20 April 2012

A mistake that many people make in choosing accounting is that the profession is "numbers based," and therefore, good for those with poorer English and communication skills. This is changing. The computers have replaced the number crunching. Now you have to understand and explain the numbers. It's harder to do - but it's also a higher paying role. The question is - are you ready for it?

15 April 2012

VET & HE: Can't have integration if you just don't "get" each other.

I am currently studying a unit at the Graduate School of Education, at the University of Melbourne. There is quite a lot discourse on policy - stuff I quite enjoy. As part of this, there is a lot of discussion of overseas models of tertiary/further/higher/post secondary education. 

Kids People don't know how the post secondary
 system fits together.  Also, don't know what to
wear on graduation day.
The problem is, neither I - nor most of my classmates - had much of an idea of what US education is like in reality.   (Obviously we can't rely on an understanding of US education, built on our rubbish American TV shows)
Most of us assumed that in the US, COLLEGE = UNIVERSITY; the terms were perfect synonyms. After this weekends session, that's pretty clearly not the case. 

But just as I was clueless about the US system, the same could be said for many of our students. The vast majority of Australian high school students lack such a basic understanding of what post secondary education landscape is all about, and most will be chasing positions based on brand name/prestige. My economist friends might argue that this was an effective signalling mechanism, but this ignored that fact that "signalling"
 means nothing about the appropriateness of the chosen program for the specific student. 

For VET to HE articulation systems to work there needs to be a better awareness of the post-secondary environment. Indeed, I had graduated from 2 Go8 institutions, been to CIT & UC on occasions, and countless RTOs, and yet it was not until I was working in Holmesglen did our own system really make a lot of sense. 

How can there possibly be better integration of VET and HE when the system is so poorly understood by all stakeholders, other than policy makers and the management of education institutions? 

By way of example
I was at the HERDSA conference on the Gold Coast last year when Prof Bradley gave one of the keynote speeches. One of her key themes was the need for better VET and HE integration (no surprises there).  Upon her discussion of "VET" there were many strange looks about the room, and it was made pretty clear to the conference chair that more than half of the room had no idea what this "VET practice" was all about. So she had to spell it out: "Vocational Education & Training" - remember these are 400 odd relatively senior university types. 

"So do we have any colleagues from TAFE institutions among us here today?"  - The only hand raised was mine. Later on during the conference, It was nice to see our CEO, Bruce Mackenzie turn up to speak on behalf of TDA.  At last I was no longer the lone "TAFE guy" at the HERDSA conference. 

The point is, if the "university professoriate" (contrasting to the non-uni teaching faculty) are largely ignorant of the the full range of post-secondary education, how can we possibly achieve better educational outcomes for the cohort of students that end up in our classrooms? I do not think it an overstatement to say that the well being and livelyhoods depend very much on their ability to navigate articulation programs. 

-Tetracarbon out.