Thursday, August 12, 2010

Australia's election confusions

Election campaign ignores New England, a post on my New England blog, expresses my annoyance at the way the area I come from has been largely ignored in this election campaign. After all, the eleven New England seats deserve as much attention as the eleven South Australian seats or the five in Tasmania.

That's a geographic annoyance. At a purely personal level, however, I still haven't made up my mind how to vote. I don't buy the presidential approach, so I'm not choosing between Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott. I am more interested in the detail of the policies plus the way I think they might be delivered.

I must say that I sometimes get very confused. My problem is that I like to have a feel for the way things might work on the ground. In that sense, I personalise, point and counterpoint between the general and the particular.

I know with the National Broadband Network, for example, that West Armidale is one of the first pilot roll-out sites. I can identify with that. In similar vein, the newly opened Stage One of the Trades Training Centre developed by The Armidale School in conjunction with PLC is tangible. So when I look at the opposition policy on broadband, or the proposed abolition of trade training centres, I ask the question what does it mean for my old home area.

This may sound very parochial, but at the end of the day policy only has meaning measured by its on-ground effects.

The rush by both sides to what they perceive to be central ground means that this election is being fought on a very narrow policy slice. This doesn't mean that there are not important differences. As Neil noted, the use of vouchers in education is one. However, the problem I find is to disentangle those differences in a world made up of apparently similar measures.

Regional policy is one of the areas that I traditionally focus on. I fail both sides here. There is very little here that is new, less that really addresses core underlying issues. That said, I should qualify my remarks in that I have yet to look at all the detail of National Party policies. Traditionally, if the National Party doesn't drive in this area, no-one drives. That is part of the reason why I am still sympathetic to that party, if so often disappointed.

Both sides are still rolling out policies. With such a short time to the election, this is really very silly. How can we voters make judgments when we have less and less time to do so?

Over the next week, I am going to refrain from making election comment, focusing instead on trying to understand the differences between the policies and what they might mean in operational terms. Who knows, I may then be able to make up my own mind.  


Anonymous said...

Interpretation please!!

Jim, The abolition of proposed trade training centres by the current opposition may not in itself be a bad thing.

I am now qualified to deliver Hospitality and Commercial Cookery to Certificate 3 level within High Schools. Great for me, another string to my bow. But is it good for my students.

For students within the wider community, a Cert 3 means that they have invariably undergone a 3 year apprenticeship and acquired all the skills that go with that in-house training. I cannot do this within a high school, yet I can turn out a supposedly fully qualified chef! Rubbish! Industry send my students back to TAFE complaining that they know all but nothing! I tick the boxes within the framework that i work under.

I am also an industry professional with a Catering business. Would I employ the students that I deem, under the framework qualified at a Cert 2 level? No, not if I had to pay them!

As far as training is concerned for the VET teachers, a lot is to be desired. I have spent one night per week for the last two years at TAFE upgrading my qualifications from Cert 2 to Cert 3 in Commercial Cookery. Recently, DET announced that all VET Hospitality teachers would need to upgrade their qualifications from Cert 2 to Cert 3 and outlined how this would take place.

They will need to attend a TAFE for 3-4 days at the departments expense and complete 6 service periods in a catering establishment! I have spent about 60 days at a TAFE in the last 2 years and have to complete 48 service periods!

And we wonder why industry says our students know nothing!

Trade training centres are i think, jobs for the boys


Jim Belshaw said...

That's very interesting, Jamie. Just a factual question first; I was under the impression that to be fully qualified you needed a Cert IV. Is that not the case?

A Cert II or Cert III is meant to give you a certain level of skills, but not the whole kit.

I have the impression from your description that the problem lies in the nature of trade training itself. The training is meant to be competency based. If the kids do not in fact acquire the competencies required for Cert II or Cert III, then there would appear to be both a training and an assessment problem. Or am I over simplifying?

So far as TAS itself is concerned, the school has been providing trade/vocational training for some time and appears to be okay at it.

Interesting in all. Another case of what seems to be a good idea in theory? Certainly, the new Armidale facility is impressive on the outside! It seems a long time since we were there. Sigh!