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‘T HE NATIONAL CUSTODIAN ’: H OW INTEREST GROUPS AND ACADEMICS TRY TO STOP WORKING PEOPLE GET QUALIFICATIONS Erica Smith, University of Ballarat

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Presentation on theme: "‘T HE NATIONAL CUSTODIAN ’: H OW INTEREST GROUPS AND ACADEMICS TRY TO STOP WORKING PEOPLE GET QUALIFICATIONS Erica Smith, University of Ballarat"— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘T HE NATIONAL CUSTODIAN ’: H OW INTEREST GROUPS AND ACADEMICS TRY TO STOP WORKING PEOPLE GET QUALIFICATIONS Erica Smith, University of Ballarat e.smith@ballarat.edu.au

2 W HAT ’ S THIS PAPER ABOUT ? Struggles over access to qualifications and funding via the apprenticeship system Within VET not between VET and Higher Education

3 A PPRENTICESHIPS : A CONTESTED GROUND ‘Undemocratic in its scope, unscientific in its educational methods, and fundamentally unsound in its financial aspects, the apprenticeship system, in spite of all the practical arguments, in its favour, is not likely to be deliberately revived by a modern democracy’ Sidney & Beatrice Webb 1897 ‘Industrial democracy’ Vol II Thanks to Ian Laurie, Uni of Southampton for rediscovering this quote

4 … WHAT ’ S NEW ? An 18 th century tale of attrition and non-retention Captain James Cook

5 A PPRENTICESHIP NO. 1: R ETAIL (S TAITHES )

6 A PPRENTICESHIP NO. 2: M ERCHANT SHIP (W HITBY )

7 T HE POST - TRADE JOB : R OYAL N AVY

8 T HE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY IN A USTRALIA 1985 the Kirby Report introduced traineeships in newer industry areas and service industries. Usually 12 months rather than 3 or 4 years; In the1990s rules were relaxed to allow part-time workers and older workers to participate; NETTFORCE in 1995 to speed traineeship approvals; Part-time secondary school based participation; Funding for employers for employment of apprentices & trainees, Funding for formal training (‘user choice’) to training providers; Private training providers (RTOs) eligible for funding

9 T ROUBLE BREWING As money got tighter, debates began about who should access funding; Early days of traineeship produced examples of poor quality training for some industry sectors; Some academics started flexing their muscles: ‘the jobs in your industry (hospitality) are not skilled ’; ‘ training reform set out to destroy occupations’

10 A USTRALIA : T HE SO - CALLED E XPERT P ANEL 2010-11 Apprenticeships for the 21 st (or was it 19 th ?) century? Hidden proposal to defund most traineeships (the notorious pages 56-58) Only ‘eligible’ apprentices and trainees could be funded: those on Skills Australia specialised occupations list; ‘valued career’; ‘can be traded in the marketplace’ (talk about social construction!)

11 W HO WAS TO DECIDE ? T HE NATIONAL CUSTODIAN

12 T HE OUTCOME In the end, not much so far except that Certificate II traineeships have lost funding; Recognition that the panel was not expert and taken only from manufacturing and construction industries and those friendly to that industry reduced credibility; Minister Evans distanced himself from the report; But…. Some evidence that employers have reduced traineeships, and a recent rise in youth unemployment may be linked.

13 THE UK IN 2011: ‘THEY’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY’ Snobbery of academics about the retail industry at the JVET conference. Opposition to ‘conversions’ from academics – a ‘long-standing problem’. The ‘scandalous’ case of Morrisons super- markets (many apprentices are mature- aged & existing workers)- The Guardian newspaper. Misinformation about McDonalds and government funding.

14 S O WHAT ’ S THIS ALL ABOUT ? On the one hand: ‘Just a way for governments to claim higher numbers of qualified workers to claim higher numbers of qualified workers.. (for the) international league tables’ (academics) On the other hand: ‘The issue I’m trying to address is of social exclusion and people trapped in unemployment or entry level jobs with no hope of progressing’ (Morrison’s manager)

15 I S IT JUST ABOUT SOME WORKERS CLAWING THEIR WAY UP AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS ?

16 W HY ARE ACADEMICS JOINING IN THE SUPPRESSION OF WORKERS ?

17 W HERE IS IT COMING FROM ? ‘Cynical interpretations’ – Vince Cable, UK minister; Firm tenets about ‘what apprenticeships are for’ – and yet it’s clear from the work of INAP that apprenticeship systems vary greatly; A Marxist view that employers are out to extract surplus value? (but only some employers); Platonic roots in what is a ‘valued career’ – ‘ homo faber’ is higher up than ‘ animal laborans ’ (Arendt, 1958) - moral judgements

18 A S L IEPMANN PUT IT IN IN 1960 ‘The national interest would be best served if apprenticeship were divested entirely of the function of preserving obsolete and restrictive occupational barriers in industry, and became a social institution dealing solely with education and industrial training and extended to the whole working population’


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