Vocational education and training (VET) as a tool for regional planning and management
: case studies from Australian tropical savanna communities

  • John Guenther

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Australia’s tropical savanna region comprises about one-quarter of the nation’s land mass but less than three per cent of the population. The region is characterised by relatively large Indigenous populations and low population density. Industries contribute significantly to national wealth but Indigenous peoples experience relatively poor health, education and employment outcomes. While VET is traditionally viewed as a means for individuals to gain employment skills or industry to gain the skills needed to remain competitive and productive, this research explores broader outcomes of VET and its value for diverse communities in these contexts.

    The project asks three questions: What are the indicators of well-being across the savanna?; What is the link between education and learning and capacity-building in savanna communities?; and How can education and learning be applied effectively to produce capacity-building outcomes? Using a mixed methods design, the project begins with a statistical assessment of well-being in the savanna to answer the first question. This is used as a basis for site selection of four case studies of the effective application of VET. Qualitative data from the cases is analysed using NUD*IST software to answer the second and third questions and to build a theoretical framework.

    While the findings may support the traditional employment role of VET, they also suggest that identity formation is a key ingredient that contributes to effectiveness of programs. A model for the formation of identity in training is developed.

    The findings have significance for a number of VET and community development stakeholders including those who are: addressing skills shortages; developing policy around Indigenous communities; interested in using VET for enterprise development; and VET practitioners and evaluators wanting to ensure quality in learning. As such, the implications extend beyond the Australian tropical savanna region and could be tested and applied in regions within and outside Australia.
    Date of AwardOct 2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Falk (Supervisor)

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