Quick on the uptake
FAST-tracked qualifications are helping time-poor workers to formalise their skills.
Using real-work scenarios and having their existing skill sets recognised, students are minimising the “extra” work they need to do and obtaining qualifications in a quarter of the time it usually takes.
“If you were to do a diploma qualification part time, in the evening, it would take you two years to complete,” Swinburne Industry Solutions director Rob Chetwynd says.
Many people would not enrol just at the thought of that much of a commitment, he says.
“But if you are enrolling in a fast-tracked diploma, you can do that in six to eight months,” he says. “That really opens up the door for a lot of people.”
At Swinburne, fast-tracked courses are open to students with at least three years of workplace experience, to ensure they have the appropriate assumed knowledge.
Students use their own workplace projects for assessments, making the course immediately relevant and minimising the study burden.
Fast-tracked courses have come under attack recently, particularly following revelations some childcare training colleges had fasttracked the qualifications of students who could not speak English, supervise children or even change nappies.
However, TAFE Queensland chief academic officer and executive director Dr Christina Hong says fast-tracked courses are now heavily scrutinised.
“The RTO (registered training organisation) must be able to comprehensively justify how they can assure all learners have a sufficient amount of training to enable them to gain the knowledge and skills . . . and apply these skills in the range of contexts required,” she says.
She says while fast-tracked options are available in the tertiary and vocational education sectors, there is generally less flexibility for apprentices, due to different training requirements.
Julia Mei Chen and Mark Devereaux, from Computershare, undertook a fast-tracked Diploma of Management. They say the intensive nature of the course allowed them to manage work and study more easily.
“I won’t say it was easy. It required a lot of time management,” software development team leader Chen says.
“(But) we learnt a lot of tools that helped me prioritise my workload, set achievable goals and maintain a work-life balance.” Devereaux, an information technology team leader, says linking study to his work had enormous benefits.
“Many of the assignments had practical applications within my team and, in fulfilling the course requirements, processes were improved and new techniques have been integrated into our team culture,” he says.
Julia Mei Chen and Mark Devereux fast-tracked management studies.
GO FOR BROKE: Many uni students struggle with basic financial matters such as loans and phone deals.