In order to critique the notion of ‘learner voice’ in vocational education and training (VET) policy, this paper draws from a project conducted by the authors on behalf of the Australian National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC). The term ‘learner voice’ is used extensively throughout NVEAC documentation to describe the engagement of ‘disadvantaged’ students within the VET system. However, the concept of ‘voice’ being advocated, we argue, is a particularly ‘thin’ one which is linked to notions of client feedback, managed participation and the commodification of training rather than any broad sense of democracy, equity or social transformation. The paper critically examines current practices in relation to learner voice within the VET policy framework and their implications for the contested role of VET in contributing to social equity and redress of social and economic disadvantage.
This paper examines the Australian phenomenon of Enterprise Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). These are organizations that do not have training as their main business but that are accredited to deliver training and award qualifications, primarily to their own workers. Although Enterprise RTOs have been in existence in one form or another for around 15 years they have not been previously examined in the scholarly literature. The paper uses qualitative and quantitative data from two recent research projects to describe the nature and experiences of these RTOs and their workers. The findings are analysed using a framework recently used in an evaluation of the pilot of a similar English scheme: quality concerns, resource intensiveness, impact on the training market, and restriction to larger firms. The paper concludes that enterprise RTOs have been beneficial to workers and companies alike, although not without problems, and that the Australian system appears to present fewer risks than the proposed English system.