Thursday, October 20, 2016

NZ VET research forum day 2

NZ VET 2016 day 2

Wednesday dawns with rain clearing to blustery conditions with 20+km northerly wind. 

The day opens with MP Grant Robertson providing an opposition party viewpoint on the future of work commission. The Labour Party has convened a future of work commission with final report due first weekend of November at the Annual Labour Party conference. Provided rationale for the report and its links to the values and principles of the party. Summarised the value of work as per findings from a survey of union members , it is more than earning a wage, work provides challenge and satisfaction. Need for employer, unions, workers and government to face the challenge. How to move away from the trickle down to providing support on ground up innovations to work through technological changes to work composition. Recommends 3 years free training / education for every NZer along revamp of career advise at school and funding for young entrepreneurs. Need to adopt active labour market policies to ensure evidence based data available to populace for making ongoing career decisions.

Keynote from Professor Alison Fuller who speaks on her work with Professor Lorna Unwin on 'creating expansive apprenticeships: what are the challenges and benefits?' Provided a background (policy and historical) to place of apprenticeship in England and other countries. Context include uneven skill distribution, pipeline and productivity gap; concerns on prospects for youth and social mobility; young people's changing aspirations; and a growing international interests in apprenticeship. (See book contemporary apprenticeship edited by Fuller and Unwin). Need to shift from traditional paradigms of apprenticeship to newer solutions. Begin with studying how apprenticeships aligned or not to labour market. Relationship of apprenticeship to occupation still under developed and requires addressing. Overview of how occupation is conceptualised - skilled trade? Job vs occupation (Clarke, 2011) and Beruf which carries the image of occupation for life long learning and development. Post - occupational societies because of shifts fro long term employment and strong occupational identity to more generic attributes e.g. (Reich, 1991) - routine production, in person service, symbolic analytical services etc. need to broaden how a apprenticeship is constituted. Post occupation societies may be premature but provide an anchor for thinking bout how occupations may develop into the future. 
Provided contemporary UK initiatives on government supported apprenticeship. Rationale for adoption along with introduction to higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships. Over 53% of apprentices are female as many service occupations offer apprenticeship. Summarised the expansive - restrictive continuum and how it can be applied across workplace based learning. Now applied across many support structures for apprenticeship and workplace learning in NZ. Provided examples in the U.K health care sector of how continuum informs. Introduced the terms of high/low use and high/low exchange value. Use refers to clear occupational definition, exchange value to possibilities for moving beyond apprenticeship to higher skilled work and qualifications. Emphasised the importance of workplace as a learning and teaching in providing an expansive learning environment. Need to get learning right through apprenticeship as it will then shift policy. Important to involve all players contributing to expansive apprenticeships. 

After morning tea, a session with Heather McDonald, Anne Alkema and Adrienne Dawson on 'encouraging completion: Why do trainees drop out an what can we do about it; the principles of on-job assessment in ITOs. 2014 stats indicate completion over 5 years of trainees at 42% and apprentices at 51%. Overviewed the research approach. Shared interview fragments which example the restrictive workplace learning experienced by many non-completers. Learning at work sometimes unavailable, training and support variable, time to complete 'book work' found to be a challenge. Reasons for non completion tends to be cumulative with 'life getting into the way' and a tipping point occurring to push trainee or apprentice out of contract. Identified some as regretting and others as being relieved about completion. Regretters tended to move on to another form of work or restart. Does with a filling of relief tended not to re-engage. Presented roles of employer, ITOs and trainee in working towards completion. Experiences of trainees etc. we're very similar despite differences in support within industries. 
Principles for on job assessment connects well with helping to inform how to support all trainees and apprentices. Tapped into the work of Vaughan and Cameron (2010) with the principles are: partnership and collaborative approaches; assessments that support learning and skill development; qualified staff; and moderation systems. Advocates (Hipkins et al, 2016) to regard NZeA as diversity is n important feature of a responsive, resilient, complex system. Provided examples of learning conversations as a way to assess in the workplace. 

