Tuesday, April 28, 2015

'Simple' vs 'complex' skills - need to be aware and able to categorise

A continuation on the question posed in the blog on importance of practice.

Neuropsychology paper reviewing learning of complex skills indicates the need to approach learning of complex and simple skills differently. Learning simple skills profits from an ‘increase in load’ whereas the learning of complex skills requires ‘reduction in load’.
Wulf, G., & Shea, C. H. (2002). Principles derived fromthe study of simple skills do not generalize to complex skill learning. Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 9(2), 185-211.
Almost 200 references! Most from lab based studies and around sports science.

Therefore, always important to sort out the ‘wheat from the chaff’ and ensure neuroscience and psychology findings are well substantiated before applying to practice.
Identification and classification of the range of skills relevant to each trade / occupation a starting point. Competency based standards provide a baseline to start from but need to remember many ‘tacit’ and difficult to explain aspects of practice may not have standards. A case of, if unable to describe, then also difficult to assess. So ‘ignore’ or subsume as unstated requirement, into another competency standard.

After skills identified and classified as ‘simple’ or ‘complex’, undertake to evaluate if undue pressure is placed during the learning of complex skills. One scenario I have some insight into is the preparation of junior chefs for the rigours of ‘a la carte’ cooking, especially in ‘fine dining’ restaurants. aka called line cooking in American parlance. TV reality programmes provide examples of how excessive pressure placed on ‘contestants’ lead to ‘filmable’ moments. Cooking ‘on the line’ (i.e. during a la carte service to satisfy the ‘pass’) requires the bringing together of a wide range of fine motor skills and application of many tacit refinements and understanding of kitchen ‘science’. See here for another viewpoint. Tasks and skills include (how much (or little) to season, how long to cook/steam/bake, what consistency required of a sauce, what plating arrangement works etc.). All undertaken while undergoing a barrage of orders from the head chef requiring the prioritization of a range of tasks, remembering which order has to go when, which is in preparation and any special requirements for orders.  

In many restaurants, learning how to work on the line is achieved through ‘learning by doing’. So, junior cooks work the line with the least complex requirements. Often starting with ‘cold kitchen’ where the food is precooked and the skill requirement is in the assembly of various items into salads or simple entrees. If a junior chef performs at the required level in the ‘cold kitchen’, promotion shifts the complexities up a notch. The junior chef may ‘second’ a more experience line cook, doing the base plating so the senior cook is able to place cooked items onto the prepared plate. Both ‘cold kitchen’ and base plating prepare the junior cook for the exacting specifications for ‘plating’ dishes to rigorous standards of neatness, symmetry etc. Importantly, they learn the dispositions required for implementing dishes to exacting standards. Craftsmanship approaches including attention to detail, judgement skills required to notice and correct deviations, persistence and on-going intrinsic motivation to ‘be the best.

Cooks have high ‘burn out’ rates with many young chefs leaving the industry after a decade or so of high pressure work. see this article for a case study - how chefs cope by becoming 'addicted' to the adrenaline of high pace work. No doubt there is some ‘buzz’ generated from the high pace work as cooks enter the ‘zone’ and are in ‘flow’. However for some, the long, unsocial hours and relatively poor pay, leads to eventual disengagement. Anecdotal evidence from young people aspiring to be chefs also indicate many left the industry because they were pushed into cooking roles too soon. Their preparation may have been incomplete during their initial training. Eventually, the pressures to perform continually and consistently at high levels caused some to decide the occupation as being too difficult.

Therefore, important to identify what is 'simple' and what is 'complex' in any occupation and also be aware of the other factors impinging on job performance. As with cheffing, it is not just knowing how to cook, but to be able to cook in a certain way within a specialised work culture. Expectations of 'craftsmanship' may be something to aspire to in all trades, but sometimes, craftsmanship - as with some of the examples in cooking, may become a generator of high stress and eventual burn out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remaking apprenticeships - report by Lucas & Spencer (2015)

A new report from Lucas and Spencer - funded by City and Guilds Alliance for Vocational Education with an overview video available on the reports official website.

Although long – a very pertinent and cogent update on apprenticeship. Where it has been, where it now is and how to improve into the future.

