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Training, coaching, mentoring, education, but what’s the job to be done?


If you are trying to nail the perfect job for you,

“An intelligent fool can make something more complicated than it needs to be”. “If you can’t explain something simply enough, you don’t understand it well enough”. “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it”. And “if the ability to climb a tree is a measure of intelligence, a fish will go its whole life believing it is stupid”.

All 4 comments are attributed to one person, each of the 4 comments directly relates to one of the job roles above more so than the others. If you are struggling to work out which job the comments relate to, that may be because they all do the same job, just do the job differently.

The job is to create knowledge, so this is what you end up with if you map the 4 job roles in the blog title to working in all 3 VET sectors in Australia:


Simple enough? No? Well, it’s not that you don’t understand, I have to explain it in a way that you can understand. So rather than trying to make it look more complicated, I’ll start with dumbing it up to the academics…

What is knowledge?

Yes, I know there are different types of knowledge that can be created, and for the purpose of this article, I am just going to focus on Tacit vs explicit knowledge on a contrasting scale.

For the intelligent fools out there, that want to discuss why I am focusing on this type of knowledge, I am happy to discuss it. however please first read up on Attachment and object relations theory, and how this 40 years’ worth of research has developed into the prototypes of the “Core sensitivities”, which I use to mitigate stress and anxiety along the Dunning-Kruger while implementing the 70:20:10 to accelerate learning in a physical and psychological safer formal, non-formal, or informal VET learning environment. Then come back to me after you see what you can do with this knowledge, and we can discuss…

To put it simply, Tacit Knowledge is the knowledge people have, but isn’t codified (into a procedure) or written down. While Explicit Knowledge deals with the knowledge that is written down and structured. This as a trainer is what I believe learning design and facilitation.

Dunning-Kruger effect

This is what I use to explain simply to the public the difference in VET and Uni Qualifications. The contrasting scale on the AQF table above indicates the “implicit” knowledge the learn is demonstrated they have in each of the courses.

The terms ‘tacit knowledge’ and ‘implicit knowledge’ are sometimes used as synonyms, however in reality this is not the case.

If you want someone to move a box, you teach them how to safely lift things for WHS, and coach and mentor them on where to move it to. If they can complete this task, the implicit knowledge is assumed that it has been gained from previous (or life) experience, for example, learners already know how to walk.

Tacit knowledge is knowing how they walk, and as 95% of action comes from subconscious thoughts, skills are best observed by others standing on a benchmark. Everyone will walk differently, so unless it is causing damage to the person walking, feedback on walking is not relevant to learners as that is just how they do it 9in their own way).

 So your course is “suitable” for people that can walk, and want to do manual handling as a job.

New Tacit knowledge is when both the student and the teacher learn, otherwise, it is explicit. This is why at Diploma and Masters level on the AQF the teachers learn new ways to do things, so generally learn more from their students than their students learn from the teacher.

The teacher more so recognizes implicit knowledge, AKA R.P.L., and codifies this knowledge to be transferred to other students. This is usually not done if the teacher sees it as their job to just tell the students how they think things should be done.

What were they thinking?

You may know Universities as “Higher Education” institutions, but higher than what is the question. Higher than schools, as in “tertiary” education, but so are Vet qualifications. Higher-level thinking may be one answer, but when you map the thinking focus from Bloom’s taxonomy to the job Roles, again there is a cross-over with VET.

Blooms taxonomy was never intended to be a linear progression instructional design model, however that is how many people use it in relation to both the AQF levels and career job roles.

So I don’t believe the problems in the formal VET sector will be fixed by the formal VET sector as they use the same thinking that created them, and want to stay on the TAETanic.

Blooms Verbs, which is the updated model, is intended to classify educational learning objectives into levels of complexity and specificity and can be relevant at any level on the AQF. For example, a PhD candidate may create a new theory, just as a team member my come up with a new idea based on their technical skills. In both cases, you would still need to use mid-level thinking to find commercial applications.

Like most hierarchical models, Blooms now seems to need to be pulled apart and repositioned into a post-industrial era of HR management to map the complexity of thinking required for future job roles.

The future of Blooms seems to be following the shift in the hierarchical organizational charts to a “constellation” or “Network” Org chart model, acknowledging that the brightest start may not be the one at the top of the tree. Particularly in project management, the brightest stars tend to be the ones people turn to when they have a problem and their boss is unavailable, the true leaders of the organization, as shown here:

Network Org chart
Network Org chart

 The AQF levels are not a tree to be climbed, nor is it a measure of intelligence. Knowing why you need to climb a tree is the measure of intelligence. Why would a dolphin want to climb a tree? As one of the 2 animals on the planet that has sex for pleasure, and they have access to 70% of the earth’s surface, that sounds more intelligent to me.