Next up, with Joanna Rhodes from Southern Institute of Technology who offers a summary of an inter-professional education project with medical interns and nurses in 'breaking down the silos'. Started with rationale and an activity to illustrate the need to work outside of silos. Described the inter professional education (IPE) between SIT and University of Otago with Southland Health Board, to bring 3 interns, 3 dietitians and 6 nursing students together. Shared    lunch to lubricate the process. Introductory activities to build teams. Then a simulated activity with 'patients' role played by tutors who don a rubber 'mask' transforming them to an elderly person. (Mask ed). The patient presents with an emergency and team have to work out treatment plans. Discussed advantages of using the approach. Detailed future work to continually evaluate and improve the process. 

After lunch, a digital keynote via Skype with Professor John Buchanan who is chair of business analytics at the University of Sydney. The presentation is centred around 'real world' progressions and their implications for VET' an NCVER funded project. He argues for a shift from mechanistic notions of skill to building 'tacit Vocational streams' and nurturing 'communities of trust'. Covered the why, how, what was found, was it worth it  and where next. Current policy to increase number of people complete qualifications but does this lead to success for individuals and nations? Reasons are actual connections between work and qualifications remain weak; complaints of skill utilisation continue and TAFE space being taken over by universities. 3 strands identified to research, VET to school pathways, VET to higher education pathways, and pathways connecting education to work.  Invested these in 7 strands. Found mainstream analysis and policy start at the wrong point, have to focus instead to human capital, Vocational streams and communities of trust. Summarised findings from each of the strands. Used example to unravel one of the strands - how pathways from trades move beyond. In agriculture, tracked how people move through qualifications over 10 years. Farm managers tend to have more predictable patterns. Manual farm workers tend to have very mixed horizontal movement across to other industries. Propose there are high skill, low skill and marginal trejectories through working life. Using 'braided rivers' as a visual analogy, the concept of Vocational streams is constructed. Developed categories of Vocational streams. Then an example on how to apply the framework. Also suggest trimming down number of qualifications from 197 occupational category qualifications to 27. Discussed ways to accomplish the rationalisation of qualifications. Detailed the pluses and minuses of the project outcomes. Proposed keys to fostering the Vocational streams approach by building the relationships and communities of trust. 

Back to concurrent streams. Dr. Alistair Shaw from NZ Union of Students' Associations. He presents on strengthening student representation in short and lower level courses. An Ako Aoteoroa funded project with Waiariki Polytechnic. Covered background, rationale and project approaches and findings. Need to ensure all students have a voice in how their learning experience is enacted. Tried out various methods to obtain feedback from students who do not usually engage with contributing to course or programme representation or with institutional evaluations (paper, survey, focus groups). Provided suggestions as to how to meet the needs of students. 

Last session of the day is with Dr. Averil Coxhead from Victoria University who reports on an outcome of the 'language in the trades - LATTE' project with 'thermostat, propane and OSH: a technical and pedagogical word list for plumbing '. Presented the methods used to develop a pedagogical word list for plumbing developed from written plumbing text for level 3 and 4 courses. The study informs course and resource design and also the construct of pre and post course assessments of plumbing knowledge. Project also has carpentry, automotive engineering and fabrication. Provided examples of the complex vocabulary for first languages students. Development of specialised corpus includes comparing with most common 20,000 words. Created new word lists for each of 4 trades from words appearing more than 10 times. Ran the lists through with trades tutors to find out commonality of words as technical term. An interesting presentation providing insight into complexities of linguistic analysis. 

Dr. Stanley Frieleck, new Ako Aoteoroa director and Josh Williams closed a successful conference with some reflections on the contributions from presentations. All in, a very good conference with pertinent papers of use to my own research and good overview for other participants who tend to pop in and out of the NZVET forums. 

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