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Attitude or Aptitude?

There is a new barista where I get my coffee every morning. He makes a good coffee and is competent at this craft. However, he doesn’t look up or smile or acknowledge my existence nor the customers before or after me. The old barista not only made a good coffee, but knew my name and already had my coffee ready by the time I got to the cashier. This gave us time to have our usual morning banter and now I am left feeling that there is something “missing”; a hollowness from my narcissistic craving for attention. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed that the “regulars” have been replaced with a smaller number of new faces.

At home, my wife and I recently decided to get a new gardener for our house, not because the old one wasn’t a competent gardener, but because he never came on time, left a trail of mess for us to clean up and, on several occasions when he used our bathroom, walked straight through the house with his dirty boots all over our clean floor. When we pointed out our concerns, his usual reply has been that he is paid to do the gardening, not the cleaning.


In each case, the concerns raised were not because they weren’t skilled at their craft but more because of their attitude.

Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) differentiates itself from formal schooling and higher education by focusing on learning that prepares people for the world of work. In Australia, the VET system is developed around the principles of Competency-Based Training (CBT) focusing on the skills and knowledge, or aptitude in a work environment.

This then leaves a vacuum in our VET training as, even though the craft is taught and mastered, the learners are not required to have a social awareness to a standard as expected by the community they are serving.

To address this, at APC, our VET programs are being designed to focus more and more on the soft skills, and not just the hard skills. These soft skills include intercultural awareness, critical reflection, and communication skills by using a learning platform designed to help each student become self-directed, lifelong learners.

Educators have a responsibility to ensure that each learner has both the aptitude and attitude to not only participate in our local community, but to thrive in a sustainable way in a fast-changing global workplace.


David Yoo
Principal Executive Officer
APC Group – 1 June 2017
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