VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING 1

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    Education
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    Article
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    Undergraduate
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Issues and Challenges of Australian Army

Introduction

Education in every sector of a country is very important. This is because the personnel acquires the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes which maximize success. Vocational education and training (VET) are established to offer work-specific skills and knowledge, and it is available in various fields. Australian Army is educated and trained in various institutions which are set apart for them for example Australian Defence College, Australian Defence Force Academy, etc. Despite the Army receiving VET, it is not among the best in the world. According to Ryan M. (2016), the constituents that constitute education system are not linked together, and this renders the system incompetent in meeting its future requirements. The main challenge is that the current system lacks adequate strategies that tackle the future needs of the Army. Many studies conduct on security sector shows that the future is uncertain, and it is the responsibility of the Army to design means that can meet the future changes. One of the suggested means is technology. Through technology, research can be conducted, and this will act as the source of knowledge that will provide connectivity to the rapid changes. In the process of generating changes in the Army’s education and training, Forces Command was formed, and this changed the way curriculum is delivered.

In addition to changes in the education system of the Army, gender balance has also improved. Women in Australian Army constitute about 15 percent of the full-time forces. The change in culture present more women with the opportunity to join the army compared to years back before the 1970s when sex scandals and harassment were way beyond the limit to deal with. Just like other countries, Australia is also witnessing a great improvement in eliminating gender-based discrimination, but the Army requires more input to ensure that gender equality is achieved because 15 percent is still low. Once an individual is employed in the Army, they acquire military skills and other experiences that contribute to their overall capability (Klatt and Polesel, 2013). However, Australian Army is experiencing significant rates of workforce shortage which affects the capability of the security. The army is trying to resolve this problem by changing the education system. This article critically analyses and discusses the issues and challenges Australian Army particularly on its effort to meet worldwide and national developments in the workplace education and training.

Education and Training programs

In other developed countries, modernization is changing the face of Army personnel, and they seem more certain about their future security. Australia is also embracing modernization by changing the structure of the Army’s VET. The first step in the change process is to unite all departments in the Army such as Combat Brigade, enabling brigades, special operations capability, and Joint Forces. This will assist the Army to boost its role as the defence force of the country. Changing the structure of education and training is the best strategy because those who will join the army will acquire such relevant skills. Also, in-service training will be equipped with those skills and knowledge. The Army should emphasize the need to utilize digital networks across all departments to increasing coordination and shared responsibilities. This will illustrate the importance of the developed merger between different departments.

Australian Army receives the best training resources and the instructors and also selects the best individuals in the society to join the sector. The Adaptive Army Reforms of 2008-2009 contribute to these changes as it advocated for collective lessons and diffusion with varying degrees of success. The army is better associated with training mechanisms and is the manager of joint training for some Australian Defence Forces capabilities (Ryan, M. 2016).

The adopted technology which the Army is using in its vocational education and training is e-learning. The reason why the Army selected eLearning is to change the traditional training culture and to allow the army personnel optimize the opportunities of eLearning. Since Australian Army has hierarchical and authoritarian management and training structures, eLearning provides opportunities for challenging traditional teacher-student relationship, standardising content, and delivery and course management (Inayat et al., 2013).

Changes in education and training in Australian Army

Some of the researchers including Ryan (2016) noted that the training and education of the Army in Australia is not reaping its full potential. This is taken as the result of shifting attention to collective training since 2009 which was the key objective of the Adaptive Army idea. In addition to this, training establishments receive higher priority for manning than most other elements of the army, and they receive a larger proportion of the funding allocated for the Forces Command. Therefore, education and training in Army areas require consideration. Staff colleges and Chief of Army scholarships are not placed within a unified approach to developing the intellectual capabilities of Army people like other professionals.

For many years, Australian Army was involved in overseas fighting. Recently, the Australian Army is distancing itself from training role to an overseas deployed fighting. As the foundation its knowledge and management process, the Army adopted web-based learning. Face-face training is no longer regarded in the Army, and it is considering better strategies for fighting wars effectively. The Australian Army created an online learning environment which supports its learning communities based on the experiences of the learners and the teachers. There are two types of factors which are associated with management change. These are soft and hard factors and examples of soft factors include culture, communication, motivation, and leadership. The hard factors can be easily communicated, and they influence change issues quickly. Examples of hard factors include time needed to complete a transformation initiative the number of people needs to execute it, and financial or operational results (Freeman et al. 2013).

To understand an environment well, behavioural theorists said that and individual must interact with it. This is because the environment and humans are interrelated and the environment influences an individual. Therefore, Australian Army must operate within the environment of the contemporary conflict to obtain its details significant for future planning. In the modern world, globalization is influencing the security situation. Globalisation requires leaders to balance between political powers and economic stability. This has therefore reduced the likelihood that conventional warfare will be selected as the main mission for a country’s military. Australian Government is preparing its Army for soldiers to fit into the complex environment; they are required to train while in operation because conventional training theory does not react fast enough due to inbuilt organizational apathy. Army’s training is crucial for equipping the personnel with skills, knowledge, and attitudes to operate within an operational environment (Rasmussen, 2015). The army has initiated a review of training design and delivery so that the personnel succeeds in the current geopolitical environment.