What is VET trying to be?

VET stands for Vocational Education AND Training. Education focuses on transferring Explicit knowledge, easily codified into courses so more suitable for online learning. However, as skills are not automatically transferable to the real world, you may complete a job at AQF 5 or 7 in a simulated or training environment, yet still have to do a course at Level 3 on the AQF to learn how to use the technology employers need you to use on the job.

The Volume of learning required in the AQF levels is measured in the amount of training provided, as in the first 10% of the knowledge created to do the job (under the 70:20:10 principle). This cause a problem for AQF Level 7 students as technology doubles around every 18 months under the diffusion of innovation.

So if you complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree at Uni, the technology you learned about in your first year has been superseded twice in the real world. More likely 3 times due to COVID-19.

Diffusion of Innovation
Diffusion of Innovation

This transverse fault in the AQF levels, compounded by COVID-19 creating an earthquake off the Richter scale, exposed cracks in the whole formal learning sector triggered by the rapid change in technology.

The volume of learning in the Formal VET sector is stated in time, which makes no sense to most employers, or to learners.

A 9lt bucket is not called a 1-minute bucket, but that is how long it takes to fill the bucket in a water-saving household. Sounds good in theory, right? Until you work in a restaurant that pays for water usage and the 9lt bucket fills in about 10 seconds.

This is when the culture shock sets in when you work in fast-paced employment industries. You find out if the course you did meets the benchmark expectations of what you should be able to do if you used your qualification to get the job.

Where is the focus?

Terms like “Edutainment” or “gamification” of learning only seem to distract people from the fact that if a learner doesn’t like the training, they will not like the job. Maybe they are just not that interested in that skill set, however, people don’t like to hear the words “maybe they’re just not that into you?”.

The formal system sees their job as to get the students a qualification, which is why a qualification rarely gets you a job. What it allows you to do, does get you the job, but if you get asked to show the credibility of the training you received, then there is no credibility for the training as a quality indicator for you.

If learners don’t see where it fits into their career path, or if the learner actually doesn’t have a pathway, does completing the full qualification meet the learner’s needs?

Qualifications are made up of skill sets, clusters of units, but the NCVER only publishes data on completed qualifications, of completed units. Not skill sets required to do specific jobs.

The government proudly said 75% of employers said they were happy with the training given by RTOs (NCVER data). What they didn’t say is that in the same survey, only 50% of employers did training with RTOs, that a score of 37.5% from employers is considered a pass mark to be proud of for the Formal VET sector.

You may also be interested to know that 40% of students completed their qualification… who wants to suggest that maybe the 60% got what they needed to get a job out of the units they completed (80% of units started were completed), so why wouldn’t you just do skill sets? Well, if they don’t get useful skills, they don’t pay you for the next part of the course is usually the answer to that. So they sign you up for the full course and tell you it is all you will ever need to know, right?

Thinking focus vs Knowledge

Who needs training?

People that want to do a job. And if no one will pay you to do that job, how can you start a business and expect customers to pay you to do the job. So, everybody needs training, then you can get coaching and mentoring to get better at the job.

But you can’t improve something that doesn’t exist, so improving your skills before you are required to do it is putting the cart before the horse.

COVID-19 has not caused unprecedented times as businesses would suggest. Businesses that are adaptable have found new ways to survive and forced change, but also caused a lot of stress through uncertainty.

Over delivering information only add to the stress, and when humans are under stress they can’t learn new things. This leads to anxiety, and a fear to try new things, and if you don’t address these triggers learned helplessness kicks in and people just give up.

It is more than just giving people the confidence to do it, or giving “tough love”, it’s about identifying the needs of the learners, cue from their actions to give you an idea to the motivation for their actions (or inaction).

Master Yoda was wrong, there is a try. And the faster you get to try, the faster you learn. “If you want to learn how to sell, then start selling things. Anything is better than nothing” – Gary Vee

Below are 3 ways I use to identify the needs of learners, even in a group learning environment. Pick up on the cues, limit the miscues, and you will be surprised how interested learners suddenly become when they trust you.

People don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care.

If people need to tell you how much they know, it’s not a confidence cue.

Ask them what they don’t know, if they know everything, that’s your cue to go back to here to decide what they need, which may be a big difference to what they want to do.

Dunning-Kruger effect

Yes, you are pushing it up a steep hill. 7x their training by getting them to do it too. This is better done in a supportive group as social learning, but for this to work, you have to be absolutely clear about what job you are trying to do.