Monday, September 12, 2016

Summary - op ed from Gavin Moody on 'what Australia can learn from England's plans for vocational education

Read through Gavin Moody's opinion piece last week on the conversation. Some interesting aspects, with several relevant to the NZ context.

The report Gavin refers to is the proposal  for Degree apprenticeships put up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. In summary, there will be TWO routes post school - the college based academic and the employment based pathway to 'degree apprenticeships'. The report proposed 15 routes (industry sectors / discipline areas). Other recommendations are to reject 'market qualifications' and competency-based training'. Additionally, public funds should not be allocated to for-profit providers. A levy on employers would fund apprenticeship.

The above draws from two recent reports in the UK. One on post-16 skills published in July this year and the other called the 2012  'Richard's review' - full report available at this link.

There has been much debate and review in the of post-school alternatives by the UK government of late. Mainly, to try to engage their large number of NEETs and to ramp up skills to meet the demands of the post- industrial age. A major challenge has been (and still is) the stratification of the class system and a general attitude of non-academic / non-university qualifications as being inferior.

The Richard's review sets the scene by "redefining apprenticeships, focusing with greater rigour on the outcome of an apprenticeship, and using recognised industry standards to form the basis of every apprenticeship". A goal of 3 million apprentices has been set for 2020. Employers are to feature with the Institute of Apprenticeships set up to regulate apprenticeship quality, encourage better gender, minority participation across all trades, and a UK-wide levy for employers to pay out more than 3 million pound annually.

The post-skills report intention is to have all students move into either an academic or technical option post-16. Students should be able to move between these two routes seamlessly as well.
The technical route is an applied education pathway into skilled employment and may be attained through college-based or employment based (apprenticeship) options. Of note is the recognition of degree equivalency through wither pathway.

15 routes (industry sectors / discipline areas) have been identified. A ‘road map ‘ towards implementation of all the recommendations by 2020 included in the report.

Some learning from the above for NZ. We currently has 'vocational pathways' set up which is steadily gaining momentum. Credits gained at school or through shared 'tertiary college' programmes held in partnership with polytechnics or similar, may be used towards completing the National Certificates in Education at levels 1 - 3 (these are the school-base qualifications). Apprenticeship still has a way to go to gain parity with university qualifications, although the intend of the NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has always been to have qualification levels as stepping stones from level 1 (foundation) to 10 (PhD). However, there is difficulty, especially at the university level, to transfer credits across levels or for credits gained through vocational education into university degrees. There is movement, especially through various 'recognition of prior learning' arrangements - and example being the Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) at Ara. Skills and expertise gained through work are aligned to qualifications offered at ARA, providing a means of qualification attainment without having to commit to an entire programme of study.

Therefore, important to keep up with the play as various countries seek contextualised solutions to meeting the skill and work demands of the future.

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