Challenges in achieving formal vocational skills through workplace learning: a case study in aged care

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of 4th International conference on Researching Work and Learning RWL4 2005, 2005, pp. 1 - 10
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The increasing demands for service sector workers to hold formal qualifications in the area of their work pose significant challenges to governments and educational systems. In the Australian aged care sector, a significant proportion of residential aged care workers are employed in facilities that are remote from mainstream educational providers and/or are so small that they cannot afford to release employees to attend education during working hours. As new accreditation requirements call for all employees to hold formal qualifications, access to nationally-recognised qualifications is a substantial issue for this industry. This case study reports on a trial program to provide structured vocational education in dementia care and compares three different approaches to organising and delivering the program. These approaches involve the use of different combinations of satellite broadcasts and flexible learning packages. Over a hundred small or remote aged care homes around Australia participated in the study. For many of the participating homes, the workload consequences of participating in the trial were seen as greater than they were prepared to sustain and many, consequently, either failed to deliver the program or only participated at the most basic level. The study concludes that factors in the homes - such as the relative priority management gave to caring for their residents over developing their staff - are at least as significant in determining the effectiveness of the program, as is the nature of the materials provided.
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