categories (school/workplace; learner/worker; teacher/supervisor; state/market) wavered, and new modes of ordering and governance coalesced in the ontic spaces that were opened as a result.

Keywords: Vocational Education, Australia

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp.15-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.809MB).

Helen Smith

Senior Research Fellow & Project Manager, Global Studies, Social Science & Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


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