The report brings together work accomplished in the previous few years and incorporates work reported in other publications including the 'vocational pedagogy' report summarised last year

A shorter summary is available but the longer report is worth the time to read through as it details, succinctly, all the various aspects impinging on apprenticeship.

The report provides a 'one stop shop' with regards to updating the historical evolution of apprenticeships into the current times (albeit with a UK perspective); discusses the various theories and practices and pedagogy of apprenticeship and offers recommendations on how to proceed.

Of importance is the distilling of the many outcomes of apprenticeship into SIX - routine expertise, resourcefulness, craftsmanship, functional literacies, business like attitudes and wider skills for growth. The recommendations are generalisable across to many apprenticeship systems but are most pertinent to the UK context.

15 pages of references bringing together the pertinent literature on apprenticeship learning.

Friday, April 17, 2015

CPIT staff day - 17th April 2015 -

Annual CPIT staff day is held on campus this year in the gym of the new Whareroa building. The day opens with a mihi /  welcome (in Maoris) from Hemi Hoskins. Hana o'Regan leads us in the CPIT waiata. MC Hilary Muir introduces herself and starts the day off. The main purpose of the day is to come to a shared understanding of the 'new' CPIT strategic plan. Gavin Blake from Fever Picture will be undertaking Live Scribing to record what is happening through the day.

Jenn Bestwick, chair of CPIT council, officially welcomes everyone. and sets scene for the day and the 'One CPIT' focus. Introduced the structure for the day as a series of TEDex presentations.

First sessions, on the topic of market relevance. Secondly, theme of graduate outcomes with a series of presentations from present and graduated students. the third theme is around 'alternative' delivery, not necessarily all to do with technology but to do what we now do well, differently. Key focuses of developing and supporting 'modern learning environments' and a way forward into the future.

On market relevance, the first speaker is  Kaila Colbin from Ministry of Awesome 'on staying relevant in an expotentially shifting market'. Provided example of Moore's law as an example of expotential growth of computing power. Presently, we are able to access info. on smart phone / ablets which is greater than information available during Bill Clinton's time as USA president. Computing accelerates developments in all fields of human endeavour - including new fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc. Unfortunately, our brains are not quite wired for the expotential growth of content. Consumer expectations have risen based on potentialities but linear business growth is unable to keep up with predictions of Moore's law. Technologies are onverging with artificial intelligence, robiotics, medicine, neuroscience, energy, nano tech, bio tech and computing - some science fiction of last decade now normal. Used 3D printing as example of how quickly tech. may move and the synergies possible by bringing 3D tech with other disciplines e.g. medical. What does it mean for our students? Are we preparing students for the future? 47% to 81% of jobs now may not exist in 2050. Presently, in transition period, so learning for flexibility important. What are implications? HIgh priority skills include problem solving, creativity, adaptability, future thinking, Need to reimagine Why we now do things as we do.

Next up, Paul Wright on 'customer service'. Used experiences at Harcourts to provide examples of a consolidated approach towards providing customer service. Whole organisation is focused on meeting customer service needs including IT, staff capability etc.  customer service includes treating staff as customers as well - used example of how staff have a phone - birthday message - on their birthday. Mobile agent set up to support all staff to be productive and responsive to customer needs. Staff are recognised though a range of staff awards to incentivise staff with customer service given top priority. Admin staff are included as they are crucial to the customer service process.  Importance of treating complaints seriously. Most important strategy - beating all 'modern' means - is a thank you card! Introduced the inspire foundation and asked for submissions to encourage growth of youth talent.

Beth Knowles from CPIT international speaks on market relevance in a global community. Provided statistics on CPIT international students. top 5 countries for international students are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand but we have 1330 students from 50 countries providing over 600 EFTs. Spoke of thnite reciprocal advantages oref internationalisation.  Not only international students attaining education but for NZ students to also learn how to work with others within global economy. International students high in Food & Hosp. Business (almost 30%) and engineeiting / architecture and humanities (19%).
Need to have student mobility - inbound / outbound exchanges, staff exchanges, study abrou, ad programmes with partner institutes, double degree opportunities and multi country / multi partner institutions like GESA.

