Quality: a contested concept in vocational education and training

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The appeal to quality resides in the very genetics of the Australia’s national training system and its development since the early 1990s. Deploying Bacchi’s (2011) application of contested concepts, problem representation and their place in public policy development and implementation, it is argued that quality plays an important systemic transactional function. Rather than serving as a more traditional warranty, to do with the adequacy of skills transfer
and acquisition, quality facilitates the operations of a highly complex system by both providing a field of contestation and being a boundary object (Mol 2002) allowing a variety of national organisations a space in which to manoeuvre, exert influence and seek control over vocational education and training. This paper’s discourse analysis of the contents of key 2013 documents, authorised by four national training system institutions, has produced two results. First is a demonstration of the contested nature of quality – something used as if it has
a singular fixed meaning, but actually showing multiple realities. Secondly, the problems created and promulgated in the name of quality are identified and scrutinised for the related resolution mechanisms that give form to political aspirations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventAustralian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference (AVETRA 2015 18th): Walking the Tightrope: the Implications of Markets for VET Research, Policy and Practice - Melbourne, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 8 Apr 201510 Apr 2015
Conference number: 2015 (18th)


ConferenceAustralian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference (AVETRA 2015 18th)
Abbreviated titleAVETRA


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