Best Practice

The Australian Army should consider the following as the best practice to improve its education and training. First, the Army must develop an integrated strategy as part of the development process of its workforce capabilities. An integrated strategy will benefit other fields outside the Army such as career and talent management, training and education. The Army people are imaginative, curious and innovative in nature if their potentials are tapped. To realize their potentials, the management must engage them in various decision-making practices so as to take their views. The modern management should promote bottom-up improvement and avoid targeting short-term and medium-term performances (Agrawal, T. 2013). To attain the world’s best practices which target the future requirements of an organisation, strategic innovations must be developed. Innovations should be conducted on the research methods used by the Army in order to ensure the workforce’s effort is redirected with more emphasis placed on strategies and technologies. For this research to be successful, it should be linked to Army’s Future Land Warfare Report and joint and Defence future concepts.

There are several leadership models which are incorporated in the training and education systems of the army. Australian Army should consider a different leadership training model in its VET. The model considered should provide a mechanism that is built around informal and formal leadership development and also is in a position to demonstrate strategically, the tactical level experience will be valuable for the Army to integrate into future joint operations and agency policy. Professional development framework should be established as an integral part of revised soldier continuum. The Army should also build an online resource which is designed around the Chief’s Army’s professional development priorities. This will provide resources for self-study, and the conduct of the ongoing unit professional military education to support the professional development framework. This should be developed across all departments, and it should contain a mix of readings, discussion guides, revision questions and tactical exercises (Agrawal, 2013).

Current mechanisms should all be directed towards capability development. For example, Army should consider streamlining its various lesson meetings and working groups into a single army lessons board. Institutions such as Australian Defence College should develop a plan to implement distributed learning which exploits trials and take into consideration Information Communication Technology (ICT) in training facilities, and the use of personal computing and communicating devices by reserve and regular personnel. Understanding of the utility simulation in the Army and Defence Force means that a new Army strategy and investment plan for this are must be a priority (Smith, 2016).

To successfully implement the changes, the Army needs to take some key lessons which are relevant for implementing the changes proposed. The first lesson is that it is an institutional responsibility to identify the need for change and therefore they must take charge to recognize, determine the parameters for change, and to clearly identify the methods of performing tasks. The Army should illustrate how it differs from what is presently going on. The other lesson is that there must be a spokesperson for change. This person must build a consensus that will give the new ideas, and the need to adopt them. The third lesson is that change is flexible and not dynamic and the Army should know this. Just like technology which emerges daily, the Army should review its change mechanisms at regular intervals.

Lastly, changes proposed must be subjected to trials. The relevance must be demonstrated to an audience, and modification to be done as a result of the review outcomes (Hall et al., 2013). Available resources and the needs of the Army determine the ability to respond and adapt the recommendations. Therefore proper planning basing on the available resources will help achieve the goals developed.

Challenges for Army vocational education and training

As stated early, the education and vocational training of the Australian Army lacks well-defined strategies and objectives both at the individual level and professional mastery. This challenges the system in trying to fit a digital-age workforce and enabling the Army’s people to be successful in future operations (Gonon, 2014). The major challenge that faces Australian Army is lack of coordination between the internal and external factors that are aimed at bringing change in the education and training of the Army. An education system which has goals but with no means of achieving them is not good enough especially in the current world where there are many security needs. Australian Army’s training lacks valuable functions responsible for equipping the personnel with right skills and attitudes applicable in a military environment. Army Research and Development Plan contain research tasks which are disconnected from measurable training, education, and doctrine at the army or command level.

Vague strategy in the Army’s VET affects professional education and the achievement of professional mastery by Army’s people and teams. Since the 1950s, literature studies indicate that there has been a need for specialized mastery. Gonon and colleagues (2014), said that professional educational range requires review to ensure that it starts with the incorporation of a devoted learning culture that promotes values and intellectual diversity, joint education, connected courses, experience and self-development.

The other challenge that Australian Army face is that they lack innovation. Training colleges and schools are expected to be innovative and should come up with new ways of effective and efficient delivery of curriculum (Brown, 2013). The reason why they lack innovation is that they emphasize on improving old things instead of coming up with new ones. In the 21st century, approaches on training are different as all field experience evolutions. More attention is needed on how the army delivers training and education to its new employees and regular workforce. Long-term innovative strategies are required because the current innovative ideas mainly do not provide a long-term strategy. A more strategic approach to innovation will provide the army with opportunity for tryout and testing with different methods until the most effective and efficient is identified.