Next up Deon Swiggs presents on new perspectives on market relevance as informed by current context in Christchurch. Rebuild Christchurch has objectives to engage, connect and empower the people to contribute to the rebuild. Informed by Simon Sinek's Golden circle connecting why, how and what and to enable people to do what they do well. Provided various example deployed to connect with, consult and work with the community. Tagline - be brave and do things differently. provided example of the 'covered' series as a way to inform people on progress. to ensure organisational progress, leadership is important - thinking to do things differently.

Mike Fields, HOD of Trades, introduces Nick Matthews- carpentry tutor, to present on aspect of his work with iTab and market relevance. Started with overview of how he moved into teaching after career in army and apprenticeship in carpentry. Focused on industry demand and the changing environment with relevance to provision of carpentry training. EFTS increase from 214 to  297 plus campus re-developments provide opportunities to rethink how things are done.  Provided info. on carpentry pathways from pre-trade courses to apprenticeship. During pre-trade - work experience of 200 hours required - tracked with work diary, tutor visits and move into apprenticeship. Need to keep industry informed about pathways. Currently, supporting 320 apprentices ( 2 1/2 times more than inn 2011). Detailed industry partnerships, especially new ones with steel frame industry industry. Maori and Pasifika trades training an important asoect to assist greater diversity in industry.

Short morning tea followed by a slide show on successful 'graduate outcomes' across all departments with accompaniment from a jazz trio - recently completed their programme.
Then a presentation from Scarlett Cvitanovich who completed Broadcasting degree in 2010 and now working as chief reporter for South Island for Newstalk ZB. Colllates news each morning (5am start) for broadcast. Very varied, hectic at times but sometimes, need to be creative when not much SI news! Affirmed degree prepared her well, esp. internship. and present work. Had to come up quickly as she started at ZB a month before Canterbury earthquakes in Sept. and then Pike River mine accident on the West Coast. Ready her for the really big story of Chch. earthquake! which accelerated her career development. importance of internship to 'get foot into the door'. Attitude and passion just as important as skills. Also important to keep up with technology as even in 4 years, broadcasting tech. has increased pace. Speed increases pressure to become timely.

Next, Mat Goodman who completed the degree in sustainability and education. presented via written testimonial read by MC and video - as he was busy working for a company filming a documentary across NZ.  He was able to extend his passion for photography and follow his interest in studying keas' use of tools. A video example of his work also provided showing his work, set in the inspiring SI landscape with wonderful footage of a kea getting into a stoat trap.

Followed by Jason Tiatia, now a tutor and also a coach for Rugby 7s. Jason speaks on hi journey for the Diploma in Tertiary Learning and Teaching (DTLT) and his 'last chapter' returning after a career in professional sports, to teach. HIs teaching founded on 'the one who does the work, does the learning', 'in order to lead you must serve'. Summarised his learning and development as a teacher.

Student presentations consist of panel to provide their experiences and destinations. Include Henri Nelis - medical imaging, Josh Klazinga - computing, Rochelle Perriero - nursing and Simon Wilke - Hospitality.

Then a performance from recent NASDA graduates with 3 artistes giving excerpts from the play 'last 5 program'. Formed theatre company 'Kindle' as part of
final project on programme. Put together proposal and applied for funding through Ministry of Awesome to produce the musical / play. Wonderful singing :0

After light  lunch, another performance from Jazz school students accompanies slide show showing allied staff at their work stations.

Presentation on 'dynamic learning and environments' with Michael Davies -  via Skype from the USA. Overview of what is possible and future. 'The future is here its just not evenly distributed yet'. Proposed presentation to be forward looking, opinionated and iconoclastic! Smart phones, pervasive connectivity, cloud etc. disrupting many industries. Customers are enpowered - affects work . Proposes effect on transportation and retail with next wave with education and health. Nature of work and learning is changing, we need to keep pace. with smart phone, access to data, information, knowledge etc. so what happens with education? In transportation, example used is uber - peer to peer put to work to meet customised needs. implications for work are less conventional full time routine knowledge work, part- time portfolios careers, more meaning. Continuous innovation provides compelling, user-forsed solutions requiring continuous deployment, collaboration and nimbleness. shift in higher ed with need to raise their capability, meet challenges which will come through student pressure and thinking through how to do what currently offered differently.  therefore, important to obtain means to track (learning analytics) what students do to learn. Made the point that digital mmigrants made the shift! so will continue to keep up. Need to work out HOW digital can contribute to each learning context as 'all on liine' does not work for all. Need to commit to continual change!

