This post was originally written for the Velg Training E-zine.
It is no secret that over the last couple of years in particular, there has been a higher level of scrutiny of our work, both from the public perspective and from within our industry.
Scrutiny in itself is not a bad thing. It can drive us to improve, to be on top of our game and to be actively looking for opportunities to do things better. Sadly, not all the scrutiny has been positive, or able to be taken positively.
In preparing for my presentation at Training’s 2015 National VET Conference, I did a quick Google search for media coverage of VET and what I found were pages and pages of negative press articles. Headings like ‘Dodgy providers get rich quick’ and things like that.
Over the same period of a few years where the media has set its’ sights on our sector, social networks like LinkedIn have taken off. There are many active groups for our sector, in which we discuss all sorts of things. When I went to those groups to look for good news stories, as a counterbalance to all the negative press, what I found shocked me – there was a lot of negativity and noise.
Whilst we will not always be able to control what is written about our sector and how that writing is skewed, what we can and should do is manage how we respond to it.
But controlling how we respond to media is only one part of the challenge. We also create a lot of negative media ourselves. Our own industry is creating negative commentary, just as the media is.
Whilst it is ok to be upset, angry or passionate about what is happening in the sector, simply going online and complaining or finger pointing or blaming – without any solutions attached – is not, ever, going to change anything.
If we see things that do not meet our expectations or standards, we need to act. We need to take action to achieve a different outcome.
One particular example sticks in my mind. The post writer was discussing some marketing that in their view was unethical and non-complaint. They went into great detail about how it could not possibly be acceptable, whilst not giving any actual detail about why it was not.
When I asked if they had taken their concern to the relevant regulator, the response was that they had not, because “What’s the point? They never do anything”.
My point is, that if we do not actually use the channels available to us to get results, then we cannot reasonably expect action to be taken. I would go one step further and say that, really, there is no real point in the original post.
What we need to create, at an industry-wide level, is a different culture. One where action is valued and rewarded, one where celebrating our wins is a regular occurrence and one where excellence is a given.
Our current culture still has too much finger pointing, blame and accountability shifting going on for my liking (and from the feedback I have received, many of yours too!).
And how do we achieve this culture shift? My National VET Conference presentation contained my little idea about what we could do to move to this culture.