I have had cause recently to work with something called a Unit of Competency, specifically ICAA5154B (Model data processes). For those of you unfamiliar with the framework from which this comes, this is under the auspices of Innovation & Business Skills Australia (IBSA), a body charged with ensuring that every Unit of Competency is both up to date and reflects the current needs of Australian industry.
Issues of Relevance and of Currency
That Unit of Competency requires that learners be skilled in both Oikos and SOCCA. There are two issues with this. Firstly, both Oikos and SOCCA are areas of knowledge; more specifically, they are research projects, not skills. Secondly, both projects were current in 1995, but both have long since vanished from practical usage.
The Teacher’s Dilemma
Any conscientious teacher follows the requirements of the Unit of Competency in its entirety. We now have teachers with a conundrum: are they honest to the Unit of Competency, or do they do the right thing by their students? Individual teachers are likely to take different views on this point. (In my own case, there was a requirement as late as 2009 for learners to be able to format a floppy disk, a skill that became irrelevant several years earlier. My solution was to get them to do it once, and thereby deem them competent, knowing full well that they will never need to do it again.)
A Way Forward
I took this matter up with IBSA, and received a very positive response, giving both advice to teachers (both “Oikos and SOCCA” should be ignored), and saying that the Unit of Competency was due for review, and inviting me to become part of that review process. This demonstrated IBSA’s commitment to serving industry’s needs.
My own practices in Information Technology only make use of some of the bits and pieces in that Unit of Competency. As such, I can contribute directly to the updating of those bits and pieces. However, this raises the question of how I might contribute to the other areas in the Unit of Competency. How do I find out what other practitioners are doing in my industry area? How do I keep myself up to date? Two answers suggest themselves: read industry news (which I do occasionally anyway), and see what vendors are offering (a new task for me).
Watch this space!