Next up, an example from CPIT. Mike Field introduces panel including Steve Tomsett  (flip classroom), Ian Williamson (online assessment)  and Sandy Chamnerlain (online resources). Each presented on their approaches - how, why, pros and cons and WHY NOT. Steve ascribes to a 1% a day rule - to make a change a small step at a time to improve teaching (learning for students). need for similar approach with students, how to help them learn 1% at a time. Ian introduces how he uses online assessment (peerwise) to help students complete their own self-directed learning. Selected peerwise as it put the onus of learning on to students. however, less feedback to tutor on student performance- so use 'confidence' assessments with students. adds the questions to confidence based assessments with can we do more> can we do better? Sandy presented on how she used video to improve learning of painting and decorating. Used Simek's golden circle to emphasis the need of students to have the WHY before omethey learn how. Used video to assist skills learning by providing exemplars and revisiosn questions to check knowledge learning.

Hana O'Regan and Hemi Hoskins presented on pilot run since beginning of the year. An immersion, residential 1 month programme, run at marae over January on Te Reo. Map multiple pathways for individuals at different levels to assist them to meet their learning goals - all in a short compressed time. Started from each individual's needs, developed the learning outcomes and then approach enrolments! So many courses but a programme for 80 students. Provided example of using powhiri to help students, all at different levels, begin with what they had and build on these to move to a higher level of Te Reo. ALso included were students who just wanted to learn powhiri protocols, plan / develop, facilitate etc. So one activity customised to a range of learning outcomes (4 courses, 78 students, one event). Not able to 'plan' but have resources available to support a range of learning.. Balance of responsive but also flexible.

Then a session on technology enhanced learning with Adam Hollingworth, Cathy Peck, Murray Scott and Elizabeth Schmidt.  Adam - provided 4 suggestions - Add not replace - teaching, think of the learners' experience, improve the before and after learning experience and future proof your work.  Elizabeth uses blended learning for bioscience section with midwifery students. What the students DO is important. Cathy presents staff development resource for all staff and students - lynda.com - on trial at CPIT for a year. Murray introduced MOOCs, possibilities and direction. Murray provided his experiences using MOOCs for his own personal development.

Russell Graham uses some Russell aerobics to revive us :)

Kay Gilles - CE - presents staff awards. Rising Star award to - out of 8 nominations -3 award - Sela Feltolu, Amber Johnson and George Tylee. Sustainabiliy award with 7 nominations with the winner as Robyn Ellen from early learning centre. Excellence in management 13 nominees with Cathy Andrew winning this year. CPIT excellence awards in teaching in the first 2 years goes to Maz Black and Jane Parker.  Innovative teaching practice awards go to Lindsey Alton and Silvia Santos. Sustained excellence in teaching goes to Cheryl Stokes, Julia Wu. and Daphne Manderson.

Session to feedback on the day followed.  Various management provide their overviews in short minute sessions.  Drinks session follows to close the day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

AVETRA 2015 day two

Day two begins with AVETRA awards. TDA AVETRA award or scholarship for innovation awarded to Peter Hurley who is working on how TAFE can support unemployed people to further their capabilities. Journal article of the year awarded to me! For article published last year in Vocations and Learning - Crafting an occupational identity: learning the precepts of craftsmanship through apprenticeship. The Berwyn Clayton award for contributions to the VET is Associate Professor Sarojini Choy from Griffith University.

First keynote is with Professor Terri Seddon from the Australian Catholic University. She presents on the topic of 'how can we ask new questions of VET? Reflection on marketisation, global transitions and educational work in contexts of uncertainty'. Tries to unpack why marketisation has caused a fall in TAFE market share - using statistics from Victoria as an example - from 100% in 1970s to 27% in the present. Discusses causes as illogical trajectory, cross border interruptions and repositioning of VET in the global national borderland. Call for adult ed. to assist with changes in social order and role of VET researchers / practitioners in contributing to improving status of VET and lives of students. Proposes adult education as a distinct discipline with ways of doing and thinking. Important to acknowledge adult ed. as intellectual- practice discipline as a social activity where learning occurs through contexts of socialistion, teachings (including self teaching) and schooling. Reviewed political reforms leading to and continuing market reforms in the education sector - with TAFE bearing the major implications. Links marketisation of VET to international movements since the 1980s. Lead to reconstruction of the VET landscape to re skilling of the TAFE workforce, shifting cost of education to individuals, rise of the digital environment but with little consultation with vET educators. Provided examples of how the digital environment changes the way we learn, access knowledge and assess. The move of corporates into the educational sector, increase in student debt etc. poorly understood by the educational sector, yet impact on how education is conducted. Need for Vet, on behalf of students, to ask the questions of why TAFE sector more affected that university and school sector. VET contributes to formation of occupational and citizen identities, hence has key role in creating the soft governance required to deal with the challenges of the new world. 

