Faculty of Business and Law
School of Management / Centre for Innovative Practice
During 2008-2011, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) funded a programme to build Australian VET research capacity and rejuvenate what has been seen as the existing 'greying' researcher pool. This paper is a reflective narrative about experiences of constructing the programme with a specific focus on the mentoring activity. It is about researching how we develop VET researchers, and specifically the role that experienced researchers can play. In the first three years, more than 40 experienced VET researchers have been associated with the programme, mainly as mentors and facilitators. These mentors have supported 30 new VET researchers undertaking an initial local VET research project and supervising them through to their subsequent publication with NCVER. This paper focuses on the mentoring that took place and what researchers and research managers can learn from those experiences in terms of building research capacity. This paper reviews the first stages of what has been a participatory action research project for those associated with the programme as the national research infrastructure for new VET researchers was constructed. It evaluates what actions have had the greatest impact and what we can lean from the initiative. It traces the project development from the initial project dilemmas through to the completion and publication of papers. This paper provides a narrative of the relationships that built the programme, focusing upon the mentoring relations striving to bridge both cognitive and geographical divides. The findings indicate that mentoring has played a critical role, and has been established as a essential role in this new VET researcher development pathway. The paper concludes by comparing the components of the Australian programme to a theoretical model and producing guidelines for research mentoring practice that have applicability to related research fields.