An exposition of the apprentice assessment systems in Western Australia.
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This study assessed the dilemmas associated with apprentice assessment systems in the New Apprenticeship Training and Assessment System (NATAS), (State based system), and the Modular system (National system) in Western Australia. Although both were described as competency-based systems these different schemes showed the variations that existed under this general description of training and assessment. The Modular system was a competency-based system which emphasised outcomes rather than the process of training.The emphasis on the process of training was what sustained decades of traditional apprenticeship training. The competency-based approach, discussed in detail later, was a performance-based methodology. Conceptually the apprentice either could perform a given task or task element as set by a specific performance criterion, or s/he could not. The person was judged, based upon the performance outcome to be either competent or incompetent. The basic assumption was that the person could not be partially competent.The competencies approach was a cornerstone of the Australian National training provision. It was administered by the National Training Board through an Australian Standards Framework. The key target group in this assessment of the competency area and the focus of this study was the young apprentice who would become a skilled tradesperson in a relatively short period of four years.Supporting the apprentices in the NATAS system were monitors, lecturers, and employer's members of these groups, who together with apprentices were used to gain insights into the new training initiatives.A previous study Williamson, Lowe and Boyd (1990) had looked at the Western Australian New Apprenticeship and Training System (NATAS). The intention was to develop ideas further and in greater depth using qualitative methodology in the area of effectiveness of the training and assessment system. The research also had critically assessed the Modular system (National) which in most cases progressively replaced NATAS during the period of the research.
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