Next, a catch up on Karen O'Reilly Briggs work with 'the quality of metal engineering trade VET in Victoria: trade teacher perspectives. A part of her Ed.D work. Provided an overview on the study involving interviews, focus groups and a survey of metal engineering trade teachers who had at least 10 years teaching experience. Identified 13 main themes and reported on 5 themes in this presentation. Defined the concept of 'quality' through analysis of participants data which was different from standard govt. audit requirements. Hence a disconnect between what educators consider as quality and requirements by organisations. Pressures occurring diluting the quality of outcomes for students. Include increased paperwork, reduced apprenticeship, self paced  classes, tailored training plans, no requirements for tradespersons in workplace, pressures to pass student, ambiguous training packages, teachers instructed to reduce delivery time and reduced funding. 

After morning tea, attend the session with Nick Melchior, senior editor, education, Australia and New Zealand from Springer publishers on 'scholarly publication in an electronic age'. This is a longish but very useful session offering publishers' perspectives. Went through what epublishing means, present capabilities and future possibilities. Print was primary means until .pdf created in 1996. 2006 extended mark up language allowed greater usage and broader and open access of econtent. Encouraged establishing links via social media to your work. Remember, research is now a global game and articles are competing to be noticed. Print on demand increases opportunities for shorter formats like springer briefs which are 125 to 150 pages. Other formats include multimedia journals like video journal of education and pedagogy. Open access journals also growing. Warning on predatory open access, check if unsure! Constants include peer review and the technical aspects of publishing (copy edit, proof read etc.). 

After lunch, return to assessment teaching and learning stream with presentation by Stella Kwok from Vocational Training Council Hong Kong on 'investigating attitudes towards conducting practical social and industrial research (PSIR) among VET practitioners in Hong Kong: analysis and policy implications'. Provided overview of Hong Kong context, details of the study and findings. VTC large provider of VET in HK with foundation to degree across 250 programmes and 9 disciplines. Teachers not required to do research apart from staff studying for higher quals. Established a research support unit (RSU) to encourage staff to conduct applied research. PSIR increase industry links, enhance teaching and learning, raise capability and contribute to HK economics. Publishing not sole responsibility but also increase innovation, solve practical problems and apply to industry. Study presented is to assess teachers' interest and perspective to PSIR and inform strategic formulation for future. Positive attitudes to engaging with PSIR. Perceived barriers included lack of time, support from management, dissemination, equipment etc. actions from the study include funding of visiting researchers and seed funding to kick start projects, ethics structure, PSIR reporting framework, technology transfer process, website, events and newsletter  to promote projects and PD for research processes. Provided example of collaborative project across several disciplines, staff and students to develop smart schoolbag. Details of follow up also provided. 

Last presentation of the day in the apprenticeship stream with Rachel Cowling from AFL sports ready on 'trainee feedback: how we learn from our trainees'. Introduced service orientated research as a way to continually improve practice and contribute to a learning organisation. Used feedback methods through a app to run 'everyday' feedback, events like graduation etc. and satisfaction surveys. Surveys usually a month before completion on survey monkey with mix of closed and open questions. Covers the workplace training, formal training, support and overall experience. Quantitative data displayed as coloured bar graphs and qualitative data analysed thematically.  Closed the loop by allocating responsibility for the results by using ORID method. Using objective, reflective, interpretative and decisional questions to lead discussion. Identify actions and monitor through future surveys through joint analysis. 

Panel discussion with 3 keynotes, along with Sally Thompson CEO of Adult Learning Australia and Andy Smith, deputy chancellor at Federation University, chaired by Hugh Guthrie, closes a busy conference. Panel provided a provocation to respond to, based around the conference theme, of marketisation of VET,  effects, challenges and responses. 