The other challenge is that the Army personnel feel the pressure of the training and education system. This is because almost all army training and education are delivered in the residential environment. This practice goes contrary to contemporary practice in civilian tertiary and vocational establishments around the world. Information technology and eLearning offer the chance to balance between residential and non-residential learning and it reduces the time that people spend away from their homes. When approaches for balancing between residential and non-residential training are put in place, the army will be able to better and support the ongoing professional education and development in units (Ryan, 2016).

Advantages and Disadvantages of VET

The costs of vocational education and training can be divided into direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include apprentice wages, salaries for training the Army personnel, teaching materials, equipment, building infrastructure, among many other things. Indirect costs are such as tax expenditures or also subsidies but also opportunity costs (forgone earnings as unskilled workers) and drop out costs (Cummings and Worley, 2014). Compared to general or academic education, the costs of vocational education and training are substantial, particularly for an occupation such as Army which requires heavy equipment and sophisticated infrastructure. In the Australian Army, co-financing arrangements are the Government responsibility. This is because changes to Australian Army’s capabilities are guided by the Australian Government in terms of the required tools and resources and it is its role to replace them. The Army is approaching the end of the period of high-tempo operations and refocusing on the generation of the foundation of war-fighting capability and strengthening a culture based on preparedness and readiness. The challenge to the Army is to understand how to change within the available resources.

Benefits vary depending on the activities attached to and arise at different points in time, during or after the course or training. Individuals enjoy a broad range of benefits such as improved payments, promotions, capacity for lifelong learning, measures of working conditions, and job satisfaction. The country will take advantage of the vocational training of the Army regarding improved security and future certainty of the security (Russo et al., 2013).

Conclusion

Instructor’s abilities and the available resource determine the extent to which Army’s education and training are changed. The instructor is mandated to provide a framework for its functions towards its goal. The goal of changing education and training is to provide a workforce who can operate in the current world security needs. This is because when human capacity achieves professional mastery they enhance fighting power. If the VET system combines its ingredients using the framework, the Army will also be able to identify the kind of people it requires in the future. The system will also improve self-esteem and self-actualisation of the personnel, and this will make them develop a sense of belonging (Billett, S. 2014). When the Army masters the skills, it will establish a sustainable platform for future vision. Technical and tactical skills and knowledge are naturally connected and mastering these areas ensure individuals and collective are brilliant at the basics.

Australian Army receives the best training resources and the instructors and also selects the best individuals in the society to join the sector. The Adaptive Army Reforms of 2008-2009 contribute to these changes as it advocated for collective lessons and diffusion with varying degrees of success. The army is better associated with training mechanisms and is the manager of joint training for some Australian Defence Forces capabilities (Ryan, M. 2016).

References

Agrawal, T. (2013). Vocational education and training programs (VET): An Asian perspective. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 14(1), 15-26. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.688.302&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Billett, S. (2014). The standing of vocational education: sources of its societal esteem and implications for its enactment. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 66(1), 1-21. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13636820.2013.867525

Billett, S., & Hodge, S. (2016). Conceptualizing Learning Across Working Life, Provisions of Support and Purposes. In Supporting Learning Across Working Life (pp. 3-25). Springer International Publishing.

Brown, K. (2013). How do providers respond to changes in structures in a period of reform?. Structures in tertiary education and training: a kaleidoscope or merely fragments? Research readings, 98.

Cummings, T. G., & Worley, C. G. (2014). Organization development and change. Cengage learning.

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Freeman, H., Patel, D., Routen, T., Ryan, S., & Scott, B. (2013). The virtual university: The internet and resource-based learning. Routledge.

Gonon, P., Berner, E., Keller, J., Threadgill, F., Zehnder, L., & Büchel, K. (2014). History of Vocational Education and Training (VET): Cases, Concepts and Challenges.

Hall, R., Agarwal, R., & Green, R. (2013). The future of management education in Australia: challenges and innovations. education+ training, 55(4/5), 348-369

Inayat, I., ul Amin, R., Inayat, Z., & Salim, S. S. (2013). Effects of collaborative web based vocational education and training (VET) on learning outcomes. Computers & Education, 68, 153-166

Klatt, M., & Polesel, J. (2013). Vocational education and training in Australia and three-dimensional federalism. Australian Journal of Education, 57(1), 74-86.

Rasmussen, C. (2015). Credit mobility and postsecondary attainment: a multi-state approach to military credit

Russo, G., Bainbridge, S., & Dunkel, T. (2013). Benefits of Vocational Education and Training in Europe for People, Organisations and Countries. Cedefop-European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. PO Box 22427, Finikas, Thessaloniki, GR-55102.

Ryan, M. (2016). The Ryan review: a study of Army’s education, training and doctrine needs for the future. Retrieved from:http://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv:73181

Smith, E. (2016). Apprenticeship: One concept, many facets. Education+ Training, 58(6).