Wednesday 6 December 2017

TAFE of Technical And Further

Education is in the news. Suddenly people at the top have resigned or been sacked. Questions are being asked about the standards  being set...and more.
This state  used to have something we called "Technical high schools". UK readers will know the sort of thing I mean. They were rather like the old "Secondary Modern" schools there. And, rather like England we went to "giving everyone an equal chance" and made all schools high schools (Comprehensives). 
The technical high schools actually suited a lot of students, particularly those who were not "academic". Yes, I know what the arguments against them are - and I agree with some of them.
What it did mean though was that TAFE institutions became, or should have become, much more important. That's where students could then learn to become plumbers, carpenters, motor mechanics, electricians, cooks, carers, and much more. It is where you did certificates and, in some cases, diplomas. In recent years there have been new courses to reflect the 21st C for people like computer technicians and hospitality workers. 
It should be a thriving education where students are competing to get in because the employment rate at the end of a course in an area where workers are wanted is often high.
But one of the local electricians found he was having to teach his apprentice what he should have been learning at TAFE. One of the local cafe owners recently complained to me that the young employee who had finished the relevant course at TAFE had "no idea"  how to do the job. Apparently everyone on the course had passed.
I know someone who did a long string of TAFE courses. She never quite finished any of them  but they allowed her to be a permanent student rather than go out and find work. Eventually, after almost sixteen years, she ran out of courses she was "interested" in. Someone in the system should have insisted on her finishing something - or not returning as a student. Someone else did courses he was interested in - but they were not likely to lead to his employment. That was obvious but he was allowed to continue for more than eight years.  I don't doubt there are other students like those two.
But there are other students who go there and finish what they might have done at school but were, perhaps, too immature to do at the time or because they had to "drop out" because of pregnancy or a family crisis. There are more who finish their courses. They have worked hard at them and managed to learn a lot. Many of them will make good employees.
TAFE education is vital. It  should be teaching the technical skills we all rely on.  If it is failing then it is a very serious issue indeed. We need to get over the idea that working with our hands is somehow "worth less". It isn't. 
We can't have engineers, scientists and surgeons unless we also have plumbers and electricians and the people who help feed, clothe and house us all. Why aren't we appreciating their great value?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate greatly the course I did at a TAFE (Melbourne College of Textiles) (now part of RMIT). The teaching was excellent, delivered by knowledgeable and skilled people.

BUT the government TAFE colleges are being run down if not shut down, while Very Very Dubious private "educational" places get public money to provide poor if any training and teaching, while charging the participants vast amounts. Yet another money-making scheme for people with no interest in anything except getting rich quick. Grrr!

We all need plumbers from time to time, but most of us do not need brain surgeons...