Overall a good catch up via the three keynotes on how policy and the wider political, economical and social downstream effects on education. Good to see VET researchers meeting the challengers from a social conscience viewpoint, advocating for equitable access for all. 

AVETRA next year scheduled to be held in Sydney.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

AVETRA 2015 day one afternoon

After lunch, attend to Keiko Yasukawa's University of Technology Sydney presentation on 'negotiating funny numbers: numeracy practices of the neoliberal workplace'. Based on work completed on workplace literacy and numeracy. Provided brief Australian policy perspective on LNN and discuss the purposes of LNN in workplace as improving productivity or earning an income. Summarised lean production as an example of neoliberal model of contemporary work organisations. Waste elimination identified as a work process across 3 manufacturing plants for study. Uses daily graphs to track whether targets are met and requires workers to interpret these graphs as applying to their work processes. Efforts to meet higher demands not always met with higher enumeration. Recommends the need to negotiate knowledge towards helping workers earn a better living. Used project with LNN of part time academics case study to provide example. 

Second keynote is with Rod Camm, CEO of Australian Council for Private Education and Training ACPET. Rod spoke on the topic of 'restoring confidence in the VET sector: a new era'. Need for good VET research to inform present challenges. Overviewed VET in the Australian context. Present challenge of integrity of qualifications, especially for short courses, based on market design, not delivering even though fees are high. Need for a cogent national skill policy.   There is a start with national entitlement for everyone up to cert 3 but details still vague in the funding models. Have sort of a national approach to regulation. Provided statistics of govt. funding in private vs public institutions. Little difference in outcomes. Govt. policy is to support competition in the sector. Need for research into what skills required now and in the future and back up with good design to provide relevant qualifications at competitive fees. 

Return to the assessment teaching and learning track with two presentations. Firstly from Cheryl Livock on 'walking the tightrope: social responsibility with implications for LNN and inclusive teaching. An action research project in Queensland. Over viewed challenges presented by 21st century social milieu and background on Australian skills policies and funding. Australian quality for education requirements ASQA requires learners to be supported for LNN, assistive technology, additional tutorials and other mechanism like digital literacy to engage with online learning. Provided details of action  research process with nursing Staff and students including observations to establish baseline, 2 interventions with teachers to assist teachers to offer LNN support, collect post intervention data and continue cycle. LNN skills programme developed based on findings from each cycle. 

Secondly with Ingrid Loeb from University of Gothenburg on 'enhancing VET quality: the risk of dumbing down the complexities of VET teaching and learning. The Swedish case'. Began with overview of Swedish education system and VET structure. Action research projects with 96 VET teacher training students during first semester of their learning. 12 VET programmes and 3 higher ex. Prep in higher secondary. Also a foundational programme for students not in VET or hE prep. Vet teachers do 1 1/2 full time equivalent, most via distance and part time as many employed as vet teachers already. categorised projects as to topics and match to learning objectives of programme. Found most students chose general VET rather than specific pedagogical investigations. Eg how to offer flip learning more effectively vs how to teach specific Vet skills like horse nutritional needs, load bearing beams or pattern drafting. 

Last presentation of the day with Adeline Goh from Universiti Brunei Darussalam on 'an exploration of vocational pedagogy: types of knowledge used for teaching'. Arose through helping vet teachers to prepare lesson plans. Vet pedagogy marked by country's history and culture (Avis, 2014) relates to occupations and requires currency to be valid. Content of pedagogy influenced by context and occupation. Vet teaching requires different and wider range of skill and knowledge compared to school teaching. Specialist knowledge needs to be combined with how to teach. In Brunei, there are 7 Vet institutes ( about to be combined into 2) and vet teachers have no practice experience in their specialist area but are educated in the discipline. Led to emphasis on theory rather than on practice. Shift to competency based ed and practice based authentic assessments. Challenge to vet teachers in administration of cba when their workplace experience is limited. 

Day ends with AGM.

AVETRA 2015 - day one morning

At the annual AVETRA - Australasian Vocational Education and Training Association - conference. Met up with familiar faces yesterday at pre conference drinks. Today begins with a welcome to country with Tony Garvey and conference opening with Michele Simons, president of AVETRA. 

Conference keynote is from Professor James Avis, University of Huddersfield, on 'Neo-liberalism and VET into the abyss'. Covered the relationship between democracy and VET and the impact of neoliberalism on work. How competitiveness, economic growth, up skilling, social mobility and centrality of waged labour impact on VET. VET seen to be preparation for work or work based learning for para professionals, trades, work readiness etc. for the ordinary and the under served 50% (UK, Bathmaker, 2013). Reviewed the social democracy models of meritocracy and social mobility and how the promises now challenged by shift to neoliberalism and the need to meet market demands. Moves to performativity, audit, market setting, casualisation, new public management, privatisation, commodification of VET and  IT workers, deregulation, individualisation, precariousness and post fordIsm. Summarised a range of critiques of neoliberalism as requiring the reining in of the excesses of the financial sector, return to real economy and softer, more inclusive form of capitalism. Contrasted the precepts of industrial capitalism based on work practice and knowledge and shift towards cognitive capitalism based on collective common knowledge of field, appropriated by companies to create value. Unfortunately cognitive capitalism more amorphous and subject to difficulties in boundaries. E.g. Under Fordism, weekends etc. untouched but with cognitive capitalism, all spheres of life are affected and expected to contribute. Another example in the deployment of social media as spanning work and personal lives as social networks blur and access becomes ubiquitous. Open source initiatives another instance. Proposed need to rethink the knowledge economy given some knowledge work as digital Taylorism and aspects of VET requiring levels of unrecognised knowledge complexity. A good revision for me on the sociological implications of policy on VET. 

After morning tea, I follow the apprenticeships and traineeships track. First up, Professor Emerita Berwyn Clayton presents on 'expanding apprentice responsibility in the assessment process: the competency progression challenge' and part of NCVER project. Trades are cookery, carpentry and metal fabrication. Based on policy intents to accelerate training for apprentices who exhibited relevant competencies at various levels. Findings from project were little change in the assessment of knowledge, shift by majority to more holistic assessment of practical tasks, excellent instances of fully integrated training and assessment,technology critical I supporting increased flexibility and stress on apprentices as evidence gatherers BUT often with little understanding of how and what. Apprentices understanding of quality evidence critical but apprentices not necessarily ready gather evidence. Used work of Sadler 1989 and McMillan & Hearn, 2008 stress importance of learners being given opportunity and skills to evaluate their own performance, understand what high quality performance looks like and compare their work to gauge. Integral are early feedback, involvement of self / peer assessment and improved engagement means enhanced motivation. More sophisticated understanding by apprentices and employers of options and opportunities. 

Then, 'different forms of assessment in Swedish apprenticeship education' with Ingrid Berglund from the University of Gothenburg. Covered the research method, forms of informal and formal assessments on student's work readiness, challenges and role of work readiness assessments in the boundary between school and work. Four programmes, construction, business and administration, electricity and health and care. Informal assessment refers to assessing workplace expectations and basic vocational specific qualifications, often dispositional aspects. Challenges for VET teachers in developing procedures, organising follow up sessions and bridging gap between workplace and school curricula. Envisages VET teachers as boundary workers in agreeing to, expediting or placing barriers on students' access to work placement. 

I shift across to the assessment teaching and learning stream as I present in the next session. Roger Harris, now adjunct professor at the University of South Australia, presents on 'from Fleming to productivity commission: is VET teachers preparation walking the Tightrope? Summarised the Fleming report 1998 and Productivity commission report and also a 1972 book by Hermann, Richardson and Woodburne on trade and technicians education. Cert 4 should be a beginning, not an end! Lifelong education a goal but realities and practicalities have prevented objective being met. Fleming report was catalyst to VET teacher ed. and improve standing. Unfortunately in 2011 challenges still remain as reported through the productivity commission report! Between the two reports large numbers for VET initial teacher availed due to opening of market. But focus still in initial and not on continued   Or in service education / professional development. 

My presentation is on the topic of 'from competency to graduate profiles: New Zealand's shift to a relational approach'. Briefly summarising the move of NZ qualifications from 'unit standards' to graduate profiles and the opportunity to therefore recognise the wider occupational identity variants of individuals. Also discuss implications, including the aspect of consistency across qualifications offered through various programmes of study